In episode five of the Marketing Automation Moment podcast, Mike and Hannah share how to deal with a Martech stack that’s getting too complex, and the questions marketers need to be asking in demos.

They also explore why personas can be such a valuable element in your marketing automation campaigns, and how they can help drive your content and campaigns.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Marketing Automation Moment Episode Five – Why Should You Use Personas?

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Hannah Kelly

Hannah: Welcome to the marketing automation moment Podcast. I’m Hannah.

Mike: And I’m Mike Maynard. This is Napier’s podcast to tell you about the latest news from the world of marketing automation.

Hannah: Welcome to the marketing automation moment Podcast. I’m Hannah:.

Mike: And I’m Mike Maynard.

Hannah: And today we discuss marketing automation platforms and quote in the complexity of the MAR tech stack, questions to ask in demos,

Mike: and the importance of using personas to build your marketing campaigns.

Hannah: Hi, Mike, it’s great to have you back. You’ve just been in the US for the last couple of weeks. How are you doing?

Mike: Hi, Hannah. Well, it’s really good to be back. We had a great trip to the US had a week at sea, but and also a trip around the Bay Area. But it’s nice to be back even though the weather’s a little chilly in England.

Hannah: Well, yeah. So you’re coming from there wouldn’t be quite as nice as Last Vegas or Silicon Valley?

Mike: Well, actually, Vegas was quite nice. But Silicon Valley was flooded, there was so much rain that I chose flooded out my hotel had to go and get another hotel because of all the water and the lack of drainage. So coming back here perhaps isn’t as bad as I thought.

Hannah: Well, it’s nice to know that it’s not just the UK that gets torrential rain poor. Exactly. So I’m really interested to know, what was the key thing you’d say came out of your US trip? What was your one key takeaway?

Mike: Well, I guess you’re talking about marketing automation, because that’s the podcast. So one of the interesting things that became very clear was that companies, particularly companies in the sort of, you know, late stage startup, they tend to have marketing automation teams. But the thing was limiting their marketing automation campaigns is content. So it seems to me and this is probably not different from from anyone else. But the people we’re talking to, we’re really struggling to get enough content to be able to run the automation campaigns they wanted to run. And I think that that’s something you know, we all need to think about, because content is so important.

Hannah: That’s really interesting. Thanks, Mike. And I think you’re completely correct. You know, there is no market automation campaigns without content. Exactly. Well, let’s cover some of the news stories that you’ve missed from the market automation world while you’ve been away. So the first thing I wanted to have a little bit of a chat about and slightly out of the scope of specific b2b technology, market automation platforms. But is that demand bridge has partnered with age to power a quote to order workflow. So basically, what this integration provides is a real time product information coming directly from Sage to include imagery pricing, to basically populate customer proposal documents within demand bridge itself. So it’s quite an interesting concept, don’t you think?

Mike: I think it’s really interesting. I mean, demand bridge isn’t really a classic marketing automation platform. But it’s fascinating that products, like demand bridge are really needed, because one of the big issues of marketing automation is that they focus on the marketing and not the sales. So typically, you’re not seeing quotes, modules within marketing automation platforms. To me, that’s something I think that that will come. I mean, I think it’s something that has to change as we go forward. But today, even some of the automation platforms that integrate both marketing, and also a CRM for sales, they still don’t have that quote, module, it’s still external. So it’s one big error, I hope we’ll see improvements of going forward.

Hannah: Definitely. And I think it is a challenge that companies face when they’re looking to export from just a CRM that they’re using to maybe it’s perhaps gold CRM, and they’re looking to move over to a platform that’s full sales and marketing. And actually, I’ve come across with they’ve been like, well, actually, we can do quotes directly in something like gold CRM. And that’s actually can be a disadvantage when moving over to a market automation platform.

Mike: Yeah, I think when you go to these integrated platforms, you can lose some of the functionality that you got with a separate CRM platform. So it is an issue for some people. But equally, a lot of these marketing automation systems will also integrate. And to be honest, once you get to a certain size, pretty much everybody’s on Salesforce. So we are seeing that you know that Salesforce dominance is still there for the larger enterprises. So it’s definitely coming. It’s definitely something that could could improve. It’s an area where perhaps the the market automation guys are lagging behind the CRM, guys, but I’m optimistic it’s gonna get fixed in the near future.

Hannah: Definitely. And I think there are solutions out there already, you know, there’s integrations, as you mentioned, but integrations such as panda doc that can be used to help that, quote, functionality come back into the automation integrated functions.

Mike: That’s such a good point. Because actually, even when you’ve got a CRM with a quoting function, sometimes people use other tools, Panda docs very popular because of its the signature capabilities. And so I think what you’re seeing is this problem where you’ve got all these little specialist solutions, but I suspect in the long term, it will be a process of consolidation and we’re just have to wait until that happens.

Hannah: Definitely. And I think the mention of integrations really moves us along to my next point, Mike. And this is because I recently came across an article by marketing charts. We’re a big fan of marketing charts here at Navia. But what was really interesting is this focused on the MAR tech stack and how the market stack is actually getting too complicated. So the report actually revealed that 40% of respondents in the USA and 44% of respondents in the UK believed that their Mar tech stack had got too complicated. Now, when does it start getting too complicated? When does it start getting way out of control?

Mike: I’d say interesting, because I mean, the complexity of some of these products, it feels like just one product would be too complex, if you’ve got a small team. But But I do understand that, you know, what we’re talking about earlier is a great example where you might end up with a marketing automation platform talking to a CRM platform, which talks to a quote platform. And that starts to get complex there in terms of managing just that simple process, from getting an inquiry through to quoting. But I think the reality is that actually, complexity means functionality as well. So today, people actually quite like choosing the best product for each particular task. And I will suggest that, although complexity can be a challenge, because we don’t have these, you know, truly integrated solutions, actually picking the best solution. And then dealing with some of the integration issues, can be a better a better way to go about it, than trying to pick something as integrated and frankly, doesn’t offer the functionality you need.

Hannah: I think that’s a brilliant point, Mike, that functionality, because perhaps that’s where marketers are getting confused. Because often these integrations or these platforms all have a use, perhaps it’s just analysing what you’re using what’s actually beneficial to what you’re looking to achieve. And that’s how you can start narrowing it down. So it’s not too complex when you look at the bigger picture,

Mike: for sure. And we’re seeing some people trying to integrate, I think HubSpot is perhaps the best example. And I think other vendors will follow. But it will tend to be slower, because at the moment, now, the technology is still evolving. And actually what’s happening is we’re seeing, you know, vendors concentrate on what they’re good at, and try and be the very best at that, rather than try and do an okay job across a wide range of different functionality.

Hannah: Definitely, and I think perhaps that’s one to watch, as we move into, you know, further into 2023, perhaps the second half of the year, we’ll see that slight change where the focus on the integrations will be made.

Mike: Yeah, I think maybe 2023 might be a bit optimistic. But But hopefully, you know, we’re going to start seeing more integrations. And we’ve seen that to some extent, with some acquisitions as well. So I think it is gonna continue. But yeah, I probably not as optimistic as you when I say, I figure it’s probably a three to five year kind of process.

Hannah: I’m always optimistic marketer, Mike, that’s me. You are brilliant. Well, I thought another thing we could have a chat about, Mike. As we you know, we’re now midway through January in 2023. And often this is where companies are looking at the different marketing automation platforms they can use. So whether they’re going from an existing CRM to go to integrated platform, maybe they’ve decided their budget needs to change, and they want to integrate from one platform to another. So what is really the key thing within a demo, when you’ve got a demo, you’re looking for your perfect marketing automation platform? What are the questions that marketers need to be asking in these demos to get the real outlook of how the market automation platforms are going to perform for them?

Mike: I love that question. And actually, has recently published an article giving the 15 questions you should ask during a marketing automation Demak. I mean, to me, I think one of the biggest challenges as a demo, it’s not the same as actually, you know, using the product and running it every day. And so to me, once you’ve understood that it’s got the functionality you need, which probably you’ve done on paper anyway, what your focus on a demo should really be is about ease of use, and how well the platform fits with your marketing processes. So to me, it’s about you know, how easy is it to use? How easy is it to integrate with what you do? It’s much less about seeing the flashy features? You know, that’s something you should be able to research outside of the demo. What do you think?

Hannah: Yeah, I definitely agree. But I would also say other important aspects is the training and resources available. So you know, if we take HubSpot, for example, we know they’ve got a fantastic training hub. There’s account managers per company that helped them have any questions. And I think that’s really vital as well to really kickstart in the market automation platform to be successful. Is are those additional service and health features available to you as well?

Mike: Yeah, you got to Good point there. I mean support is, you know, I guess part of ease of use, but it’s a very specific thing. I mean, however, I feel that today, most of the marketing automation platforms have realised that the biggest risk is having customers churn, so they sign up for a year and then leave, you know, the cost of acquiring that first customer is probably almost as much as the first year subscription. So therefore, it’s very unprofitable if you have customers leave after a year. And to be honest HubSpot, were one of the first to work this out and really provide great training, great support. But now I think if you look at what’s happening, in general, the training and support is very, very good across the board, may be, you know, slightly different in style for some of the, you know, big enterprise systems, where they expect a certain level of knowledge. And if you’ve got people who are really new, then perhaps the support isn’t geared to them. But equally, there’s also a big third party community in terms of training, support, and education. And, you know, a lot of people, they do tend to lean on their agency as well. So we know that quite often, our clients when they’re talking about issues with market automation, they’ll come to us first rather than going to the vendor, you know, and that’s a whole bunch of reasons partly we understand what they’re trying to achieve, then I have to give any context, partly because, you know, we’re very invested in making them successful. And maybe also, it’s just easier to talk to someone you know, and you’re working with on a day to day basis. So I think the support is is interesting, important. But to some extent, I think it’s becoming so because the vendors that are successful, almost by definition, have given good support.

Hannah: Definitely. And I know I’m very biassed when I say this, Mike, but I have to say I think you’re spot on there when you say talk to someone you know. So you know, we have a lot of clients with their marketing, automation queries, problems, help them notch their campaigns. And I think a lot of our success comes down to that we have such good relationships, that we can tell the truth, we can tell them when something’s going to work, when something is not the right idea for them. And that really is the benefit of having the experts around you.

Mike: Yeah, and I think we probably shouldn’t say this, which is probably a secret. But generally speaking, if you’re an agency partner, you get better support than you do if you’re a customer. So vendors will give agency partners special access into support. And obviously, that’s because they assume the agency partner has got a level of knowledge, they’re not going to ask the basic questions. So you’ll learn by skip that first level of support. So, you know, often talking to an agency, you’re actually getting that shortcut into, you know, the more experience and deeper expertise of the second level support team. So a little bit of a secret there as well.

Hannah: Definitely. And I think to relate to that, as well, as you know, the things like free trials, you know, we’ve talked about user functionality. And I think being able to focus on the free trials, but use an agency to skip that second step and get that free trial, rather than having to go through the long haul the demos, is a real benefit for company sometimes.

Mike: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I mean, although trials are limited, you can never really put all your marketing automation across to a new platform in a trial. I think they’re way better than demos. So they give you a much better flavour. So getting to that trial and be able to test a few things out. It’s not perfect, but it’s absolutely the right way to go.

Hannah: Definitely. So Mike, moving on to our insightful tip of the week, I was having a think about what I wanted us to discuss in this podcast episode. And we actually hosted a webinar on the first of February through pm GMT, focusing on customer journeys, and really how to use them, and how to use them successfully in b2b. And focusing on that, I thought it would be interesting to have a conversation around personas within market automation systems, because personas can have a lot of benefits within the customer journey, but also a lot of the functionality within the marketing automation platforms such as workflows, forms, things like that. So my initial question to you is, why bother with personas, if you could give me one sentence as to why personas are so important? Why should marketers bother with them?

Mike: Well, I mean, the obvious reasons, you make up silly names for the personas. So it’s one of the most, it’s one of the most fun bits of marketing is coming up with your persona name. So that’s clearly a reason I mean, more seriously. Creating a persona is really important because what you’re trying to do when when you’re you’re doing marketing is you’re trying to hit a range of people, not everybody’s the same. But what you really want to do is hit in the centre of that group of people. So you’re going to be most effective at hitting the largest number of people in your audience. If you’re aiming right to the side to someone who’s got really, you know, extreme motivations or extreme views, you’re probably going to be very ineffective at targeting that population as a whole. So your persona is kind of giving you the bullseye in the middle of this much bigger target, which is your audience. And if you’re aiming for the bull’s eye, that’s going to give you the best possible results. So That’s the really simple sort of technical reason for creating personas.

Hannah: And I think to add to that, Mike as well is this again screams why content is so key to market automation campaigns because we can hit the bull’s eye, but you’re going to make sure that not just your email and your messaging is Hitting the Bullseye. But also the content is tailored to their specific personas.

Mike: It’s such a good point, I mean, different personas need different content. And by understanding the persona, and typically it’s around, you know, the personas, pain points, what motivates them what their goals are, it’s content that either helps them achieve the objectives I ultimate, I guess, you know, when you talk about individuals get promotional look good in inside a company, or it’s content that helps them solve a problem. And the important thing is, once you begin to build personas, you’ve realised that different people involved in a buying decision will actually have very different pain points and very different objectives. And so therefore, you begin to realise the need to create content that’s targeted at each persona. And not only that, but also these different personas take different customer journeys. So you know, whilst a safe persona as great as the bullseye of what you’re looking to target in terms of your audience, the percent was also great because it effectively defines where you should be focusing your content, and also what the customer journey is going to look like. And all of those, when you put it together, fundamentally, the persona should be the foundation of a lot of your marketing activities.

Hannah: Absolutely. And I think it’s key to mention here, Mike as well, that using personas, and especially within the automations doesn’t have to be complicated. Now, you’ve mentioned a lot of different things there regarding how personas can work, how it helps within the customer journeys. But it doesn’t have to be a complicated process. If you have a plan in place for how the automations can help you send out the sequences and send out this content, then actually, it can be a really, I wouldn’t say easy, but I wouldn’t say hard, but a really good way an effective way to target personas effectively.

Mike: Yeah, and I think for example, what you do with with Napier’s marketing is great, because you’ve got two primary personas you target. And one is is fundamentally interested in PR and media relations. And the other is very much interested in digital. And actually, it really does reflect the kind of prospects and customers we see. So I think what you’re doing with vapour is a great example of how you can simplify it down. And you know, we have other personas, but we have these two primary ones. And he’s done a great job about defining what they care about, you know, what motivates them, and then building content that appeals to those two different personas. So much. So I know that you’re actually almost able to define which persona someone is that they come in as a lead by which piece of content they’ve signed up to receive.

Hannah: Yes, absolutely, that. And I think that’s the value of using something simple, like forms to identify which content piece links to which persona. And I have to say, when I’ve been building the strategy, and for this year for 2023, I’ve had it in my mind, okay, well, we want to run this Account Based Marketing Campaign for the example. And we’re going to use this piece of content. And I know this is the persona we’re targeting. And I think that’s the rule of consistency as well. You know, I’ve worked at Napier, I’m in my seventh year now of working at Napier. And we’ve had the same personas, we tweak the, you know, we might tweak their values, their interest as the year and the landscape kind of changes, but their fundamentals remain the same of what we’re trying to sell them.

Mike: Yeah, definitely, I think maybe the only thing is that the percentage of people we see who are really focused primarily on digital, obviously, as increased as Digital’s become more widespread. But we still have that kind of PR Media Relations persona, they tend to be specialists in a larger organisation. So rather than being a, you know, someone running, marketing, like a CMO, they’re much more likely to be a specialist. But for sure, you know, that persona has served us really well and continues to serve as well. So personas, I think work, they drive your content, they drive you understanding the customer journey, and ultimately, you know, they drive the market activities, as you say. So that’s super, super important.

Hannah: Definitely super important. So we’re heading to the end of our time. Now, Mike, it’s been a really interesting conversation, as always, before we say goodbye, is there anything else you wanted to share to our listeners today?

Mike: Actually, that’s a great question. I think the only thing is just to put another note out about the webinar we’re running. So if people are interested in marketing, automation, you know, one of the most powerful things is looking at the customer journey. And I’d love people to come and join our webinar. It’s the first of February, they can go to our website, or check out my you know, social media on LinkedIn, and sign up. So it’d be great if people could join.

Hannah: Brittany and thanks so much for your time today, Mike.

Mike: It’s been great. Another good conversation, Hannah.

Hannah: Thanks for listening to the marketing automation. Bye

Mike: And then podcast don’t forget to subscribe in your favorite podcast application and we’ll see you next time.