When marketing automation software is discussed, it typically is focused on how business-to-business (B2B) are implementing it to convert leads into sales opportunities that are worked by the sales team. But business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations stand to gain just as much, if not more, from using marketing automation solutions.
Kraig Swensrud, chief marketing officer of Campaign Monitor, provider of email marketing and marketing automation products for small and midsize businesses (SMBs), shares why marketing automation is key to the success of B2C organizations today. Kraig also discusses how marketing automation needs for B2C companies differs dramatically from B2B focused organizations.
The following is an edited transcript of the conversation. To hear the full conversation click the embedded player below.
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Small Business Trends: Give me a little of your personal background.
Kraig Swensrud: I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years and I’ve worked at companies large and small including the largest business focused software companies in the world like Salesfore, Oracle and SAP. I also started two companies myself. So I know what it’s like to be a small business owner. And currently I’m working with Campaign Monitor which is a mid-market company. So having seen things from all angles and been in the industry for quite a long time I’ve seen the evolution of technology and specifically marketing technology had companies large and small.
Small Business Trends: When you think about marketing automation you think about CRM. These things have been around for a long time but relatively speaking the adoption level particularly at the SMB level is been on the low end. We’re in 2016 right now. We have great technology. It’s easier, more affordable, and more accessible than ever. Why do you think some of these really important tools are still on the low end of adoption?
Kraig Swensrud: At the outset of business focused software a lot of these companies have been really successful focusing on enterprise software. They started out selling software to the elites and the largest brands in the world and so their software had to be really big; it had a lot of features. This type of software has its origins and actually the Fortune 500, not in what I call the Fortune 5 million or the millions of companies around the world that are exciting and are looking to grow but they don’t have the same levels of technical staff and resources and certainly budgets that some of the large companies have.
So what’s happened over the course of the last decade or so is a whole new breed of technology companies have emerged and have taken the benefits of the Internet in terms of creating products with great user experiences, that are easy to understand, and are available at price points that small and medium sized businesses can afford. And they’ve been providing this best of breed technology.
Different companies are creating point solutions that accomplish one or more of the capabilities of these large suites. For example in the marketing space there are great companies like WordPress that you can use to set up a website, or Campaign Monitor that you can use to run email marketing campaigns. Of course Google Adwords lets you in a self-service way advertise on the Internet. Or Optimizely, which is a cool new tool for AB testing, or AdRoll for retargeting. There’s a whole host of these simpler and more cost effective tools companies can use and they can use these tools to automate their business. That might be automating their marketing campaigns so they don’t have to do things manually or it might be automating their sales process which is what a lot of folks use CRM for.
The Need for B2C Marketing Automation
Small Business Trends: Typically when you think of marketing automation it seems to be focused a lot on business-to-business . But what about the B2C side of marketing automation? Is it as important to automate from a B2C?
Kraig Swensrud: It’s equally as important and in some cases more important for B2C companies to be using marketing automation technology as it is for B2B companies. Now when you have a B2B organizations typically what that means is you’re selling to other companies with sales reps and so the marketing department is responsible for generating leads and qualifying those leads, or scoring and nurturing those leads and passing them off to a sales organization. It’s using some type of Salesforce automation software. Now the process of selling to a customer when you’re about to be a company is dramatically different than when you’re a B2B company than when you’re a B2C company. Most B2C companies either sell their product directly through brick and mortar stores or of course more and more selling their product on line and those B2C organizations typically use an ecommerce application.
So, for example, a couple of our customers are Topshop out of the U.K., which is a fashion retailer, and Sephora, which is based here in San Francisco, a makeup company. Jaybird, based out of Utah, is a really awesome mid-market company that makes wireless Bluetooth headphones and competes with Bose and Apple. And one of my favorites is the San Diego Chargers, which is an NFL team that sells tickets to consumers.
These organizations don’t track their customer data in a B2B-focused CRM application. They track their data in either their ecommerce system like their online store, or they’ve got a specialized customer database; or in the case of the San Diego Chargers they sell their tickets through Ticketmaster. And so that actually is their CRM database. These organizations not only have different processes but they’ve got different back-end systems. So things like a web presence and things like ecommerce are more important to B2C organizations than things like lead scoring or qualification which are terms that they don’t even use.
Small Business Trends: You released a survey talking about some of the important pieces to the marketing automation puzzle and some of the attitudes around it. It seems like consumers of marketing automation technology are way more likely to be looking at Best of Breed technology. Versus looking for the big marketing cloud.
Kraig Swensrud: We recently did a study that really validated what we anecdotally knew and saw happening in the market, which was smaller and mid-market companies want to run amazing marketing campaigns. They want to they want to deliver phenomenal results for their business. They want to look like a hero to their boss and to the board of directors but they need to be able to do that on their terms. With technologies that are specialized for their business and they need to piece together what people in the industry are calling a marketing stack or different technologies that work for them that are all built to work together.
So for example us a smaller mid-size retailer might use Shopify to set up their ecommerce website and they can do that by themselves or they can use Campaign Monitor for their email marketing and the Shopify app and Campaign Monitor actually worked together out of the box with one click just like you would kind of log into your Facebook account or authorize Twitter to access one of the apps on your phone. And those are called Best of breed tools and what our survey found was that 82 percent of small and mid-market companies we surveyed said today they used best of breed technology to piece together their marketing stack or put together their set of marketing technologies that they use to automate their business. And that number was pretty surprising to me. I think anecdotally we felt that that was the case but the reality is that single vendor marketing suites or clouds as many people call them, they have a lot of capability but much of that capability companies don’t actually use.
Core pieces of technology like advertising technology from Google or an ecommerce site from Shopify or a Website that a company might get up and running on WordPress. Together with an email marketing technology from a company like Campaign Monitor, these are core marketing technologies that companies really of all shapes and sizes need. And it’s really not that hard to set them up and get them working together. And when I say best of breed what that means is they’re all the absolute best at exactly what they do.
And when people use these best to breed tools what they realize is that that each of them is phenomenal what they do and that means that each of them is actually really easy to use. And they’re self-service and that’s another thing that’s really critical for small and mid-market companies. They need self-service tools that they can pick up and use on their own and that they can get campaigns out the door this week not this month or this quarter this year. They can get campaigns out the door this week and they can use those campaigns to grow their business or self-service is something that’s really critically important from a lot of these best of breed tools.
Small Business Trends: There’s so much going on out there currently with marketing technology. Things like artificial intelligence, machine learning the IoT. Bots. Do you see any of those things or maybe something else that’s going to help accelerate marketing automation adoption?
Kraig Swensrud: The Internet of Things, machine learning, predictive capabilities, bots, everything you mentioned and more is incredibly exciting. But what I am really passionate about personally is small and medium size companies. And small and medium size organizations overwhelmingly need tools they understand and technologies they understand because they have to employ them to benefit their business now.
And so I think one of the most exciting things about marketing automation technology and what we’re doing at Campaign Monitor is that we’re bringing marketing automation technology down to smaller mid-market companies with extreme ease of use at a price point that really a business of any size can afford.
Small Business Trends: Where can people learn more about the survey and also the new product the new marketing automation product and also the e-mail marketing.
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.