Adrian Mills, Solutions Consultant at CRMT, AKA 'The Problem Solver' gives us an insider’s view of his role and an insight into the world of marketing automation technology.
Describe your job role.
My official job title is Solutions Consultant/ Data team lead, but it’s not even necessarily focused on either of those two things! It's listening to the people that come to me with a problem and say, ‘Ok I want to be able to do this’ and coming up with the ideas to make it happen.
What’s a typical working day?
My actual job function is taking those requirements from customers or internally and coming up with ideas and solutions to solve them.
Sometimes the solutions come from the technology that we have, but it's how you use the technology to solve the problem. Other times, it's not just the technology we have but the technology that is available in the marketplace. Lastly, when the technology isn’t available we can create solutions to solve certain problems, like Normalator, which is a data normalization tool that CRMT have built from scratch.
From a team lead point of view, it’s helping the team in enabling them to do their day-to-day tasks, making sure that they've got what they need and that I'm available for questions to help them, so the two parts of my role are heavily split.
Can you elaborate on your skillset that enables you to do this job?
I’m lucky in that I have a logical mind that allows me to work out how to use systems very quickly. I am often called in to help my mum on a computer problem in a program I've never seen before because I can make assumptions about the buttons that are going to work and the things that are not working! The downside to this is that I am the Helpdesk for parents and family!
Knowing a system and how it works allows me to make educated assumptions about other systems in a similar vein. So utilising this with the above means for example, because I know Eloqua very, very well, I can make assumptions about Marketo’s and Pardot’s ability, since they are both marketing automation systems.
I have a deep understanding of CRM systems and databases, such as Salesforce.com – and the knowledge of how to integrate Salesforce with marketing automation tools is invaluable to our customers.
I am Eloqua Implementation Specialist and Pardot Specialist certified and hold a SFDC Sales Cloud Consultant certification.
What’s the best aspect of your role? What’s the worst?
The best aspect is problem solving, please give me a problem and I will want to solve it! The customer will say I want to be able to do x, y and z, how can I do that? It’s my job to come up with a best-fit solution to help them progress along their marketing journey.
I can, for whatever reason, look at systems and processes and just build them in my head. I can make a lot of assumptions, because I have a base understanding of how things should logically work. A lot of times I can come up with a solution for something based on knowing what systems are available and what they can do, so in theory if these aspects are available in that system then I can do certain things.
The worst aspect is documentation. Enough said! But I’m getting better at it.
What’s your working background, how did you get into Marketing Automation and Data?
I started off doing tele-cleaning as a temp, ringing people up and identifying whether contacts address and job titles were still correct.
I first worked with Microsoft Access, an MS Office database program. I went through a process of building little Access databases, very simple single table databases for manipulating data, moving on to big chunks of data cleaning and performing data deduping.
I then started building Pivotal databases. Pivotal's a big hosted CRM system that at the time was like an on-site Salesforce.com. We used to host these databases for 3-4 big customers including maintenance, upkeep and building new processes with the database. I learnt Pivotal by working it out and asking questions, then became the go-to Pivotal developer.
My first experience with marketing automation was basic email marketing, using a Pivotal email marketing tool to build emails – this was also how I first got into HTML.
The focus then shifted to marketing automation, implementing Oracle Eloqua and running SmartStarts. Running Eloqua lead scoring workshops for clients lead to the consultancy part of my role.
What are the most common customer challenges you come across?
The most common one is data, no one wants to pay for it, data is ‘this thing that exists, you have it, but it does not have tangible value’. But it is the foundation that drives everything you do, it drives every decision you make, the people you can contact, the way you appear to the world. It is important to your marketing goals (and to sales ability to follow up successfully) that this is in as good order as possible.
We have very manual rigorous processes that really looks at it and they take time… you give a client a quote for that, suddenly, it’s a low priority.
If you’ve got a good set of clean data, you can build the foundations for successful marketing. A lot of the engagements we have with the clients are about building good foundations to develop a digital transformation roadmap that builds their marketing automation and database strategy. If you don’t have these solid foundations, you can’t report on marketing activities.
If something is a common challenge, it gets solved. For example, if different clients keep raising the same issue, we create repeatable solutions to solve these problems. I.e. Demand.Center – another platform we’ve developed.
What’s your top tip for businesses thinking about MAP?
Even if businesses are using their email blasts tool intelligently it's probably taking a lot of their working time in getting emails out of the door in a repeatable manner to specific target sets of data. They have to build their one-off email in a batch and blast tool (such as MailChimp). Then they have to identify the data they want to use within a separate system, download this data, then get it uploaded into the tool and get the email out of the door. This process often needs to be repeated for each send.
Stepping up to marketing automation gives you all those things and if it’s well set up, it gives you that segmented database where you can create campaign flows that are repeatable and measurable. A little bit of effort up front pays off in the long run as instead of wasting time moving data from one system to another and repeatedly building emails, marketing teams can spend time focusing on the marketing planning (the fun bit) instead of reinventing the wheel every time.
For lead generation or lead warming, move away from email blasting people and move to lead nurturing. That’s the first step – improving marketing team efficiency. Then you're enabling Sales and driving change across your organization.
And for businesses that have just invested in marketing automation?
Stop using it as an email blast tool! Segment your data, identify the markets and types of people, and target your messaging. Come to an agency like us for some ‘blue sky thinking’. Come to us with an idea, and if you don’t know how to do it with your system, we will make it happen.
For lead generation or lead warming, move away from email blasting people and move to lead nurturing. That’s the first step – improving marketing team efficiency. Once this is done, move on to more complex nurtures that support sales and other part of the organisation, such as pipeline acceleration, retention even service announcements. Then you're not only making your marketing life easier, you are also enabling Sales and driving change across your organisation. Perceptions will shift from marketing being the black pit of money to a revenue generating part of the business with key influence.
What’s the next big thing in Marketing Automation?
- GDPR is the next big thing, as that effects everyone. Even if you’re a US based company marketing into Europe, you must comply. Whilst the punishments are severe (up to 4% of worldwide turnover) the fringe benefits of implementing it are a far greater reward - better, more targeted segmentation contacting only the people who want to hear from you, focused subjects they want to hear about, via the method of communication they choose, resulting in more valuable conversations with your prospects.
- Data – marketing departments are already starting to pay more attention to data and realising BAD DATA IS COSTING THEM MONEY.
- ABM - working with Sales to identify contacts in target Enterprise accounts, across all your personas then creating marketing campaigns that speak to them directly, in the language that resonates with them, based on industry, job level etc. Hyper personalized emails and targeted conversations.