Unlocking the Power of Marketing Automation: Strategies for Success
Today, we explore the world of Marketing Automation and how it can enhance your marketing efforts. Join us as we sit down with Martijn Knoops, a marketing expert at Dignify, who shares his in-depth knowledge and practical strategies on how to effectively use MA. Whether you’re a corporate or SME, this episode is filled with actionable tips to help you take your marketing to the next level. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from a marketing expert with years of experience. Tune in now!
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What are we talking about?
01:34 – Meet Martijn and Dignify
03:34 – What is marketing automation (MA) and why it’s useful
05:20 – Examples of great MA use
Let’s dig deeper
08:28 – Email is just a tiny part of MA
10:36 – Where do you start with MA?
12:25 – Doing MA as a corporate ; Doing MA as an SME
13:13 – Effective MA strategy 101
14:17 – Which is the best MA tool for you?
16:29 – Your next steps
21:25 – How MA impacts a team’s way of working
23:29 – Concrete tips when starting with MA
24:39 – Concrete tips when already doing MA
In the studio
Jean-Marc Santolin: Hello everyone and welcome to this new episode of the THOMcast. My name is Jean-Marc.
Emily Krick: Hi everybody, my name is Emily.
Jean-Marc: Hello Emily, we are meeting for the 19th episode of the of the THOMcast today. We have a topic that we already talked about, but we are returning and will see everything about it. You will discover we will talk about marketing automation, right?
Emily: Yes, so when you said 19th, I was a bit surprised, but yes. It goes so fast. 19…
We’re very happy to talk again about marketing automation because we already had a podcast as remark said. But today we want to focus more on the strategic part of the marketing automation plan. So today in the studio we have Martijn, so he will be the expert with us sharing all his knowledge about it. We’re very happy to have you in the studio with you. Hi Martijn.
Martijn: Hey hello, happy to be here. Nice to meet you. Yes, there’s a trip from Genk to Brussels but yes first time here at the THoM office, right?
Jean-Marc: Yes, for the ones who don’t know. We are located in Dieghem so a small trip from Genk maybe?
Martijn: One hour drive, so it’s still OK.
Jean-Marc: Thank you for coming.
Emily: So today Martijn if you can first tell us a bit more about yourself and what you’re doing in here actually.
Martijn: Yes, so I have been working at Dignify now for four years. I’m currently working as the Head of Project Delivery, which means I’m a project manager. For my own projects, but at the same time I’m also supporting other project managers within the dignified team in case they have problems or questions. So that’s my role current.
Maybe to give you a bit more background information, I started my career and back in 2010 at Selligent. I’ve been working there for 3 1/2 years as a campaign developer, which actually means that you need to set up marketing automation campaigns in that tool for customers of Selligent, of course. And after those 3 1/2 years I decided to move to the non-technical side of business. I started working as a project manager for multiple web agencies. And yes, back in 2018 I met a few people of Dignify. Alex Salagen colleagues actually. And yes, that was the start of. A new trip.
Jean-Marc: OK, it is so very interesting you mentioned you work at Dignify. Can you tell us a bit more?
Martijn: About the company. Yes, we are an agency specializing in marketing automation. So mainly we work with the. Two big platforms at this moment, which is Selligent because we have a lot of excellent colleagues within the team, so we also have a lot of Selligent experts within Dignify and on the other hand, we’re working with Salesforce, which is also a very known platform. Of course, when you’re talking about marketing automation.
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Emily: Thank you for a bit of information already, but if we go back to the roots and ask ourselves, “So what is really marketing automation and why is it important nowadays for companies? Because we hear it a lot and we think everybody’s doing it already. But still, we need to guess if. That’s true or not?
Martijn: First of all, helping the marketing department of. Company for me is also the bridge between marketing and it because the marketing team always has good ideas, campaigns they want to do. They want to run, but to start doing that they also need data and then they go back to the IT team and they say hey we have this great idea. Can you please share this data set with us or prepare this and then it will say Yes look. It’s a good idea, but you need to wait two to four weeks. And of course, when you want to run a marketing campaign, you need to be agile, so you don’t always have the time to do that. And there is the place where marketing automation can help. It’s really the bridge between it and marketing for me.
Jean-Marc: Yes, and really linked also to the tools that you mentioned, Selligent and Salesforce and plenty others that allow us to do this right?
Martijn: Yes indeed. What we often do is connect those platforms with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system on the company side. We have connection with the data so the data needed to run those marketing campaigns can sync to the marketing automation platform. And then of course the marketeers can work on the campaigns themselves within the tool.
Jean-Marc: So then. We can see also. I guess it’s also a link, a bridge. Between marketing and sales.
Martijn: In a way, right? Yes, of course yes. I think in many cases sales will have some goals they need to reach and to help them reach those goals. They need marketing to run campaigns, so indeed there’s a collaboration of different teams that you have sales of marketing, and you have it, yes?
Emily: I hear different things in your explanation and if we go back to why is it all for companies to go to more from marketing automation? I heard that it’s faster also to implement some strategic plans, but do you have any other example of strategic use of marketing automation?
Martijn: Yes, of course. I think when you’re a small company you want to do or you’re able to do your marketing campaigns yourself, and because you have a low number of customers, a low number of employees. But as soon as you start growing, you will not be able to do that anymore yourself. You need to make a switch to implement marketing automation. From a good one, for example, is like a nurturing flow. It’s something you, you know, somebody visits your website. You try to get some contact details of that person so you can reach out to them as soon as you have that contact information, you can start sending them emails, SMS for example, and you want to get. To get to know, of course, those people. It’s like going on a first date you. You’re sitting in with the person in front of you. You want to know that person, but you cannot ask all questions at the same time because else the date will not be a success. it starts at a really high level with one. Question and then you as you see that the the leads are actually reacting or engaging with you. You start to ask more questions and the more data you capture you will be able also to personalize the data for those dates. This will help you nurture those leads so they will become, for example, customers.
Jean-Marc: Yes, and build the relationship.
Martijn: Yes, that’s important.
Emily: Yes, and as Jean Marc said, it does also help sales because in the end you have a better qualified lead actually.
Martijn: Yes, yes.
Emily: they gain some time not qualifying the lead extra because the marketing automation has done it right.
Martijn: Yes indeed. I think there are different stages. Just like for example, you run a social campaign on Facebook or via Google AdWords. People click on it. You can see them as a lead as soon as they register via popup or a form. You can see them as a registered lead, and if also those people maybe attend a webinar of your company, then of course they’re really qualified and then the sales team. Needs to reach out to them because yes, those people are open for something.
Jean-Marc: If I try to summarize a bit, this part, which will be the basis for the rest of the conversation on what is marketing automation. we have. A very important layer of data that you want to improve to increase the relationship with the leads that showed an interest but are not yet ready to become customers. And then you build this relationship through this system. Is it e-mail, SMS or other stuff? There is plenty possible, so that’s why we’ll come back on that. And then basically once your leads become customers, if they do, yes sales can jump in first to sell, maybe to cross sell, upsell afterwards, et cetera.
Martijn: Yes indeed, and I think it doesn’t stop when the lead becomes extremer because you also want to make those customers loyal customers. you also need to engage with them and. Yes, you can also sell workflows for those type of. People a.
Jean-Marc: It’s basically all about dating applied to marketing.
Martijn: Yes indeed.
Emily: And at least nice that you mentioned in that journal that marketing automation is not only emails because also it’s e-mail automation or its marketing automation, different channel. Can it be used right?
Martijn: Yes, we really try to go or to use Omni channel approach like e-mail is still. I think the most important channel, but we also work for regions like in Dubai, Qatar and there we see that e-mail is less important, but they use more like SMS. WhatsApp, so this can also be implemented via marketing automation. You also have the website of course where you can track and start to engage already with your website visitors. So yes, there’s a lot to choose.
Jean-Marc: It’s a very interesting part, I think. Yes, I was in the Philippines for a bit of months some time ago, indeed. E-mail is nothing there, so the culture of the people that you want to target is important and there for example, it was everything happening on Facebook, even doctors’ appointments or stuff like that. It’s interesting this layer of.
Martijn: Yes, yes, yes, it’s possible. If I’m marketing automation.
Emily: Yes, and also you have the. The more you said, the more we think that and of course in B2B and B2C the approach will be different or the same. It depends on the audience, so this can all be done in the same kind of marketing automation structure, right? Even if you have a different audience, you don’t have to build different marketing automation platforms.
Martijn: No. If you choose the right platform, you can do everything within that platform. It’s all about first of all the data, proper segmentation, and link to that. Those segments you built, your campaign workflows actually and.
Jean-Marc: I guess the the discussion that we have now is also raising a lot of questions for the people listening. How do I do this? Which tool do I need? Do I have to use e-mail or actually listen to you? Maybe I should not work, so maybe let’s go into that part. Let’s go into it. How do you actually set up a set up program? It seems quite a huge one for a company, even for a small company. Sorry, where are you?
Martijn: Start so first of all, I think it’s important that the company creates a team of really stakeholders which will need to of course manage the project. On their side, and as I can speak from dignified side, we need to talk to these people. What we often do is that we do workshops. First of all, we do a functional workshop with people from business. We get a better understanding of what they want to achieve, which use cases they want to do. And based on that discussion, actually we do also do the next workshop with it, because like I said already, data is important. We need to get a view of the IT landscape of the company. We need to see what’s possible because the data needs to be connected to a certain level. With that marketing automation. Platform before we can run those campaigns, so those workshops are really essential and based on those workshops we get an outcome. Actually, something like a briefing, a goal with what the company wants to achieve. Yes, and if we have that Yes, what we need to do of course first is set up that data model and the data model needs to be ready. It needs to be ready now, but it also needs to be future proof because it needs to be scalable, and you start at one level. But of course, you want to grow to the next level and that data model needs to grow together with you and then it’s. Of course, it is up to the company or together with the marketeers to define those use cases and start setting up the campaigns in that marketing automation platform.
Jean-Marc: Yes, maybe I just want to ask a question because of course most of the people listening are from big companies, but. We also have smaller companies who are listening up to now and think OK, data model also heard about names of quite expensive tools. Alis marketing automation something that you start using when you already have a big business that is allowed to that has the capacity to pay these bills? Or to have these kinds of profiles? Or is it also for smaller businesses?
Martijn: Yes, the tools I mentioned in the beginning like Salagen and Salesforce. Those tools are quite expensive also they are more for the mid enterprise high enterprise companies. But you also have tools like, for example MailChimp or. Sports are cheaper and via these tools you can also start to set up your own marketing automation campaign, so that’s perfectly possible as a smaller or a mid-company. You can also do it.
Emily: That Yes, can we say that the most important part is really to set the goal and to understand what we want to achieve and.
Jean-Marc: OMTM indeed.
Emily: Even asking the question, I must imagine a situation when people think that marketing automation has a magic power and that all the goals will be achieved. So how can you really decide on which goal and how do you take? Because I guess you have a long list after your brainstorming, so how do you prioritize the goal?
Martijn: Yes, that’s something you need to do together with the stakeholders of the company. That’s not something we can decide on Dignify side. That’s a discussion alignment is needed for that, and I think you cannot do everything at once. As you say, yes, you need to go step by step and it’s important. I think that once you have set up a campaign, you need to give it a bit of time. For start to analyze the results and of course, that analysis is also really important to see what can be optimized to this. Because often companies have a long list of projects they want to do and you start working on project A, you finish it and you need to start working on Project B, but you never analyze project A, so I think you need to take some time to also analyze, analyze the APIs to optimize things and then you will get the best results.
Emily: if we summarize a bit, the discussion that we had you explained how what’s the start of the project, which is really setting up the goals and the Q. The eyes and at one point we need to decide OK, but which tool are we going to use? So how do you really technically select the tool for? A company.
Martijn: Yes, so first of all, I think that’s done in a sales phase. I’m not a sales specialist, but what I know that they do is that they really also start to talk with the people of the company. ID is also very important there. And the head of marketing because those two need to be aligned first before we can tell them what the best tool is you can use. And again, it’s on the company’s needs. Uh, you have, uh, small companies or big companies. But also again, even small companies can use expensive tools for marketing. Automation is just what they. Want to do?
Emily: So yes, right as you say, it’s not. It’s really about choosing the feature that you need in order to achieve the goals that you set up more than choosing a tool. Right?
Martijn: Yes, indeed great.
Jean-Marc: And maybe some other criteria. I don’t know if I can plug also the experience that I’m having now at worldline where we actually work, with dignified by the way. But yes, there’s some regions that come to me to ask. OK, which tool would you recommend and ask? The whole group is currently using it. In this case Salesforce. Yes, of course I said Well. Don’t hesitate to compare. Look at what you need, et cetera, but also. Know that if you go for sales force, the whole group will be able to help you, so that’s also an interesting criterion.
Martijn: Yes indeed, but also good to know. I think that most of those marketing automation platforms, especially the big ones, are able to connect with any type of CRM system. So that’s also something good, I think. And because of those platforms. Flexible, it’s not because you have Salesforce CRM that you also need to use Salesforce marketing cloud. You can also connect to sell agent marketing cloud. So yes, that’s good I.
Jean-Marc: Think that’s a good one to know in this in case you already have something in place. Yes, so. And by the way on. This question is. You really, really struggle. Don’t hesitate to contact Dignify. We’ll put the contact details in the. Encryption is OK, so at this point we have the KPIs (Key Performance Indicator). The objectives. We have a tool, and we have a team to set up the whole marketing automation. What would be done? Typical next steps?
Martijn: If I can speak for Dignify like a company wants to build a relationship with their customers, it’s also something dignified. Well wants to do with their customers so the B2B companies. What we often do is we dedicate a team of five to six people depending on how big the project is that continuously. Work for that. The customer part of the team is of course a project manager who speaks with business who is aligning on the planning. We have most of the time a technical lead or architect who is really important thinking about the data part, the data model, and then of course we have a team of marketing automation specialists who are really setting up the campaigns creating the. Emails the journeys. And yes, we often work in an agile way, working with Sprints, so we have that long list of to-dos or goals the customer wants to achieve and based on that long list we start to work at Sprint. We define which ones need to be done, which goals need to be reached first. We work on the Sprint planning. A Sprint of two weeks, for example, you do a retro review. You define the next steps, and you start working on the next Sprint. So that’s how we typically.
Jean-Marc: Work and what would be like typical Sprint content? Is it like content of the the communication that? You have or.
Martijn: Uh, notably when you onboard a new customer. First of all, the setup of the data model, that’s not one Sprint. Of course, those are multiple sprints, but once the data model is set up, what you can do is for example a welcome campaign for people who just are on the website. It’s something done by every customer. You do that once per in Dev, so first of all you need to work on the content the company does that or you help them with that. And then you need to set up the emails to campaign segmentation and you can launch already that welcome campaign. And in the meantime, you can work on the other campaigns, so you have something already live instead of waiting before everything is ready. You can, yes, it’s more agile.
Jean-Marc: If I understand correctly, you will also advise me. We need to look at the journey of a of a customer and like what is the first touch point that they would have with the company. And so maybe start with that and then everything that will come after you can work on it after. But at least you have this first touch point and then afterward the second one, et cetera.
Martijn: Indeed, yes, that’s a good one. Visualizing that customer journey at something done and via that functional workshop. And if you have that visualized, you can start dividing it into different campaigns and those campaigns can be done within those sprints.
Jean-Marc: MHM great. I just want to come also to make sure that everyone follows. There are two terms that you used that I want to make sure that everyone follows. Can you explain a bit about the data model? What exactly do you visualize when you talk about the data model?
Martijn: The data model. I think most of the companies already have a CRM tool in place where they have a lot of data so that. Part of that CRM data also needs to be moved to the marketing automation platform. We don’t need all the data because not everything will be used, but the key data needs to be there, like for example, contact details like e-mail address, mobile number. Maybe if you want to start personalizing your content, you need to have a first name, last name, gender. That would be those things, and then you can start to enrich that data by running marketing automation campaigns Mm-hmm. If you, for example, take an energy company, you can start asking those people who you already identified what the energy consumption is, and you can store that data in the data model too. Towards use it in your marketing campaigns. You just need to have that basic data in place which is coming from your CRM connector and then you can start enriching it and even maybe let it flow back to a data warehouse where they started doing some analysis on it. But yes, I’m not going to go to technical, so indeed.
Jean-Marc: And so back to what you were saying. Maybe the next step is setting up your data model, so setting up a bit about what type of information you would like to have on the people that you are communicating with.
Martijn: Yes, indeed, the data model needs to be. And yes, it needs to be ready for usage now. But it also needs to. Be scalable and that’s important.
Jean-Marc: And then the other the other term, I think, often misunderstood by companies is working agile. Many companies understand being flexible and accept anything that comes to you, how in? So not going to give the whole definition of what agile means and what is.
Emily: No, we had it already in a lot of different podcasts, but in every thematic agile comes up so it’s nice to remind that it’s a nice way to remind the agile way of working quickly.
Jean-Marc: The methodology. Absolutely yes.
So, working on setting up this marketing automation. We have the team they’re going to work in sprints on different. Stuff what? What does it mean concretely? For if I am a manager and I want my teams to work this way?
Martijn: key there are the the managers, the project manager on Dignify and the manager on company side. Those two need to talk to each other and need to actually prioritize the things that need to be done. And yes, working agile is also working. A bit flexible but flexible in terms of two weeks. within those two weeks we actually define a planning of things that need to be done and do not fit. Lot of things can change within those two weeks because we also need our focus. Of course, our people really work on something. After those two weeks, you also have a Sprint review where you review the work that has been done. Maybe the company is able to give feedback, also from our side we can give more input and then you define your next step so it’s really dividing the whole bunch of work into small pieces. You are actually more flexible. And more agile to go live.
Jean-Marc: If I summarize this section, we will talk about how to set up a marketing automation project. the first three aspects. Have your goals and KPIs well in place. Choose your tool depending on what you need. Also check what is available online as comparison and then have clearly in mind who is going to work on this. If you have a dedicated team that’s ideal. If you don’t have well, answer this. And then indeed the final bit, your data model and some planning. Even if you are a very small company, it can be for yourself. What are you going to work on when and maybe starting from the customer journey? What are the first steps the the first touch points? Of the customers.
Emily: Thanks for the recap, Jean Marc. I think it’s very clear on all the different steps, but that usually do in the podcast we always give some small advice or big advice to the listener, so for this one we will ask you if you would have some tips and tricks when you want to implement a marketing automation project, so you don’t have anyone, any marketing automation. Project that you want to start the project. What are the tips? And tricks for that.
Martijn: I think it tip number one for the company is that they involve the right people from IT and business, and they really need to create a team of stakeholders because if they have the buy in of that team the setup of that marketing automation project will also go much easier. So that’s really important. Tip #2 is of course visualizing that customer journey, so defining those use cases because that will also help to create your backlog of projects that need to be created on that marketing automation. Platform and of course you cannot do everything at once, but this will be this is a starting point of course, for the implementation of and marketing automation tool.
Emily: Great and then we were thinking as Romax said, a lot of company at this point might already. Marketing automation tool and Mark is already running marketing automation journey. for those who are listening to us, what are the tips and tricks that you will do? Share with us today.
Martijn: Now I think most of these companies already work to work with a partner, but if they want to see what things can be optimized, a tip I can give to them is that an audit be done by an external party. Let them review the marketing automation setup and based on that outcome you can see which campaigns can be optimized or which gaps you still have. To fulfill that complete customer journey. I think that’s a really important step. I’m not saying they need to switch to another partner, but I’ll let a third party review the setup always help.
Emily: And take the time actually to review the results. If the if the journey match the KPIs. If we go on the right direction the develop or kill the journey kind of decisions.
Martijn: Yes, that analysis, like I said, not all companies have time for that to do that, but it’s really key to, yes, analyze your or yes, the performance of your campaigns, else you won’t. You never will be optimizing your customer journey. for example, you set up a customer. Journey, you let that run for five years and you never change something. For me, that’s it’s not done. It always needs to be improved.
Jean-Marc: I see that you always come back too.
Martijn: Data, right? Yes, yes data we need to set up something but also data which is the outcome of a project. the KPI (Key Performance Indicator) is that data also needs to be analyzed.
Jean-Marc: Maybe if I can plug an added tip is don’t hesitate to go listen to our episode on growth marketing because I have the feeling that. Growth marketing, which is much more about a very structured data backed method, more than hacks. It can really help to understand a bit about what is working or not. Maybe a very baby step. There is AB testing but. I like testing things and understanding from data what does work can help improve your journey. OK, well I think we have everything for this episode. Thank you very much for coming from King and.
Martijn: No problem with those, my plan.
Jean-Marc: Yes, if you like this episode first, if you want to dig a bit deeper into marketing automation and how to actually set it up, maybe this short episode is just an introduction, so don’t hesitate to check out the landing page and also the website of Dignify so we’ll have all resources. In the description, as always. And don’t hesitate to follow for more episodes. Thank you, Emily.
Emily: Thank you, Jean-Marc, and thank you Martijn. It was a very interesting one. As usual, I want to say thank you. See you and speak to you next time, bye.
Martijn: Thank bye.
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