Marketing automation software allows you to perform both campaign management and execution. It helps marketing executives plan, create, manage, execute,automate, track and analyze their entire marketing portfolio from one central business system. Unlike email-only point solutions orCRM solutions, best-of-breed, on-demand marketing automation allows you to manage and execute multichannel permission-based marketing campaigns, both online and offline.

Brian Gramer explains how marketing automation software allows companies
to manage, design, automate and analyze integrated marketing campaigns.

Brian Gramer
CEO and Founder

Brian Gramer has an indepth understanding of marketing professionals’
needs and technology trends. Prior to founding Vtrenz in 1999, Mr. Gramer
honed his sales and marketing skills with Michelin Tire Corp., McLeod
USA and founded

Defying the Limits: Can you explain what ondemand marketing automation
software is?

Brian Gramer: Marketing automation software allows you to perform both
campaign management and execution. It helps marketing executives plan, create,
manage, execute, automate, track and analyze their entire marketing portfolio
from one central business system. Unlike email-only point solutions or CRM solutions,
best-of-breed, on-demand marketing automation allows you to manage and execute
multichannel permission-based marketing campaigns, both online and offline.

DTL: What’s different about automation software as opposed to the
old systems?

BG: In the past and still today many businesses use either CRM systems
or marketing point solutions such as email-only tools to manage or execute campaigns.
However, neither CRM solutions nor marketing point solutions have the necessary
functionality to allow you to manage, design, automate and analyze multichannel
permission-based marketing campaigns. Most CRM systems have a campaign management
component but not the necessary execution components. Most email vendors give
you limited execution capabilities but rarely any campaign management capabilities.
Neither the CRM industry nor marketing point solutions do a very good job at
campaign automation. Consequently, marketing departments have had to do complicated,
expensive integrations among several point solutions in order to have the necessary
capabilities for them to manage their entire relationship marketing process.

The limitations of current CRM systems and point solutions is evident in the
fact that almost all CRM systems allow integration by third-party vendors in
order to execute marketing campaigns. The problem with this option is that it
often requires integration of two to four point solutions into a CRM system
to do what iMarketing Automation can do, and marketing professionals are finding
this to be difficult, expensive and time-consuming to manage – especially at
the SMB level. Email-only tools are the most common tools for integration into
CRM solutions. However, because email-only tools are not built on a relational
database, you cannot get historic campaign reporting nor can you manage multichannel
campaigns and therefore do not have all the functionality needed to truly automate
your marketing processes. For example, you need certain components in a marketing
automation product in order to plan, create, manage, execute, automate, track
and analyze multichannel permission-based marketing campaigns. Some of the components
needed include: a survey or form tool, a landing page or microsite tool, an
email tool, a direct mail tool, a relational database, a segmentation tool,
an analysis tool and much more.

All those components should be tied together when you develop a campaign so
that your analysis of the campaign provides a macro- and a microperspective.
This allows you to see the results of the campaign as a whole. The level of
reporting is crucial in order to make future decisions on product enhancements,
pricing changes and who a company wants to market to. With a fully integrated
marketing system, I can see who responded to the form that I embedded in the
email sent to X group of people and how they responded to that campaign. I can
see how many people opened the email and what actions they took within the email
such as clicked on a link to download a white paper. I can see how many emails
bounced and many other details. Tying in the automation component then allows
the user to automate the delivery of additional communications via email or
other channels such as direct mail to recipients of a campaign that have taken
an action within the original campaign. Triggers can be set up based on campaign
behaviors, demographic information or any other information collected on the
customer or prospect. The marketing automation product allows you to have all
those components in one tool and manage it from your desktop.

You can integrate iMarketing Automation into a CRM system much like a point
solution, and still have that relational database underneath it. However, you
don’t need a customer relation management system; iMarketing Automation can
also be used stand-alone.

DTL: How was it developed?

BG: iMarketing Automation was developed by a team of marketing and technology
experts, based upon years of research in the marketplace. We talked to marketing
people to find out what it is that they want when they’re managing and executing
marketing campaigns. It’s almost like CRM exclusively for marketing people.
It’s a component of CRM, a cousin to the CRM industry, but it’s much different
because it was designed from the perspective of marketing professionals.

And because it was designed for marketing professionals, it allows you to blend
campaign management with execution to do rules-based marketing, which is truly
marketing automation. Rules-based marketing allows you to take the way people
respond to a campaign, and based on business rules that you establish, send
additional communications to them. You can even send them different content
based on how they respond. It is impossible to efficiently execute and analyze
the information if you don’t have a management tool and an execution tool integrated
on top of a relational database platform. There’s no way that you can effectively
manage and automate integrated marketing campaigns if you don’t have these tools
working together.

DTL: What are the chief advantages of the technology?

BG: One of the chief advantages of marketing automation is that it allows
you to put your marketing execution into a repeatable, proven process that actually
runs itself. You set up the business rules, you set up the content and all you
need to do from that point forward is edit the content and review your results.
Combine this with the advantages of an ASP (application service provider) or
on-demand model in which you don’t incur the capital cost of hardware or software
or the expense of IT people to manage it – and you can literally be turned on
and be using the product within minutes. You can customize it to your specific
marketing needs, or it’s ready to go as is. All resulting in a quick return
on your marketing investment.

Most companies push customers to their website where they capture leads. They
may have thousands of people visiting their website each day. And, sometimes
they are not even collecting the visitor information. If they are collecting
the information, they’re doing it through one form, or maybe even two forms.
These forms collect some basic information, and then typically an email notification
is generated and routed to somebody’s inbox within the company. Somebody then
has to manually take that email and either print it off or forward it to somebody
else in the organization to get that visitor the information they need. That
process is antiquated.

We find that it frequently takes weeks, sometimes up to a month, for anybody
to follow up to a prospect or customer. In fact, in 2003, META Group (Gartner
Group) reported 70 to 90 percent of leads generated from marketing activities
go uncalled on by the company’s sales department. If your marketing plan is
to drive potential customers to your website, why not have a system that automatically
segments visitors and immediately sends not just a single generic auto responder
email, but a series of autoresponses with highly relevant information that they

Sending relevant content to the right people at the right time is the key to
turning suspects into prospects and customers into repeat customers. iMarketing
Automation allows companies to manage, track, easily access and utilize all
data being collected from your website so that you can provide relevant information
back to prospects and customers in real time.

DTL: How is this approach changing the marketplace?

BG: People are realizing it’s just too expensive to pay for custom-built
tools. The cost of paying a custom development company to write your back-end
business rules and update your back-end database, and to implement some marketing
tool isn’t comparable to the cost of iMarketing Automation. Marketing is fluid,
so every time you design a campaign, if you use the custom development model,
you’ve got to go to a custom developer and tell them what you want to do. They’ve
got to custom develop the online forms and the business rules that tie it to
the database, and by the time you’re done with that, you’ve spent thousands
of dollars.

To do some simple marketing activities requires many companies to commit thousands
of dollars to their IT people, outsourcing and manual marketing activities.
With iMarketing Automation, you can plan, create, manage, execute, automate,
track and analyze all of your multichannel permission-based marketing activities
with one system, starting at less than $1,000 per month, depending on your specific
marketing needs. Custom development shops can’t compete.

In addition, ad agencies are changing the way they do business. In the past,
a traditional ad agency only focused on branding, content, creative and delivering
the communication via traditional mass mediums such as TV, radio, print, billboards,
etc. You would get these big bills from your ad agency and it was hard to determine
whether or not you were getting ROI. Now, an ad agency can use iMarketing Automation
to help their clients build permission-based marketing communities by driving
prospects from traditional mass mediums to campaign-specific landing pages or
Internet portals. Through these portals, companies can interact with their prospects
and customers and provide them with relevant information at the right time in
an effort to more efficiently move them through the buying cycle.

In addition, by creating a separate landing page (portal) for each media used
– or by utilizing click sources to track the point of origination – allows advertising
agencies the ability to better track ROI. If they do direct mail, drive them
to a landing page. If they do TV, drive them to a landing page. If they do radio,
drive them to a landing page. With that approach, you can analyze what media
is working best for you. So we’re changing the way ad agencies work in that
we’re changing the way that they’re accountable for what they do. We’re also
providing the ad agencies with additional revenue streams. For example, an advertising
agency can do all of their offline and online multichannel permissionbased marketing
campaigns utilizing Vtrenz iMarketing Automation. Vtrenz provides the technology
platform for advertising agencies and then they can provide marketing solutions
to their clients.

One of the most interesting things about iMarketing Automation is that we are
allowing small and mid-size businesses the ability to utilize advanced marketing
techniques to increase their business. The cost of developing a product like
iMarketing Automation internally is in the millions; no small or mid-size business
would have the means to invest that kind of money to build a technology platform
that is going to help them manage and execute their marketing campaigns. It
would be less expensive to do it manually or to outsource it. But since Vtrenz
hosts the technology, iMarketing Automation can be delivered to a range of businesses
at a nominal cost because the business does not have to have the hardware, software
or IT people to manage it. iMarketing Automation is truly software as a service,
a company pays a subscription fee and that’s it. Even Fortune 1000 companies
have been utilizing our technology. They’ve been paying millions of dollars
to manage technology that does what our model does. But now they are realizing
that it doesn’t make sense to continue to do that.

DTL: What do you see as the future of this application?

BG: I believe that all B-to-B communications and many of the B-to-C
communications are going to be driven electronically, and they’re going to become
more and more permissionbased. Businesses and consumers are inundated with communications
more than any other time in history and it is getting worse. Today we have TV,
TiVo, websites, blogs, instant chat rooms, email, Internet portals, radio, billboards,
direct mail, park bench advertising, indoor advertising, point of purchase marketing
and so much more. People are tuning out and deleting spammers. And email is
not the only spam medium; every mass medium is delivering spam. Spam by definition
is any unsolicited communication that you send to an audience. Did you know
88 percent of houses with TiVo do not watch any TV commercials? The marketers
who are going to win are going to be the ones that start building communities
by embracing multichannel permission-based marketing tactics. This type of marketing
will allow companies to get their prospects and customers relevant information
at the right time in order to move them quickly through the buying cycle and
at the same time give them an experience that gets them to want to tell other
people. The only way that you’re going to be able to do that is if you have
a tool that allows you to automate communications back to people in a dynamic
way that allows the content to change based on what they’re asking for. This
can’t be done manually because the number of requests and business rules necessary
to deal with those requests are going to be too enormous to keep up with.

DTL: What about mobility? Can the system work offline?

BG: It is mobile. For example, if your cell phone has the ability to
send email back and forth or if you can get on a website or touch some kind
of info collection form, then you can trigger a response from the system. A
simple way to look at marketing automation is if you’re an airline using a form
that allows customers to register for a flight. Customers can sign up to be
text messaged via cell phone if their flight’s going to be late. Some airlines
are already doing this, but they are paying millions of dollars to build this
internally when they can use iMarketing Automation instead.

Any communication coming from a company is a marketing communication. Communications
are going to happen in all kinds of different ways. The only concern by industry
analysts with on-demand systems has been their view that they are less customizable
and integratable. These concerns are no longer valid and are being proven wrong
every day.