When Noelle Sweet joined WhiteHat Security as the new Senior Director of Sales and Marketing Operations, she put marketing automation high on her list of the few critical areas she wanted to tackle right out of the gate.
The web site security solutions vendor had been using an enterprise marketing automation platform for a couple of years, and Sweet wanted to explore other options that might be a better fit for the business. The timing was tight, as the contract for the current marketing automation system was expiring.
Sweet sees marketing automation as the lynchpin to everything in marketing. “You have to be smart about the technology you use, and hands-on experience with it really helps. I had used the platform we were considering at several other companies, so I had confidence in its capabilities and knew it was up to the task.”
Assessing The Current State
Sweet kicked off a current state assessment of their marketing automation in her early days at WhiteHat. The key findings that came out of her analysis that drove their decision to migrate to another marketing automation platform include:
- The current platform was not very intuitive. New users struggled to learn how to use the system and it took too long to get things done;
- It was taking the team too long to set up campaigns, and subsequent campaigns had to be built to achieve visibility into common activities such as email opens and click-through rates;
- The marketing team was not able to manage the system directly, but relied on another team for this;
- The platform was significantly more expensive to operate than comparative alternatives; and
Reporting on business metrics was too difficult, requiring a series of cutting and pasting from various sources.
Sweet and her team set an aggressive goal to migrate from their then-current platform to the new platform in 30 days. “I wasn’t sure it could be done, but a roll-out that was longer than four weeks would put all of our marketing plans at risk.”
- Analyze and assess current systems and processes. Examining WhiteHat’s current processes using their existing platform enabled Digital Pi to quickly surface questions, find answers, and help map out their strategy.
- Meet with stakeholders. Getting stakeholders involved in a marketing automation initiative at the beginning helps ensure its success over the life of the project and sets the stage for ongoing success. Understanding the varying skill levels of the team is also critical component of success.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. The team used 37signals Basecamp as a communication hub. It lets team members upload files, start discussions, and track the status of tasks.
- Assign project areas of focus. The WhiteHat project was divided into the following areas: Application setup and integration; data migration;marketing programs and asset migration; foundation setup: lead lifecycle, lead scoring and lead sources; training; and architecture documentation.
Why This Worked At WhiteHat
- Access to WhiteHat stakeholders and quick-turnaround on questions. Having 37Signals made communications flow effective and created a well-documented process with long-term value.
- WhiteHat allowed room for change versus sticking with the way things were done before.
- Executive support from the top down. Sweet secured management buy-in up and across the management team, including WhiteHat’s CMO Johannes Hoech and CEO Stephanie Fohn. That commitment went a long way in opening the door for change and rapid deployment.
- Support for a standard marketing automation foundation that could be adapted to specific business requirements.
Superior planning and teamwork enabled us to get WhiteHat up and running successfully before the thirty day project deadline with no disruption to the business. It was a smooth transition that positioned the team to move forward quickly to capitalize on the new platform with new programs, analytics, and more. Noelle says these are the key benefits the team is seeing so far on the new platform:
- The marketing team can run independently, increasing productivity while reducing costs
- Understand and easily report on the lead-lifecycle and analysis of where marketing investments are best spent;
- Allow sales to engage in efforts through marketing automation data supplied directly to sales reps in Salesforce.com; and
- In-depth analysis of ROI (cost per lead analysis).
Tom Grubb is an advisor and principal at Digital Pi, a digital marketing consultancy that specializes in marketing automation design, implementation, support and training to SMBs and enterprise companies. He has more than 18 years of experience leading marketing at tech companies including Intuit, ThreatMetrix, and CA Technologies. Prior to Digital Pi, Grubb was VP of Product Marketing at Marketo.