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B2B marketing automation: An interview with Will Schnabel

This is one of a series of occasional interviews with top practitioners on topics of interest to B2B lead generation, marketing and new business development professionals.

Marketing automation has become a growing issue for B2B marketers as they strive to maximize lead generation efforts and provide personalized touch points for all prospects.

Will SchnabelWill Schnabel, VP of Global Business Development at marketing automation leader Silverpop, agreed to be interviewed for this blog post. Will joined Silverpop in 2007 following the company’s acquisition of Vtrenz, where he was President and CEO. Upon joining Silverpop, Will assumed responsibility for overall operations and product direction of Silverpop’s Engage B2B solution, a demand generation and lead-management platform and recently transitioned to focus on growing and driving customer integration with Silverpop’s extensive partner network.

Mac: I’m wondering how Silverpop is changing its technology to meet the changing needs of your clients.

Will: More marketers are now taking a strategic view of marketing automation rather than just an operational view. They’re looking at marketing automation’s increasingly robust capabilities and how they can help educate buyers in a way that nurtures relationships… and delivers sales-ready opportunities. Beyond increasing efficiency, we’re enabling companies to engage a buyer on her own terms and at her own pace – via social channels, scoring, segmentation, routing and automated campaign management. And the consulting capabilities around our solutions have also matured rapidly, with proven methodologies emerging that help a client crawl, walk, and then run – over time – with marketing automation.

I know you’ve had a flurry of product announcements this spring. Can you tell us about those?

Sure. We recently rolled out Engage 8.3 which was a very comprehensive release for us. Among the many new features are progressive profiling capabilities, multiple lead scoring models, social enhancements and snooze.

Snooze, in particular, created quite a bit of buzz in the marketplace. It gives marketers the ability to allow contacts to temporarily stop the receipt of marketing messages – for a week, a month, or six months, for example, rather than opting out of the program completely. This is a good option for someone who recently made a sizeable purchase and won’t have a need for that product or service again for some time; or for someone whose budget has changed and won’t be revisited until next year. By allowing them to Snooze, you not only save the relationship, but you let them know that you care about their preferences, which goes a long way in building customer loyalty.

That is a clever feature. You mentioned scoring earlier. Tell us more about that.

Our new Lead Scoring functionality creates multiple scoring models that segment on different product lines, geographies, behaviors or loyalty levels. So you have different views of a prospect that reflect the reality that they may be more interested in one of your products or services than others.

OK. That begs the question then, how do you automate how you handle prospects who are at different levels of engagement?

We automate that process so it becomes an ongoing conversation with each prospect, allowing marketers to learn more and more about each one over time. A contact who lands on your site for the first time may only be willing to give a first name and an email address. Asking someone to provide answers to too many questions during their initial interaction, or repeatedly asking for the same information, can lead to form abandonment. Our new Progressive Web Forms builder lets marketers pose new questions each time a contact visits their website or landing page, building the relationship over time and steadily gaining deeper insight into the contact’s interests.

How is Silverpop addressing the increasing importance of social media as a key marketing channel?

We were actually the first in the industry to address this when we launched Share-to-Social in 2008.

With the launch of Engage 8.3, we enhanced our social offers. Customers can now make it easy for their recipients to promote messages to their Facebook friends via “like” and “recommend’ buttons, and can suggest a list of additional Twitter accounts for a contact to follow after they’ve shared content. We also added StumbleUpon and Xing to the list of networks with which email recipients can share content. And we added location-based marketing capabilities via a FourSquare “To Do Button” option. Through this functionality, marketers create messages that recipients can easily add to their FourSquare account – so that they receive incredibly relevant offers when they check-in.

Thanks Will.

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