Marketing Intelligence in the World of Marketing Automation

It has been a long week of networking at an industry trade convention, but even your very best efforts at finding valuable new business leads have been less than fruitful. Perhaps it was that awkward joke you made, or those onion bhajis you had for lunch?but under pressure to find new leads for your B2B company, no amount of excuses will fly. Perking up suddenly, you remember that the company recently agreed to your suggestion of using a new marketing intelligence platform.

Arriving back at work on the Monday, you immediately set about linking your company's marketing and CRM software to the new marketing intelligence platform. You profile your ideal customer and let the software do some additional data analysis to discover what type of prospects your company has the best success with.

Long before analysing your data, the marketing intelligence software has been crawling the entire social web, profiling each business professional. A prospect might have mentioned something about searching for a product similar to yours, or that they are unhappy over existing arrangements with another provider?either way, the algorithm assigns a score to each person?the higher the number, the better the chance that they will buy your product.

After selecting the number of such apparently high value prospects that you would like, the marketing intelligence software then begins to send your highest scored prospects to your marketing automation software, which in turn proceeds to generate and send relevant (customised) marketing content, nurturing prospects that are most likely to develop into solid leads for your sales department.

Fresh intelligence

Too good to be true? While marketing automation software is nothing new, the ability to weave it with external marketing intelligence data is still in its early days. One company that claims to sift through this mountain of data to provide B2B marketers with intelligence is The Tel Aviv based company Mintigo. Jointly founded in 2009 by tech industry veterans Ehud Ben-Reuven and Jacob Shama, Mintigo claims that it enables marketers and sales teams to leverage the Big Data of the Web and social channels without needing to know anything about analytics.

Integrated directly into CRM, teams can apparently set campaigns in a simple four-step process:

Mintigo also claims that it matches patterns from your existing customers and pipeline, searching and sourcing business contacts who look like your ideal target. It then claims to answer questions like:

In an interview Shama explains,

"We knew we were onto something when we started analyzing what we call 'CustomerDNA,' and kept finding things that surprised our customers." One of Mintigo's clients found that companies active on Twitter were 7X more likely to buy. Another customer found that companies with employees citing "SaaS" or "cloud" experience was 12X more likely to buy its products. Shama continues, "Just like DNA, it's unique for everyone. But even our most sophisticated clients were learning new, powerful things about who was actually buying their products."

In this drive towards automating many marketing functions, even Marketo?itself a marketing automation firm?claims to have benefited from Mintigo's platform.

Proceed with caution?

It all sounds so perfect for the marketer, put your feet up and have the best leads delivered to you while the tool itself keeps on learning. But what are the risks and pitfalls. One point that should be very obvious of course is the openness of data. What happens if either through public or government pressure, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other such social sites are pressured to shut off 'firehose' access to their data or increase privacy options. What if aggregating and selling such data (in any format) becomes illegal or heavily regulated?

Were this to happen, given that Mintigo's entire business model is built around access to such data, surely it would be unable to continue as a viable business. What the $10M of venture capital funding that it recently secured would suggest though is that such concerns are not at the forefront of its backers' minds.

Secondly, what of all the individuals that have a barely visible online footprint. In the groupthink prominent on social media and the Internet, it's common to assume that everyone is either on the social web or planning to sign up. What this ignores is the significant generational gap in social media use. Even taking LinkedIn into account, only 60% of 50-64 year olds are active on such sites, with this dropping to an even lower 43% for the 65+.

Of course, the trends are likely to change in favour of greater social media use as the younger and more social media savvy generations age, but the lesson here is that you are likely going to be out of luck if your potential prospect is 50+. This is particularly bad news if you are after CEOs, senior-level executives, and board members (most typically in their mid-50s).

There is little doubt that on first observation Mintigo certainly appears to be a valuable marketing intelligence tool for businesses. Successfully automating the time and resource intensive task of discovering good prospects would be a major boon for a lot of companies. At this juncture though, it's far too early to be placing all of one's eggs in one basket. As such, a wiser investment would be to use such social marketing intelligence tools, not as a replacement for all lead discovery efforts, but as yet another potentially valuable addition to the marketing and sales toolkit.

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