B2B marketers face numerous challenges, not the least of which is in the building and maintaining of the automated campaigns required by today's lead management processes. Consequently, there has been a heavy focus around the usability of marketing automation tools, and I'll have to agree that it is a very important part of making the solutions successful.
As I've written about before (It takes more than technology), other factors come into play as we consider the strategy, process, people, and technology involved in lead management. But accordingly, usability can have a dramatic impact on the ability of the technology to support the business needs, but also in ensuring user adoption and acceptance of the solution. A usable solution allows B2B marketers to focus more on planning, execution, and measurement, rather than having to deal with an increasingly steep learning curve. This is especially true as our marketing organizations are constantly changing with new personnel.
With regards to product usability, David Raab has begun some nice work in trying to differentiate the true nuances of usability in the different marketing automation solutions. Usability can mean many things to different people, but as the core use in lead management, it generally is thought of with regards to the ability for the user to easily create, update, and maintain the lead management workflows and nurture campaigns. These campaigns, which are the heart and soul of modern lead management, provide for triggered and timed marketing responses to prospect online behaviors. These automated campaigns, including sophisticated segmentation and scoring, are what make marketing automation so powerful.
Simple or Complex
So how do you make campaign building as easy as possible for the user, but still provide the dynamics necessary to support sophisticated programs? Well, generally there have been two main approaches, and analysts of marketing automation have tried to bucket solutions into either simple or complex. Simple implies a straightforward way to build a multi-stage campaign; think of a three step drip campaign as part of the planning around a tradeshow. Complex implies allowing for numerous interactions and zig-zagging of flows between segments, products, and market segments. For those of us having sketched out a fully functioning lead nurture program, you can understand the incredible spaghetti diagrams that result.
So what's a user to do? Either use a simple solution that gives a 1-2-3 campaign building approach with its inherent limitations, or use a Visio-like program that tries (but many times fails) to represent the spaghetti diagram, hoping that you'll never have to go back and make changes due to the complexity. It can be a difficult decision
As one of the pioneers in developing multi-track, multi-step automation solutions, Silverpop Engage B2B has always strived hard to balance ease-of-use with needs of sophisticated programs. To that end, we have just launched a new paradigm in campaign building.
The Best of Both Worlds
Merging Visio "process flow" concepts with horizontal video-editing-style features which many digital marketers are familiar, Silverpop is now providing a new model for digital campaign building. With this new visual approach, I believe Silverpop is again raising the bar for ease-of-use by offering its solution to allow for both styles of campaign creation...our highly flexible 1-2-3 track/step building approach, and a new drag-and-drop, visual approach. And the best part; each approach can be used interchangeably, allowing for rapid creation and reuse of campaigns and campaign elements.
Just to give you glimpse, I've included a shot below of the visual campaign builder, or check out a quick sneak-peak video.
As you can tell, I am very proud of this achievement by the Silverpop design team, and am eager to hear feedback from the industry at large. But more importantly, I'm looking forward to hearing from our customers. They continue to be the greatest source of our ideas and inspiration. This new GUI was launched recently at our annual U.S. Client Summit, and initial response was overwhelming. Laura Ramos from Forrester Research was also given a preview and expressed in a recent blog post that Silverpop "Sets New Bar for B2B Campaign Design Tools."
But for those of you who know our product innovation leader, Bryan Brown, he will never, ever be fully satisfied. Silverpop will continue to push the envelope on usable, innovative features to help B2B marketers solve their unique and evolving challenges.
So maybe you can really have it all.