From Guesswork to Genius: How to Get Maximum Value from Marketing Data and Automation

Mariann Bartucz
HCLTech-Starschema Blog
12 min readApr 19, 2023

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Are you tired of your marketing efforts feeling like you’re shooting arrows in the dark, hoping to hit something, anything?

Well, put down the bow and arrow, because marketing data and technology are your latent superpower. It can transform your marketing and business decisions, give you a leg up on the competition and help you uncover hidden opportunities. With marketing data, you can finally take luck out of the equation.

Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash

Marketing data is not just a bunch of numbers and graphs. It’s your opportunity to dominate the market and leave your competitors in the dust. By analyzing your customer’s behavior and preferences, you can transform your marketing and business decisions to make your campaigns laser-focused and hyper-personalized. And marketing data can unlock insights not only into your customers but also into potential areas for improvement within your sales and marketing departments. It can provide valuable information on which campaigns, opportunities and tools are delivering the highest ROI.

But to make the most of your marketing data, you need a solid understanding of how to collect and clean it, as well as which tools to use. So put on your data scientist hat and get ready to revolutionize your marketing strategies.

Mastering Your Marketing: Strategic Planning for Successful Lead Tracking

The planning phase is a critical step in implementing successful marketing automation. Before embarking on this journey, take the time to identify the problem you would like to solve. These could include streamlining the lead generation process, improving lead nurturing and qualification, increasing customer engagement and retention, analyzing the customer journey and more.

Next, define the scope and objectives of your project. Identify time-consuming actions that can be automated and determine which use cases have enough clean data for successful automation. By doing so, you can minimize potential risks such as delays, conflicts, and technical or budget limitations and establish data governance processes that ensure accuracy and up-to-date data.

Get Started with What You Already Have

This is where you get serious about data — let’s start by examining your current data sources. Think about the systems you use for CRM, website analytics, email marketing and any other tools you have in place. What data do you currently have access to?

Consider what data would be most beneficial to accomplishing your marketing goals. Are there any gaps in your data that need to be addressed before you can effectively automate your marketing processes?

In some cases, the data gaps you may find can be solved by acquiring new data through additional data-tracking tools. For instance, if your current tools fail to capture essential data types like social media engagement or specific website visitor behavior, then acquiring new tools specifically designed for those areas can help fill in the gaps. By carefully evaluating your needs and identifying any gaps during the planning stage, you can ensure that your marketing automation efforts are founded on a reliable and relevant data structure.

It’s critical to engage stakeholders from various departments, including developers who can provide professional insights into what’s feasible and what isn’t. They can also help you identify any technical obstacles that may arise during the data collection and analysis process. By involving the appropriate stakeholders from the outset, you can ensure that your marketing automation plan is well-formed and backed by a collaborative team effort.

Finding Your Marketing Automation Match

You have a plan, and you have your data. Now you need the perfect marketing automation tools that match your business needs. Tool selection is a crucial part of the planning phase of marketing automation. With all the shiny marketing technology software out there, it’s easy to feel like a kid in a candy store — except the candy is expensive and all eyes are on you.

So, before you go overboard and start building a gingerbread house out of marketing software, take a step back and focus on finding the right tools for your business needs. Your budget (and company) will thank you.

At Starschema, our primary business goal was to boost lead generation by gaining a complete understanding of how prospects engage with the brand. We were eager to gain a more in-depth understanding of our customers and their behaviors: their website navigation, content preferences, paid marketing campaign responses and intentions. Google Analytics only gave us part of the picture, as it can’t collect data about our prospects and customers on an individual level and only shows anonymous data.

We wanted to know how our prospects engage with our brand when they’re moving toward the buying process, and what kind of tendencies and patterns we find. We also wanted to uncover any weak points. We considered marketing automation tools like Marketo, Eloqua and Pardot, but being a data engineering company, we ultimately chose to create our own system. In the end, we were able to optimize our marketing tactics and drive more and better-qualified leads into the sales pipeline.

Regarding the system integration process, we wanted to make things as simple as possible — and it’s not an easy task when it comes to a fundamentally complex system. We started by evaluating our existing marketing tools: Autopilot for email campaigns and Salesforce for CRM. Our aim was to find a solution that would seamlessly integrate with both tools, allowing us to expand the scope of information we gather about our prospects.

That’s when we discovered Twilio Segment. With Segment, we can easily track website activity information and use that to interact with prospects in a much more personalized way. In addition, the tool’s effortless integration with both Autopilot and Salesforce enabled us to consolidate and monitor all our crucial data in a single location, which happens to be Snowflake — the database we opted for.

One of the main reasons we chose Snowflake was its streamlined integration with Segment, which saved us from having to use any convoluted ETL tools. As a bonus, Snowflake’s integration with Salesforce ensured a smooth data flow across all our tools, making our data-driven decisions even more powerful.

Data-Driven Marketing: Jumpstarting Your Strategy with Smart Data Collection

After choosing the marketing automation tools, it’s crucial to determine how the collected data will be used to inform your marketing strategy. A key step is to implement lead scoring, which assigns point values to various online activities — in our case website and email activities — that indicate a lead’s level of engagement and potential to become a customer.

While there are some useful cheat sheets available online to help set up lead scoring systems, it’s essential to test and refine the system to ensure the right score values and thresholds are being used for your specific business needs. This requires running tests to see what works best for your organization and the events that are most important for you to track. Proper lead scoring can greatly benefit your sales and marketing teams, as it provides a clear understanding of which leads are most likely to convert and allows for more targeted outreach efforts. This ensures that your sales development reps spend focus their time on the most promising prospects.

Additionally, it’s worth setting up lead grading besides lead scoring to provide even more valuable insights. Lead grading takes into account factors such as a prospect’s company headquarters, country, annual revenue, job title, professional level, industry andwhatever else you deem relevant to determine the quality of lead for your business, product or solution. This information can help your SDRs better understand which leads are worth pursuing and how they should engage with them.

You now have some lead value indicators in place, so let’s dive into website activity tracking. When you collect raw data in a database like Snowflake, you have complete flexibility in how you analyze that data and access visitor intent. You can tag each page of your website with the subject or subjects presented, and with some development, you can create custom alerts and notifications based on intent thresholds — e.g. five interactions with content relevant to a specific subject — or whatever criteria you want, so your SDRs can reach out to engaged prospects at opportune times with knowledge about their interest and be ready to help them through this specific stage of their buyer’s journey.

And adding some social marketing spice to the mix can make things even more exciting! Here at Starschema, to be able to track our leads’ social campaign interactions, we implemented a solution that utilizes UTM parameters to identify which campaigns our prospects and customers engaged with on which channel (Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn). This approach enables us to collect valuable data on our social media campaigns and gain insights into their effectiveness. We use Snowflake to collect and store this data and pull it into Salesforce, allowing our SDR colleagues and marketing managers to get a clear overview of the success of our marketing and remarketing campaigns. By leveraging this approach, we’ve been able to expand our understanding of our customers’ behavior beyond website and email interactions. Analyzing the behavior of your leads across different channels and content types can help you determine which strategies are most effective for your business.

Level Up Your Lead Tracking Game: Advanced Mode

If you’re looking to supercharge your marketing automation efforts, there are some other cool tools you can use. For example, if you’re considering setting up an effective account-based marketing (ABM) campaign, you may want to consider using IP address tracking options. This allows you to identify your website visitors based on their IP address, providing insight into which companies are showing interest in your products or services. This way, you can focus your marketing efforts on the accounts that are more likely to convert.

There are also AI-driven process automation tools that can help you determine the next best action to take for each lead. It’s like having your own personal assistant — but smarter and less likely to forget your coffee order. It leverages both historical and real-time data to help identify the most effective actions to take in any given situation, whether it’s sending a follow-up email, recommending a specific product or service or scheduling a call with a sales rep.

Just remember: before you go wild with all these shiny tools—and it’s not easy to resist if you are a marketing technology fan — make sure you really need them and make use of their power and sustain the operational overhead. With great power comes great responsibility, and the more complex your marketing automation setup becomes, the more time and resources it will require to manage effectively. Make sure you can swim before you jump in the deep end.

One Test is Never Enough

Marketing automation may seem like a magical solution that will save you time and increase your revenue, but even magic requires a bit of testing. After all, you wouldn’t want to wave your wand and accidentally turn your customers into frogs, would you?

So, take the time to test your automation system thoroughly before unleashing it on the world. One small mistake can lead to a domino effect of problems that can derail your entire business strategy — or worse, it can go unnoticed, driving efforts in the wrong direction and wasting a lot of money in the process. Continual testing is the key to ensuring that your data is trustworthy and that you can make informed decisions based on that data.

At Starschema, we conducted a series of tests at different stages of the project with the development team to ensure that everything was working as intended. In the initial stages, we used Salesforce Sandbox to link the different systems together and verify that the data we wanted to add to leads — such as website activity data with score values and activity thresholds, as well as paid marketing campaign data — was appearing correctly. We also tested to ensure that the existing email activity data was merged correctly together with the new ones. These tests allowed us to identify and resolve any issues early on, ensuring that the system was functioning as it should from the outset.

Once we had everything connected and set up, we started testing the whole activity tracking and lead scoring system daily. We wanted to make sure that the scores provided a realistic picture of engagement levels and that the activity thresholds were set correctly.

We also monitor the impact of website changes on the Segment data, as modifications to the website, such as adding or removing events, lead gen forms and adjusting score values, can have a significant effect on the system. It’s crucial to correctly track all changes and avoid duplication or missing data. This means paying close attention to the integration between the website and the entire marketing automation system and conducting thorough testing to ensure that everything is functioning as it should be.

In our testing process, we tested the system in a variety of scenarios. We also created fake IDs to simulate different user behaviors and ensure that everything was working as expected.

Through this testing, we were able to identify and address any issues that arose and refine the system to ensure that it was delivering the most accurate and reliable data possible. This allowed us to create reports that provided valuable insights for both the management team and sales colleagues and helped to drive more effective decision-making and sales strategies.

Data-Driven Decisions: The Key Takeaways from Our Marketing Automation Analytics Report

Imagine having access to all the data you need to understand your customers and their behaviors. Sounds great, right? But, once you have all that data, it can be overwhelming to figure out what to do with it. It’s now time to fine-tune everything and figure out what information to show whom and what level of detail is needed for each department you want to provide with data. That’s where reports and notifications come in handy.

Reports allow you to break down the data into smaller, more digestible pieces of information and help you understand more easily what you already have. They give you a high-level overview of your marketing campaigns, lead activities and other important metrics. These reports can be customized for different departments so that each team can focus on the information that is most relevant to their work.

At Starschema, we use Power BI to build our marketing reports, which are powered by data extracted from Snowflake, our central repository for all marketing-related data (website, email, social marketing and CRM data).

Our management reports provide a high-level overview of marketing campaigns and their KPIs. For our inside sales efforts, we have different reports that show data for rolling 30 days about lead activities, including monthly most active leads, reports about activity threshold changes, leads who are highly interested in specific products or services and more.

And that’s not all! We also built a notification system to make sure our SDR colleagues get important information instantly. These notifications are built in the same structure as our reports, but instead of showing rolling 30-day data, they’re sent a few hours after someone meets any of the criteria mentioned above. To be able to send email notifications from Snowflake for the specific rules, we use Azure.

The importance of these reports and notifications cannot be overstated. They allow us to understand our customers on a much deeper level, customize messages for them on the right channels and, ultimately, drive better business results. We’re constantly testing and fine-tuning our approach to make sure we’re getting the most out of our data.

So, if you want to take your marketing to the next level, consider investing the time and resources to define, design and build a robust reporting and notifications process. Your customers will thank you for it.

Navigating GDPR Compliance

While you’re busy implementing marketing automation and analyzing data, it’s important not to forget about GDPR regulations. After all, no one wants to be hit with hefty fines or tarnish their reputation due to non-compliance.

With the implementation of GDPR regulations, it’s crucial to properly inform the people whose data you collect about how it’s being used. This applies particularly to those working with prospects in the EU, where GDPR rules must be followed strictly to avoid fines. This includes being transparent about the purpose of data collection and offering a clear opt-in option for prospects to consent. It’s equally important to provide prospects with the option to easily withdraw their consent and have their data deleted upon request.

Remember, GDPR is not just a buzzword, it’s a legal requirement that can’t be ignored. Keep it in mind and stay compliant when working with prospects in the EU.

Mastering Marketing Automation

Marketing technology can be a game-changer for businesses of all sizes. By utilizing the right tools and strategies, you can gain a competitive edge, better understand your customers and improve the effectiveness of your marketing and sales efforts. Remember that building a successful marketing automation system takes time and effort. You need to test, tweak and optimize your system until it’s running like a well-oiled machine.

So, roll up your sleeves, put on your data science cap and get ready to take your marketing automation system to the next level. Because if you don’t, your competitors will — and we can’t have that, now, can we?

Mariann Bartucz is a Demand Generation and Marketing Technology Manager at Starschema. She has over a decade of experience in building digital marketing operations from scratch at large and medium-size international corporations and fine-tuning them with marketing automation solutions. She relies on her extensive knowledge of marketing data analytics to identify patterns and trends to optimize marketing strategies and campaigns.
Connect with Mariann on
LinkedIn.

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Mariann Bartucz
HCLTech-Starschema Blog

Demand Gen and MarTech Manager @ HCL Technologies Starschema