Episode 18: Balancing Out Your Automated Marketing with Tony Velazquez

Episode 18: Balancing Out Your Automated Marketing with Tony Velazquez

Some businesses automate too much, and others aren't automating enough. Learn more about how to strike the right balance to optimize and streamline your marketing path.


Marketing automation empowers companies to automate both internal and external processes, but it’s important to plan your strategy in advance. In this episode, Director of Education Chris Davis breaks it down with Customer Success Manager Tony Velazquez, and they discuss how to automate what you can, and still make personal contact with your leads.
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Chris Davis: Welcome to the ActiveCampaign Podcast. In this episode we’re [00:00:30] going to be discussing how to balance out your automated marketing approach, and by balance out I mean … Traditionally I see people fall on one side of the spectrum. They are either not automating enough or they’re automating too much. How do we get the personal touch interjected or removed a bit to get a nice balance between automated and the personal touch? Who I have [00:01:00] with me today is Tony Velazquez.
Tony Velazquez: Hello, hello.
Chris Davis: Welcome, Tony. Not to spoil your intro, but I’m excited for three letters that go along with your name and that’s B2B. B2B, everybody. I’m going to … In fact I’m going to let Tony tell you all why. I’ll let him introduce himself and then you’ll see why I’m excited about these three letters. [00:01:30] Tony how are you doing? What is your official title here?
Tony Velazquez: I’m well, I’m well. I’m doing well. My official title here is Customer Success Manager.
Chris Davis: Customer Success Manager.
Tony Velazquez: CSM for short. My main focus here at ActiveCampaign as a CSM is really to assist customers with the day to day utilization of the platform, but I think more importantly help them get to the Promised Land, whatever that might be for that specific customer.
Chris Davis: There it is. How long have you been here, Tony?
Tony Velazquez: Going on a year now, [00:02:00] but I’ve been in the marketing automation space a little over three years now.
Chris Davis: Yes, which is a great segue to where were you before this?
Tony Velazquez: I worked for a marketing automation software company called ActOn Software based in Portland, I believe now. Oregon. I was working in a satellite office here in Chicago and learned a whole lot very, very quickly. Definitely.
Chris Davis: Yeah, now for those of [00:02:30] you who don’t know, that was the moment. That was the B2B right there. That was the moment, because Act-On is enterprise marketing automation software and Tony’s time there was heavily focused on helping businesses market to other businesses. Now we bring you full circle. This is why he is the most qualified to talk about this topic because in B2B marketing you have to have that balance.
Tony Velazquez: Absolutely, for [00:03:00] very many reasons. I think one of the biggest is probably compliance deliverability. Unlike B2C where, “We’ll just generate some more leads. We’ll just have people sign up here or there. Or we’ll just create a new website or a new landing page for X, Y ,Z.” Large enterprise customers or companies do tend to be very cautious of their brand and really the tone [00:03:30] that they’re taking, and ultimately if you’re one business selling your services or goods/products to another, the first sign of bad blood, the first sign of a bad email at 4:00 a.m. or something like that could really rub that lead the wrong way. That’s why I think life cycle marketing is a very B2B topic and strategy really. [00:04:00] I feel like there’s definitely a difference in terms of tone, in terms of the amount of marketing automation. I find that B2C customers actually are trying to automate a lot more than the B2B customers that I used to work with, but I mean it’s on a per case basis I feel.
Chris Davis: Yeah, and that’s the exact topic. Wow. We’re already in it, everybody, [00:04:30] if you haven’t noticed. We’re already in it and that’s one of the things that I wanted to ask you, right? As you alluded to, when we’re talking about B2B, the process is a lot longer. There is no such thing as one touch and it’s a sale.
Tony Velazquez: Absolutely, and that might be a benefit to B2B marketers. Lifecycle marketing plays a huge part because [00:05:00] someone who’s fairly interested in Q1, or maybe just completely cold in Q1, could essentially be nurtured for three, six, eight, 10 months until Q4 hits when you’re using things like lead scoring using some other devices to pass that along to sales.
Chris Davis: Wow, and just think about a follow up that spans 10 months, right? Let’s just [00:05:30] jump ahead. You know what? We’re going to throw the format out here and let’s just talk about this, because I feel like one of the things that we see … All right, let me not get ahead of myself. Let me scale back a little bit. Tony, there’s two cases, right? One case is you’re not automating enough, and that’s more so maybe a more established business, a more traditional, probably has a larger payroll, or they’re just [00:06:00] used to doing things at the level in which they’re doing. They’re used to the pain that comes with it.
Man, the sirens are really going.
Tony Velazquez: Yeah, it’s a busy day here in Chicago.
Chris Davis: It’s Chicago, everybody. What can we say? What can we say, right? That’s the B2C customer in a nutshell. Then B2B is more so like you were saying, like it’s going to be a bit longer process so they know that they’ll have [00:06:30] to use something to help, and most of the time that something is a CRM. Something to collect the data so someone else can pick up where they left off, but the use of technology is a requirement for B2B. Now we have this spectrum where you have one side not automating enough, one side trying to automate too much, nothing wrong or right about either but how do we get both ends to move [00:07:00] towards that happy medium in the middle, whatever that may be? I know you mentioned it’s per vertical, but if you were to talk about some rule of thumb, some broad rules that would apply. Let’s take the first instance of that business or those businesses that aren’t automating enough. How about that?
Tony Velazquez: Yeah, that’s a really good question. That’s an extremely good question just because there’s not a concrete answer [00:07:30] to that. That’s something that I face every day, or that I’ve faced every day for the past three and a half years working with customers on both the B2B and B2C side. Some customers are both. They’re sort of a hybrid. There’s multiple marketing managers and things like that and there’s a marketing director. First and foremost I think the organization itself has to be willing to adopt marketing automation as its new go forward strategy. I think a lot of times I speak with customers [00:08:00] who want to do these extraordinary things or want to do these very technical things, but it takes a week from IT to get some deliverables back. It takes a month of training the salespeople or maybe waiting for a contract to end with another service of some kind to fully take that head on.
That aside, I think where marketers sometimes go wrong [00:08:30] is they take the knowledge that they have in other platforms or that they’ve gained all over the place and they try to apply it within the specific software that they’re using at the moment, and sometimes when you get a piece of software you have to take it for what it is. You have to learn the pros and cons to that specific software, right? That I think is step one, is just general buy in and general [00:09:00] patience. I’m looking for a word here but I think patience is it. Trying to not necessarily unlearn, but learn in ActOn’s way. Learn in ActiveCampaign’s way. Learn in … There’s so many pieces of-
Chris Davis: Yeah. It’s almost like a new language, right? A new language to speak your business in, right? For those businesses … Everybody, we’re talking about businesses that could benefit from more automation. [00:09:30] A lot of the things that they’re doing are very much manual. They’ve got a payroll, a lot of people online. I mean a lot of people in the process of touching one lead or one company or whatnot. I think that when I listen to what you’re saying, to move from this all manual … First, let me identify that. That’s not a bad thing to be all manual because to your benefit, if you’ve very much [00:10:00] manual heavy you’ve very clear on the processes.
Tony Velazquez: No, that’s true because the processes at that point are black and white I think.
Chris Davis: That’s it.
Tony Velazquez: If this happens and I know I need to call this person or I know I need to email this. I think that’s maybe step number two in the process of increasing the amount of marketing automation. The first [00:10:30] is probably buy in, internal of course. The second is really getting down to the bare essentials. Ultimately I feel marketing automation is a really great way to qualify and disqualify people by creating the journey that they’re going to embark on, whether that’s through email, whether that’s [00:11:00] through your website, your blog, social media. If you can make all those pieces connect so that there’s a streamline journey, that’s really number two. Focusing on the channels that you have today and focusing on them as if they’re points. If you can connect that point to another point, another channel that you’re using to market your products and services, [00:11:30] I think that’s when real ideas, real creativity, I think is sparked.
Chris Davis: Yeah. What I’m hearing you say is more so valuing the planning process. You said have a path mapped out for them or a streamlined path for them. The only way to have a streamlined path ready for them is that you took the time up front to plan it. This is what makes [00:12:00] this podcast interesting because a lot of people who could automate more … Listen, everybody. I’m using B2B as the simple scapegoat, but let’s be honest. There are some solopreneurs, there’s some speakers, online bloggers, there’s all types of businesses, restaurants, that are very much manual-based. Now, in that respect you have a one up and you don’t even [00:12:30] realize it because since you’re doing this day to day and what you’re doing has taken your business to that point, you’ve already proven you have profitable processes, right? That’s already inherent and they might not even realize it because when you’re talking about step one is getting buy in, buy in will be a lot easier when you can clearly communicate the processes that you’re doing or the requirements. Okay, if we’re going to adapt technology it needs to be able to do A, B. At least you can name off A, B, [00:13:00] C, and D.
Tony Velazquez: Exactly.
Chris Davis: Right?
Tony Velazquez: Absolutely.
Chris Davis: Getting that buy in should be a lot easier. Now, I’m not saying adapting the technology and learning the platform or whatnot is going to be a piece of cake, but it’s going to position you for better success.
Tony Velazquez: Yeah, definitely. Ultimately I feel customers should decide up front whether they want to be inbound first and [00:13:30] then outbound, or outbound first and then inbound. I think that’s a really good starting point. In other words do we have tons of contacts in our CRM or in our database somewhere that just are sitting? If so, maybe we should take an outbound approach. Maybe we should start introducing … When I think of marketing, if I get a marketing email, what I’m really thinking of is, “This is this company’s [00:14:00] persona, their online persona.” I really love it when companies take a sort of informal tone. It just makes me … “Hello, Tony. How are things? These are the deals we have for you today.” That’s good enough for me. I don’t need a whole lot of copy, but I think I’m getting off topic a little bit there. Ultimately I think that’s a really good way to decipher where you should go, is if you have a lot of content, if you have a lot of [00:14:30] channels, websites, blogs, social media networks, if you already have some of those things set up and some contacts in the database, maybe we focus then on outbound. Having a very strong outbound strategy.
If you’re the opposite, if you have a list of 100 contacts, maybe you still do have some channels that you can definitely use, I would not use those at that point [00:15:00] for outbound. I might use them for inbound. In other words, embedding as many forms as possible, urging people to engage with you any which way. Blogs, social media. I think those are some of the quickest and easiest wins in terms of lead gen.
Chris Davis: Yeah. Tony, you said something that I was like, “Oh my gosh, that’s really it.” Who knows? I reserve the right right now, everybody who’s listening to this, to change the title because you [00:15:30] said, “Inbound versus outbound.” I believe you literally just cracked the code of balancing out your automated marketing is determining when to switch. For those of you who are listening like, “What’s inbound? What’s outbound?” Inbound marketing is essentially marketing that allows leads or prospects to reach out to you by providing their email address or phone number, and you’re collecting their information. Outbound is you [00:16:00] reaching out to them. Think of a cold call, warm call, or somebody just following up. A lot of times inbound can generate outbound and outbound can help you set up some more inbound. Essentially almost every business is going to start off outbound heavy. You’re either going to be going to networking events, talking to people, you’ll probably be reaching out to people on LinkedIn, sending [00:16:30] connections, notifications, joining groups, whatever it is. You’ll be doing some effort so a lot of times it’s really hard.
In fact, Tony, let me ask you is it possible to automate outbound marketing?
Tony Velazquez: Absolutely.
Chris Davis: All right.
Tony Velazquez: I think there’s enough tools out there in the digital space to where you can start [00:17:00] definitely mixing some sales tools along with your marketing. Ultimately I think marketing and sales should be aligned at all times. If marketing isn’t passing [inaudible 00:17:12] … This obviously is depending on internal process, right? If your main job as a marketer is to generate more leads for your sales team, then that’s what you should be doing and finding [00:17:30] ways to get there can sometimes be hard, but ultimately that’s it is defining what your main objective is as a marketer first. Is it generating leads? Is it brand awareness? Is it simply getting the word out there? I think with that focus comes a whole additional round of, “Well, what else can we automate?”
Chris Davis: Right, right.
Tony Velazquez: From a sales marketing standpoint, [00:18:00] I feel there’s only a certain amount of sales processes you can automate. There’s a ton more marketing outbound practices-
Chris Davis: Sure.
Tony Velazquez: … and if you need me to make a differentiation there I’m more than happy.
Chris Davis: Yeah. No, no, but while you’re talking I think it’s only right to put a shameless plug here for ActiveCampaign, because most of your outbound automation is internal automation, which is [00:18:30] whether you’re progressing your contacts through stages and when they arrive on stage you’re assigning them to another sales rep or assigning tasks that someone else is going to complete. Now, that’s still very much outbound, but the process internal is being automated which is one of the areas I would say we excel in is allowing the marketing and sales to be so tightly integrated.
Tony Velazquez: Absolutely. Yeah, I agree. That’s kind of why I took that path is [00:19:00] because at the end of the day I can easily build a two or three step automation, which is literally four minutes of someone’s time, that will forever pass along leads to specific salespeople. Okay, sorry. If you need to pass it along to specific salespeople it might take six or eight minutes, but if you just need to pass those leads on to maybe a sales manager of some kind, we’re talking three or four minutes max.
Chris Davis: Yeah. I’m going to use that [00:19:30] to transition to the other end. People who are doing too much, trying to automate everything. The segue that I see here is that we’re talking about internal automation, which is huge. There’s businesses that can improve, right now see a 20% increase in efficiency in their profit just by automating some internal processes. Without saying it, just really showing the difference [00:20:00] between email marketing and marketing automation is that marketing automation can exist both external and internal on all process, where email marketing is literally just the process of automating the sending of emails. Which when we go to the other side, if people are trying to automate everything, what I’ve found are very heavily reliant on email as if it is the means of running a business is sending emails. Right?
Tony Velazquez: Definitely. [00:20:30] I can definitely speak to that because I think it speaks to my point one, you have to have buy in. Sometimes that’s buy in just from yourself as a marketer. Do I have time to actually go ahead and do all these things? Do I absolutely need to schedule that out? Too many times I think I get on calls with customers and the first thing they ask is, “Okay, I want to go ahead and automate my newsletter.” I think, “Hold on a sec. You might [00:21:00] be tiptoeing on that line of too much automation then.” Because in my eyes, a newsletter is an email blast. It should be relevant to that month, to the service and products maybe you’re highlighting for that specific newsletter. Maybe it’s not something you want to automate. If you do automate it, no matter what platform it is you’re going to have to stop the automation itself or automated program or whatever it is that software calls it, [00:21:30] edit it as if you were editing the newsletter that was supposed to go out that month anyway, and then restart it and it just doesn’t make any sense in terms of time or efficiency.
Chris Davis: Right. As we’re talking, man, it’s getting more and more clear as we talk. When the only outbound marketing efforts you have are emails, that’s your first sign to let you know, “Maybe I’m trying [00:22:00] to automate a little too much.” Listen, everybody. There’s nothing wrong with … Let’s say you’re doing some inbound. You’ve got a free offer on your website, people are downloading it. It’s not uncommon for someone to respond to an email and say, “Hey, this was really good,” and essentially engage with you. At that point, yes you could reply back, which I do recommend everybody reply back to emails when people send them to you, but also what does it hurt [00:22:30] to say, “Hey, can we jump on a call?” Tony, that’s not just reserved for salespeople.
Tony Velazquez: No.
Chris Davis: Can you imagine the level of service someone may feel if they’ve opted in for a newsletter, and of course I’m assuming you’re using marketing automation so you have more information on them, and when they do reach out to you you’re like, “Oh, this person has visited this blog, seen this site. Hey, you want to jump on a quick call?” A 20-minute call [00:23:00] could essentially end up closing somebody who maybe is enrolling in a $200 course or something, and they may go on and spend more and more money with you because you were able to not rely on outbound marketing be only email. You weren’t trying to automate everything. You were open to this idea, this crazy idea, that actually touching, talking to a lead is a waste of time when it very much could be very [00:23:30] effective, right?
Tony Velazquez: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think, and this is something I learned a long time ago and even a little bit in college, is that there’s a very distinct way in which humans make decisions. Outbound marketing is actually a really easy way to help those potential customers make that decision or lead them through that decision process. If you call someone or if you can get somebody on the phone or even [00:24:00] in person, that can happen. That entire decision making process can happen in 20 minutes, 30 minutes, however long it takes for you to actually get your point across, right? Have a conversation. Definitely it is, but that ultimately leads back to what is your overall purpose as a marketer?
Chris Davis: That’s it. You’re right.
Tony Velazquez: Because if it’s to generate leads, definitely.
Chris Davis: Man, you’re so right. You mentioned lead scoring earlier. When I think of marketing automation, it’s another [00:24:30] means of it or purpose of it is to provide you with indicators.
Tony Velazquez: Absolutely. Qualifiers.
Chris Davis: What you do with those … Yeah, qualifiers. Right? You said that earlier. Yeah, disqualifiers, qualifiers. When you see the qualifying factors go up, that should push you closer to an outbound approach to close. We’re talking, everybody, we’re talking rule of thumb. Like Tony mentioned, it’s very specific to your vertical, [00:25:00] to your audience, but if you find yourself … Let me just recap. Establishing the perfect balance in your automated marketing is essentially using inbound and outbound in sync with one another. What that proportion looks like, maybe you’re 70% outbound, 30% inbound, but as long as you’re clear on why that is and it’s effective, that’s okay. When [00:25:30] we say balance we’re not talking about 50/50.
Tony Velazquez: Right. I’m not saying send an email and then call somebody, send an email and then call somebody or something like that. That’s not what we’re saying at all.
Chris Davis: Exactly. Don’t be robotic with it. But if you’re on the side where you’re trying to automate too much, one of the key factors is you’re probably sending email as your primary means. You want to get everybody’s email address and keep sending emails and that’s the measure of your success. You’re really missing out on some outbound marketing approaches [00:26:00] that you can use that marketing automation can help you with. If you’re on the other end and you’re heavily outbound, always doing something, you’re probably better off than you realize because you have data. Since you’re so outbound heavy, you have data that you can start setting up some inbound systems to help strengthen your outbound. That’s how I see it. I promise you [00:26:30] I did not see it like that before this podcast, but it’s very much the process of knowing when to activate your outbound, knowing when to scale it back. Knowing when to push inbound, knowing when to scale that back. I think that in today’s information age, we hear so many people just push inbound or-
Tony Velazquez: Content marketing.
Chris Davis: Exactly, which is fine but I think the secret, man, the secret to success, I guess the cat’s [00:27:00] out the bag now, is are you going to be that business that blends in a little bit of outbound? Or are you just going to solely rely on inbound? See the bank account dropping, see your numbers dropping, and just stick to the fact that, “It’s got to be automated. I’ve got to make the sale online. I’ve got a sales page. I’ve got a eCommerce platform. They can checkout without me.” It’s not taboo. It’s not taboo to call and talk to somebody.
Tony Velazquez: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. I just feel [00:27:30] like too many times I think there’s definitely a lot of gurus out there, there’s definitely a lot of courses you could probably take that preach a certain strategy. I think too many times marketers take that strategy as truth because it may have worked for those three, five, 200 businesses, but the truth of the matter is that no business is like yours. Otherwise why are you in business?
Chris Davis: Absolutely.
Tony Velazquez: It’s a free market where [00:28:00] we have competitors everywhere, right? That being the case, I just think it makes all the more sense to evaluate where you are, where you want to go, and really all you need is segmentation, automation, and lead scoring. That’s really all you need for just a very simple outbound strategy.
I did like the fact that you mentioned outbound leads to inbound, inbound leads to outbound. Definitely [00:28:30] they have a very tight relationship. The more data I collect via my inbound strategy, the more I can expand my outbound strategy, so on and so forth. The more I can drive people via my outbound strategy to my website, to my blog, et cetera, et cetera, the more data I can collect about that person, the more maybe I can get them to engage with content, social media, et cetera.
Chris Davis: There it is. [00:29:00] Yeah. I guess in ending, Tony, man, I’m so glad we did this one because in ending, if anything you get from this podcast, it’s don’t use inbound to exclude outbound. Don’t use outbound to exclude inbound. Use them complementary to each other. Inbound should help improve your outbound and outbound should help improve your inbound. It’s like the gift that keeps giving. [00:29:30] If I’m looking at a playground teeter totter, you’re never just at the same, right? At one season in your business you may be more heavy outbound. Another one you may be a little more heavy inbound, and that’s okay. Just don’t be … I got the vision of the big kid on one end and then the little … He’s on the other end of the little teeter totter. He’s up in the air, his feet are off the ground. His feet never touch the ground. Let the little kid’s feet touch the [00:30:00] ground. Balance out the marketing. Balance out your outbound and your inbound.
Wow, Tony. Thank you so much for this. This helped me, so I’m hopeful. I am very hopeful and confident that it helped somebody else. Any parting words for our listeners?
Tony Velazquez: Definitely. I would have to say, just to reiterate, there’s no black and white here. Some people like sending their emails at 7:30 and some people like sending their emails at [00:30:30] 4:30, depending on job title, depending on any number of reasons. The truth of it is if I send my emails at midnight on a Sunday and I get a 35% open rate, my emails are probably going to go out on midnight on a Sunday.
Chris Davis: Right.
Tony Velazquez: Definitely don’t … Just try it. A lot of it is trial and error and always think with the end in mind.
Chris Davis: Absolutely.
Tony Velazquez: If you eventually want people to [00:31:00] do X, make sure that X is there for them to do before you try to get them to get [crosstalk 00:31:06]
Chris Davis: Yeah, prepare the pack.
Tony Velazquez: Absolutely. Always think with the end in mind.
Chris Davis: All right, great. I’m going to piggyback on your acronym, your unofficial acronym, SAL. When it comes to balancing the two, the key indicators, segmentation, automation, and lead scoring. If you can do all of those three in your platform effectively, your position, your position [00:31:30] to be able to accomplish this balance that we talked about with inbound and outbound and really establish a balanced marketing automation approach.
All right. Well, thank you again so much, Tony. Really appreciate it.
Tony Velazquez: Absolutely. Any time. Any time.
Chris Davis: Any time? I’ll take you up on that. All right.
I really hope you enjoyed today’s topic, balancing out your automated marketing approach. This was the primary [00:32:00] example of how we started this podcast. Talking about the goal of marketing automation is to facilitate the scaling of your personalization, right? Now we can see it in action. We can see how we should be using outbound marketing to help infuse our inbound marketing, and vice versa. A lot of you have a way of generating leads online. That can serve, [00:32:30] and often does serve, as a means of qualifying your leads, but don’t forget to couple it with outbound. If you’re outbound heavy, don’t forget to use your website, your web real estate, social media, as means of qualifying your leads so at the end of the day when you touch leads, when you put the physical touch, inject the personal touch in your business, it’s to the most qualified leads.
Wow. If you have not subscribed to this podcast, please, [00:33:00] please do so right now. Make sure you subscribe. We’re in iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher. If you’ve been listening to these episodes and enjoying them as much as I enjoy making them, please leave a five star rating or a review. Let us know how we’re doing. It helps get the word out. If you agree like I do, the word needs to be out about this podcast.
This is the ActiveCampaign Podcast, the small business podcast to help you scale and [00:33:30] propel your business with marketing automation. I’ll see you on the next episode.

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