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Scaling and The Danger of Automation

With James Houser, Senior Marketing Operations Manager at Brandfolder

James Houser, guest speaker "Scaling and The Danger of Automation "


James Houser shares what it was like to work at Marketo. You’ll learn about best practices for scaling marketing and sales in tandem, as well as deciding what to automate while avoiding the automation danger of impersonalization for your customers.

Meet James

James Houser is the ​​Senior Marketing Operations Manager at Brandfolder. James solves ad-hoc problems quickly and dynamically.  He uses every tool at his disposal to analyze underlying business processes, identify key areas to innovate, and propose solutions to stakeholders across many functional departments.

Top Takeaways

Working at Marketo

What are some of the interesting commonalities between working at different sized organizations, including Marketo, and some of the most stark differences?

Consulting from SMB all the way up to enterprise as, um, marketing operations changes tremendously, depending on the role you're in and how big the company you're in. Some of the commonalities definitely around like core reporting processes, the core lead routing processes, core lead scoring. Every role I've been in has had a core group of key processes that are vital to ensuring that the marketing team is functioning as best as they can. 

The differences between enterprise down to SMB all the way out to consulting for marketing operations just comes down to the specific client in particular or the company in particular. Reporting is one of the biggest differentiators between SMB up to enterprise.

At Marketo, we were very focused on our MQL lead flow and what we were delivering to sales and to our SDR team. A lot of our reporting was more on the micro level, the program reporting, the successes that we were pulling out, and how we were scoring those. We looked at tracking that month over month and how those were viable to sales month over month, versus more down on the SMB level.

In contrast, at Velocity Global, we were much more focused on the attribution. We were focused on the program level ROI and how we could squeeze a little bit more out of the system in our marketing dollars as we grew as a company.

Scaling Marketing and Sales

How can you delegate responsibilities within marketing and sales to best scale both?

Bandwidth is the constraining factor to scale an organization. Leadership needs to balance the tactics that are required for any go to market strategy with those constraints in mind.

Ask questions that help answer where best to start scaling for your organization. For instance, we know the basics of how to make an email program. From there, how do we sync this over to Salesforce? How do we start to attribute the costs of that program to that? How do we track that in Marketo and Salesforce? When you start to ask about the return that you're going to get across the wider marketing department, you start asking more of those questions for other processes, teams, and tech to scale them as well.

Deciding What To Automate

What should you automate versus those tasks that should be left that authentic, organic approach?

My personal philosophy is you've gotta automate the burden and you've gotta humanize the sale.

You have to let people consume the resources that they want. Marketing operations is key in ensuring that anything that you're actually giving to the world is able to be accessed.

Automation danger can happen. For example, when autoresponder first came out you could really play a numbers game with people. It's not the best outreach, but you were hitting so many people that get the numbers you're looking for. If you're not careful with that, eventually it does start to tarnish your brand's reputation.

You, as a marketing operations professional, want to help automate the burden of best identifying your high value leads and your low value leads. You want to enable the ability for your sales team to roll any given lead into one of hopefully the most specialized targeted campaign cadence you can create. With all of that burden aside, you're allowing your sales team to personalize messages that are going out to people.