Customer Success – Freeman Takes on Marketing Automation

When you run events for a living, email management is critical. From invites to confirmations and follow-ups, reaching the correct audience can make or break an event. Alison Gardner, Marketing Automation Manager at Freeman, explains how they achieved success through marketing automation. Watch as she walks us through their process!

Jeff Coveney: Well today we’re joined by Allison Gardner who is running market operations over at Freeman. She was recently named a PI Performer for all of her thought leadership and success at Freeman. Today, welcome, Allison.

Alison Gardner: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Jeff Coveney: Excited to have you here today. Can you talk a little bit about what your day to day work is like at Freeman?

Alison Gardner: Yeah, absolutely. I’m the marketing automation manager at Freeman, which means I do all things Marketo. I primarily run our Marketo instance. I’m in charge of our lead management. I’m in charge of all of our integrations, including our main integration, which is with Salesforce. I am responsible for nurture programs and email campaigns and webinar programs. And we do all types of things. It keeps me busy doing something different every day.

Jeff Coveney: You’ve had a lot of success, but what are some of the challenges that you face kind of working marketing operations on a day to day basis?

Alison Gardner: Yeah, I think this is a great question. I think that I don’t always look at them as challenges as I look at them as opportunities. We have a lot of opportunities at our company. We have a lot of technology. We have a lot of systems of record.

I think it’s been really fun consolidating all that information and trying to really hone in on what’s important to our company, what do we want our customers to feel about us and how do we do that in a systematic way. It’s been a challenge to get everybody on the same platform, rowing the same direction, but it’s totally worth it now. And we’ve just had such great success doing that.

Jeff Coveney: You mentioned Allison, that you’ve been working on a number of different projects. What’s one that you’ve been really excited about?

Alison Gardner: We integrated a homegrown system that holds all of our exhibitor information. We’re a company that deals with exhibitors. Because we put on trade shows and conventions, and we actually were able to connect that homegrown system through the Marketo API. And we feed those exhibitors into Marketo and we send communications to them automatically. We did that for about 5,000 different trade shows and conventions.

We’ve sent over a million emails in the last year and it basically all happened without us having to do anything manually. We tapped into tokens and snippets and we just have enhanced it over the last eight months. And it’s been a tremendous program for us. They were doing it manually. Every single email was manual. The amount of work we’ve been able to take off of our salespeople and just have a consistent look and feel for our brand has been huge. It’s been tremendous.

Jeff Coveney: A big result out of that was scale, right? Scale and efficiency?

Alison Gardner: Scale, yeah. And not just scale, but these emails drive to our eCommerce platform and we’ve been able to just increase our revenue just overall by driving these emails consistently to that platform. It’s just been a huge success for our company.

Jeff Coveney: And I know a lot of companies look for, you’re trying to figure out how do they operate internally, and then how do they operate externally. What’s that mix of bringing in expertise? Can you talk a little bit about how we work together, how that’s worked for you?

Alison Gardner: Yeah. I think I never felt that Digital Pi was not an extension of Freeman. They immediately came in, they wanted to get to know our business first, which is so important because we’re a complex business. And I think everyone would say their business is complex. But they really came in, they wanted to get to know our business.

 They wanted to get to know our systems and our processes before they said, “We need to do this”. And I think that’s so important because they have always felt like a member of our team. They’ve always felt like, “Yeah, we totally understand your struggles and your challenges. And here’s the solutions that we can provide for it.” And they always listen to us.

Jeff Coveney: Allison you’re using components of the Gold Standard framework. And recently we worked with you on a nurture project. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Alison Gardner: Yeah, we had not segmented our audiences at all in Marketo and that was a huge goal for us was to segment our audiences and really start to nurture them. And we did not know where to start on that. And we tapped into Digital Pi’s Gold Standard to set up all of our nurture programs, set up the cadence that is recommended. And now we’ve sent, I think over 30,000 nurture emails, just in the last couple of months to exhibitors, show organizers.

And we have meeting planners that we target. We’ve really been able to tap into the power of that automation. And also they’ve helped us to, anytime that somebody, their persona or what they’re interested in changes, they actually switch nurture tracks. It’s been amazing because we’ve been able to build it out. We’ve been able to stem off of that Gold Standard nurture and customize it for Freeman. It’s been great.

Jeff Coveney: Well, appreciate you taking the time today to meet. Thanks very much for joining us. And again, congratulations on your Pi Performer.

Alison Gardner: Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. It’s been fun.

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