The principles behind MA can be applied to your team, your reporting structure, your post-sales strategy, and to successfully aligning your sales and marketing departments.
The use of Marketing Automation (MA) tools has been growing exponentially over the past few years, and in 2016 it looks like this trend will continue, but assuming MA is just a tool for efficiency is merely scratching the surface of what is possible. Well executed MA provides a simple platform to create custom audience segments for targeting, helps marketers think about how to align content and campaigns to different stages of the Sales Cycle (from Anonymous entities > Sales) and brings us ever closer to the revered “single customer view” reporting methodology.
Looking beyond the basic functionality of the available tools we can consider how the principles behind marketing automation could be used to strengthen and improve business functions and processes, and act as a framework for the marketing model as a whole:
Re-think your Marketing Team structure
Marketing Automation methodologies help us to more clearly sync marketing activity with a sales funnel, but how many companies think about structuring their marketing team in the same way?
Depending on your Organisation’s size, you may have one or more people aligned to each product and audience type as well as to web, content, social, data & analytics. As you consider how MA treats different stages of the Sales Funnel, why not assign responsibilities to individuals in the same way?
By aligning staff/resource to the stages of the Sales Funnel on top of product or channel, you can align your marketing team to the customer journey, which will create a far better experience for your future customers.
MA helps align all marketing activity to the stages of the sales cycle
One of the biggest challenges we face with helping customers improve their marketing framework is the fundamental of “what to talk about and when” – this is particularly true at Enterprise level, where companies offer multiple products/solutions to multiple audiences.
Understanding more about the customer and their stage of the sales cycle, allows you to ensure that they are being targeted with the right content and campaigns – If a potential customer has engaged directly with Product content, why would you add them to a higher-level campaign that focuses on how your company “Helps Enterprises Reinvent Productivity”? You wouldn’t….. Although companies still do.
MA tools let you see where any singular lead is at in their sales cycle, so you can target them with what they want – instead of forcing them down a pre-defined journey.
MA/CRM sync can help influence the post-sales strategy
Allowing interaction between MA and CRM enables a clear picture of the progression from Marketing-Qualified to Sales-Qualified Lead and eventually Win/Loss. This allows you to plan your next move.
For example, knowing your new customers engagement history and demographic profile might allow you to target them with a product evangelism campaign, turning customers into experts and encouraging peer discussion. Another approach might be to focus on upsell/cross-sell by identifying and targeting customers for one Product/Solution, but who have demonstrated an interest in a second.
Your Campaigns become more efficient, as you are targeting leads based on what you know about them, rather than what you want to tell them.
Transform your reporting model
From a reporting perspective; MA tools have made “Lead-level” reporting easier than ever – On a single screen, you can see any known Lead’s demographic profile, company profile, referral source, lead score and engagement/purchase history. Furthermore, we are now able to report on stages of the Sales Cycle and see, for example, how many Known Leads have become Marketing Qualified every month/quarter.
From this reporting mechanism, we can move away from “who clicked that link in the email?” to “How many MQLs did this campaign generate?”. This gives Marketers everything they need to make intelligent decisions about targeting, program optimisation and the success of wider marketing plans. More importantly, it also gives a much more accurate Financial reporting model – by including program costs, you can report on Costs per Acquisition for LeadGen campaigns, Cost per MQL, monthly net spend across multiple Regions, and track your ROI to a much greater degree of accuracy – keeping both your CMO happy that they’re meeting targets/expectations, and your CFO happy that they have full visibility over the cost of your marketing activity. Everyone wins.
Where marketing automation is still growing in adoption and usage, there is a bigger opportunity than ever to improve how you are communicating with Leads. But by thinking about the process and methodologies behind the platforms, you have the opportunity to transform your Marketing to a more customer-focused model. In an age where the Customer Experience is the focal point of marketing messaging, why not go one step further and make it the focus of your marketing model?