As every marketer knows, we exist in a point in time where paradigm-shifting innovations require us to constantly evaluate our programs and the value they deliver. With the growing expectation that marketing departments will increase revenue and cut costs, being able to quantify the results from previous programs and then predict the financial impact of future efforts are becoming must-do items. Don’t believe this? Check out the job boards; most senior marketing positions are being defined with a requirement for statistical analysis. Executives and stockholders are increasingly dissatisfied with soft value propositions of marketing programs. Just 10 years ago marketing departments depended on soft marketing metrics like reach and frequency to guide marketing decisions. We depended on direct responses (either through included response mechanisms like cards and surveys), post-sales registrations (which apply well to products but are less applicable for services), or program specific phone numbers, to try to credit specific inquiries and sales to specific marketing campaigns. With the advent of online marketing and e-commerce, tracking sales and inquiries to specific marketing programs became much easier – not only could you tell which program resulted in the inquiry, you could identify the medium (email, search, banner etc.) and the specific source of your interest. This evolution of how consumers view and respond to marketing messages have provided us with a variety of ways to track and analyze the effectiveness of the messages to which customers are responding. In the B2B world however, a lead generated and/or sale closed rarely derive from a single point of marketing contact. Unlike sales in the consumer marketplace, the decision to buy or not happens over a period of weeks or months and involves numerous people across a range of functional responsibilities. The task of moving a potential client through the sales funnel requires the marketer to consider many important factors when planning campaigns:
- Customer Interest: The sale of a service or complex product results from a business need that originates with the client. You can count on your outgoing messages only to drive awarenessof your company’s product or service, to those who already have an established need.
- Recognition of buying stage: Providing the right messages at each stage of the buying cycle is an important factor in keeping your potential client engaged and moving down the sales funnel.
- Diversity of decision-makers: Staying competitive as a potential vendor requires that we acknowledge the informational needs of every member of the buying team, whether they’re in Marketing, IT or part of the executive staff.
So with the complexity of the message delivery system required to create a marketing qualified lead, it is important to develop an automated system of data analysis that will help you as a marketer optimize your sales process and identify many of the following items:
- Lead sources: Which tactics resulted in which leads?
- Cost/Value of leads: How much is each lead worth at every stage of the buying cycle?
- Cost per traffic per channel: Are your marketing spends more effective in one channel versus another?
- Customer path analysis: What are the most common routes customers are taking down the sales funnel? What kind of content can be added to support this path?
- Lead Scoring: How do you know when a lead should be advanced to the next stage of the buying cycle? When on the other hand should they be discarded?
- Lead hand-off: When is the appropriate time for sales to make contact?
- Optimum marketing mix: Which combination of programs will lead to highest profitably and least cost?
- Marketing ROI: What return can executives expect on a future dollar spent on marketing?
Modern business analytics and marketing dashboards – when executed correctly – can provide marketing executives the real-time information they need to move a prospect along the sales pipeline, and identify the proper time to reach out to leads with a sales call. These tools are an increasingly important component of any marketing automation system, and can be counted to take some of the “guesswork” or soft estimations of campaign value that have plagued marketers of the past, allowing us to get a quantifiable handle on the value of our efforts. Post Script: It’s not just about new business. It is not just new customers or prospects that can be targeted with this automated data analysis. Existing customer data within the enterprise can reveal many insights to help drive additional sales to existing customers. There are many examples of companies with a wealth of customer data that were able to improve the way they serviced their current customers and increase bottom line revenue at the same time through enhanced business intelligence and marketing analysis tools. For comment: What marketing analytics tools do you use to judge the success of your marketing programs? How do you determine marketing ROI?