B2B marketing used to be easy. Well, at least easier. Attend the key events, chat with the key analysts, run the print ads, mail the postcard, and hold a killer annual user conference. This meant you could build the brand via advertisement in industry publications and use demand gen programs to bring in targeted leads. Over time, we’ve seen print advertising shrink and direct mail replaced by email. Hence, the erosion of these channels has led to a new set of marketing imperatives. Marketing is now tasked with running multi-channel, multi-audience, multi-touch lead gen and nurturing campaigns focused on key accounts and the individual contacts within that account, and being objectively managed by sourced revenue.
However, with our investment in marketing automation and tools, our data focus has remained mainly on leads and top of the funnel, measuring lead volume and, in some cases, lead quality. Even with the latest technology approaches, there are still major gaps.
Lack of account visibility: We market to leads and contacts, but we rarely understand their true relationship to key accounts. It’s very difficult to manage leads in the context of the account, as the account linking and status is isolated. When we fail to identify leads as belonging to accounts, we can’t see emerging opportunities. Relationships between campaign touches: Data capture across campaigns is isolated and incomplete. Without doing the work to define and capture the relationships between each marketing touch, we are left with an incomplete and flawed view of account activity and marketing effectiveness.
Understanding duplicate leads: De-duping and merging leads is a necessary top-of-funnel activity and most tools are very good at catching duplicates when the email address is an exact match. However, a duplicate merge represents a repeat action or engagement with marketing material. Marketers need to make sure they are capturing these insights to show how marketing programs are nurturing leads, contacts and potential opportunities.
Point in time: Most tools are run at a point in time, but there are 2 types of leads in your system. 1) Leads from a 1-time event, like a conference, webcast registration, or exec dinner. 2) Web leads, PPC, promoted tweets which come in continuously. Whenever you capture leads in any point in time, the statuses will change over the course of time both in terms of volume and conversion to contacts. It’s important that you compare to the previous period in order to understand movement from the last lead assessment.
People constrained: Our tools require the most precious resource, our time. Sales and marketing admin teams are constrained more than ever. And, the pressure is always to run the next program or distribute the next set of leads. It’s imperative that marketing and sales operations is careful to purchase technology that they can maimize as opposed to spreading themselves too thin.
In many respects, we’re left running half-blind. We’re required to deliver so much more than before, yet the tools and processes to address our objectives don’t get us over the finish line. Marketing must strive to make sales happy and trust that their marketing efforts make it into the sales’ queues and task lists. Similarly, marketing teams know in their gut that some of their programs are having a big impact, but they can’t easily prove it. Make sure you have the right plan in place to support and prove their hunches on effectiveness, and keep an open mind to gather new insights and knowledge.
Contributed Blog by Ken Rutsky. Ken is a consultant, speaker, author, facilitator and coach, and has spent 20+ years in the technology industry. @jayrutz