By Bill McGinnis
Marketing Automation was supposed to solve your problems, right? So how come your campaigns are still underperforming, leads are not converting to opportunities and sales are just ignoring the leads you generate?
As with all things, technology alone is never the answer. Your Marketing Automation Platform is, for the purpose of a good analogy, the cooker. As long as your cooker is in good working order — there is no barrier to performance — the cooker will not limit your ability to produce an amazing dish.
But if you are experiencing a marketing automation problem, i.e. you are not getting the results you want, then we suggest you move upstream and take a look at the core ingredients:
Let’s examine each in context.
Scenario 1: Emails or newsletters with minimal opens and few or no clicks
Look at your data first. This is one of the ingredients that has the biggest impact on results. Firstly, don’t assume your data is accurate or complete. Unless, of course you, own it, manage it and clean it yourself. More of the right contact data with email addresses as well as more accurate and complete fields that you can keep refreshed, will inevitably deliver a better outcome. Address what you need more of and then you can segment, personalize and provide relevant content to the right contact at the right time.
Scenario 2: You are handing over qualified leads to sales, but they are not converting to opportunities.
Now, rather than assuming this is a people problem and taking the sales force to task, we suggest you look to the technology for the answers and make sure that your sales team have all the tools they need to efficiently follow-up on your leads and do the conversion work. Returning to the cooker analogy — it might be a feature you’ve never used, or a special type of saucepan — in Eloqua it could be that you are not taking advantage of having Eloqua Engage embedded in your CRM. With Engage, sales can send the right follow up emails after conversations or voice mails. They can also track a prospect’s response to emails and website visits. This will help them time phone calls and other follow up activities, and thus nail down a lead for conversion.
Scenario 3: Are you feeding the pipeline with leads — just to find they are being ignored?
They don’t mean to, it’s just that the sales team might not know quite what to do with your leads and they have hotter ones to work on. So, the task is to make it easy and give them a process, guidelines and content to support the leads. For example:
· Email template A is for HR prospects, template B for Finance.
· Follow up with a phone call within 2 hours, leave voice mail with verbiage you suggest.
· Follow these talking points if you get the Lead on the phone.
· Check back within 2 days, but immediately follow up if your prospect opens an email or visits your site.
Scenario 4: Wait, the process, guidelines and content aren’t being used either!
This is a people problem. Sales and marketing have a history of being at odds with each other. You have to bring sales along to make sure they understand what you are trying to achieve and deliver guidelines, content and a process that makes it easy for them. Don’t be afraid to run training sessions to help sales execute effectively and what’s more, be ready to listen to their needs too.
The reality is rarely, if ever, can the problem be isolated to just one of the ingredients: data, technology, process or people. Like great cooking, it’s about getting the right blend of ingredients all working together at the right time.
Let’s go back to the data problem to look at another example and see how data, technology, process and people interconnect.
Scenario 5: We don’t have enough contacts with email addresses! Why do sales people keep entering contacts with no email addresses?
In the first instance the solution might look obvious. ‘I know, I’ll use technology. We’ll add required fields in CRM so sales can’t enter a new Contact without an email address! And phone numbers too, while we’re at it!’ However, entering contacts for sales people becomes a hassle. Often, a rep hears a name and immediately enters under the Account, then later finds the email and phone. Now you’ve made that difficult, sales resists, and adoption of CRM plummets. First you had a data problem, now you’ve created a people problem! A better approach would be to align with sales on the importance of data. Create dashboards indicating percentage of contacts with and without emails by sales rep, maybe even give rewards for top ‘performers’. Attack this problem from the people perspective and your data problem will be solved.
Your problem rarely, if ever, falls into one category. And in fact, focusing on just data, or just technology, will unveil a process problem. And in the end, ALL marketing automation problems have a people component. Now that you know that, when you launch a new campaign, you can greatly reduce or even avoid future problems.
– Align with the people (sales) on campaign ideas.
– Create the campaign process together to make sure it’s easy for both marketing AND sales to follow.
– Get agreement with sales on your target audience – your data. Benchmark your data first to determine if you database can support the segmentation and personalization you need. For example, they may have better luck with re-engagement of customers who purchased more recently.
– Make sure your process includes steps for sales follow up. Don’t just hand out leads and hope for the best.
– Take advantage of nurturing, scoring and progressive profiling technology. Give sales the technology to communicate more effectively with prospects and make sure they have talking points for when they finally get a live one on the phone.
So now you have the methodology and checklist to solve any marketing automation problem or launch any new initiative.
For problems, identify if data, technology, process or people is the main issue. Then consider how the problem and your solution affects the other three.
For your new campaign (that you are sure will generate more leads and revenue than ever before!), make sure every part of your master plan considers each ingredient: data, technology, process and people.