By Chuck Leddy
This latest post in our Marketing Operations Maturity series will explore the critical importance of effective data and lead management processes for B2B marketing success, the obstacles in the way of process improvement, and how to overcome those obstacles so marketers can drive peak performance.
B2B marketing today is highly-informed, and sometimes completely-driven, by customer data. Since customer preferences and behaviors are evolving so quickly, more data is needed to understand what products and marketing content customers want, as well as when and how they want that content. It’s not enough to collect relevant marketing data: B2B marketers must also have the capacity to transform their aggregated customer data into customer analytics that provide actionable insights to inform their marketing campaigns and decision-making. That’s a lot of steps from raw data to data-enabled decision-making, but each step in the process is critical.
“Accurate and complete data integrated across all customer touchpoints is important because it’s required to craft a great customer experience across all your marketing and sales channels,” explains Sojourn Solutions managing partner Dan Vawter. “It’s also required if you want to measure your performance against business outcomes and optimize your marketing campaigns over time.”
Data management remains a major marketing obstacle
According to our 2019 Marketing Operations Maturity Benchmarking Report, “fully 60% of mainstream companies still struggle with marketing data management, in contrast with the 26% of top performers.” So there’s clearly a close correlation between the effectiveness of your data management and the success of your B2B marketing efforts, which comes as no surprise. Today’s marketing is increasingly about “following the data” to improve customer experience and campaign performance.
What’s getting in the way of improving data management? “Probably the biggest challenge marketing operations faces is lots of different systems with information that can help build a better customer experience, but not all of these systems are working together. Getting those systems integrated is not a simple task, but can have massive impact,” explains Dan Vawter. Any solution must begin with gaining a single source of truth, breaking down those silos.
Once data is integrated, marketers need the capacity to gain insights from their data, meaning analytical capabilities. Our report describes 3 key components of any effective data management process, all shared by high growth companies: (1) sufficient analyst resources to address strategic questions and tactical concerns; (2) trust in the data produced and used by marketing; and (3) data sharing for collaboration and learning across departments. Only when these components (and others) are assembled into a full data management process can B2B marketers begin to fully leverage customer data to dynamically drive marketing ROI.
Lead management for driving & measuring ROI
Lead management is best defined as the whole process of generating leads, qualifying them, tracking them, passing them on to the sales department, and conducting well-timed follow-up to support conversion. Companies with a mature lead management process simply perform better in converting leads into revenues, according to ZoomInfo. Effectiveness in the lead management process is closely related to data management efficiency. Both allow marketers to follow important data in order to drive successful outcomes (i.e., revenue generation) across functions.
“Lead management is important because it determines how successful the collaboration of marketing and sales will be,” says Vawter. “Does marketing just hand the ball over to sales, and then merely watch as sales goes to work? Or does marketing instead work the lead along with sales, working together to move the ball down the field like a well-coached soccer team to score and convert that winning goal? Coordination and teamwork really matter, and effective lead management enables that.”
Our MOPs Maturity Benchmarking report reveals a major problem. Only 25% of all companies fully agree that their lead management process offers visibility into source and channel performance aligned with sales. So only one in four teams can see how the ball is moving between marketing and sales. Only one in four teams even know, after they’ve passed the ball to sales, whether sales has scored a goal? This is no way to play a team sport, which every business is. Closing those gaps in the lead management process in order to gain visibility into what’s happening with leads is essential. It means getting your data house in order, breaking down silos, and building cross-functional mindsets that support marketing-sales alignment/collaboration.
Data and lead management support revenue prediction
Our MOPs report shows that less than twenty percent of all companies can predict revenues with a high degree of accuracy based on their funnel management process. They simply lack the data and capabilities needed to connect the dots between marketing actions and revenues. So hapless marketers have no credible answers when leadership asks, “well, we’ve invested X dollars in marketing, so how much return in revenues did that investment generate?“ As our report puts it, “for marketing to grow into its expanding role effectively, it must command the trust and respect of executive management. Reliable revenue prediction is fundamental to that trust.” Without that capability, marketers have no credibility and are left to chatter on about click-through rates and top-of-funnel metrics while irritated C-suite leaders are thinking “show me the money!”
Gaining the capabilities described in this post will take time and investment, not to mention the correct expertise whether that is internal or external to your organization, or a combination of the two. But it’s the only way to do data-informed and effective B2B marketing. As our report explains, “building the measurement/analytics function requires hard-to-find talent supported by reliable data and the processes for using that data to make tangible changes in behavior and ultimately measuring their impact.” As legendary management guru Peter Drucker once wrote, “that which gets measured, gets done.” Getting your measurement and tracking processes in order are essential for MOPs effectiveness.
To learn more, download our 2019 Marketing Operations Maturity Benchmarking Report. Also check out our related on demand webinar, where we discussed the 7 key findings from our report with Econsultancy’s Stefan Tornquist, SVP Research and Content Strategy.
Note: The fifth post (of six) in our MOPs Maturity Benchmarking series will focus on the growth and success of account-based marketing (ABM) and what MOPs should be doing to accommodate ABM.