By Chuck Leddy
If B2B marketers are like hikers on a trail, accompanying customers every step of the way, marketing automation offers those marketers essential tools for navigation. In an earlier blog post, we described seven massive benefits of marketing automation (MA). One of the biggest is how MA provides tools to enhance the overall customer experience, including giving marketers visibility into consumer data and behavior.
Yet far more often than not, customers get lost along the way. According to MarketingSherpa, 79% of leads never turn into sales. Imagine setting out on a hike with a group of ten and eight of you never reach the destination. Yikes! As a result, converting leads into paying customers is the “top funnel priority” for nearly six in ten B2B organizations. “Getting a good lead is just as good as getting a new customer, meaning my work stops at lead generation,” said no marketing or sales professional, ever.
Marketers + MAPs to nurture CX
Alas, most leads are not sales-ready but require nurturing and guidance to reach the destination. The role of marketers and marketing automation is to accompany the customer every step of the way, to guide, to encourage, and to stay connected. In short, you can be a friend (maybe with snackable content) who stays “in touch” and truly understands customer pain points while offering viable solutions. You can’t be a good guide, for example, unless you’ve got a good pair of binoculars to give you visibility and an accurate map to show you the trail. Marketing automation platforms (MAPs) offer marketers (and by extension, customers) this data visibility and a handy, multi-channel trail map, tools necessary for creating a great customer experience that converts leads into revenues (not dropouts).
By carefully blending a team of knowledgeable marketers, the right content for each step in the customer’s journey, the right process, and MA’s navigation tools, you can create the sort of memorable experiences that keep your customers on the trail. Marketing automation enables marketers to develop a multi-touch nurture program that puts the customer experience/CX at the core of every message, allowing marketers to continuously and dynamically accompany customers until they’re ready to purchase (and beyond). As British novelist E.M. Forster once said, “live in fragments no longer. Only connect.” And stay connected.
Transforming data into CX: The need for business intelligence
The dark forest can be a scary place for B2B marketers and customers alike, and it’s easy to get lost while hiking the (long) trail. In deep forests, trail blazes are often marked on trees with a knife or other tools, and are generally carved at eye level. Trail blazes signal where the hiker has been, enabling others to follow. The data collected by your marketing automation platform serves as trail blazes, signals showing where your customers are, what they might need, and when.
The value of data emerges when it becomes “actionable,” thus helping you create better customer experiences. This higher-level, analyzed data is called business intelligence or “BI.” Your MAP offers you both “raw” data and filtered BI. Put simply, collecting, analyzing, and leveraging BI is an essential component of delivering enhanced, revenue-generating customer experiences. BI provides insights about who your customer is and where your customer has gone before (and likely wants to go next). Marketers can leverage these key behavioral insights to dynamically adapt their marketing approaches to create better experiences that nurture sales.
Marketers with a MAP can develop a 360 degree view of their customers, seeing the forest for the trees and uncovering the factors that drive the CX. They can then develop targeted messaging that aligns with each customer’s behavioral drivers. According to Pardot, 77% of B2B buyers want unique, targeted content at each stage of their research.
As Salesforce.com explains it: “By providing a single platform for dashboarding and analytics, closed-loop reporting, and collecting and storing data, marketing automation platforms are the most comprehensive solution for . . . predicting consumer behavior. One of the many benefits of a marketing automation platform is the ability to assemble a more complete profile of your prospects than ever before.” MA is a set of tools marketers need to enhance the overall customer experience.
Creating a great, MA-enabled CX
While the MA-enhanced customer experience concepts described in this post may sound simple, implementing them with processes and technologies is anything but. As Dana Toering, former managing director of Adobe Advertising Cloud, says: “While many marketers are excited about the promise of an improved customer experience through the implementation of marketing automation platforms . . . [w]ith that comes project complexity and risk.”
How then should you be navigating that “complexity and risk” so that your marketing team and the rest of your organization, as well as your customers, reach the destination (let’s call it ROI)? There’s a lot baked into the answer, including technical requirements, integrations with your legacy systems, data architecture, measurement and analytic tools, operations, support, and much more. Improving the customer experience is, at its root, a company-wide initiative that blends tech and people and new ways of working.
Implementing a MAP solution that leads to a better, revenue-enhancing CX isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth the effort. When an overwhelming number of your promising leads go off the trail, your business goes off trail too. Keep more of ‘em on the trail longer with an enhanced CX.
How do you do that? We’d love to talk with you about BI projects we’re running to help our customers stay on the trail to ROI and enhanced CX – reach out to us today.