We’d all like to have the knowledge to supercharge our demand generation programs. In their section of The Quintessential Marketing Automation Guidebook, Sue Hay and Cari Baldwin discussed the importance of knowing your buyers and helping them get to know you through demand generation programs executed with marketing automation tools. I caught up with Sue and Cari recently and asked them to answer a few more questions about their demand generation trifecta—Right Message, Right Offer, Right Audience.
CD: Your Tip 5, “The Website is the Lead Generator,” talks about the need to ensure your website is providing education-rich content. What are some methods you’ve seen companies use to create more conversions from their websites? Sue: For prospects who have indicated their interest in a company’s products or services, smart marketing and sales team are focusing not just on the prospects themselves, but the problems they are trying to solve. Showing that you truly understand a potential customer’s business and its challenges is the surest way to gain their confidence. Of course, it’s not enough just to understand the challenges – you need to provide a solution. Using email, banner ads, direct marketing, tweets, etc., the marketing and sales teams drive prospects to specific landing pages that provide education-rich content and with the aim of converting their status from either cold or unknown to warm.
At a more technically complex level, when prospects are unknown (i.e., they haven’t completed a registration form), they can still be located by identifying IP addresses used to access relevant pages. Based on their interests, dynamic content is pushed to the web page they are currently visiting.
For example, DemandBase has a tool that resolves the business identity of website traffic. It identifies information about the firm -- company name, annual revenue, number of employees, industry, even the office location of the IP address. It can then determine if the visitor is new to the web site, an existing customer or a highly desirable target account.
With this information at hand, relevant content can be pushed to the prospect instantaneously, which generally leads to higher click-through and conversion rates. Then that information is passed into your marketing automation tool so the prospects can be added to a relevant lead-nurturing program that has content specifically designed to suit their needs.
CD: What are some effective methods for encouraging sales to return disqualified leads to marketing for nurturing?
Cari: We encourage marketing and sales to create a Service Level Agreement (SLA) for the time that each lead stays at a stage (our mantra – stale is not a lead status!). If you agree that a lead should be at the active stage for 45 days, after that time it either moves to pipeline or back to marketing. Giving them an alternative to disqualify leads and return them to nurturing is going to produce future opportunities.
Sue: Basically, there has to be a dialogue between sales and marketing to be sure there is a clear understanding of each other’s objectives. Once objectives are understood, you can create a plan.
Trust between teams is also essential. There needs to be a frank exchange about what’s working and what’s not. You also need clear ground rules for the engagement. Only then can you create business processes which will move the sales engagement forward.
On a process level, there are many different techniques that would enable the sales team to return leads that are not sales-ready. One might be to add “Needs nurturing” to the “Status” field of the lead in the company’s CRM system. A report would be created by marketing that captures those leads and places them in a nurturing program.
Another process could be a lead scoring program, in which components tell both marketing and sales that a lead is not yet ready or is currently disqualified and needs nurturing.
CD: In your section, you provide a list of what marketing automation is not. What do you think is the biggest fallacy about marketing automation that marketers buy into and how would you dispel it?
Sue: There are two things that constitute the biggest fallacy about marketing automation: one is that it’s easy-to-use and the other is that it automates everything. This leads to the false notion that marketing automation must make things easier.
Marketing automation tools are not a panacea for a marketing department trying to have more impact on the bottom line. As the name indicates, they are tools --they need to be programmed, and require time to produce results. What they don’t do is create a process. If you have a solid process in place, then the tool can be very effective.
But before you even begin with a marketing automation tool, you need to develop a rapport between sales and marketing. You need to identify the lead management process, including a loop for constant feedback. You also need to be able to qualify and score leads, and place them in nurture programs that are truly committed to bringing them along. Without all of that, a marketing automation tool will just be an expensive auto responder.
Cari: I agree with Sue. The biggest misconception about a marketing automation tool is that it’s fast and easy. Most marketing departments lack extra time and resources therefore marketing automation is added to an already overflowing “to do” list. To effectively optimize an implementation, there are four steps:
- building the assets
- rolling it out to the organization
- enhancing the functionality
Most companies get to step 2, which is where they get stuck just using it as an email marketing tool. To effectively roll it out to an organization (change management) and to enhance the functionality (lead nurturing, scoring) requires process development and hard work.