I have a colleague in South America who recently told me his CEO had dramatically reduced his global marketing budget. The restoration of that budget was contingent upon his successful demonstration of a direct correlation between his marketing programs and revenue creation.
A growing number of senior marketing executives face similar pressures and—like my colleague—are not sure where to begin. In this article, I outline the four major lessons learned from building a global marketing program attributed with generating more than $1.2 billion of annual B2B sales pipeline.
• Not All Tracking Systems Are Alike. While my colleague was already using website analytics and knew both the open and conversion rates of his email campaigns, his biggest challenge was his inability to track which content or marketing programs, if any, were driving sales-related activities. By setting up a comprehensive tracking system that allows you to track the content, messages and channels that are helping to drive sales activities, you are better able to see what is producing the best results, more wisely allocate your resources and justify your budget (not to mention your salary) to your CEO/CFO.
A few CRMs have recently made some acquisitions that streamline this process, but as always, there is more than one way to build a robust tracking system. When I built our tracking system, the first big obstacle I encountered was identifying how to cross the chasms between marketing activity, lead generation and revenue by identifying a way to track media consumption and channel usage at the individual level in a single data repository. To accomplish this, we brought in marketing automation software, which allows you to track the relevant online behaviors of your target audience—such as email opens and visits to landing pages, websites or blogs—and score that behavior at the individual level. In order to track everything in a single place (preferably the CRM), it’s important to select a marketing automation tool that can fully integrate with your CRM.
Our next step was to set into place a lead lifecycle management process that monitored leads as they matured from a suspect (name on a list) to a qualified lead that was sales-ready. While I’ve seen various versions of this, the four stages I use most often are unclassified lead, marketing qualified lead, sales accepted lead and sales qualified lead. Sales qualified leads were associated with sales opportunities. As such, when a lead became sales-ready, we were able to validate the source of the lead, what channels/messages/offers were of interest to the lead and the number of touches it took to get the lead sales-ready.
We also found it necessary to customize our CRM to allow us to track which sales appointments and opportunities were created by specific marketing activities. Many CRMs have a campaign feature that simplifies this process.
By now you may be thinking, “This is all good and well, but what should we track?” By tracking the appropriate data, you are able to set up an intelligent system that helps drive the right information into the right hands at the right time. To ultimately measure your impact on revenue, your department needs to track media consumption at the individual level. Below are some ideas to consider, depending on your business model and industry:
- Engagement data: Obviously, you will need to define what constitutes “engagement” with your prospective customers, but we find it helpful to quantify to what extent we are engaging people across all mediums.
- Patterns of consumption: If someone downloads one white paper with no further activity, I’m not very interested because the odds of them being sales-ready are slim. However, if that same person downloads a case study in six months, visits the product pages on our website several times and watches our solution video all within a week’s time, then they’ve earned my attention. I have automated alerts sent to our inside sales team because there is a 300 times greater probability of engaging them on the phone if we call within 15 minutes of their online activity.
- Channel data: Which channels are being used most often, by whom and for what purpose? Which channel mix is most optimum for each of your segments? What is the typical path that people follow as they start to engage your company?
- Lead life cycle data: You’ll need to identify what qualifies a person to mature from one stage to the next and how to monitor that progress. We’ve found that consumers’ needs differ for each stage of the sales cycle, making it imperative to monitor what content/channels/messages/calls to action are effective at moving the person from one stage to the next.
• Gain the Support of Your Sales Team. It helps if the sales team understands the symbiotic relationship between marketing and sales; the more you can validate your contribution to building the pipeline, the greater the budget you will receive to further assist them in building even more pipeline. If you have not done so, I also recommend you sit down with your head of sales to better understand the sales cycle(s) and the challenges they face in each stage. By better understanding the sales cycle(s), you will be in a better position to direct the creation of the strategy, content, value propositions and preferred delivery channels necessary for each stage of the sales cycle. This also goes a long way toward showing your desire to support your head of sales in reaching their revenue goals.
• The Need for an Intelligent Delivery System. Consumers today expect a highly relevant, customized experience that they can control. While it takes a lot of work, by collecting the data sets mentioned above you, are in a position to configure your CRM and marketing automation tools to use your customers’ online behaviors and demographic information to automatically direct them to highly relevant and timely content, unique messages on landing pages or email (or SMS) offers. The majority of leads need several touches to become sales-ready. An intelligent delivery system allows your customers to direct the pace of those touches and deliver the relevant, customized experience they expect.
• Connecting to revenue creation. In my experience, most heads of sales want to differentiate between originating and influencing an opportunity. Originated opportunities are those where marketing’s efforts directly lead to the dialogue that lead to the sales appointment that ultimately leads to the opportunity. It’s important that commissions are not deducted when marketing is given credit for originating an opportunity. Influenced opportunities are those where the salesperson originated the opportunity, but marketing worked hand-in-hand with the salesperson to create custom campaigns that helped move the opportunity down the sales cycle. In either case, the important thing to remember is to link your marketing activities to the sales activities that drive revenues. From there, linking to specific opportunities (i.e., demonstrating a correlation between marketing and revenue generation) is relatively easy.
Matthew Bowman is the Global Vice President of Demand Generation at Teleperformance, a $3 billion BPO multi-channel customer experience management provider. His team is responsible for generating more than $1.2 billion of annual sales pipeline. In 2012, Bowman was a recipient of the SAMY Award, naming him among the top 20 best sales and marketing executives in the state. He is a frequent keynote speaker on the topics of accelerating revenue growth, marketing ROI and the role of the customer experience in driving revenue. Numerous publications, including Businessweek magazine, have spotlighted Bowman’s quantitative approach to marketing. He holds an MBA with a graduate certificate in marketing and graduated in the top 1 percent of his class. You can find him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/pub/matthew-bowman/7/7a1/6b3/.