Return On Investment has forever been the driving force in B2B marketing. In recent years, it is increasingly so, since the adoption of Marketing ROI across businesses is becoming more important. And we see the same happening in B2C marketing.
It reminds me of a post David Baker of agency Razorfish wrote a while back on the pace of marketing automation. David said that what he calls "more progressive digital channels and methods of reach" force us to not only measure ROI at the conversion stage but also at the lead quality stage. As a result, lead scoring has to be adapted to a more "complicated sales cycle and attribution".
David looked at that the combination of sales and marketing and the need and challenge of the integration between a sales agent and "the web experience". People these days increasingly use online channels, look for information on the web, are multi-tasking and multi-channel/omni-channel and thus dispose of more information sources.
Managing and optimizing the funnel
At the same time, however, people also have better tools to cut through the noise and filter all the information in function of their needs and preferences. And the truth is that we don't know what they look for and have limited insights in what information and sources they allow and when and how they want to interact with our businesses.
So it's also by definition more challenging to manage the way in which we synchronize the data we obtain from the web experience and digital footprints of our customers, communication, support, sales interactions and so on. Or, as David wrote, "to manage and optimize the funnel".
Since buyers increasingly control interaction, communication and information gathering, are more connected than ever and are also more demanding, businesses have to do more research, track better and find new and better ways to gather and combine metrics, data and the insights and information obtained by them. It's the challenge of "data quality". As David wrote: if you believe in the concept of lead recycling, then you will realize how important data quality is in taking an extended view and investment in managing leads longer, even if they aren't ranked high in your "ready to buy" scale.
A different way of looking at leads: influence
According to him the way we look at leads will thus change. From a focus on where people will people and how much they will or might buy to how much influence they have in the buying decision and what other people are involved in this decision.
Remember that in a connected world, people increasingly rely on their peers. David wonders if one can accurately mine "intent to buy" through unstructured data sources? How will LinkedIn and other social networks influence lead scoring and value?
And it's not about reach but about the "real-time simulation of social networks to gauge influence and engagement", he adds. The buying journey has become more complex, more difficult to track but maybe most of all more social. Before people decide to buy something they go through a whole process of information gathering, interacting, informing and so on.
Cross-channel is key
It has always been like that but today it's even more so. It is one of the reasons why content has become so important in the whole marketing process. But it's not about content alone. Nor is it only about dialogue, participation and relationships alone.
From the lead perspective it's also a matter of having the right tools, processes, people and data to adapt and optimize the lead management and sales cycle (or better, the buying cycle).
And that's why a holistic and cross-channel approach of mining data, combining them and integrating online and offline customer experiences and analytics is so important.
Whether you succeed in doing this or not, however, is more than a question of tools, it's a matter of strategy and people.
And of course of acting upon these changes by optimizing your marketing automation and lead management strategy in function of all these changes. But the right tools are a necessity.
Today's customer is cross-channel and he/she is at the centre of sales and marketing.
Communication channels depend on the consumer and marketing is about engaging the cross-channel customer and prospect throughout integrated dialogues that are driven by his/her buying journey, preferences, triggers, signals and behaviour.
Discover why your business should move to an integrated marketing approach step by step and how.
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