Marketing automation has evolved over the last decade from typically managing a single channel (direct mail or email) to facilitating multi-channel, multi-touch campaigns that are at the core of revenue performance.
One valuable aspect of marketing automation tools is to nurture a lead until the prospect is ready to engage with sales. Coupled with the new reality that prospective customers do not contact the sales person until well into the decision process, marketing automation is now front and center to enabling sales to maximize the chance of winning new customers.
While lead nurturing and scoring are well-documented uses of marketing automation, we focus here on a few tactical examples of further leveraging marketing automation tools by adding data and analytic capabilities to benefit the sales teams.
You can use analytics in marketing automation to:
1. Estimate an early outcome: Early in the sales process, look at pivotal needs that leads and customers might be searching for, and what critical paths they might take within your organization. You can develop and use analytic models to predict what path the prospect is most likely to take. For example, you might be interested to predict that prospects would be likely to “buy 50+ units” or want to talk about a specialized product or service category. Then, based on matching rules you can apply through marketing automation, you can proactively route this prospective customer to the appropriate field sales rep handling large orders in that territory, or to the team with expertise in the service or product of likely interest to the prospect.
2. Analyze expected duration of each pipeline stage: This analysis can be done in a simple way or through advanced analytics. Using the simple approach, identify the existing average time in each pipeline stage. Later, you can further break this down using additional attributes such as online vs. offline leads. Create three time intervals – the fastest 25%, middle 50% and slowest 25% – and set date flags. This is one way you can quantify sales readiness of the lead. As the date approaches to trigger the next stage, depending on the readiness of the lead, alert the sales team with this info so they can have a proactive conversation to anticipate needs and accelerate the sale.
3. Append external data to new leads: While you may get information about an interested prospect directly, don’t stop there. Run the leads through a database append process to get a richer set of firmographics in an efficient and timely manner. This should be done within a month, and ideally within a week, of the lead getting to you.
Filter and prune data. Cull through and determine the most valuable info for the appointment-setter or inside sales rep. Or for marketing, the key points on which to build a lead nurturing scheme. Through simple tests, remove bad data before it goes to a sales person. For example, suppress if the employee size field is inconsistent with prospect-provided data, or if most revenue growth data has a value of zero.
Contact data can also add value to lead nurturing campaigns. Complete address elements can qualify for standard mail rates that cost one-third of first class mail rates. Through a timely automated process, append data for both inbound and outbound lead sources to further understand inbound source quality, so you can shift online dollars to where your higher quality leads are coming from.
4. Fine-tune the sales playbook: The effectiveness of a play is dependent on factors such as lead readiness and timing, strength of offer, sales rep delivery and several combinations of these factors. While these are usually captured in the sales force automation (SFA) system, by embedding customer segmentation and applying A/B or multi-variable testing, specific variations of the plays that are most suited to a segment can be implemented. With incremental but directionally-improved changes, the plays can continuously improve over time.
5. Learn from non-conversion: If marketing automation offers the stepping stones to a sale, then it also provides valuable lessons for success (or not) at each step. Keep track of failures to convert at each stage of the funnel. Set more stringent rules for documenting disposition of leads, and capture outcomes in more granular detail for non-conversions, non-responses, etc. Some metrics you can use are number of attempts to a live call, adverse preference changes (like take off list), lapsed quotes, etc.
The more you collect detailed data, the more insights you can get to increase successes. With this level of detail, marketing can analyze results and help sales reduce sources of poor conversion and suggest clear improvements to specific pipeline stages.
This post is an expanded version of our answer to the question originally asked on Focus.Tags: buying cycle, lead nurturing, marketing, marketing automation, outbound calling, predictive analytics, sales readiness