Guest post by Chris Frank, TreeHouse Interactive Director of Marketing
Marketing CMOs and VPs have some very unique challenges in 2010. The marketing processes and tools for influencing the buying cycle have changed rapidly and will continue to change. This necessitates being educated not only in new marketing methods, but staying up to date with new marketing automation technology. The end goal really, for any CMO or marketing VP, is to provide real, measurable results. I would argue that these results are becoming less about up front metrics like open rates and number of leads to being more about revenue contribution. To address this you really need to look at the buying cycle and adjust how you communicate in the awareness, consideration and decision buying phases, as well as examine how you’re enabling all resources in your organization to better close business.
The Rise of Inbound Marketing
The concept of using social media, search engine optimization and blogs together in driving early awareness stage traffic is still a fairly new one. Marketers over 2010 will get much savvier about doing this, however. Beyond the basic tactics for using each tool, there are going to be innovations in marketing automation that will help marketers better manage their efforts, measure results and target prospects.
On an execution level, we will see marketing automation vendors including ways to manage downloadable content that powers meaningful inbound marketing efforts. This includes the ability to control the “gate” or absence thereof for accessing content and then measuring interaction on an aggregate and individual level. This, when combined with other behavioral insights, will drive better targeting and lead nurturing, which leads to more revenue.
These behavioral insights will not necessarily be tied to those that have interacted with you in the past either. There is reverse IP lookup, normalization and contact query technology that will help identify more inbound traffic on a non-personal level and give marketers in their marketing automation systems new ways to expand their database and increase the number of people in their pipeline.
Of the marketers that I talk to in the industry that are not on the consultant side, many are still struggling to escape from being reactionary to being more proactive. It is a huge shift for marketing teams to make, but a very important one to use marketing automation technology correctly. I see teams that make the shift being better able to compete on a campaign-by-campaign level, better satisfy sales team needs and ultimately being able to drive more pipeline opportunities. A funny thing happens when you start planning out communication—it actually happens, it addresses buying cycle gaps and it becomes more effective because it’s cohesive.
To this end we will see marketing automation solutions continue to become better at incorporating communication methods beyond standard email. Here I’m talking primarily about social media and mobile. In marketing automation solutions we will see new ways to monitor these channels, as well as new ways to support or even have it be the primary communication method. We will also see continued convergence here. Landing page and email sharing on social media sites with URL shortening is an example of this. We will see this and other integrations refined in 2010. The upshot of all this is that you will be better able to connect with people via their chosen method of communication with the type of content they need at their particular spot in the buying cycle… So consistent, but progressive messages delivered through your marketing automation system that address individual needs.
One of the biggest benefits of using a marketing automation solution is that it has the potential to put sales and marketing teams on the same page. The ability to define what a lead really is and then use your marketing automation system to qualify, nurture and pass along those leads is a basic benefit. In 2010 there will be many integrations between marketing automation and CRM systems that will change how teams work together to close business.
One thing that we’ve seen already is some intelligence passed on marketing history both on an aggregate and detail level. This information, put at the salesperson’s fingertips, can make a consistent difference in the depth and types of conversations that happen. Knowing what emails a lead has opened, what links they’ve clicked on and what upcoming nurturing they have scheduled can be very powerful. This type of lead intelligence will increase over 2010. On the flip side, we will see information flowing from other systems to the marketing automation system too. This will improve the marketer’s ability to automatically calculate campaign ROI regardless of sales model—combining the information in a dashboard that includes all campaign metrics.
More importantly, we will see some bi-directional integration between CRM and marketing automation systems that extends a company’s ability to address individual nurturing needs and smooth internal processes. So whether a marketing team needs to know if a lead is accepted, a company needs to automate communication based on contact qualities or sales teams need to initiate nurturing for leads that have fallen out of the buying process, new technology will address this. We should also see enough flexibility here that sales and marketing teams can define these points together and use marketing automation system logic to plug the holes in both internal operations and sales processes.
To get tips on setting up marketing automation and demand generation processes for your company, download the "6 Steps to Building a Successful Demand Generation Program" quick guide.