As marketers plan for 2013, many will be figuring out how they can economize, yet again, next year. Only 15 percent of companies plan to budget more for marketing in 2013, while 21 percent plan to scale back, according to the CMO Council.
Increasingly, marketers are looking for more efficient ways to identify and convert ideal prospects into customers, while nurturing current customer relationships so they buy more and become a source of referrals.
To do this, many marketers are looking to implement a lifecycle marketing strategy. This approach to marketing emphasizes lead nurturing, but it also focuses on nurturing all sources of revenue a company encounters. If, as Forrester Research recently found, 47% of B2B marketers close less than 4% of marketing-generated leads, it’s time to look at the big picture and nurture leads from marketing and sales, repeat customers, referrals and upsells.
There are five questions to keep in mind when evaluating whether your organization is ready for lifecycle marketing automation:
1. Where are we now? Evaluate your marketing structure to determine how you view your prospect and customer relationships and how effective your current processes are in continuing to build those relationships. If you’re dealing with goals that are not aligned, silos of data in disparate systems, or a focus only on marketing-generated leads, then your organization likely will benefit from lifecycle marketing automation.
2. What results are we achieving? Marketers tend to measure the wrong things by looking at output-related metrics like volume of website visitors, number of leads generated or passed to the sales team, and email open and click rates, instead of results. Since marketers spend time on things that generate results, the wrong measurement may cause marketers to implement ineffective tactics. For example, marketers who are measured by how many leads they generate and qualify will spend time on tactics that deliver leads to the sales team. But, if the leads aren’t ready to buy, the effort won’t be successful. Focusing on driving engagement –moving individuals further along in their relationship with your brand, from prospect to customer to brand advocate – will drive better bottom-line results.
3. Is our organization ready? Most organizations keep marketing and sales separate and measure them differently. Marketing’s goal is to drive leads, yet sales reps can’t convert leads that aren’t ready to buy and won’t follow up on those that aren’t a good fit. To be successful, companies need to give visibility to goals and measurement across teams, construct a good lead scoring system, and implement a solution that enables unique marketing campaigns to target the right audience at the right time.
4. Who will be our technical partner? When a company is ready for a lifecycle marketing automation solution, it’s important to pick a vendor that excels technically, and also can help you define your vision. A good partner will focus on four areas: understanding the current situation of how marketing and sales operate in the organization, the overall business goals, the resources you have and how technology can help you reach your goals.
5. What features do we need? Many technology vendors say they do the same thing: email marketing, lead scoring, nurturing, automation, and so on. So look for features that enable a view of all customers and prospects, not just those in the marketing or sales funnel. Also, scope out support and services, since this will be key to your adoption, education and success as a marketer implementing a new solution.
Troy Burk is the CEO and Founder of Right On Interactive, a lifecycle marketing automation solution that helps organizations win, keep and grow more business.