By Shreesha Ramdas, Chief Operating Officer, LeadForce1
Today a lot of BtoB companies are opting for marketing automation solutions. This makes good business sense--why should you lose out on those possible sales opportunities when you are doing everything possible to drive traffic to your web site?
But there is a serious problem, with the perception that is associated with using a marketing automation solution. For some reason, marketing automation on most occasions is misinterpreted as a lead generation solution.
When in reality, marketing automation is just a part of the lead generation process and not by any means the end.
As the name suggests marketing automation is about automating the marketing activities of any organization. So the automation of the repetitive marketing tasks results in increased efficiency in the organization. But this understanding has been misinterpreted to consider lead generation as part of the marketing automation process.
Such misinterpretation has led BtoB companies to spend precious dollars on a solution which actually only enables their marketing departments — because the sales teams couldn’t care less, because they consider most of the leads passed on by the marketing team as useless.
So is Marketing Automation a lost cause? Not if you see it as one of the means to your end objective — improving the lead generation process, optimizing your web site and driving sales enablement.
Web site Optimization:
For any BtoB company in today’s age where Internet dominates all channels of communication, a good web site can be critical to their business success. A web site acts as the showcase window for the company and also, one that allows the company to engage its prospective customers in a very direct manner. Invariably it becomes the first point of contact between the prospect and the company and also the first point of the lead generation process. Ensuring the company web site meets the following requirements will go a long way in optimizing it for better lead generation.
Providing relevant content about the product
- Conveying the value proposition to hold interest of researchers on the web site.
- Enabling the prospect to easily navigate to pages of interest
- Allow the prospects to easily test or buy the product.
Once you have optimized your web site, its time to bring in marketing automation. This solution will help you find leads on your web site. It will sift through all your visitors to circle out those who might really be interested in your product. Also, it will help you automate the marketing process of reaching out to your prospects and keeping track of their responses — moving them up or down your sales probability scale.
The process of lead generation does not end with finding interested prospects, but also includes the time and effort taken to nurture that lead until it is ready to buy your product. It is this process of lead gathering, qualification and nurturing that marketing automation platforms enable, making the repetitive processes more efficient and tracking lead progress easier.
The 3 most significant marketing processes automation enables in the lead generation process are:
- Customer segmentation
- Customer data integration
- Campaign management
The last node of the lead generation process is also the most significant — sales enablement. The lead generation process will only be successful if all efforts put in by different people in the previous stages help the sales team understand and identify the context and intent of the sales opportunity at hand.
Marketing collaterals created should map and reflect the different levels of interests and inhibitions expressed by the lead during the nurturing process. It should also reflect the lead’s progress from a visitor looking for a solution to someone who is ready to buy the solution you offer.
Time plays a very significant role in making or breaking a sales deal. The other processes of the lead generation cycle should be well equipped to identify a sale-ready or ‘hot’ lead from a lead that needs nurturing and inform the sales teams ensuring they connect with these leads in time. Triggering alerts when opportunity strikes is something more advanced marketing automation 2.0 solutions offer today.
Either way, sales enablement can kill the lead generation process much before it reaches a desired end, if ignored. It should be ensured that all the data collected on the intent and interest of the lead should be accessible to the sales teams and should form the basis of their customized sales pitches.
It is these three functions that come together to make lead generation process a reality. The absence of any one of these functions can severely jeopardize the lead generation process and make your marketing automation platform ineffective.
Prior to co-founding LeadForce1, Shreesha was co-founder of OuterJoin, enabling B2B and B2C customers to assemble online marketing strategies and execution plans. He has also held key management positions at Yodlee and MW2 Consulting, where he held the role of General Manager building the core data acquisition & content engine of Yodlee platform and building engineering operations for MW2. Shreesha started his career with Sprint India before joining Tata Consultancy Services.