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Making the Case for Marketing Automation and CRM: Data Needs More Than Just a Home

Kristin_Hambelton_NeolaneBy Kristin Hambelton, VP of Marketing, Neolane, Inc.

In a world inundated with communication, information is power. Marketers use information to try to target buyers with the right products and services; sales uses information to address buyers’ needs and desires in an effort to win deals; and customer service uses information to meet and exceed customer expectations. But, the reality is your company probably doesn’t use information as effectively as it could.

Why? To start, there is simply too much data, and it’s impossible to make all of it actionable even with automated technology. But more importantly, most organizational functions still operate in silos. Each function has a specific set of tools and technologies to engage, track and monitor customer and prospect interactions.

Effective customer relationship management (CRM) should consist of sales, marketing and service, customer interactions that are managed by tracking, storing and retrieving information across different customer experiences. Salesforce automation (SFA) tools are used to manage sales data and interactions, whereas call-center and customer service tools manage customer and service data. Often salesforce automation and customer service tools are integrated to try to create a holistic record of customer interactions over time. But what about the third pillar under the CRM umbrella — marketing? Where is the tool to manage and act on this data?

Marketing Automation’s Role

An emerging class of marketing technology has been developed to fill this critical void in CRM datamarts: marketing automation. Marketing automation technologies typically include email marketing, campaign workflow, web analytics, content management, a marketing datamart and robust integration with SFA tools.

Many email marketing tools have pre-packaged integration with SFA, but the integration is often at an aggregate level. What is actually needed is deep integration across email, web analytics, social media, telesales and field sales. Marketing automation tools have built in workflow triggers and deep integration with salesforce automation tools so prospects can be handed off to sales at just the right time.

Marketing automation tools don’t replace web analytics — they use some of the same basic techniques to provide a completely different set of tools for sales and marketing. For example, marketing automation integrated to web analytics and email provides visibility to clicks and tracking of the link and corresponding web activity and behavior. Combined with other marketing history data in the marketing automation tool, this can help to alert sales reps about key account activity or trigger an email campaign based on a customer behavior threshold. Marketing automation makes this web analytics data actionable.

A Day in the Life: Before Marketing Automation

A company (to protect its identity let’s call it LearnQuick Software) sells on-demand learning management technology. The sales cycle is complex and on average lasts 6-9 months. The marketing department regularly sends out email campaigns inviting prospects to attend webinars or download white papers. A handful of marketers have access to an enterprise class web analytics solution that they check periodically to see which content is being downloaded the most and the average number of page views per web site visit, but that data is in a silo.

Mike Smith is a sales rep at LearnQuick and receives a list of 100-200 potential prospects from marketing each week. On occasion, marketing will annotate the source of the lead by manually pulling reports from the email tool or web analytics tool separately. This is arduous and time-consuming for marketing, so often it is not done at all, and the sales reps have little if any information about the prospects besides their contact information. Sound familiar?

Mike dials for dollars, engaging each prospect by phone. Mike spends 80% of his time trying to articulate the value of the LearnQuick offering to the people he calls and occasionally engages with someone who is actually interested in a demo.

A Day in the Life: After Marketing Automation

After LearnQuick deploys a marketing automation solution, email campaigns from the marketing department become dialogue-based, meaning follow-up emails are automatically delivered based on whether or not a prospect opens an email, and the links they click in the email. Marketers also share email campaigns across social media channels and track click-through to the website or landing pages from these channels.

Mike no longer receives lists of leads from marketing. In the morning, Mike logs into SFA and receives a list of 5-10 prospect leads that are prioritized by a numerical score. Mike can drill down on these prospects and see a chronological view of all marketing activity over the past few months including campaigns received, clicked links, downloads, webinar registrations, events attended and more. Mike uses this information to have a highly relevant and engaging phone conversation with qualified prospects. Mike has a higher chance of success given all of the background information he has to prepare for the call.

By increasing efficiencies through better qualifying leads and increasing effectiveness by ensuring sales efforts are more personalized and relevant, marketing automation enables sales teams to do what they do best – SELL.

Kristin Hambelton is Vice President of marketing at conversational marketing technology provider Neolane, Inc. She is responsible for Neolane’s market and brand strategy and operations including corporate communications, demand generation, product and partner marketing, and digital marketing including search and social media. Follow Kristin on Twitter @KMHambelton.