We have such relevant and substantial data in the organization, but what do I do with it? How do I utilize it to uncover insights, activate it to drive growth?
This is every marketer’s vision and challenge. How to
- Intelligently and efficiently understand and utilize this vast amount of data getting collected on customers and prospects on a daily basis
- Use it to create dynamic, measurable, world class sales and marketing campaigns in alignment with the organization’s business objectives.
This vision is mired by 3 factors, namely:
- Outdated and non-integrated technology stack
- Complex, inefficient processes
- Lack of available, relevant resources with the desired skillsets
Let us dive deep into the type of challenges that we face every day:
- Data in siloes due to non-integrated systems preventing us from creating real-time, attributable multi-channel campaigns.
- Not only are there multiple, disparate systems in the company’s tech stack that do not talk to each other but also this creates inefficiencies and lack of visibility for the marketing teams working out of them.
- Data Redundancy causing data inconsistency resulting in dirty, incomplete, duplicate data. Imaging this, having 4 copies of the same contact is every marketer’s nightmare. Which dataset is accurate? Which one should be used for targeting? To add to the complexity, maintaining these redundant databases take up a lot of the marketing team’s time and resources. And do not even get me started on the Inflexible, expensive and prolonged operational processes associated with legacy and outdated systems.
- Lack of data transparency for sales organization to successfully collaborate with marketing during the different phases of the customer lifecycle. Imagine the frustration sales teams have when there is no convenient way for them to have visibility into their contacts’ activity and engagement.
So……how do we overcome these challenges? How do we build a closely-knit marketing technology ecosystem that enables us to leverage customer data holistically and transparently to design, orchestrate and measure business outcome-driven sales & marketing campaigns?
As a marketing technologist, here is my five-fold approach to enable a true digital transformation. As you will see, technology though an important component, is not the be-all, end-all of this multi-pronged model.
- Business Process Transformation
- Integration Ecosystem
- Data Processes
- Campaign Strategy and Enablement
Business Process Transformation
As part of any business transformation, it is important to re-evaluate the key processes that support the company’s operational and strategic needs. The objective should be to make these processes automated, simple yet all-encompassing when considering sales and marketing stakeholders’ needs.
Two key models that form the backbone of any company’s sales and marketing infrastructure are Lead and Contact Management Model and the Campaign Responder Model. Both of these need to be designed keeping scale, flexibility and simplicity in mind.
Following important considerations need to be factored in while creating these processes:
- What are your data sources that feed data in your ecosystem?
- Depending on your team structure and reporting needs, what should be the lead/contact management (Create Unique or Point of Interest) and Response and Activity management models? With Account Based Management rapidly becoming the center of B2B marketing models, it is important to consider how it supports the evolution to an Account centric model.
- Out of box integration features and capabilities of core Sales and marketing technologies in your organization that will enable these models
- What technologies will be the source systems for accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities and responses
- What is your data capture strategy? What are the data points that you capture mandatorily for any contact or response data before getting in your ecosystem?
- What are the business rules that should trigger the integration between your sales and marketing automation tools?
Integration of the Ecosystem
With multiple marketing technologies (Sales and Marketing Automation, email marketing, demand gen, event and webinar management, web management, data enrichment, storage and reporting etc) in play, it is important that these technologies benefit from the rich interaction data set that each generates via bi-directional integration. The complementary nature of these technology integrations will give an organization’s sales and marketing teams a holistic and real-time view of the buyer’s journey and enables them to action these insights with innovative, need-based programs. A cherry on top would be if you can leverage the native integrations that these technologies offer rather than burying yourself into building and maintaining customs ones. Here is a look at benefits that certain technologies’ integrations bring:
Marketing Automation and Salesforce Automation Integration
This is one of the most important integrations in my experience. Highlights of this Integration are below:
- Data Consistency
- Unified source of information when communicating with Customers and Prospects
- Tightly-aligned processes have been automated to improve data quality
- Data is centrally governed, but users have been empowered to own the data
- Marketing Campaigns
- Campaigns from a Marketing Resource Management (MRM) system can synch into either of the systems to provide a holder for Campaign response and production information for the field
- The integration triggers the creation and updating of campaigns in both systems
- It also allows both sales and marketing to contribute towards making a campaign actionable (Sales can opt in or opt out contacts from a campaign and Marketing using business rules can identify a niche segment of contact using profile and behavioral data points)
- Sales tools
- Marketing tools when integrated with a sales automation tool can provide sales direct visibility into lead/prospects’ engagement with sales and marketing activities thereby giving them the ability to tailor their communications with the right message at the right time.
- Some tools also allow sales to send customized, personalized sales and marketing communication right from the sales automation tool with the ability to track the performance of their emails.
Event and Webinar Management Tools Integration
- Through this integration, event and webinar registration and attendance data can enter sales/marketing automation tools in real-time for use in multi-channel marketing campaigns as well as for sales visibility. Due to this native integration, the speed to email be it registration confirmation, reminders to registrants, follow up with attendants or invitation waves to non-registrants in almost real time.
Web Content Management Systems Integration
- This integration lets you utilize the best of both digital technologies, Web Content management and Form Management (Web to Lead Management).
- Form submissions from the website directly feed into sales and marketing automation tools in real time.
- This integration gives marketers the flexibility to manage forms independently of the landing pages that they are hosted on and vice versa
- This data can be leveraged by marketers for further segmentation, targeting and lead source based attribution
Data Management Tools Integration
- We are going to talk about data management in the next section but it is important to discuss how integration with data management tools can power the organization’s data processes as mentioned below. The key to high performing campaigns is complete, clean and normalized data to ensure that not only are segmentations accurate but also that the overall campaign design can be smarter by leveraging data (through dynamic content and field merges).
- Automated data management
- Identification of junk (John Doe, Test-First Test-Last) and potential duplicate records
- Email validation
- Data correction (case, address formatting, phone formatting, state standardization, country standardization, etc.)
As marketers, Data is the foundation of everything we do. On the path to a digital transformation, data management and importance of data processes deserve its own pillar. When focusing on data, not only is cleansing, standardization, normalization important but also finding out ways to enrich it, use it for further data generation like Salutation using a Prefix and Country the person belongs to or deducing function and level from a title using look up tables or regexes or more complex self-learning programs. Basics of any data hygiene program include a plan to cleanse core contact fields like First Name, Last Name, Title, Company, Address, Suffix, Prefix to name a few.
Campaign Strategy and Enablement
With the change in business and data processes, technology configuration, it is important to also look at your campaign strategy. Every organization has a campaign development workflow – who will create the campaign, how and when to initiate a segmentation request or an email and a landing page copy request, who is the reviewer etc. How should the roles of an Administrator or a Data Management Specialist or a Demand Gen manager should be different from those of an Integration Specialist or a Campaign Manager and more. This workflow makes every stakeholder involved and accountable in the process and ensures a connected and consistent campaign creation and maintenance experience for everyone. This is the part where you would discuss the concepts of Contact Level Security and Asset Level Security frameworks if you would like to partition the database and de-risk the usage of the platform for global users and teams with restrictive access and rights to the database.
For a marketing organization to fully leverage the new and improved Marketing ecosystem, it must consider investing in training the users through different medium depending on their roles. The power users who will use the platform every day, day in, day out like the Campaign Execution, Marketing Operations and Demand Generation teams need intensive, trainer led workshops educating them on the new ecosystem as well as getting hands on practice in the relevant tools. Additionally, a support plan needs to be in place to help them get started and ramp up. A slew of on-demand, online courses with the objective of educating everyone in the organization on the different topics of the new digital ecosystem goes a long way in increasing adoption.