by Amrit Sra, June 2014
Marketing modernization is imperative and imminent. Knowledgeable customers, intense competition, shorter product cycles, the higher cost of tracking false leads, and the convergence of information have fueled the need for modernization more than ever before. Marketers need modern technologies to target the highest potential groups of prospective customers with customized messaging at the right time to convert them to actual customers. Modernization and automation help extend tight marketing budgets by enabling marketers to automate repeated tasks and focus their energies on more value-added, high-yield marketing activities.
The size, scope, and number of marketing programs pose another challenge for companies. While marketers in smaller firms have a limited number of prospects on which to focus marketing programs, marketing executives in big firms struggle in scaling up their marketing programs through their varied and large base of prospective customers. A recent Oracle Insight engagement with a global enterprise customer of Oracle revealed that its B2B marketing teams were struggling to:
With the faster speed of designing and launching campaigns, the marketing team reached its 2013 targeted number of campaigns before September, a full four months ahead of schedule.
To run email-based lead nurturing programs, these marketing teams were working off of lists of email addresses to nurture instead of generating inbound leads. While it seemed like a quick fix to launch multiple campaigns to maximum possible leads, widening the front end of the sales funnel, they agreed that it was not a long-term solution. B2C situations may have benefited from such shotgun methods; but in a B2B situation, they needed more precise methods of locating and generating interest from the highest potential leads. Their conversion rates, where measurable, were poor. Customers were getting ill timed, often conflicting offers of engagement, and the sales team did not feel that the leads handed to them by marketing were of high quality in terms of convertibility. They needed their B2B marketing activities to position the company for long-term success with enterprise customers. They recognized the need for modernization to maintain their global leadership position in the industry.
This customer’s first step in modernization of marketing activities was to move away from using customer lists with little context, to customer profiles that would successively be enriched through additional information and with the behavior of prospective customer in response to the campaigns. Further, running campaigns off of a centralized profile eliminated the confusion that had been caused by multiple campaigns hitting the same customers.
Not just a consistent and unambiguous campaign message, but also its timing and frequency can now be controlled to nurture inbound leads into qualified sales leads. What were monolithic campaigns earlier have been transformed into auto-adjusting, multi-step campaigns that dynamically adjust the content and pace of the message according to customer profile and click behavior.
This has also connected the lead generation process to lead nurturing. As the customer profile gets enriched during the lead nurturing process, it further tees up downstream benefits. Analysis of context-rich, behavior-scored profiles now helps in the design of new campaigns. Understanding prospect behavior, then tracking and scoring based on that behavior, ensures that only the high quality leads make it to the sales team at the right time. Sales teams are more effective in taking these qualified leads to conversion. Further information is added to these profiles during the sales process, completing the feedback loop to help adjust future marketing campaigns.
Amrit Sra is a director on the Industry Strategy and Insight team at Oracle.
An easily notable benefit of Eloqua came from automation. With the faster speed of designing and launching campaigns, the marketing team reached its 2013 targeted number of campaigns before September, a full four months ahead of schedule.
Automation of non-core activities has freed up the marketing team on higher value-add activities. With the added predictability based on customer profiles, marketers are now able to segment and target their campaigns more accurately. The email click-through rate increased fivefold in the first twelve months after they started using Eloqua. In 2013, automation further allowed Marketing to nurture 24 times the number of marketing qualified leads (MQL) than they had nurtured in the year before. Downstream, the sales team attributed a six-fold increase in the number of sales qualified leads (SQL) that they were then able to nurture and improve their closure rate by several hundred percent.
The inherent nature of a consolidated platform, tightly integrated with CRM, provides measurable indicators on the quality and quantity of leads being funneled to the sales reps. A measurable process enables marketing to no longer be viewed as a cost center. Account conversions can now be more directly attributed to the success of marketing campaigns. Such improvements help the customer’s customers too. They get more accurate information upfront and reap the business benefits much faster, setting the stage to turn from customers into delighted customers.