The “funnel” is a common metaphor used in many marketing and sales departments to describe the process through which prospective leads are converted into paying customers. Though the metaphor remains the same regardless of whether you’re talking to marketing executives or salespeople, what does change is the sense of ownership.
We live in a number-driven business world, with facts and figures influencing everything from product design to marketing campaigns. More brands are realizing the value that marketing analytics and big data can bring to the table and are increasing investments on metrics to improve their ability to engage prospects, a new Infogroup Targeting Solutions report suggests.
For ages, drip marketing was the de facto way to gain thought leadership among specific segments of consumers and stay top-of-mind when it came time for them to make real purchase decisions. However, technology has evolved to the point that it not only provides a wide array of functionality and capabilities, but it’s also easier to use and more accessible than ever before. This has enabled many brands throughout the world to adopt a closed-loop strategy to marketing, rather than limiting them to the drip marketing approach.
If you’ve been in the marketing and sales industry long, you have probably heard of “the paradox of choice,” an observational theory that suggests the more options consumers have, the less likely they are to pick any of them. This is why many marketers choose to use calls to action such as “call us today” on their marketing collateral, even though they can be reached through a variety of means. The idea is to tell prospects what to do, rather than giving them a variety of options that could further complicate matters.
The internet has taken much of the guesswork out of launching and managing marketing campaigns. Before the web, companies had limited means of determining the success of their initiatives – they struggled to evaluate anything deeper than simple conversion rates. Nowadays, brands have more information available at their fingertips – with email, for example, companies can determine conversion rates as well as how many people opened a message, clicked links and took other actions.
However, data doesn’t benefit companies unless they can make use of it in a way that meaningfully improves business operations. Having this data available to you is one thing, but if you aren’t willing to leverage the information to help you supplement your marketing campaigns and sales pitches, then you’re potentially missing out on conversion opportunities.
More companies are beginning to realize the value that marketing analytics provides to companies. Whereas in 2009, nearly half of businesses (44 percent) told Econsultancy they didn’t have employees and technology devoted to evaluating marketing metrics, that number shrank by nearly half the second year and continues to dwindle.
Information is a key tool for companies – it enables them to see what they are doing right and wrong, and can inform future campaigns and business decisions. Real-time data and marketing analytics enables companies to respond to campaign performance and maximize return on investment (ROI).
Unfortunately, however, this valuable data can be hard to gather. A report from Forrester Research suggests that 61 percent of businesses view being able to measure the results of marketing campaigns as important to the success of their campaigns. However, only 23 percent say they have access to the data needed to determine how campaigns will impact sales.
The Growth of Big Data
“Big Data” and analytics have quickly become prevalent buzzwords in the marketing industry. Big Data refers to information about the consumer that can be tapped into and leveraged in a way that can improve the results of marketing initiatives. Customer preferences, buying tendencies, channel engagement and demographic information – all of these metrics could potentially be used to inform marketing decisions, if companies had access to this data.
Marketing automation is quickly evolving, much like the marketing industry itself. The Marketing Automation Times recently identified three marketing automation trends to watch this year and explained how they relate to marketing automation.
Social media-driven personalization
The rise of social media sites has facilitated more personalized communication between consumers and companies. The trend is expected to continue, as the social networking craze shows no sign of abating. In March, Twitter released statistics on its blog that revealed the site’s more than 140 million active users were generating over 340 million tweets per day—and the microblogging website isn’t even the largest social network in the world, as that title goes to Facebook.
In response to this trend, “marketers must produce marketing automation campaigns that are even more personalized, pertinent and timely,” the news source noted.
Conveniently, this process is being facilitated organically. Marketers are likely to use their marketing automation systems for more complex tasks as they become more familiar with them.
While you probably hope to achieve positive results during your social media marketing campaigns, you need to first define success in order to attain it. Because many social media metrics are hard to quantify in terms of your company’s bottom line—they’re different than the ads, organic search, referrals and bookmarks that drive traffic which directly converts—you need to develop a way to determine the value of channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, etc., as SEOmoz explains.
In general, there are a few primary key performance indicators (KPIs) you should consider during your social media marketing campaign, as these can determine whether or not you’re on the right track toward reaching your goal. For instance, there’s the obvious—followers, fans, subscribers or Likes. These encapsulate both Twitter and Facebook, and are the easiest metrics to determine your reach, explains Blur Group.
Then there are more general social media KPIs like traffic, which can be defined as the number of visits your page gets and where they originated from. If you use the content management system WordPress for your website or blog, you can utilize the built-in analytical tools to monitor results.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can be defined as managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects.
Business Know-How explains that many companies have invested in CRM as a way to retain more demanding customers. This is because as technology rapidly transforms, businesses must remain abreast of changes in consumer buying activity to effectively market to their preferences. The news source cites a study by The Center for Customer Strategy which found that consumers are less concerned with minor price differences and prefer to purchase from companies based on their value-added services.
CRM can be effective in retaining these customers because it helps businesses amend their philosophies from product-focused to consumer-focused. Actual CRM technology—such as Voice over IP (VoIP), speech applications, outsourced application delivery, social networking, wireless connectivity, presence technology such as RFID, open source CRM, queue management and embedded analytics—are simply tools companies use to carry out such strategies.
Don’t let the name fool you. We’ve got nothing against Rogue Marketers. If nothing else, we’re indebted to them. We’ve studied them for years, learning from them as we formulated a system that could turn havoc-wreaking mavericks into focused, lead-generating brand champions.
To those of you who couldn’t attend the original broadcast of the Rogue Marketing: Turn a Pain in the Neck into a Powerful Asset webinar (03.01.12), we’ve archived the video with social media links to make it easy for you to watch and share.
In this webinar you will get an inside perspective on how to:
• Identify the signs, causes and effects of Rogues
• Close the gap between marketing and sales
• Balance brand control and customization freedom
• Turn Rogue Marketers into powerful assets