Lead Management

The first place to begin building this new fact-based culture is in the lead management process. If marketers are ever to shed the perception that their value is solely in sales support, they must create a picture of a lead process that begins long before customers ever talk to salespeople. In our research, we’ve seen consistently over the past few years that two-thirds of buyers prefer to research their buying options themselves rather than waiting for vendors to contact them.

Marketing is most effective at this stage, when buyers want nothing to do with salespeople. This is when we have the opportunity to build relationships with buyers through measured doses of thought leadership content. But it’s too difficult to track that growing relationship and know when someone is ready to do more than just read your white papers unless you have a process for lead management and can automate it.

You have to be able to connect content with behavior with action. That’s not possible manually. It just won’t scale. And it’s not possible without people who can interpret what downloading three white papers in three days really means.

The analytics types are the ones who convert the white papers and events into an analytical process that is predictive and measurable.

We are at an inflection point with lead management automation. It needs to happen but companies aren’t doing it. The good news is that you know that you should be doing it. When we asked respondents in an ITSMA marketing automation survey to rate the ROI they received or expect to receive from automating processes, lead management and campaign management rose to the top.
But getting there is intimidating. Simply buying software isn’t the answer. No vendor has software that magically connects the lead management loop from the beginning of the marketing funnel through the sales cycle and beyond the purchase. Most marketers understand this and simply avoid the issue rather than making things worse by getting
into something they don’t understand. “Marketers understand that they need to do something about lead management but they don’t have the skills to create and manage the process,” says Adam Needles, vice president of demand generation strategy at Left Brain Marketing, a demand generation consultancy. “With only a quarter of marketing automation implementations meeting their goals, we see evidence that technology without process change is a losing scenario.”

Using Analytics to Predict Marketing’s Effectiveness

Analytics also have potential beyond the lead management process. IBM’s marketing group uses analytics to fine-tune its own new-offering launch process, optimize its marketing mix and demonstrate marketing’s impact on the business. IBM has developed tools that it uses in-house and sells to customers as part of its Business Analytics and Optimization service line. IBM has models that can predict the impact that various marketing tactics can have on a sale. This translates into two important goals:
• Predict time to impact
• Optimize the marketing mix
“Using these models, from the time I put money into the marketplace, I can predict how long it will take to impact sales,” says Katharyn White, vice president, marketing at IBM Global Services. “The model lets me see which elements of the mix have the most impact on sales so I can pay for the things that matter most—not just the things that are measurable.”

Build an IT Strategy

How can marketers get started on this process and on making the bigger transition to
becoming a fact-based organization? First, bring the analytical and process skills into
the marketing organization.
Next, set to work building an IT strategy in cooperation with IT. Nearly 70% of respondents to our marketing automation survey said they have no formal IT strategy.
Marketers don’t think it’s their fault however—67% of respondents blamed the lack of strategy on a lack of support from IT.
Clearly, we have a relationship problem here.
It never used to matter. Years ago, marketers could get away with approaching their major IT decisions much as consumers do: Discover a need, find a tool and install it for yourself and perhaps for a few colleagues. But today you need to weigh carefully issues such as scaling the tool to all areas of marketing and globally, data
storage and retrieval, and integration with sales automation and back office systems.
These are not decisions that marketers are equipped to make on their own.

Marketing needs to take steps to fix the relationship with IT. In our survey, we found that only half the marketers had tried to develop a formal liaison relationship with IT (and vice versa). This has to change. If it doesn’t, it’s unlikely that marketing will ever become a data-driven organization.
Analytics and automation have become as important as creativity in marketing. We knew it had to happen. Time to get used to it.

Chris Koch, Julie Schwartz. “Why You’re No Longer Qualified to be a B2B Marketer”, Chief Content Officer magazine, April 2011, p. 10. Chris Koch and Julie Schwartz are associate vice president and senior vice president respectively of
ITSMA, a research and membership organization that serves B2B technology services and solutions marketers.


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