Data is becoming the lifeblood of media companies. The ability to capture, access and leverage accurate data to serve the right content to customers and execute effective media campaigns is essential. Marketing customers expect high-performing, measurable results from their media-driven marketing programs, and they want the resulting data to flow seamlessly into their marketing systems for immediate action. The need for actionable data is a given for today’s marketers, but their media partners (publishers, affiliates, bloggers, etc.) have not fully embraced this new world. It’s time for media companies to take control of demand marketing programs.
One of the most effective ways for media companies to advance their capabilities (and value to marketers) is to focus on data fluidity. Data fluidity is a term used to denote information’s accuracy and cleanliness, velocity and flexibility, and usability for action. Properly refined, easily accessed, and actionable data is becoming the standard in marketing — media companies must ensure they provide this level of quality if they wish to remain competitive and valuable.
Let me share a personal example looking to the past and to the present to explain the impact of data fluidity. A few years back, I worked for a B2B, tech-focused media publisher. Along with branding, events and other unique sponsorship opportunities, we primarily worked with B2B tech marketers to generate leads for their sales teams. I say “generate leads for sales teams” as opposed to “filling the funnel” or “generating nurture-ready leads” because a large majority of clients didn’t have marketing automation systems while some were without a decent CRM. As a sales rep, this meant I’d often receive blame for anything they couldn’t explain. The following was typical feedback:
- “My sales team hasn’t told me about new opportunities”
- “Your lead data was bad”
- “We didn’t close any deals from your program”
- “The leads look good, but we need to wait out the sales cycle to see if they close”
Marketers didn’t have the tools to understand where a lead was in the funnel, and as a result, couldn’t accurately attribute values to the right sources. Having little to no visibility in the lifecycle of a lead meant marketers were reliant on sales’ feedback, which was far from objective, often difficult to obtain, and nearly unquantifiable. It was easy for me to see when marketing and sales were at odds (let alone aligned) simply because both departments were in the dark — they didn’t have the data required to understand problems, create solutions and improve programs. Of course, the easiest solution for both teams was: blame the media partner.
The great news for media companies is that tools now exist to let them and their marketer clients gain transparency and insight into the prospect lifecycle so that they can continually improve programs and increase ROI. CRM and marketing automation systems have greatly improved marketers’ ability to move leads down the funnel and track performance, giving marketing and media partners both accountability and credit where due. Yet there are chokepoints still hindering a complete view of the lifecycle.
As marketing systems have continued to evolve, we’ve come to the next step in data fluidity, which connects all external (aka “offline”) data sources (including third-party media providers) to internal marketing systems (marketing automation and CRMs). Through integrations such Marketo’s Webhooks and Oracle Eloqua Cloud Connectors, marketers can increase data fluidity further up the funnel than ever before:
- Clean, validate and normalize data before it enters marketing automation systems
- Automatically import leads directly into nurturing and sales funnels in real time for better engagement
- View down-funnel data performance and act on insights immediately to quickly optimize programs; that is to say, obtain closed loop marketing (e.g., understand which content, media partners, channels, etc. are generating leads showing “sales ready indicators” and reinvest accordingly)
Through the evolution of marketing tech beyond marketing automation and CRMs, the challenges media partners have faced in the past are being eliminated. No more complaints about bad data, no more relying on client sales teams to close deals before increasing budget, and no more waiting six months for renewals when it’s clear your campaigns have driven new opportunities — new technology that provides top-funnel data fluidity is a win-win for marketers and their media partners.