Despite a lot of recent, exciting innovations in MarTech, 65% of brands have no plans to invest in emerging technologies in the year to come. According to Matt McGee, former editor-in-chief at MarTech Today, brands are instead dedicating their budgets to more tried-and-true initiatives, such as analytics and content marketing, in an effort to get the most return on their investments.
Smart brands understand that simply purchasing new software rarely leads to better marketing performance unless its supported by an intelligent strategy and a skilled team. To get the most value from marketing software and tools, your integrated marketing strategy must clearly dictate how each piece of MarTech will be used and who will be responsible for using it.
If your demand generation, marketing automation and customer relationship management tools aren’t supported by sound, clearly defined programs, you’re likely missing out on much of the potential value that drove you to adopt these technologies in the first place.
This article isn’t so much designed to be a how-to guide for any particular B2B marketing technology. Instead, it’s designed to serve as an overview of some of the best practices to ensure your demand generation strategy is optimized for a technology-driven marketing environment.
Demand Gen And Marketing Automation: 6 Ways To Maximize ROI
To be effective marketers in 2018, it’s important to understand there’s no “silver bullet” that’ll magically meet all your key performance indicators (KPIs). Technology by itself won’t make much of a difference. However, marketers with a well-planned, MarTech-supported strategy will find themselves at a great advantage.
These eight tips from expert B2B marketers should be viewed as timeless principles regardless of your chosen MarTech stack.
1. Create Authentic Personality And Scale It Up
Personality can be the difference between automated marketing that feels authentic and likable, and messaging that comes across as robotic. As pro blogger and Forbes Contributor Larry Alton says:
“When we say you need to automate personality, we mean that you need to develop customer personas. You can’t talk to all customers in the same way but you can’t write hundreds of individual emails either.”
By creating profiles of your target customers or accounts, you can develop precisely targeted messaging with a tone that resonates. Personas are the key to developing authentic, personality-driven content that you can efficiently scale using a number of marketing tech tools.
Once you’ve developed your personas, you can create a content map, which then enables you to quickly and easily match messaging to individual target segments based on funnel positions. This ensures your messaging remains consistent and personable using your primary MarTech systems throughout the so-called customer journey: marketing automation for lead nurturing emails; CRM for sales and customer success follow-up; demand orchestration software for initial prospect engagement.
2. Generate Demand Holistically
For most brands, true demand generation goes beyond inbound marketing strategies. Successful demand gen requires a holistic approach to a wide range of top-funnel marketing channels and engagement tactics – both inbound and outbound – as well as all the follow-up efforts needed to convert prospects through the funnel.
Marketing consultant Stacy Bouchard of Imagine LLC highlights the need for a balanced approach in this way: “At Imagine, we take an inbound marketing approach. That doesn’t mean we ONLY use inbound marketing tactics to drive revenue. We also use outbound tactics, events and PR.”
And Meghan Keaney Anderson, Product Marketing Director at HubSpot advises brands to:
“Develop a strategy that serves up relevant content across all the channels your customers use, from email to the website to more informed, relevant sales calls.”
Driving the most value possible from your demand generation tools and marketing automation software requires leveraging a well-organized mix of inbound and outbound, online and offline, and paid- and owned-media activities. These systems were designed to create efficiencies that magnify the results of your demand marketing efforts. If you’re only using them to support inbound marketing tactics, your results will be limited. But if you use them to automate a wide range of demand gen activities, you’ll see a much greater boost to your sales pipeline.
3. Streamline Processes For Increasing Lead Data Quality
Garbage in, garbage out. It’s a concept that matters greatly to all technologies used to support demand generation. You can’t generate real demand if your marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) systems are a mess of inaccurate, incomplete and duplicate contact data.
Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group, states:
“Analytics can aid in prescribing the ‘right’ companies to target…[and] the ‘right’ contacts to call, but require clean and up to date data.”
Unfortunately, most B2B marketing teams are lacking such data integrity. In fact, according to the 2017 “State of Pipeline Marketing” (Bizable, Heinz, Uberflip, Radius and LinkedIn), only 6.6% of B2B marketers believe their data is complete and up-to-date.
Developing consistent processes to govern your data quality before it enters your database goes a long way toward boosting your demand gen achievements, including:
- Ensuring you’re targeting the right audiences
- Selecting the right channels, lead vendors and content
- Saving demand gen budget, time and team resources
- Increasing conversion rates, sales pipeline and revenue
(Learn more about how much bada lead data may be costing your business in the new report, "The Cost of Bad Leads.")
4. Maintain Your Lists
Marketing automation features aren’t meant to act as a set-it-and-forget-it spam machine. They’re meant to help you understand and leverage your contacts’ behavioral data, moving the most engaged prospects through the sales funnel. This also means honoring unsubscribes and moving disengaged prospects to less-frequent contact.
Debbie Farese, Senior Product Marketing Manager at HubSpot, says:
“Your campaigns are only as good as your list. Don't buy lists – generate your own list of qualified leads and constantly replenish it to combat database decay."
In light of new data legislation in the European Union, practicing considerate and compliant list maintenance will become a must.
(You can learn more about how to become more complaint with growing personal data regulations in our new white paper: “5 Steps B2B Marketers Must Take To Prepare for GDPR.”)
5. Keep The Big Picture In Focus
It’s easy to get caught up in minor metrics, like unqualified lead volume, or worse, social media engagement. However, Michael Gerard, the CMO of Curata recommends that brands keep the big picture in mind, focusing on low-funnel metrics such as increasing the quantity and quality of sales-qualified leads. Gerard recommends that brands “deliver high value content to your audience; collaborate with Sales to identify and define lead stages, conversion criteria and hand-off SLAs; and integrate marketing and automation systems for a closed-loop system.”
Employing a closed-loop approach to program reporting and analysis is key to keeping the big picture top-of-mind. It informs you of which top-funnel tactics (lead sources, channels, content, targets, etc.) are influencing the big metrics your company depends on: pipeline opportunities, revenue and customers.
6. Think Full-Funnel
While incredibly valuable, marketing automation software has in its own way created a sort of tunnel vision among B2B marketers. The name of the MarTech category implies a holistic solution to marketing, but in reality, marketing automation systems only automate a specific set of mid-funnel demand generation activities – that is to say, post lead capture processes such as list building, email workflows and lead scoring. It doesn’t do much to help with the myriad top-funnel efforts demand gen marketers employ to engage audiences and generate the lead data that then fuels MA systems.
To get the most out of your marketing automation software, it needs to fully integrated with platforms and tools that automate these top-funnel marketing activities (as well as the CRM systems that automate bottom-funnel processes).
Optimizing Your Demand Generation And Marketing Automation Investments
Making the most of your investments in demand generation and marketing technology is about more than just integrating your software and automating marketing processes. It also requires creating a human element to your demand generation efforts and taking a holistic approach to building interest in your products and services.
How do your demand marketing efforts stack up against industry-leading brands? Download the B2B Demand Marketing Assessment Guide & Orchestration Workbook, which includes 12 customizable worksheets to assess your current demand marketing efforts and identify needed areas of improvement.