It sounds so obvious – if you connect marketing’s people, processes and systems, good things happen. And in fact, I’m inspired everyday by new examples of integration transforming marketing’s impact.
But while we all realize the importance of connecting systems and processes, there remains a very common rift between what’s known as “front-end” and “back-end” marketing.
Before we jump into the benefits of front- and back-end integration by specific role, let’s first define the concepts and identify the barriers so we can knock them down.
Marketing’s Front- and Back-End Defined
The marketing front-end, in this case, is the strategies and tactics (media channels and budget) we deploy to discover and engage prospective customers who make a meaningful difference to our company. It’s the more customer-facing side of marketing – demand gen, PR, digital marketing, graphic design, etc.
The back-end, commonly called the “stack,” is the infrastructure through which all the available information needed by marketing (and other departments) is stored and accessed. This includes the technology and processes marketers use to track and manage customer data, report on and analyze campaign performance, transfer data between teams and departments, etc.
Connecting a marketing org’s front- and back-end data, technology and processes is integral in driving a predictable demand generation and customer acquisition machine.
However, it’s real easy for demand gen teams to fixate on the size of the media budget or the glitz of where content or ad messages are placed, for example. At the same time, your marketing ops team (data ninjas and tech types) can become enamored by the coolness of using the latest technology (shiny object syndrome) in their back-end stack. These separate focus perpetuate the rift.
But results are what matter. And outcomes aren’t only better when these two worlds are connected – they’re more predictable and scalable.
Here’s some inspiration from marketing teams that are making the connection, framed around which players benefit, also known as WIIFM (“What’s In It For Me”).
CMOs and Marketing Leaders
Today, CMOs need accurate, meaningful information to meet accountability expectations and revenue performance targets. Integrations provide transparency into macro and micro performance across marketing, empowering marketing chiefs to make informed decisions and adjustments based on business requirements.
This really came to life in a working session I had last month with a fellow CMO and her team who are charged with doubling revenue for a rapidly growing cloud software company. She’s been hiring lots of spreadsheet crunchers, pulling data from numerous systems and channels and then layering in visualization tools to try to not only personally understand what the h#*% is going on, but also empower her team to make faster, better decisions.
She concluded that if she shifted her focus to integrated systems and data (next is the people/roles), she could capture cause and effect and provide her FULL team with data to act on. It’s working, as cost per opportunity is down by 20% and lead-to-customer velocity has increased by nearly 25%.
Demand Gen Pros
This group of marketers spends an inordinate amount of time playing guessing games on what they’re investing in to find and create prospects that convert to new customers. With timely feedback enabled by back-end ops teams, demand gen pros can make changes in content, distribution, personas, nurturing tactics, etc. to optimize investments in marketing channels and sources.
The marketing team at CA Technologies is in the midst of this revenue marketing modernization and integrating back-end ops and front-end demand gen is a key focus. It all starts with connected systems and a marketing tech stack that produces the analytics to steer investment.
Marketing Ops Leaders
Rising out of the back office, marketing ops practitioners are no longer “behind the scenes” players. Rather, by driving connectedness (front- and back-end integration) as a foundational responsibility and owning the marketing technology tools that create efficiency and insights, these fast-rising pros guide the marketing org to hit its target performance quotas.
The team at Iron Mountain makes this a mantra every day, looking for continuous improvement from their media/demand investment, examining how they nurture and develop new customers, and consistently delivering the transparency to the executive team.
Iron Mountain’s focus on connectedness delivered a 25% savings in time and a significant increase in data quality that boosted pipeline and customer conversion 4 times over.
“The leads marketing sent over are crap.” …we’ve all heard it before. A big part of this mounting problem is not having integrated processes and defined metrics in place to manage the quality of prospect data sent over to sales reps. And this inevitably affects the customer experience.
It starts with how the front-end customer/prospect data is generated and what happens to it on the back-end. By understanding and controlling the prospect data coming in, you can more elegantly handoff the opportunity to sales with useful information that sales reps can use to turn the prospect into a customer, with a great experience to boot.
I’ve seen an excellent example of this at Tintri Networks, a fast-growing application storage company, where marketing and sales leaders are locking arms, in large part driven by common data enabled through integration.
Last but certainly not least on the list. Increased customer experience is an often unexpected, very positive consequence of connecting back- and front-end systems and processes. With customer and prospect data at the fingertips of every role, organizations are much better equipped to provide potential and existing customers with the information they need in the manner they desire.
This immediately improves customer experience and increases brand value. We all know it’s much harder and more expensive – in all aspects – to find new customers as opposed to delighting and offering your existing customers more products and services.
The team at Dun & Bradstreet exemplifies the integrated approaches to both creating new customers and delighting existing customers. Rishi Dave, CMO of D&B, simply says these are “inextricably intertwined.” Well summed.
When you integrate, all stakeholders benefit. Just like with eating healthy and exercising, you shouldn’t put off connecting your back- and front-end. And, judging by the results of leading marketing teams, this effort should be on your 2016 marketing roadmap and strategic plan.