Demand marketing gets more complicated by the day. In order to get everything done and still ensure great customer experiences in this always-on environment, we often find ourselves cutting corners.
But one shortcut can quickly grow into many, until our entire demand gen engine is compromised. Here’s a list of issues that may start off small, but can end up resulting in big problems down the road:
1. Only optimizing the top 10 rows of your 1000 row lead report
Take this common scenario:
You have 15 content marketing partners, each with 5-10 sub-sources on all three of your quarterly demand gen initiatives. These initiatives break into two specific geo regions, each with their own budgets.
Your job is to figure out where the best return is coming from based on the feedback report you received from your analytics database. 15 x 5 x 3 x 2 = 450 unique lead source distinctions for which you can change payout and allocation to yield better results.
But to do that, you'd have to send at least 15 emails to your publishers and then get in arguments over a couple hundred details -- all while scrubbing, normalizing and possibly manually uploading lead files into your marketing automation.
The result? You sort your analytics report by worst offenders and execute changes on the top 10. You’re not lazy, you simply lack an effective method of executing optimization at scale.
With all the other efforts required to keep your demand marketing engine running, optimizing each lead source and demand gen tactic seems insignificant. But it incrementally adds up, like “engine sludge” in those Castrol Oil commercials – the engine will eventually shut down.
2. Using the same content marketing partners instead of testing new ones
It takes a lot to find a good partner; so once you do, it often seems more effective to keep budget allocated to the same small circle, quarter after quarter… If it’s not broken why fix it, right?
Often the reason we limited ourselves to “trusted partners” isn’t because they’re the best in the industry, but rather because they’re the best we’ve found so far. We don’t have the time to find others. It often requires resources to research new sources of good prospect data.
But a problem exists when organizations, industries, opportunities change, which they do very often. It’s a good idea to continuously test various sources and audiences, and learn from each, optimizing all along the way. Otherwise, you risk diminishing prospect data quality, fewer insights about what’s working, increasing cost per opportunity and a generally lower-performing demand marketing machine.
3. Picking publishers based on booth size or steak flavor
This issue often leads into the previous one. Think about these questions:
- What data do you have on your publishers/content marketing partners before you run with them?
- Have you analyzed performance data from their campaigns with competitors?
- Do you know their average launch time for a campaign, proven volume in your vertical or average acceptance score for their leads?
- Or, did they have the biggest booth that led to an extremely enjoyable happy hour? (Not that this is a bad thing).
Maybe you decided they were legitimate because they footed the bill for expensive steak, which is great. But when it comes down to it, is this what’s really best for your organization…or your marketing career?
There’s nothing wrong with putting value into relational merits, but they should never outweigh proven performance data. Getting this info upfront is best, but if you can’t get it, then it’s always a good idea to test.
4. You have a mysterious section of your lead workflow known as “the black hole”
Leads need to be nurtured and worked by sales to produce a result. Depending on how well those efforts go, the lead can be re-routed to various destinations.
Your marketing organization has become complex. You have several workflows that all funnel to the appropriate teams, but when a lead hits a certain score or is dispositioned a certain way, you can’t push it further for the time being. It gets bucketed into the “revisit in the future” list.
Sales, however, prioritizes focusing on fresh leads and so do you. Your time consumes your focus on getting the newest leads to your team. You’ve already been evaluated on the leads you generated last quarter, so you have no pressure to revisit, while you have a TON of pressure to make sure this quarter is good to go. You’ll do it next quarter.
These leads represent wasted budget and resources, which saps the value of your demand marketing programs. Setting up a specialized reengagement nurture track is generally easy and often pays off in sizable dividends.
5. You don’t actually have access to your marketing automation system or your CRMThis is far more common than you’d expect. Some of our largest customers employ demand generation practitioners that don’t have access to either of these systems, even though their organizations have invested in such marketing technologies. There are different teams for each.
If this is the case for you, your quarterly wrap-up is the only time you learn how those leads performed for your sales team. But, how does this delayed feedback affect overall performance in an era of real-time EVERYTHING!?
When it takes 90 days to get the feedback you need to adjust sources and tactics, you can end up wasting half your budget on low-performing sources and tactics. Huge opportunities are missed in this way. Some of the highest performing marketers I come across are those who provide real-time performance visibility for every demand gen role – so insisting on this at you 2016 planning meetings is a very wise idea.