The Must-Have Features in Marketing Operations Software

The marketing technology (MarTech) industry is booming. According to Scott Brinker, VP Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot and Editor at chiefmartech.com, there are now 6,829 MarTech solutions from 6,242 unique vendors.

In a tech landscape that broad, evaluating solutions is undoubtedly difficult. Leaders understand that technology plays a greater role in marketing ops strategies than it did in the past. Brinker writes:

"Marketing must cross organizational boundaries, especially sales and customer service. [Also], marketing must earn trust now that data has become a liability as much as an asset.”

So, how do you apply an outcomes-based approach to determine which features of marketing operations software you need?

3 Must-Have Marketing Operations Software Features

Specific marketing operations software feature requirements vary between organizations. Understanding the landscape may best be simplified, however, by thinking about how features drive outcomes:

  • Automation features can replace manual processes
  • Integration features can better align talent, teams, data and technology
  • Data quality features can reduce risks and support better decision-making

Feature #1: Integration

Integration capabilities may be the single most important consideration for a marketing operations software investment. Before buying a new piece of software, examine whether or not it offers quality connectivity to the rest of your marketing technology ecosystem (as well as any possible future tech investments).

“Integration,” like many other terms in the marketing realm, has little value without context. Ideally, an integration should require minimal setup through the inclusion of built-in integrations. Other solutions may offer a user-friendly interface for open API integration which does not require custom coding.

Generally, more complex and customized integrations that demand extensive custom coding carry greater risks to data quality. Manual integrations virtually always require ongoing maintenance and testing efforts.

The Benefits of an Integrated Marketing Technology Ecosystem

A well-integrated marketing technology ecosystem offers many benefits to the B2B marketing organization, including the opportunity to achieve better alignment between marketing, sales and customer success teams. It can support process-related improvements such as automated lead routing and greater transparency throughout the sales funnel.

The marketing software itself should have an integrated approach which enables deeper orchestration of technology and partnerships at scale. With full-funnel visibility, organizations can, for example, implement greater automation and personalization for real-time activity alerts, or advanced lead nurturing and behavioral tracking for a one-to-one customer experience.

An integrated demand marketing operations software centralizes complex demand generation by offering a single platform to manage:

  • Campaigns and programs
  • Channels
  • Lead sources and media partners
  • Prospect data

This type of solution provides an all-in-one view of top-funnel B2B marketing performance, which in turn enables real-time optimization activities that can move the needle on sales pipeline, revenue and even the customer experience.

Feature #2: Data Quality Governance 

According to the Integrate report The Cost of Bad Leads, 1.22 million (33%) of 3.6 million analyzed B2B leads contained duplicate data. Other common categories of bad lead data include failed email validations, incorrect/untargeted data, missing data fields and invalid formatting.

Duplicate leads and flawed data can enter the database from any number of sources, including 3rd-party demand gen partnerships, inbound lead generation efforts or even data collected at in-person events. Poor data quality is a significant barrier to funnel conversion rates and can make it almost impossible for a sales team to convert qualified opportunities.

At many B2B marketing organizations, the solution to bad leads is manually scrubbing spreadsheets of leads before uploading to the customer relationship management (CRM) system. However, not are manual processes prone to human error and incredibly time-consuming, they also can't validate email addresses or easily locate duplicates. 

Preventing Bad Data from Entering the Marketing Database

Bad data isn't only an avoidable expense, but it's also a liability to marketing budget, employee morale and revenue targets. Ideally, the solution should filter all leads/contacts containing incomplete, untargeted, invalid or duplicate data before uploading to the CRM or Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) database. To protect against paying for leads via a cost-per-lead (CPL) campaign, the solution should return bad leads to 3rd-party partners.

In many organizations, a solution that provides data enhancement and regulatory safeguards for GDPR compliance can also offer immense benefit. While Integrate's Demand Orchestration Software is unique, filtering bad data before it enters the database, there are a number of other solutions for automated database cleansing which can provide regular deduplication, quality and enhancement services within the database.

Enabling Optimization Through Performance Insights

Many marketers do not consider performance insights within the context of data quality features. An investment in marketing operations software should offer a closed-loop view of program performance via data fed back from MAP and CRM systems. Integrated performance insights should offer visibility into the campaigns, sources, creative and audiences which drive:

  • Qualified Leads
  • Opportunities
  • Revenue

By understanding the entire sales funnel, from top-funnel demand generation activities to bottom-funnel customer conversions, marketers can make much more informed decisions.

Point 3: Orchestration

To understand what orchestration is in a B2B marketing context, it's easiest to think literally. Consider the idea of an orchestra conductor. A skilled conductor guides musicians through a symphony without any horns or string instruments falling out of time. To an audience member, a skilled conductor ensures the performance sounds seamless.

Ideally, marketing operations software should drive a similar outcome in a B2B marketing organization. For example, it should help B2B marketers turn top-funnel demand generation from a series of manual tasks such as managing lead sources, aggregating, scrubbing and uploading contact files, compiling reports on the performance of each source, asset, channel, etc. – into a series of automated, synchronized and repeatable steps. 

Evaluating B2B Marketing Orchestration Solutions

The idea of orchestration is among the strongest cases for taking an outcomes-based approach to selecting the best marketing operations software. Evaluating features is certainly important. An investment needs to meet specific business requirements, not only automating processes by making enabling them to be managed in concert. 

Selecting the Best Marketing Operations Software

Organizational priorities can vary when it comes to selecting and defining the "best" software for managing marketing operations efforts. Most B2B leaders would agree that the solution must fulfill requirements of performance measurement, strategic planning and driving process improvements. By most definitions, marketing operations software must incorporate features which include, but aren't limited to, closed-loop performance measurement, multi-source channel management and automation, and data quality governance.

As the MarTech software landscape evolves, it’s important for leaders to consider changing targets and strategies within the B2B marketing organization and whether a solution delivers the necessary outcomes. The right marketing operations solution is likely one which will offer seamless integration and reduce the liabilities of bad data. It should also enhance the orchestration of people, process and technology.

Within the B2B marketing organization, automating top-funnel efforts is key to scaling the pipeline. Learn how Integrate’s software accelerates demand marketing success through features for integration, multi-channel management, advanced performance optimization, data quality governance and more. Download the free eBook: Guide to Demand Orchestration Software. guide-demand-orchestration

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