| By Denise Holland
The Integration Between Marketing & Sales Force Automation is Key
One of the under-appreciated facts about modern marketing campaigns is that they don’t occur one at a time. Most companies are running anywhere from dozens to hundreds of campaigns or sub-campaigns that all have to be managed concurrently. There are campaigns to attract new customers, campaigns to nurture leads until they become sales ready, campaigns to nurture qualified prospects through the buying cycle, campaigns aimed at special target audiences, campaigns to up-sell and cross-sell existing customers and on and on in bewildering variety.
Clearly trying to run multiple types of campaigns, or even just a couple of dozen without an effective set of management and automation tools is extremely time consuming, prone to error and sometimes downright impossible.
What makes it worse is that effective campaigns don’t just rely on slicing and dicing the responses to initial offers. To get the most out of a marketing campaign you need to consider all the information you have about the customer. That can get so complex that many companies don’t even try. They put together prospect lists and work from those without considering what else they know about the prospects. In doing so they simplify their lives at the cost of depriving themselves of important information about the people on those lists and hobbling the effectiveness of their campaign spend. As a case in point example, according to Forrester Research, when marketers deliver targeted messages to segmented buyers, email reads increase by 200% or more.
A well-run Customer Relationship Management system can help you avoid these common challenges and improve campaign response rates, conversion rates and marketing budget ROI.
Precise Target Populations
One of the first places CRM software can help campaign performance is in selecting a well defined target population. Selecting suspects based on demographic data, prospects based on segmentation data or customers based on their purchase history will create an profiled campaign distribution that will significantly outperform an unintelligent list. Sometimes this is as simple as pulling responders to a particular approach out of the CRM database and setting up a qualified list. Other times it may involve working with the CRM program’s database to define subgroups within the responders or existing customers who are likely to respond to a given campaign.
The best-planned campaign will suffer if you cannot methodically execute upon it. Here again CRM applications can help you keep your campaigns on track. CRM software provides real-time visibility to the status of every target population contact (or possibly groups of contacts). The customer management system can remind you when to initiate follow-ups (or in the case of emails, it can distribute them automatically) and help you maintain the marketing schedule.
This becomes especially important when you are running multiple promotions or performing nurture campaigns. CRM automation lets you perform marketing tasks in parallel and keep straight which prospect is responding to what campaign, and even more concretely which solicitation or marketing asset generated the best or worst responses.
One way to do this is to assign an object number to each campaign that stays with the campaign and the prospects it produces through the entire marketing and sales cycle. This kind of annotation is easy to do with a traditional on-premise or hosted CRM system.
Having a unique object for each campaign allows you to pick a specific campaign out of a welter of responses from all the campaigns you are running. It also makes it easier for you to compare the effectiveness of different campaigns by different variables.
This can involve a lot more than just the response rate. For example one company used the campaign ID feature in its CRM system to track responses from prospects who downloaded a white paper and those who listened to a podcast. In typical asset comparison – IT professionals and line of business managers responded more favorably to the white paper while CEOs and Presidents responded better to the podcast. However when judged by ultimate sales, the prospects who listened to the podcast were more likely to result in a purchase and at a higher average ticket amount. The ability to track different campaigns by multiple variables throughout a closed loop sales cycle made it much easier to compare the outcomes of the two campaign types.
Timely Follow Up
The integrated approach offered by CRM is particularly important when it comes to passing the prospect – now a developed lead –from marketing to the sales force. The more sophisticated marketing automation systems can automatically pass sales leads to the sales force once a threshold score is reached or other criteria classifies the lead as sales-ready.
Here again the 360 degree customer view provided by CRM systems helps. Rather than passing sales just a name and contact information, you can provide a comprehensive view of all your company’s marketing touches with the prospect – and the responses back from the prospect. Sharing the type of marketing communications consumed and the responses from the prospect helps sales professionals understand the buyer’s interests and motivation.
The CRM system can also allow you to track the status of the lead as it works its way through the sales cycle. Was the prospect properly qualified? Was contact made in a timely manner? What was the outcome? Summing the metrics for these types of activities ensures no lead is left behind and sales cycles are not unnecessarily longer than they need to be.
The compilation of sales cycle activities has many uses. For example, a comprehensive history for each prospect helps avoid the finger pointing between sales and marketing where sales complains they’re not getting fully qualified leads and marketing claims sales isn’t properly following up on the leads they are given. More strategically, by continuing to track the prospect through the rest of the sales cycle, you get valuable feedback on the effectiveness of the campaign as well as the sales process.
Categories: Marketing Software
Tags: CRM Campaign Management, Nurture Campaigns
Author: Denise Holland
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||I'm a believer in precise customer segmentation, automated lead qualification and nurture marketing campaigns because I've experienced the positive results. We implemented Eloqua a year and a half ago and the results have been great. Almost 50% of all our new deals now originate from older, nurtured leads. Our lead qualification scoring process has decreased lead loss and helped streamline the funnel. We have lowered our cost per opportunity by about 35% and we're closing more deals with less resources. We're now looking to improve our reporting and build some better dashboards. The software selection process and follow-on implementation were not easy, and the marketing-to-sales-alignment took a very long time, but the rewards certainly more than justify the investment.