Transforming Your Marketing Organization
into a Revenue Marketing Beast
The Midst of Transformation
We are in the midst of a marketing transformation. The last ten years have seen a significant shift from more traditional “above the line” (advertising and brand building) tactics to “below the line” (driven largely by inbound channel) tactics. Said another way, marketing is shifting from a primary focus on building brand to driving demand.
This transformation is being fueled by many elements, most notably:
1. Increasing demand from the C-Suite
In a study by the Fournaise Marketing Group, 73 percent of CEOs from 600 organizations said their marketing organization is not the business growth generator it should be. They think marketing fails to demonstrate how marketing strategies and campaigns generate more customer demand, more sales, more prospects, or more conversions. Seventy-seven percent feel that marketers talk about brand, brand values, and brand equity but fail to link this back to results that top management cares about: revenue, earnings, or market valuation.
2. Changing buyer behavior
Fifteen years ago when we bought a car, we relied on the sales rep at the dealership to educate us throughout the purchase process. The sales rep controlled the experience. Today, many of us go into the dealership knowing the make, model, add-ons we wish to purchase, the dealer invoice price, and financing terms. The same transformation has happened in B2B. Buyers prefer to do their research up front through digital channels in a self-directed manner throughout much of the first part of their buying process2. Now, customers control the experience. Marketing is the new Sales for over half of the buyer journey.
The Internet, along with the automation and analytics platforms it enables, has been the other main driver of this change. Below-the-line (BTL) activities have always been much easier to measure than Above-the-line (ATL) ones. The Internet has heightened this ability to test, measure, personalize, and manage BTL investments in a way that enables much better tuning and measurable yield than ATL tactics.
A new breed of marketer has emerged in the last ten years. In place of the charisma and creativity of Don Draper, marketing executives and professionals come armed with strong technology and analytics skills. The marketing operations team has become one of the most critical functions in the marketing department. Executives and professionals who know how to fully leverage technology to create breakthrough strategies and tactics are accelerating past those who are creating strategy and tactics without a complete understanding of how technology can deliver it. Revenue marketing thought leaders and trusted advisors have emerged to share and grow best practices. These include demand generation consultancies like Demand Spring, analysts like SiriusDecisions, media companies like MarketingProfs, and bloggers such as Scott Brinker.
Assessing Your Demand Generation Maturity
Relative to their contemporaries, most organizations we work with feel they are far behind the transformation curve. The reality is that most organizations still have a way to go to drive transformative results. So, where is your organization?
Based on our deep client-side and consulting experience, we developed the LEAD Maturity Map to help you understand the key practices and processes on the road to marketing nirvana.
Those in the lagging stage are contributing very little to pipeline creation or progression. Far from a Revenue Marketing Beast, they are more akin to a Rodent of Unusual Size. Typically, demand generation has not been a priority for these organizations and now they’re playing catch-up in a hurry. Many of our clients find themselves at this stage; often, it’s because of a marketing leadership change, top-line pressure, changing buying behavior and/or changing requirements from the C-Suite/Sales.
Here are some of the key characteristics of these organizations:
- Who are our buyers? While all organizations have at least a general understanding of who buys their products or services, organizations in this category do not have a deep understanding of the buying personas who get engaged at each stage of their buyer journey.
- Heavy lifters: Processes are manual. Marketing automation has not been rolled out, or if it has, it is far from optimized. Lead scoring, lead nurturing, and dynamic content delivery are still a dream.
- Gut-based decision-making: Decision-making behind marketing strategy and tactics is done largely based on instinct, intuition, and experience. Trusted analytics remain elusive, beyond basic website analytics from Google or Adobe.
- The odd couple: “Marketing leads are junk”. “Sales doesn’t follow-up on the leads we deliver”. Lead management processes, service-level agreements, and shared metrics between marketing and sales do not exist.
- We have a marketing lead. Now what? The critical glue function between marketing and sales, Telequalification (also known as Business Development Reps or Lead Development Reps), does not exist. Leads go into a black hole or die on the vine.
- The inbound train missed the station: Owned, earned, and paid digital channels are not tuned for demand creation. Limited content, lack of messaging alignment to the buyer journey and no gating strategy means limited top of funnel lead volume.
- Not content with content: Content marketing assets are few and far between, and are not optimized for how buyers consume information today – visual, digital, interactive, and snackable (short bites).
- Data woes: Data is a mess. The marketing database is filled with duplicates, incomplete and outdated records.
Those in the Lagging stage are not able to measure how much pipeline they are contributing, but they know it’s not much.
- Conduct a Buyer Journey Analysis.
- Evaluate Marketing Automation.
- Optimize your website for inbound demand creation.
- Build some foundational top of funnel content assets for your primary target audiences.
Many organizations today are at this stage or the next. They have increasingly recognized the change in buyer behavior and hence the need for marketing to drive engagement with prospects digitally and automatically, informed by analytics.
The Beast is starting to emerge, with a deeper growl and a little hair.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS:
- Who is the buying team? They have started to think about the buying process in terms of various personas that get involved in various stages. Most have not committed to full qualitative and quantitative buyer persona analysis yet.
- Marketing Automation adoption: At this stage, organizations are rolling out a marketing automation platform such as Marketo. It’s not a robust deployment yet, but they are starting to implement some basic lead scoring, lead nurturing, and personalization. They’re starting to get some insight from the analytics within the platform.
- Basic lead scoring: A lead scoring model is built that measures behavioral, demographic, and firmographic elements. Over time the scoring values and threshold for becoming a marketing qualified lead (MQL) will be improved.
- Analytics: At this stage, organizations start to get visibility into the performance of lead sources, landing pages, programs, and campaigns – visibility that usually comes from analytics in their Marketing Automation platform. Automated, executive-level dashboards measuring KPIs in a summary to detail level manner are not common.
- You say potato, and I, too, say potato: Brought together by the realization that the status quo won’t cut it any longer, sales and marketing leaders (and operations) agree on a common lead taxonomy. Revenue models are typically built at this stage, encompassing lead taxonomy and the stages in the buyer journey.
- We have a marketing lead. Now what? The critical glue function between marketing and sales, and telequalification is established. In emerging organizations, this is often a hybrid role of inside sales and telequalification/teleprospecting.
- Our website can deliver leads!: Content assets are on the web. Some have gates, some don’t – but there usually isn’t a strong gating strategy behind it. Visitors convert into leads, but there isn’t a strong lead nurturing strategy to convert them into MQLs and accelerate the buyer journey.
- Content supports key personas and industries: Content planning becomes more mature. Content style evolves from a focus on rational and technical selling points to a mix of connecting into both rational and emotional triggers in buyers.
- Data cleanup begins: The drunken revelers who left your data house in tatters have now gone home, and it’s time to start cleaning up the database. Vendors such as Reachforce, RingLead, InsideView, and Dun & Bradstreet are brought in to de-dupe, normalize, and enrich your data. While never perfect (especially at the contact level and in markets outside North America), these vendors will significantly help you in segmenting and engaging with your prospects and customers.
Those in the emerging stage are typically contributing between 5-10% of the total pipeline.
- Work with a marketing automation partner who can optimize your deployment.
- Conduct a Marketing and Sales Alignment Workshop to align on lead taxonomy, lead management processes, and a service-level agreement (SLA).
- Establish a dedicated telequalification team.
- Work with a data provider to enrich and cleanse your data.
The Beast is starting to emerge. Muscles are flexed, lots of hair, the CMO walks around shouting “Me Hulk!”. Sales no longer kicks sand in Marketing’s face.
- Our primary buyer likes to watch 75-second whiteboard videos in the education stage while drinking Dos Equis in their backyard on the 4th Sunday of every month. Deep buyer persona analysis has been conducted that reveals the demographics, psychographics, unmet needs, preferred content formats and information sources of all primary personas. These form the basis for a marketing plan based in the reality of how buyers buy.
- Marketing automation is well tuned: Marketing automation is humming. Inbound behavior triggers contextual lead nurture streams that read the lead score and opportunity stage field in CRM and sends content to the lead that is tied to the buying cycle stage. Segmentation and snippets are used to deliver dynamic content. Real-time personalization is used to personalize web experiences. Organizations have moved from batch and blast to contextual, relevant multi-channel engagement.
- MarTech and AdTech stack is starting to be implemented: Marketing automation is at the heart of a growing MarTech and AdTech stack, with various integrated applications that optimize funnel performance in each stage. Apps such as SnapApp, AdRoll, Vidyard, LookBook, Uberflip, and others are used to drive relevant, engaging communication to buyers that is tuned to what we know about them.
- Real-time personalization: Accelerators start to use real-time web personalization technologies (such as Marketo RTP or Demandbase) to serve up personalized messages and content on their websites. Consumed by both anonymous visitors (by reading their IP address) and known leads (leveraging fields such as title, department, and company size) personalized content drives relevance and conversion.
- Analytics: Accelerators start to leverage closed-loop reporting, tying pipeline and revenue data to programs, lead sources, landing pages, and time periods. In addition to, or instead of, using the operational reports within their marketing automation platform, they start to use third-party analytics software (from vendors such as Qlik, Tableau, and Domo) for greater functionality and advanced visualization.
- I do: Marketing and sales sign a prenup, otherwise known as a Service-Level Agreement (SLA). Marketing agrees to contribute x% of pipeline and sales agrees to follow-up with marketing leads in x hours. What’s x? It depends on your organization. The best practices that we have seen are marketing contributing greater than 30% of the new pipeline created, with telequalification following up on MQLs within five minutes and sales following up on TQLs within one day. Accelerators should start with more modest commitments – something in the range of 10-15% pipeline, 2-hour MQL follow-up, and two day TQL follow-up.
- Content audit helps to plug gaps: Accelerators leverage a content agency to conduct an audit of their content, helping identify where they have gaps in the buyer journey, leading to the development of more and better content for each stage in the buyer journey. Accelerators also start to embrace storytelling where applicable in their content. Since humans are hardwired to absorb stories, this style helps engage and connect with buyers.
- Lead management matures: Accelerators have automated lead nurture streams (triggered by changes in fields such as lead score and opportunity stage) that span most of the buyer journey. Messages and offers are tuned to each stage in the buyer journey. They have recycle nurture streams in place since less than 10% of marketing leads convert today, yet 80% buy within two years. And the telequalification process is honed enough to respond to MQLs within one hour.
Those in the accelerating stage are typically contributing between 15-20% of the total pipeline.
- Implement Real-Time Personalization to deliver relevant, personalized messages and offers on your website.
- Invest in MarTech and AdTech apps. Select based on funnel gaps, not “shiny object” attraction.
- Deepen your analytics maturity with technology and processes.
- Implement recycle nurturing and customer nurturing.
This is full-on beast mode territory. There aren’t many organizations that have reached this stage of transformation yet. The CMOs of dominators have truly earned a strategic seat at the C-suite table. More importantly, these organizations are market leaders. Computer Associates, Penton, and Marketo’s own marketing organization are excellent examples of organizations that excel in many of the dominating stage areas.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS:
- No chiropractor needed. Alignment is in perfect order. Dominators have aligned their messages, content, and execution to the stages in the buyer journey for each of their key personas. Their sales and marketing teams work together as a unified organization diagnosing pipeline and revenue gaps proactively and planning marketing programs and sales plays in unison.
- Sales leverages digital body language: Dominators have fully deployed applications like Marketo Sales Insight to their sales organization. These applications enable visibility into the website, email, and event engagement of their prospects and customers, right within their CRM platform. Sales reps use this visibility to inform their account plans.
- MarTech and AdTech applications plug funnel gaps: Dominators strategically plan and deploy ancillary applications that fill specific funnel gaps (e.g., Reachforce SmartForms to optimize web-conversion; Influitive to drive top of funnel success through customer advocacy).
- Content stewardship is an imperative: Organizations in this stage are using a content marketing platform such as Kapost to access, organize, disseminate, and measure content. High-quality content is produced (or curated) at scale to support a plethora of target audiences in a very relevant way – HubSpot is a fantastic example.
- Predictive scoring optimizes lead management: While not inexpensive, predictive scoring platforms from vendors such as Lattice Engines, 6sense, and Infer use advanced analytics to identify hot leads and prioritize lead follow-up.
- MQL follow-up is done within five minutes: The odds of contacting a lead if called in five minutes are 100X higher versus 30 minutes. The odds of qualifying a lead if called in five minutes are 21X higher versus 30 minutes.3
- Data-driven decision-making is embedded into management processes: What separates those who have analytics from those who prosper from them? The latter group has embedded analytics into their day-to-day management processes. And they have business analysts within marketing who dive deep into data to uncover trends and insights that inform planning and execution.
Those in the dominating stage are typically contributing at least 30% of the total pipeline.
Buy a private island. Charge $500,000/hour to dispense marketing advise from the beach. That said, if you haven’t fully implemented all of the elements in the Dominating stage, here’s what we recommend:
- Continue to invest in MarTech and AdTech apps to address funnel issues.
- Implement a content marketing platform such as Kapost to manage and measure enterprise-wide content.
- Implement predictive scoring.
- Get your MQL follow-up down to five minutes with auto-dialing technology, and continued investment in telequalification resources.
- Hire business analysts to dive deep into your analytics and serve up pearls of strategic and tactical wisdom.
In most B2B organizations, the role of demand generation and progression has historically been the responsibility of the sales organization. That has changed significantly and marketing organizations are now playing catch-up. From our experience working with B2B organizations of all sizes across many industries, there are several keys in transforming into a revenue-marketing beast:
One last note on transformation – it takes a heavy foot on the accelerator combined with a strong dose of patience. Going from limited pipeline contribution to full-fledged revenue marketing status won’t happen overnight, but the journey is an exciting one with each transformative process put in place and every deal that marketing contributes to in a meaningful way.