The world hasn't ended according to the Mayan calender but isn't it time we saw the end of bad marketing practices, says Elizabeth Smyth.
So the world hasn't actually ended today as predicted by the Mayan calendar but we’d like to think we could at least see the end of bad marketing practices in 2013 – assuming we’re all still here – particularly with regards to how we find, attract, nurture and manage qualified leads. After all, marketing spends a lot of time and money delivering leads to sales, so we should stop sabotaging ourselves. Below are five of the worst offences.
1. Passing all leads to sales: A blanket policy of passing all leads to sales makes it difficult to see the wood for the trees. We all know that most of the leads we meet are not quite ready to engage with your sales team. Sending leads to sales too soon significantly decreases your chance of conversion. Lead nurturing keeps a prospect or lead engaged by periodically delivering content that is relevant to their stage in the buying process, role etc. It keeps your brand at the top of their short list when they're ready to buy.
Just as there is a risk for passing unqualified leads to sales, there’s also the risk for not passing qualified leads quickly enough. Lead scoring can help marketers identify the 'hot' leads, those that are ready to be passed to sales. In short, proritise sales time on those most likely to buy.
2. Lack of alignment with sales: In many organisations, it’s not always very apparent that marketing and sales are all working towards the same goal – revenue! But when the two teams get on the same page, the resuls can be dramatic! The first step is to agree on the definition of a sales ready lead. Once you have that, you can start filtering your leads to only send the hot, win-ready ones, the ones you’ve agreed are the hot, win-ready ones, to the sales team. The rest, remain with marketing for further nurturing until they show those buying signals indicating they are ready.
Marketers learn all sorts of valuable information about prospects during the lead nurturing process and with the right systems, all that goodness can be shared with sales to make that sales call even more productive. In return, sales are usually quite happy to agree on follow up timeframes - win, win!
3. No inbound marking strategy in place to help leads find you: The days of relying solely on outbound marketing such as tradeshows, cold calls, and print ads are over. Customers are taking control of the buying process by educating themselves on your product and your competitor's product - long before your sales team ever connets with them.
In this new world, your job as a marketer is not only to find leads, it is to help leads find you. That is inbound marketing. At its core, inbound marketing is about creating interesting, informative, valuable and even entertaining content, and then optimising and distributing it across different online channels so it can be found by – and engage – prospective buyers early in their process. As outbound marketing gets less effective and more intrusive, inbound marketing needs to take on a bigger role in your marketing mix.
4. Limiting your content to text: Customers and prospects have less time for weighty words due to the new world we live in of information abundance and attention scarcity. The fast paced world of social media has forced us to learn to digest information faster, sometimes even at a glance. White papers, ebooks and datasheets all have their place in your content marketing strategy but visual content is what will make you stand out in this increaslngly busy space.
The future of content marketing is found in visual content; infographics, photos, videos, memes, and other engaging content that captivates a viewer. So, if you are writing a whitepaper, why not do a slideshare version too? The boost you’ll get will far outweigh the small incremental effort to create the more easy-to-digest version!
5. Measuring the wrong things: Many marketers make the mistake of not connecting marketing results to bottom-line metrics that matter to the CEO. By framing results in terms of costs, marketers perpetuate the perception that Marketing is a cost centre. Within this context, it’s only natural that the CEO would reduce costs and reallocate any extra budget to a 'revenue generating' department such as sales. Of course, it’s okay to track some of the marketing management metrics (social media followers, event attendees, etc) internally within your department if they help you make better marketing decisions. But it’s best to avoid sharing them with other executives unless you’ve previously established why they matter.
Elizabeth Smyth is marketing director EMEA for cloud marketing specialist at Marketo.