Does Your MarTech Stack Support Your Customer Experience Goals?

Your CEO has finally caught the customer experience fever and embraced it as the new competitive battleground! She is empowering all functions to propose 2019 budgets that induce the organizational transformation from product-centric to customer-centric. As CMO, where do you start? How do you operationalize the customer experience?

Your CEO has finally caught the customer experience fever and embraced customer experience as the new competitive battleground. As a result, she is empowering all functions to propose 2019 budgets that induce the organizational transformation from product-centric to customer-centric. As CMO you are naturally elated, but where do you start? How do you operationalize the customer experience? There will be changes required in people, process, content, technology/data and metrics/KPIs. In this post we will focus on just one of these: your data and MarTech stack.

Assuming you have bold plans for how you are going to improve and enrich the customer experience as they interact with marketing, the challenge quickly becomes, “Do we have a marketing technology stack capable of supporting the types of customer engagement we want to drive?” What new platforms and tools will you need to integrate? What systems will you replace? What new data integrations will be required? Below are three questions you can discuss with your Marketing Operations (MO) team to elucidate the technology requirements for improving the customer experience.

Question 1. How Do You Measure Customer Engagement With Marketing Content?

While the question seems simple enough, getting insightful answers is not. Marketers generally accept the premise that increasing engagement of customers with our content means they value it, that the experience is good, and that this will influence customers to buy more. From the customer’s perspective, having a good experience with my content means:

  1. It was easy to find.
  2. It was in a format I prefer.
  3. It was easy to digest.
  4. It provided the insights and answers I was seeking.
  5. It left me wanting more and pointed me in the right direction.

The possible answers to question 1 are:

  1. We just look at web analytics and see which pages and content get the most traffic.
  2. We use landing pages for all assets and record visits against the customer profile in our Marketing Automation Platform (MAP).
  3. We’ve integrated video and audio streaming services into our MAP and update customer profiles based on how much of the asset they consumed (think Sprout, YouTube, Wistia).
  4. We have embedded links in our content that drive customers to the next relevant piece and we measure the usage of these links (think Pathfactory).
  5. We use a content marketing platform to increase engagement and encourage “bingeing” of content (think Uberflip).
  6. We bring our content to the social platforms and blog, but drive the consumption back to the platforms where we can record engagement (and track where they came from using UTM parameters)
  7. All of the above

Question 2. Is Your Marketing Technology Stack Set Up to Support a Holistic Lead Management Process?

Does it mirror the customer journey map? Does it support tracking new customer acquisition and returning customers?

Many organizations originally set up a lead management process from the seller perspective, with it using the typical stages of new, engaged, MQL, SQL, Opportunity attached and Closed Won. Guess what, this is not customer-centric. The customer relationship does not end with “closed won.” A customer-centric approach will encourage and enable your sales and marketing teams to improve the customer experience at each stage of their buying journey. Imagine overhauling this process in the MarTech stack so that the stages are: unaware, aware, consideration, evaluation, decision, onboarding, adopting, value realization, loyalty and advocacy. Knowing what stage the buyer is in enables marketing and sales to precisely target them with the right content at the right time. The possible answers to Question 2 are:

  1. We have not implemented a lead management process in our MAP/CRM systems.
  2. We have the basic lead life cycle model defined, but the stage changes are manual.
  3. We have automated the lead management process stage changes from new to closed won.
  4. We have implemented in the technology a holistic customer lifecycle, based on the buyer journey, that includes new customer acquisition stages and existing customer expansion stages.

Question 3. Does Marketing Have the Data to Engage With Customers on Behalf of Sales, Operations and Customer Support?

Does it have that data at the appropriate stages in the buyer journey and with the right content for that stage?

Marketing has mastered the communications channels, owns all the digital properties and social channels, and creates all the engaging content for all buying journey stages. It is moving beyond just being the organization that helps sales find new customers. Marketing has the ability to be the customer communications service to the entire company, and in so doing becomes the organization most in the spotlight for providing great customer experience. So if marketing is going to communicate with new customers in the days and weeks after their purchase, or when contracts are up for renewal, or for customer support surveys, or reward loyalty, is the data available to them to automate this? The possible answers to Question 3 are:

  1. Marketing and sales systems do not have a bi-directional flow of data.
  2. Marketing and sales platforms are integrated, and marketing can see exactly where buyers are in their buying journey with sales.
  3. Marketing can see what customers bought, how often they buy, and when, and automate direct communications on multiple channels with customers as a result.
  4. Marketing can see customer support and operations interactions with customers, can see support contract dates and pertinent fields, and can automate communications to customers on behalf of these organizations.

Becoming customer-centric and driving great customer experiences is a whole-firm initiative and cannot be driven by any one function alone. Marketing plays a pivotal role because they own and are masters of so much of the communications technology, but it has to be integrated to enable marketing to offer communications as a service to sales, operations and support.

If your goal in 2019 is to improve customer experiences, and your answers to the three questions above are in the I, or II range, it is definitely time to review your MarTech stack, and the integrations it supports. Don’t be complacent. Determine now what it will take in the 2019 budget to enable you to lead on this important initiative and make customer-centricity a reality in the coming year.

7 Outrageous Lead Management Errors and How to Fix Them

In last month’s blog post we introduced the five core marketing processes essential to effective and efficient marketing operations. This month we will delve into the first, and most important of these processes, the lead management process.

Stop LightIn last month’s blog post, we introduced the five core marketing processes essential to effective and efficient marketing operations. This month we will delve into the first, and most important of these processes, the lead management process.

I believe it is the most important because, if poorly designed and executed, marketing cannot accurately determine how many quality leads it is passing to the sales channels, and how much influence its activities are having on revenue. What could be more important than that?

List of Ingredients for an Effective Lead Management Process

The lead management process outlines the steps for tracking and reporting on leads as they are created and move through a funnel. During this process leads become qualified or disqualified, and eventually pass on to a lead development team and finally onto sales or channel partners.

A typical lead management process includes the following six components:

  • Definition of a sales ready lead
  • Definition of the various lead statuses in the CRM defined funnel
  • Design of the lead processing, routing, and related notifications
  • Design of the lead scoring algorithm
  • Development and agreement on a service level agreement (SLA) between sales and marketing
  • Establishment of funnel metrics

In the process of adding more detail behind each of these, I will include examples of these 7 egregious errors in each, and how to avoid them.

  1. Failure to involve sales in defining a sales ready lead
  2. Failure to add lead status values for purchased list imports
  3. Inclusion of call dispositions as lead status values
  4. Failing to create and use a contact status field
  5. Failing to periodically review and refresh the lead scoring algorithm
  6. Failure to measure and enforce the sales and marketing SLA
  7. Funnel metrics that fail to account for unusual lead flow patterns

Definition of a Sales Ready Lead

Simply put, if you are in demand generation, your output is largely sales ready leads that have the potential to become opportunities for the sales channel. As such, you absolutely require an agreement between sales and marketing as to what constitutes a sales ready lead. And the error too many firms make is allowing marketing to decide what constitutes a sales ready lead all by themselves.

The result is that junk leads from events and the website are tossed over the fence to sales, who quickly recognize them for what they are, and learn to ignore leads from marketing.

It is very important to get sales people and sales management in the room with marketing and knock out a definition that both can live with. Marketing may not be able to get the B.A.N.T. criteria (budget, authority, need, time frame) without the help of lead development reps (LDRs). So what info can marketing solicit through forms, data appending, firmagraphics and observed behavioral data? What info does a LDR have to add? All of this info will inform the lead scoring algorithm discussed below.

Definition of Lead Statuses

Ah yes, you might think this one is easy, take the standard set of values including Inquiry, MQL, SAL, SQL, and Disqualified, and we’re done … right? Wrong. There are a couple of errors here that I see too often.

5 Core Marketing Operations Processes to Master

If you are lucky enough to have a marketing operations function at your organization, then you know that an important part of their job is in defining, documenting and refining the core processes that keep the machinery of marketing running well. Let’s narrow the discussion to the top five processes, and cover each of the five in more detail in subsequent posts.

Marketing Operations and Traffic ControlIn last month’s blog post, we covered the final elements of an organizational structure for a center of excellence marketing team. Next stop in our Revenue Marketing journey is to address the fundamental marketing operations processes we need to run a demand generation function efficiently and effectively.

If you are lucky enough to have a marketing operations function at your organization, then you know that an important part of their job is in defining, documenting and refining the core processes that keep the machinery of marketing running well. Let’s narrow the discussion to the top five processes, and cover each of the five in more detail in subsequent posts.

5 Marketing Operations Processes to Rule Them All

Why do we even need marketing process? A process defines a series of actions taken so that we can achieve a particular end. It helps ensure, but not guarantee an outcome that meets our quality goals. With that in mind, here are my top five processes that a marketing center of excellence requires:

  1. Lead management
  2. Reporting and analytics
  3. Data management
  4. Campaign development
  5. Content development

Yes there are many others, and if you feel one of these five should be ousted in favor of something else, please share what that is, and why in the comments below.

1. Lead Management Process

The lead management process outlines the steps for tracking and reporting on leads as they are created and move through a funnel, becoming qualified or disqualified, and eventually passing through any lead development representatives to sales or channel partners.

A typical lead management process includes the following components:

  • Definition of a sales ready lead
  • Definition of the various lead statuses in the CRM defined funnel
  • Design of the lead processing, routing, and related notifications
  • Design of the lead scoring algorithm
  • Development and agreement to a service level agreement between sales and marketing
  • Establishment of funnel metrics

(To learn the Proven Success Formula for Lead Management, download here.)

2. Reporting and Analytics Process

The reporting and analytics process defines who will report on what, when, and for whom. Where will they get the data, and how will the reports be made available? Before you rocket your eyebrows to the ceiling and slam me for stating the obvious consider that the resources for doing reporting in mid-sized organizations are usually limited, and so often the function is decentralized. I.e., many marketing field offices report on their piece only. And without some defined process, templates, definitions, rules, and hand-holding your ability to roll up the reports will be either laborious or impossible.

Reporting and analytics process components:

  • Data sources: defined for all the different data or activity types
  • Report frequency: report timing based on the decision making needs related to that data
  • Owner assignment: Identifying authors and the folks who run the reports
  • Standards: Report presentation norms for different types of reports
  • Media: to be used for delivering and presenting reports (CRM, MAP, Excel, BI, PPT, etc.)
  • Distribution: How to subscribe, unsubscribe, access reports
  • Modifications: Who to call to get new or modified reports
  • Archival: Where all past reports be housed

3. Data Management Process

No this is not solely the job of IT or sales operations. It absolutely includes marketing as both a customer of the data, and a provider of much new data. The best way to corrupt a perfectly fine CRM database is let an untrained person in marketing, with no process, do a 100K contact data import into their marketing automation platform and have it sync over to the CRM. From a marketing perspective here are some of the basic components:

  • List import process and designated, trained, importers
  • Rules for all forms (required fields)
  • Normalization guidelines for lists and form data
  • Governance — defined authorization for what marketing can and cannot do