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

Drive Your Buyer’s Lifecycle, Increase Revenue and Retention

The process of acquiring and sifting traffic into engaged, and ultimately buying, prospects is critical to your customer acquisition efforts. Managing your audience is often referred to as the early stage of the “Customer Journey.” In this post, we’ll focus on the core and most pivotal part of your relationship

The process of acquiring and sifting traffic into engaged, and ultimately buying, prospects is critical to your customer acquisition efforts. Managing your audience is often referred to as the early stage of the “Customer Journey.” In this post, we’ll focus on the core and most pivotal part of your relationship with the consumer — purchasing from your brand.

Based on some years of experimentation and measurement, we can share a simplified and highly actionable approach that can make a difference in how you value and grow value among customers. This is the buyer lifecycle.

Mike Ferranti chartProspects: Before They Are Customers
Prospects, of course, come from many places: word of mouth and direct visits to your website and to your retail stores. Advertising and search drives them to on- and off-line points of sale. Prospects can be those who simply signed up on that ever-larger email signup popup on your homepage, or those who put items in a cart and “almost” purchased, but abandoned.

But prospects can also be those who we leverage statistical intelligence to hand-pick. Not just look-alikes but the “buy-alike” prospects with the highest potential value. See my prior column called “The Most Important CRM Metric You Might Be Missing.”

All of these prospects have the same thing in common, they have not purchased, and a level of investment and communications will be required to drive them to the next step. This cannot be overlooked without consequence. Prospects, regardless of the level of engagement or targeting, have a massive, and in some cases, a predictable difference from the buyers you seek to drive incremental sales from — they lack the most powerful signal of all behaviors — actually spending with your brand. Commonsensical enough, perhaps — but the prospect ‘batch and blast’ marketing that pervades retail emailers typically makes the challenge harder. Customer Intelligence is required to target, learn and test your way into viable prospect conversion strategies. We reiterate this point as it is often assumed that prospects, when contacted, will just buy — and they don’t. The bar is higher (see “Bigger is Better: How to Scale Up Customer Acquisition Smarter” for how to target the right customers, and the sophistication your competitors may be leveraging already).

To be sure, an analysis of your prospect base, which in a great many organizations is actually called the “email file” — another issue, in itself ― will help you determine who is likely to buy and who is not. This can be achieved by considering engagement measures, like opening and clicking your emails, visiting the website and micro-conversions. While these behaviors are correlated with the move from prospect to buying, it is not uncommon for the “average” prospect files to contain too many records of individuals who will never buy — they are lookers, not buyers. They may lack the means, intent or occasion to buy — or they may have experienced some change in their lifestage that moved them out of the market for your product. The opportunity is in identifying the highest value prospects and investing more thoughtfully in converting them.