Remember playing Marco Polo in the swimming pool? If you were “it” you had to close your eyes and call out “Marco.” Everyone else had to reply “Polo” making it easier for you to try to catch them. Being “it” was frustrating. You couldn’t see where the others were and in the end, making a connection with anyone in the pool was pure luck. Operating without marketing automation is a little like playing Marco Polo. You fumble around attempting to engage prospects, constantly change direction, and in the end, you never really capture the right prospect. Don’t get me wrong, you can drive demand without marketing automation but it is resource-intensive and can be less effective in producing qualified leads.
Marketing automation platforms enable you to apply a little more science to the art of prospecting and gives you a direct and measurable way to track how leads convert through your sales cycle. Marketing automation platforms come in all shapes and sizes from enterprise-ready solutions like Marketo, Pardot and Eloqua to solutions like Hubspot designed to help small business customers nurture and convert prospects. Marketing automation can help monitor, track, and automate prospect engagement and by capturing behavior, it enables marketers to interact with customers in a more personal way without having to hire an army to do it. When you capture a customer’s digital footprint and integrate that within a marketing automation platform, you can be smarter about what the next logical offer would be for that particular customer.
B2B prospects can take months—sometimes years—to convert to real sales opportunities. For leads that are not ready, marketing automation enables you to nurture the relationship through a multi-touch contact strategy designed to gather valuable bits of customer data along the way. This is where cost comes in to play. Over time as you build your lead nurture pool, you will likely spend less on external list purchases making lead nurture through marketing automation more cost-effective over time. In fact, Gartner estimates a 15% savings on creative production with marketing automation. According to Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. Once a prospect “opts-in” you begin to progressively profile to build a deeper understanding of his or her needs. Tracking online behavior patterns is a huge asset that enables you to tailor just-in-time offers that are specifically relevant based on what you know about a particular prospect—thereby increasing the likelihood of conversion.
But what if you could be smarter about the vast anonymous pool of potential prospects that hit your website daily? What if you had a way to find the elusive prospect “needle” in the anonymous “haystack” of internal and external data sources? Lead conversion is all about identifying and optimizing lead sources. The layered effect of predictive analytics and marketing automation enables marketers to cull through the vast anonymous “suspects” and, based on behavioral indicators, identify with significant accuracy the potential prospects who are most likely to progress through the sales cycle. Infer, Lattice Engines, Netfactor and Mintigo are just a few of the emerging technology companies that have taken this challenge head on by providing analytic solutions for companies to use big data to get smarter about targeting, prospecting, and ultimately converting sales. 6Sense, another leader in this space, takes this laser focus and applies it to helping organizations increase their anonymous to prospect conversion – the holy grail of demand generation.
Here are just a few interesting applications of predictive analytics:
- Reduce spend on external list purchases by focusing outbound efforts on qualified and nurtured leads
- Increase direct and inside sales rep productivity by having them laser focused on high quality leads
- Improve ROI from content marketing spend (which can be as much as 40% of marketing budget) by treating content as a reusable asset instead of a one-time campaign expense
- Increase customer retention by gathering deep insights on your customers even before they buy, feeding directly into a personalized loyalty program once they are a customer
The prospects (no pun intended) for predictive analytics applied to marketing automation are transformative and represent the evolution from data-driven marketing to modern revenue marketing.
Stop playing Marco Polo. Find a marketing automation platform, build out a lead nurture strategy, and find the prospect “needles” with predictive analytics.
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Interested in more reading about B2B marketing and prospecting? Take a look at Lenati’s recent article about a how to create a successful content strategy, or get in touch with our Digital Customer Engagement Team.