Why is it important to automate lead or demand generation efforts in B2B marketing? Because proving ROI is critical.
Marketers everywhere are under tremendous pressure to prove marketing ROI. You have to do more with less and have little to no room for errors. An automated lead generation and management system that is sophisticated, yet easy to use, is fast becoming a must-have tool for B2B marketers. It can dramatically improve demand generation and objectively measure every aspect of your marketing to prove ROI and justify budgets.
I have looked at marketing automation solutions from several companies. Most of these are available as “Software as a Service” (SaaS) offerings. Some are end-to-end solutions that track, measure and automate every step of the lead or demand generation and management process and some specialize only in certain aspects.
To quote Brian Carroll, noted lead generation expert, author of the popular book Lead Generation for the Complex Sale and CEO of InTouch, Inc., “It starts with a lead.”Most B2B marketers use their websites as the hub for all lead generation efforts. Therefore, marketing automation solutions focus on tracking and measuring activities on your website. Doesn’t Google Analytics do that? That’s a fair question.
What I have found is that these automation solutions go far beyond Google Analytics or any other site statistics package. They get down to the very granular level. You get answers to questions like:
- Who are my anonymous site visitors?
- What is/has been their current and past site activities?
- How can I find out when I get visitors from certain companies or geographic area that I am targeting?
- How can I identify the right decision maker(s) within those companies?
- How can I score them according to pre-set BANT rules or behavior patterns?
- Can leads be automatically nurtured with drip campaigns?
- How can the sales force take immediate action while the prospect is still on the website?
- How can I automatically categorize and route leads to the right sales rep or channel partner?
- How can I measure and see results across multiple campaigns, both on and offline?
In my opinion, the greatest value lies in the objective, rule-based scoring of leads. These rules are customizable based on sales and marketing agreeing on a set of unified lead definitions. In other words, sales and marketing play on the same team. Hallelujah!
Instead of treating all prospects the same, these marketing automation systems allow marketers to nurture and continue to qualify leads until they are sale-ready. The emphasis shifts to quality over quantity. You now have a closed-loop system that tracks, and measures marketing ROI in a systematic and objective manner.
I will post in the near future a comparison of the packages that I have tested so far.