4 Steps to Put You on the Path to Closed-Loop Marketing BlissPosted by Jeffrey Scholes on Jan 14, 2010
Here's an article I recently wrote as a guest post on the Hubspot Internet Marketing Blog.
Many businesses I come across truly intend to do the right thing as far as optimizing their websites for lead generation. However, even though they do their best to drive more traffic and execute Internet marketing campaigns that will capture and convert more leads, many of them end up in one of two buckets:
Bucket 1: "We have no idea where to start given the crushing amount of available tools, opinions and advice."
Bucket 2: "We have all the bells and whistles (we think, anyway) but we can't seem to tie them all together so they work for us."
Both scenarios are very different, but there's one common, critical component that is almost always missing from both buckets: the up-front planning and thinking needed to create an ideal marketing engine.
When funding or budget approvals are coupled with time and resource pressures, the businesses in Bucket 1 jump right in and start frenetically implementing whatever tools they can get their hands on. These tools are often a blend of CRM apps, email campaign tools, website CMS packages, analytics packages, lead intelligence apps, etc.
Meanwhile, businesses in Bucket 2 are busy buying up all the latest fancy tools as they come along because they can afford to at the time. The tools become immediately disparate because folks using them can't get what they need out of them and frustration ensues between marketing, sales and management.
If you happen to fall into one of these buckets, here's a 4-step planning approach that will put you back on the path to closed-loop marketing bliss and yield the long-term payback your business needs.
Step 1: "WHO'S IN?" - Pick a Team and Assign Roles
- Get a representative from each functional area to participate (sales, marketing, web support, IT, executive sponsor). Involving whoever you can in the decision-making process tends to make them care a lot more about the outcome.
- Define what success means: establish clear goals, metrics and responsibilities around web stats, campaigns, lead generation & nurturing, sales cycles and pipelines, what to track and report on, etc.
Step 2: "AS IS" - Assess What's Happening Right Now
Internal issues typically include:
- Lack of Automation. This mostly stems from disparate systems (such as your website, campaigns, conversion forms, CRM system, lead nurturing practices and analytics) not working in harmony.
- Mis-Aligned business processes. Is sales and marketing working in unison?
- Un-Standardized processes: Are you agreed on lead workflows, opportunity pipelines, lead follow up procedures?
- Dis-Integrated systems: do you have island solutions that don't talk to each other?
- Data, not Information: can you gather data intelligence (not just data) so you know what programs to do more or less of?
- Un-Informed business decisions: are you able to measure, track and report on the data that's important to all parties in your organization?
Step 3: "TO BE" - Determine What's Possible
- Build out your requirements for each stakeholder or business area in the organization (sales, marketing, management, etc.).
- Map out all of your current processes so you can start to uncover where some of the breakdowns occur.
- Investigate and decide on which tools you want to implement based on need-to-haves vs. have-to-haves, making sure that whatever you do pick is scalable to the needs of your organization.
Step 4: "GO"- Put the Plan in Motion
- Map out an implementation and roll-out timeline keeping things to short and focused projects with clear milestones so things don't drag on and get off course.
- Training: whatever you do, make sure that whoever is responsible for using a particular tool (CRM, Internet marketing, etc.) gets the appropriate training to maximize its usefulness. Otherwise, things can quickly get stale and people unmotivated.
- Test, test, test. It's a lot easier to fix things at the front end versus when things get seemingly too broken to bother fixing.
- Finally, stick to your plan! With the right amount of planning, the right tools in place, and the right data intelligence to pull from, you will be positioned to quickly make informed decisions and confidently know when your marketing efforts need to be fine-tuned, repeated or ended. Truly some closed-loop marketing euphoria.