Understanding Marketing’s Business Impact
Most people understand that Marketing is instrumental in generating new leads. However, when done right, Marketing will have a much bigger impact on the business, not only with sales, but also with operations, finance, logistics, customer service and more.
The frustration many executives and sales departments have with marketing is that Marketing departments are not always focused on the business objectives and sales metrics, but rather tend to focus on vanity metrics and self-referential KPIs.
The tools of marketing — websites, landing pages, online advertising, integrated marketing campaigns, etc. -- are valuable for more than just awareness and lead generation. The automation, personalization, tracking and reporting can support your overall business operations and help your company achieve its goals.
Your business is an ecosystem where all elements and actions shape the customer experience from their first impression through the renewal and referral process. By including Marketing as a key player throughout the lifecycle of a customer, providing a high quality, repeatable and scalable customer experience will be possible, making a profound impact on your business as a whole.
Marketing and Sales Alignment
For too long, Marketing and Sales professionals have been at odds. Marketing frequently views Sales as entitled and getting anything it requests, while Sales view Marketing as out of touch and not focused on driving business.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. The key is to orchestrate discussions up front between the two groups to clarify which metrics matter, how those metrics will be calculated, who is responsible for ensuring the data is entered into the CRM, and to ensure that Marketing has adequate access to sales data to understand what is generating high quality leads and additional opportunities. That is the secret sauce to improving lead generation, decreasing ad spend and improving return on ad spend and overall marketing investments.
Executive leadership needs to step in to negotiate the peace and vision between the two departments. Sometimes, it is a challenge of technology, other times long entrenched attitudes. Ironically, more and more sales organizations and third-party lead generation organizations have been adopting inbound marketing to generate high quality leads. Funding and attention are going to these outside organizations rather than the sales teams working with the internal marketing departments. Sales may say these organizations or initiatives are more effective than their own marketing departments. The reality is that information about the sales process, sales scripts and reports of what is working and what isn’t frequently is relayed to these third party organization that is withheld from the company’s own marketing department.
By fostering marketing and sales alignment, dramatic changes can happen in the quality and cost of leads generated by your own marketing department.
Marketing not only brings leads to the sales team, but it can grow loyalty among customers and keep them returning over time. A good strategy won’t just look for the customers who may make a large one-time purchase; it will also seek to attract the long-term customers who help keep the lights on during lean times.
A loyal customer becomes a brand advocate for your business. These brand advocates bring incredible value because they just can’t stop talking about how much they love their experience at your company. Their sincerity drives even more sales at virtually no cost to you.
This sort of loyalty must go deeper than promotional discounts or incentives. Rather, it requires access to information about service calls, support tickets and searches of the knowledge base, if applicable. By understanding the struggles people have and proactively addressing those needs, that is when true loyalty is fostered. Price based incentives only support loyalty until the next price-triggered event. Service and solving problems build loyalty for a lifetime.
Profitability and Cash Flow
Marketers have been the driving force of data analytics in business. Starting with Google Analytics being made free to all, the addiction to data by Marketers has only grown over the years. Every click, every view, every mouse movement is being tracked and analyzed.
However, most businesses don’t take advantage of what this data could really do for their business. By keeping marketing data separate from the sales and operational data, there is lost insight into what sort of marketing drives what sort of business.
Not all business is the same. Cash flow is king, as any small business owner knows. During the recent pandemic, cash flow took on increased importance to companies of all sizes in hopes of keeping the lights on and retaining trained talent. In the good times, profitability, margins, market growth, etc. may take higher priority, and tied to broader business goals that all parts of a business are working toward.
Organizations which have linked the sales data to the marketing data were better prepared to adjust their marketing efforts to those sorts of leads which would generate cash flow during the pandemic than those who left marketing treating every lead the same.
As the business objectives evolve, wouldn’t it be valuable if marketing could be a true partner in that effort, helping identify and quantify which sorts of leads will likely become which type of customer? Companies employing Inbound Marketing and an integrated CRM have that option, even handing Sales leads and their relation to the business goals, helping the Sales team prioritize their outreach and follow-up efforts.
Most businesses want to grow their market penetration. What are key industries or territories that might be ripe for expansion? What products and services would find willing buyers?
Inbound marketing and automation tools can help with the research needed to identify opportunities and resources required to support new product launches and market expansion.
Additionally, by reviewing the data in the CRM and traffic on the company website and knowledge base, Marketing can anticipate market growth and alert other departments to ensure they can meet upcoming demand. How long does it take to recruit and train talent to support anticipated growth? What impacts might affect the logistics chain, for sourcing, manufacturing and delivering products? What about financing options that might support cash flow while decreasing profitability?
If Marketing isn’t treated as a key stakeholder, the wrong messages could go out (e.g., that something is ready before it really is), the wrong expectations could be set (e.g., that the offering will do X but it only does Y), or the aggressiveness of a marketing campaign may promote a financial and business goal counter to the one truly desired.
The best way to be more profitable is to retain and grow your existing clients than the cost to acquire new ones. Thus, retention is key.
Too often, companies look at Marketing as only involved in acquiring new leads. Once handed over to Sales, Marketing typically is no longer involved with a lead or customer. At most, they might include the customer on a generic email newsletter.
This is a lost opportunity and a place where Marketing can have a major business impact. When Marketing has access to the details of a sale, they can customize communications with that customer, supporting a personalized experience that the customer came to expect during the sales process. By sending personalized, relevant content in future communications, the customer experience matches what they came to expect, which directly supports retention.
Similarly, when Marketing has access to what challenges a customer is having, based on the number and type of service tickets or knowledge base searches conducted, Marketing can develop new material to help address those concerns, alert Sales that additional training or a call is needed with that client, create new website content to address repeated issues across multiple client, research what competitors might have launched and are promoting a feature that your solution doesn’t have, or identify trends for future development based on honest input from your existing customer base.
Marketing, when done right, will have a significant business impact beyond lead generation. The technologies are well developed, and support integration and insight into areas of the business beyond the website or Facebook.
Marketing serves as the ears and voice of the customer within an organization. Marketers will look at the data held by other departments with a different viewpoint and objective than others might. And with direct access to the customer base and future customers company executives will limit marketers’ roles at their own risk.
Inbound marketing and marketing automation tools, like HubSpot, are the most effective and efficient way to accelerate your business growth. A growth agency like Lone Armadillo is ready to help you realize this impact in your company.