True or False: Modern marketing departments are dominantly focused on demand generation activities? Well, the answer is slightly more complex than true or false—but if we had to choose, we’d say false.
While this may come as a surprise to the hordes of demand generation groupies using marketing automation, the truth is that 87 percent of companies spend more time in other functions of marketing than demand gen. Additionally, top performing companies (those that met or exceeded revenue expectations in the last fiscal year) spend less time on demand generation than underperforming companies do.
The lust for leads remains, but marketing’s role has always been broader, and it’s becoming broader still. Marketers are no longer focused as narrowly on the acquisition of new customers; they’re spending time and resources nurturing their customers to be successful, and those customer relationships to be long-term.
Marketing is easy to overcomplicate. At a high level, it can be simply broken down into three major levels of focus: brand marketing, demand generation, and customer marketing (you may name them differently, but essentially these are the three core segments of marketing). How companies apply these varies widely.
The attract stage of the lifecycle, in which you interest new buyers, is especially dependent on brand marketing and brand awareness. Brand marketing tasks and responsibilities can include public, press, analyst, shareholder, and influencer relations; corporate communications; social media; advertising; events and sponsorships; and content marketing.
Here your resources are spent on the early-middle-late stages of the customer lifecycle, making sure that the prospective customer is attended to and gets the answers they’re looking for, and making sure that sales has what they need for a smooth hand-off and a quality closing deal. Demand tasks and responsibilities can include marketing activities such as lead generation and nurturing, lead scoring, sales alignment, sales enablement, and field marketing.
Here you build and deepen the relationship after the lead has become a customer. Strategies and tactics at this stage might include onboarding, training. customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty programs, upsell and cross-sell, community-building, and advocacy—all aimed to increase customer lifetime value.
A CMO must focus her efforts across all three functions of the marketing department—awareness, acquisition, and retention. And for the most part, marketing automation has been used to aid only one of these three segments—demand generation. But that’s changing.
Marketing automation has evolved a bit to better meet the needs of the holistic marketing department, and can now be used across the entire customer lifecycle, from initial branding and attraction to customer retention and expansion. But the real change is in how people are beginning to apply the same processes they’ve been using for demand generation across the rest of the stages.
Don’t believe us? Here are seven new ways to use your marketing automation system to build your brand, drive demand, and expand customer relationships.
1. Influencer relations + press release attribution
While marketing automation hasn’t traditionally been thought of as a technology to help PR activities, you can actually apply a lot of the same demand den-style tactics to branding activities! Score press, analysts, and bloggers on the web pages they visit (or other engagements) so you can see who your most engaged and interested influencers are. Be aware of the pages they visit on your site, what they’re interested in, and the emails (pitches, press releases, events) they are engaging with. You might, for instance, assume that a reporter is interested in your new widget, but they might have something else entirely in mind, like your fantastic track record of growth. You’ll know if you see which pages they visit. Use this intelligence to prioritize who you pitch and what your talk track is.
You can also create trackable URLs for press releases to tie PR activity back to the lead-to-revenue process. Sales do come from press releases. Look at multi-touch attribution and how press releases contribute to the sale.
2. Recruiting top talent
We all know that attracting (and keeping!) top talent is crucial to growing a great business. Use marketing automation to establish and nurture relationships with prospective employees. Track their engagement with your content to get a feel for what they’re interested in, and zero in on prospects who you feel might be a good fit for certain positions.
3. Brand identity management
Your brand should be consistent across all teams and all channels, and the marketing department owns that responsibility. To make things simple and controllable, use marketing automation to help your corporate marketing team control all visuals including:
- Brand look and feel
- Logo usage
- Corporate messaging
By creating approved templates, you’re allowing other departments within your organization to successfully stay within your brand guidelines. Once you’ve created the templates, distribute them companywide using your media library.
4. Event management
Make the most of your events. Know who to invite, and manage all communications before and after, with more precision and less effort. Create an automated workflow (save the date, official invite, seats are limited, registration responder, and reminders) to make it easy. Then re-use and refine the workflow for the next event.
5. New customer onboarding
How is your onboarding process working? Take the next steps in order to make sure your new customers are having the best experience possible. Optimize the effectiveness of your onboarding process by automating it with 30-, 60-, and 90-day onboarding drip programs.
Successful onboarding drips help your customers feel as though they’ve entered into a partnership instead of feeling abandoned after signing. Solid onboarding drips should deliver a mix of:
- Product features
- Educational content
- Help resources
Your goal here should be to help your customer master your product or service quickly and be successful on their own terms.
6. Customer use expansion + retention
Help your customers expand the use of your product using newsletters and new feature announcements to keep them in the loop, and let them know their satisfaction matters. If marketing communication stops after onboarding, you’re missing a huge opportunity to make sure that your customers go on to be happy and ever more successful. Measure product consumption and trigger communication based on feature/non-feature use in order to make sure your customers are getting the most out of their purchase.
If your customer doesn’t hear from you until suddenly it’s time to renew the contract, that’s a sign (to them) that you don’t really care about them, other than as a revenue stream. You never need to get into that position if you just keep communicating (just as you did when they were a lead and you were nurturing them).
Leverage your marketing automation, CRM, and ERP data to understand when a buyer is ready for an upsell. Look at pages visited, datasheets downloaded, and contract renewal information and payment history, and tie it to engagement data to understand when to reach out on an upsell or cross-sell. Alert the customer success team when one of their accounts is indicating that they might be ready to expand (or renew) their purchase.
While demand generation has been marketing’s golden child, and the main use case for marketing automation for more than a decade, we’re thrilled about the expansion of the technology’s capabilities and usage.
Demand generation is still a critical component to growth, however, forward-looking CMOs are rethinking their approach to marketing. This includes looking holistically at marketing automation’s relationship to the customer experience and its role in brand awareness, demand generation, and customer retention and loyalty.
This article was written by McKenzie Ingram from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.