One of the most exciting projects I am working on now with the team is bring our demand generation activities to a next level. In our model we consider two types of marketing campaigns falling into this. Product awareness which is creating a product preference for the personas within our target audiences and leadgen which is about activation in the final part of their buying journey. For both we measure and have models in place with KPIs we track and monitor, Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). It is already quite a job to make every single member within the marketing team aware of the fact that there is a buying journey and that we use consistent definitions when we have dicussions about it across all countries. It is already quite a job to make every single member within the marketing team aware of the fact that there is a buying journeyWhether you are in content creation, marketing automation or field marketing, we all need to speak the same language. And although all has been described in guidance documents in order to practice it in daily life we need to explain, comment and repeat every day. Also having clear definitions what is about demand generation, branding and customer success and who own which part of that customer journey. Other stakeholders come into play which even makes it more complex. But once it starts working it will have a major impact on all what we do.
The image above shows our high level buying journey model. It starts at your left hand and ends at your right hand. For us it means a prospect becoming a customer by signing up for a online business software subscription. We believe that engaging with your target audience today is about being ultra relevant. Showing that you understand their challenges, business pains and needs to build trust and confidence you could help them solving and conquer those. Offering valuable content is in pour opinion key and at the same time a huge pitfall not being able to create it. Most organizations will say they have tons of content available. But once you really dive into it in many cases you will see it is very much about the product, specifications, features and functions. Which could be useful at the end of the buying journey for a limited number of prospects that went through several stages of their journey. But the potential is in reaching out to a broad audience and have some first interactions with them. Just having product info is simply not enough. Other content is required which is about hot themes, industry and market development in a variety of formats.
I remember when we had our first international marketing summit back in December where all Field Marketing Managers and the Central Marketing Managers were having an off site. Most of us working together with each other for a limited period of time simply because we just opened our offices in London, Boston and Frankfurt. We were sharing experiences and talking about the personas within our target audiences, their business pains, needs and how we could engage with them. We came to realize that in essence a small Wholesale Distribution company across all different countries are facing the same problems. It is that last mile where the local influence in terms of language, tone of voice etc. can make the difference. We call it the local relevance. Create and develop demand generation campaigns that cover 80% of what is required to hit 80% of the local sales numbersSince the Field Marketing organization is still limited in terms of resources we need to act here in a very smart way. So at that moment the idea raised to see if it is possible to deploy the 80-20 rule here. Create and develop demand generation campaigns that cover 80% of what is required to hit 80% of the local sales numbers and leave room for the local Field Marketing Manager to focus on that 20% local relevance that can really make the difference. Here the Playbook ws born. That was quite a challenge that came in font of us with 5 different countries and 5 different cultures. Central teams creating content and applying marketing automation and Field Marketing Managers that need to work with it and have confidence in it. So it was my challenge to balance this between central and local. Here we came up with the idea to give ownership to each and every Field Marketing Manager for a certain target audience and thus Playbook. For us it means creating 7 different Playbooks. The Field Marketing Manager got two assignments
- deliver within a cerain timeframe
- make sure that all Field Marketing Managers are aligned
In this set-up I was assured that once we release the Playbook all will back-up because they were all part of the creation process. Once we agreed and distributed responsibilities we just started to work on it and that was a massive job. But we managed to deliver the 1st two Playbooks recently for Accountancy and Professional Services and the 3rd one will be released next week. A Playbook containing an integrated demand generation campaign and all its required elements for generating MQLs and SQLs. All content e.g. infographics, videos, email templates and white papers are in there. All automated processes, landing pages and proper tracking elements are in there. Even blog posts, social media suggestions, online banners and advertisements are in there. A complete set that should work across al countries. Aligned with our corporate identity and later this year aligend with our corporate branding campaign. A major achievement by the teams.
The linking pin, glue between all these variety of elements within the Playbooks is marketing automation
The linking pin, glue between all these variety of elements within the Playbooks is marketing automation. Within Exact we use Eloqua which is the master system for marketing automation. But that in itself has some major pitfalls. It is a pretty complex skill set you need to adopt and learn. Every detail whether it is about a record in the database, a landing page or a tracking code, all needs to be worked out and implemented with great care. If just one single link is missing, the whole machine is falling into different parts. A complex set of workflows has been created. Lead scoring models have been implemented which we are still testing. Finding the right scoring method and thresholds is a major job. We are lucky that the volumes that runs through our campaigns is substantial. Thousands of leads on a monthly basis are running through our systems. It is simply impossible to handle all of these in a manual way. Sometimes I am wondering what a contemporary marketing director or CMO should look like. Is it this creative guy that is about emotions and beautiful campaigns or is it that tech savvy guy who is about business results. I will definitely opt for the last one where in my opinion it should be a mix of both. So tech savvy and having affinity with the creative part of the job.
Focus on what’s next
Apart from the fact it is our pay-off and represents our natural attitude, we off course are already focus on the next big thing. In the meantime we are creating and producing Playbooks and already know how to revise them in a couple of months for optimizing them. I am working together with a specialist getting the MQL model right which means how to balance our marketing spend on SQL campaigns and MQL campaigns in such a way we end up with an increase of our subscriptions. This is a very interesting journey where I can share some more with you in a couple of months. We already have great benchmarking figures from the 5 countries we are active in talking about Cost Per Lead, ROI and SQL sales conversion %We already have great benchmarking figures from the 5 countries we are active in talking about Cost Per Lead, ROI and SQL sales conversion %. When we add this extra dimension of MQLs the machine even gets better. Combined with some reporting projects that we are currently running in 2015 we are able to do some true detailed analysis and further act on this. Optimizing our lean and mean marketing machine. Oh yes, don’t forget our out of the box strategic project Sparks. Where we will enter the lives of our target audiences in a very early stage by being of value to them instantly. Curious? Just wait and see. To be continued!