An average buyer has already completed 57% of their buying process when they first make personal contact with a salesperson. Buyers select potential suppliers partly based on information they find online (as Kris Verheye explained to Belgacom earlier in this blog). So you can count yourself lucky if you even make the Request for Proposal shortlist. And if the sales team is systematically discounting your handful of leads (86% of leads are not followed up by sales), you definitely have a problem.
So with buyers looking en masse for online information, it’s best to just keep pumping out online adverts, isn’t it? “But what was the click-through rate on your last banner campaign?” asked our client Tom De Baere from Newtec at this month’s Business Meets IT seminar on marketing automation. “If you’re very lucky you’ll hit 1%.”
So we need a more intelligent and focused approach in the battle for prospective clients. De Baere: “You start by giving them free content to make them aware how to tackle a certain problem. In a second phase you ask for contact details and content to explain how they can resolve this problem. Then you ask for specific information about the recipient and try to facilitate them throughout their buying cycle.”
But if you don’t listen to your buyers to get the information you’re looking for at the right time, your message will never get through, no matter how many times you try to explain it or how profitable it might be. De Baere: “How are your emails going to be opened? How are you going to reach potential clients who have so far remained inaccessible? Content marketing only makes sense if you link your content to the buyer’s position in the procurement process. Systems such as marketing automation software make this possible.”
The Return on Investment (ROI) follows on from the conversation about converting leads into sales and your average return per sale. This is how Newtec calculated that their marketing has to generate just 15 extra qualified leads for their investment on marketing automation to be earned back. “Change management, a clear vision and a good internal implementation process are at least as important here,” says Tom De Baere.
Thanks to a more intelligent marketing process, monitored and measured by marketing automation, Tom De Baere can now present marketing qualified leads and prove how much he is contributing to the business. Good lead scoring ensures that the sales team almost only ever produce sale-ready leads.
Relevant content marketing led to an increase of over 16% in Newtec visitors in 2012, and there’s also an 11% increase this year (for comparison: in previous years the online number of visitors increased by 2%). A marketing process designed to meet the needs of a prospective client’s buying process and marketing automation management software resulted in 12% more contacts in 2013.
Marketing automation also needs relevant content to be able to function properly. Lots of companies get stuck here because they leave everything up to the marketing department. But it’s every employee’s responsibility to advise buyers. Everyone’s a salesperson, and everyone’s a marketer.