We Marketers Aren’t As Automated As We Think
Despite the promise of automation, marketers still have a ways to go. Columnist Scott Vaughan explains why we need to focus on automating the right data and eliminating the manual tasks that hold us back.
With pressure to improve efficiencies and hit KPIs, it’s been a no-brainer for marketers to adopt technology and embrace automation. The investment is paying off, as 80 percent of marketing automation users are generating more leads, and more importantly, 77 percent are seeing an increased number of conversions.
Despite its clear benefits — enabling organizations to effectively leverage prospect information to nurture, score and converse with prospective buyers — we still have some work to do to get marketing automation to deliver on its full potential.
Reading marketing articles and blogs, sometimes you get the impression that marketing is completely automated, up and down the funnel. Marketing technology is everywhere, creating “modern marketers.”
We regularly see automation in action — programmatic advertising, automated email and social campaigns and enabling data enhancement are taking the place of repetitive manual tasks. However, every day marketers are uncovering tasks they wish they could automate.
One standout example is the front-end manual challenge with demand generation. Millions of dollars are invested with third-party data and lead sources such as publishers, events, webinar vendors and so on — all of which are critical for generating a strong and steady pipeline and a roster of new customers.
Today, the prospects gleaned from these fragmented third-party data sources are disconnected from marketing automation systems, so the data is sent and processed via spreadsheets one file at a time. Worse, this newly acquired lead data has to then be manually uploaded into marketing databases for follow-up.
This is hardly ideal in today’s automated marketing world, where speed and accuracy are essential.
Marketing Automation Is A “Demand Factory”
Let’s think of marketing automation as a “Demand Factory,” a term coined by David Lewis of DemandGen. While marketing automation can be sophisticated, pumping customer and prospect data in and out to drive customer acquisition and retention, the factory’s production is limited without its raw materials of qualified leads and prospects.
We’ve already talked about the need to automate these materials; however, there is another area that lacks automation.
Not only are marketers not automated on key parts of lead gen effort, but we’re actually investing big budgets into systems being fueled by dirty data. This is no knock on marketing automation systems by any means, as they can only work with the data plugged into their platforms.
The missing automated step in the process is validating, cleaning, enhancing and formatting the data before it gets pumped into marketing systems. Currently, because of the manual work required, marketers skip or short-circuit this process and end up feeding their marketing automation systems with data that is unstandardized, duplicate, outdated and often inaccurate — a big waste of precious time and budget.
A SiriusDecisions study found that 25 percent of the average B2B marketer’s database is inaccurate. Engagement marketing and lead nurturing tracks depend on imported lead data being accurate.
If a lead contains an invalid email address or bad information, it not only hamstrings marketing’s ability to act on that lead investment but potentially delivers a horrible customer experience that alienates that prospect for a long time.
The Answer: Manual Data & Lead Processing
The answer today to ensure dirty data doesn’t slip through the cracks into marketing automation systems is manual data and lead processing.
By the way, did any marketer go to school to scrub and format spreadsheets full of data? This is a waste of valuable time and resources — scrubbing prospect files one by one.
And unfortunately, this manual effort results in a delay, meaning prospects are often more than a week old before they’re re-engaged by a nurture campaign or sales representative. By that time, interest has cooled and conversion rates through the customer acquisition funnel suffer.
To eliminate dirty data and manual scrubbing, marketers should consider automating these data governance processes.
The good news is that the professionals running the Demand Factory — demand marketers and their marketing operations colleagues — are increasingly passionate about efficiency and are embracing automation. We want to spend more time thinking about how to attract and develop leads into customers and less on manual data cleansing and processing.
Automation can work wonders for marketers, but only if we’re automating the right data and committed to methodically eliminating manual processes that don’t add value to the business or the customer experience. Let’s make the commitment to applying the Demand Factory mindset and shedding our days of low-value manual tasks that hold us back from our potential.