But what do people mean when they talk about ‘smarter marketing’? And more importantly, how can you put it into practice?
Types of intelligence
The first thing to consider is that there are different sorts of ‘smart’. Take the left-right brain divide, for example. In the left hemisphere, your brain processes logical, analytical information. While on the right side, it favours expressive, emotional stimuli.
Traditionally, marketing has treated persuasion as an art form. So naturally, more artistic right-brain thinkers have been drawn to the industry. But now, with the rise of data targeting, social media, and marketing automation, there is a growing expectation that marketers must possess a highly evolved left-brain as well.
Marrying logic and lateral thought is great in theory. But in practice, it’s not so easy. To some extent, we’re all either left-brain or right-brain heavy. So we need to find ways of compensating for our less-developed side.
A framework for success
Whichever type of thinker you are, to achieve a ‘best of both’ scenario, it’s crucial to base all demand generation activities on a clearly defined framework. This will ensure you approach important tasks such as measuring and benchmarking performance with the same diligence as you would a high-profile creative campaign.
I’ve seen many such models over the years. But the one that most impresses me at the moment is the appropriately named ‘Demand Waterfall’. A huge amount of credit needs to go to the strategists at SiriusDecisions for developing this model, which provides right-brain types with some serious (no pun intended) left-brain thinking.
They’ve recognised, correctly, that many companies now qualify leads purely through their prospects’ Digital Body LanguageTM . So Automated Qualified Leads are included in their model as an integral step in the process.
Equally important, the waterfall model takes a real-world approach to demand generation. For example, inbound and outbound inquiries are separated – accounting for the fact that inbound inquiries almost always result in higher quality leads.
Another key to smarter demand generation, which the waterfall model accounts for, is that sales and marketing aren’t separate silos, but two sequential steps in one journey. Taking this holistic view of the pipeline, it’s easy to see the importance of agreeing with sales what a qualified lead looks like, and how you can pass more of them down the funnel.
Nowadays, the smartest way to do this is by using a lead-scoring programme in a marketing automation platform such as Eloqua. This enables the scoring of contacts based on their Digital Body LanguageTM – how they’ve interacted with a company or a specific product or service.
This approach is infinitely more efficient than qualifying leads manually (or without a clear definition of what a qualified lead even looks like). And by using a model to predict how leads filter through each stage of the buying journey, you can intelligently forecast how many inquiries are needed to generate set revenue targets. All of which means you can refocus attention on generating demand, rather than just handling it.
Aligning content to the scoring programme will enhance and improve conversion rates even further – by providing the right person with the right message at the right time.
To create a compelling story still requires some good old-fashion right-brain brilliance. But, by understanding the various phases of the buyer journey, it becomes much easier to work out what each chapter needs to say to keep your lead hooked all the way to the end.
There’s also a very real opportunity to gain a competitive advantage with content marketing right now. An Aberdeen report from last year found that while most companies (88%) claim to be implementing a content strategy, only 16% of those businesses actually have a robust plan in place. And as we’re talking about smarter marketing, there’s no smarter move than to identify an opportunity your competitors have overlooked.
A beautiful science
With such well-thought-out models for demand generation, and increasingly powerful tools for measurement and benchmarking, marketing is going through something of a logic revolution. Little by little, the art of persuasion is turning in to a beautiful science.
About the author
Alana plans and designs automated lead scoring and nurture programmes that synchronise clients’ sales and marketing to deliver excellent returns. She is senior marketing strategist at Harte-Hanks’ technology marketing agency Mason Zimbler, and also plays an active role in the group’s demand architecture approach, The Demand Curve.
Introducing The Demand Curve
The Demand Curve is the demand architecture approach from Mason Zimbler, part of global direct marketing services business Harte-Hanks. It specialises in sales and marketing solutions for large technology brands.
Joining up sales and marketing has always been a challenge for large organisations. In today’s world of complex buyer behaviour and multifaceted media consumption it can be overwhelming.
However, with intelligent use of tools and technology, marketing and sales can work in collaboration. The outcome is marketing that works harder to deliver more tangible outcomes for a direct impact on sales.
In order to achieve this, The Demand Curve’s demand architects perform a meticulous assessment of marketing activities and related processes. This discovery process provides a concrete foundation for a customised growth strategy. A strategy which enables:
Greater visibility, leading to greater agility and more efficient objective-based decision-making.
Leverage of the latest technologies, including social analytics tools and real-time reporting.
Improved quality of data to increase cost-efficiency in marketing through real-time insights into customer behaviour and accelerated go-to-market strategies.
Optimisation of content with insights into purchaser influences and channel efficiency.
Unlike traditional marketing consultants, demand architects bring operational experience in every field from data cleansing to content creation. So they don't simply provide analysis of your marketing assets and processes, they deliver intelligent real-world solutions which help you move along your own Demand Curve.
Sales and marketing synergy can be achieved. All it takes is the right approach.