Friday, March 12, 2010

Database marketing used to support sales efforts

I haven't had much time since returning from the Online Marketing Summit to blog about my experiences. There was a lot of information relating to interactive marketing. From a database perspective, on e of the most interesting presentations was from Adam Needles at Silverpop. Adam talked about something that is called 'demand generation' which really is using database and web technology to manage the lead generation process for the sales force. I know when I was in B2B sales we always complained about the quality of leads from marketing. Just a few years ago, leads for sales from marketing were confined to purchased lists and trade show leads, many of which were unqualified. Telemarketing to pre-qualify helped improve the quality of the lead. The problem is that companies want that experienced sales rep to be given an actionable lead. Research shows that only about 5% of the sales process today really involves direct contact with the salesperson. Most of the sales process occurs before the sales rep gets involved, as is reflected in changes in B2B spending. There was a 19% decrease in spending for B2B marketing spend in tradeshow, print and digital but an uptick in content marketing through digital channels. B2B buyers now spend most of their time researching products online and leveraging the groundswell of social media to make their decisions. The successful B2B marketer today seeks to capture the B2B buyer's attention during this phase by drawing the buyer into the web site and once, there, keeping the buyer with meaningful content on products and industry issues and concerns. Everyone wants content today, ways to do things better and more effectively. Once a lead is captured at the web site, the B2B marketer's job it to nurture that lead. Now, through the internet and database technology, we can tell if a prospect that has registered at the site has downloaded a whitepaper, email a follow up to see if there are questions, send related content and nurture that relationship to the point where it is worth the salesperson's time to contact and try to develop a sale. The B2B marketer needs to make sure that the company is providing thoughtful content through twitter, blogs and other social media sites so the B2B buyer will want to visit the web site. Search engine optimization plays a critical role also in attracting that buyer during the evluation phase, before a sales rep is involved. From a database perspective, marketing can track leads and report the success of its program in a way that until recently was difficult to do. Leads can be segmented. Some can be discarded, some sent to the sales force right away and others nurtured through the process and marketing can report on its demand generation process just as sales has for years reported on its sales process. There are software tools to help automate this process. So although the power has shifted and the B2B buyer is more in charge of the process, the B2B marketer has more data to work with to try to nurture and report on customer relationships. Look for more and better automation technologies in the future, to integrate marketing and sales.
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