The way people buy things has changed. If you've watched a gadget unboxing on YouTube, installed an ad blocker, deleted an unwanted sales voicemail, read a review on TripAdvisor or made your purchase decision before calling a salesperson, then you've already experienced this change as a customer.
The modern marketing philosophy
But what does it mean for Microsoft Partners? Microsoft's Marketing Transformation Toolkit explores the implications in greater detail, but, simply put, modern marketing requires a shift in approach.
Embarking on this journey of transformation requires a compelling business case and the support of all the stakeholders in the business. This is a brief guide to making the best case for change.
Start with the data
Revenue marketing requires you to think more about customer lifetime value than single transactional hits. With this in mind, you get a much clearer view of your sales funnel.
'Maintaining the status quo will be a failing strategy for IT solution providers,' according to IDC (Partner of the future 2015). To progress, you need to measure the effectiveness of what you are doing now and understand your average deal size.
Here are some key questions to ask, starting at the bottom of the funnel in terms of qualified leads and sales:
- How many contacts, marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads do you generate in a month?
- Where do they come from (online, outbound, events, referrals etc.)?
- How much do you spend to get them, factoring in marketing and sales salaries as well as external costs?
- How long does it take to close a deal?
- What is the average deal value? What is the average lifetime value of your customers?
- How have these metrics changed over the last 1-3 years?
- Are your current rates of lead capture and deal closure sufficient to deliver the business growth you are looking for?
If you don't have this data, the first step is to deploy software, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, to track it. After all, any data is better than no data and gives you a foundation to build upon.
Identify bottlenecks and opportunities
Armed with data, you can look for gaps and opportunities. Here are some common challenges and recommendation solutions, which you can explore in more detail in our Marketing Transformation Toolkit:
Low website traffic:
- Review and optimise your SEO using benchmarking tools
- Blog regularly ('as often as you want to be found' but at least weekly)
- Grow your social media audience on Twitter and LinkedIn and promote relevant content
Website doesn't generate leads:
- Focus your content and messaging on the exploration and evaluation stages of the sales cycle
- Use business language - your customers' language - not your own jargon and hype
- Use premium offers - relevant, useful and valuable content - behind landing pages to drive lead capture
- Offer bottom-of-funnel tools, like ROI calculators, that prospects will find genuinely useful
Unresponsive prospects and long sales cycles:
- Consider social selling, such as tracking prospect company accounts on Twitter or using LinkedIn to connect with leads
- Use marketing automation to send personalised drip emails
- Use CRM to ensure regular contact and 'one version of the truth'
Look for benchmark rates for website traffic, landing page conversion, email open rates and so on. Build your business case around a journey from where you are to where you should be using smart objectives. A 'smart' objectives is:
For example, 'We will increase our website traffic from social media by 5% a month, as measured by Google Analytics, over the next six months by promoting blog posts and other content daily.'
If you have data for the average deal size and the lifetime value of a customer, you can calculate the impact on the bottom line of improving deal flow. This is the best way to convince business stakeholders of the value of marketing.
Focus on revenue outcomes
Pitch your marketing strategy as a rewarding journey rather than a quick win and focus on the journey all the way through to revenue at the bottom of the funnel. Explaining how marketing will drive business outcomes is the most compelling way to build a business case for modern marketing.
For more information about revenue marketing, download Microsoft's free Marketing Transformation Toolkit.
Next steps: Hear from Jennifer Tomlinson, Senior Manager Partner Marketing, as she discusses the modern marketing trends demonstrated by our most successful partners.