New Skills Needed to Address Marketing Gap
Here’s a staggering statistic: B2B organizations are losing upwards of 10 percent of revenue per year due to their inability to properly align sales and marketing around the right processes and technologies, according to IDC. To put that in perspective, that would be a $10 million loss for a $100 million company. Ouch.
These numbers reflect what we have been hearing over and over again: We’ve got this powerful software in marketing automation, and yet, marketers are still missing the boat. So, what are we missing, here?
Many of today’s marketers were brought up in the traditional marcomm, PR and event-driven marketing that consisted primarily of a one-way communication: vendor to buyer. That kind of approach is no longer effective in the modern buying landscape where the buyer is now in control of the conversation.
“It’s no longer about lead generation, it’s about engagement. You’ve got this buyer who is now so well-connected. They can go to sites like Software Advice, Quora, Focus and even Twitter to connect with other buyers. That’s how buyers are now finding information.” – Carlos Hidalgo, Executive Director of the Marketing Automation Institute
So the real question is, how do marketers bridge the gap between getting buyers interested and truly engaging them in a dialogue to give them the information they need?
That is the question Hidalgo set out to answer when he founded the Marketing Automation Institute (MAI). The goal of the MAI is to educate, equip and enable marketers with the skills, practices and principles they need to be successful at their jobs. Marketing automation is more than a tool. It is a strategy. One that requires content marketing, attention to revenue and other skills and details that marketers never had to pay attention to in the past. Individuals that participate in classes offered by the MAI will become Certified Marketing Automation Professionals.
Education at the MAI takes place via an active user community, as well as classes taught by thought leaders who specialize in areas such as marketing operations, inside sales, social media, lead management and implementation basics to name a few. While these classes cover a wide range of skills, we wanted to know which ones were the most important to the modern marketer’s success. Here are the essentials:
- Analytics and metrics: More and more, marketing is becoming a numbers game. The introduction of marketing automation software switched marketing from a gut-feeling, creative discipline into a numbers-driven, measurable activity. Marketers are now able to measure campaign performance, track conversions along the sales funnel and make accurate forecasts. This has elevated marketing’s value proposition to address the C-level’s top priority: revenue. The modern marketer must be metrics-driven and have a strong understanding of how to turn analytics into actionable insight that can help improve marketing’s contribution to overall revenue.
- Lead management strategy: Marketers who define their job as filling the top of the funnel will not be successful with marketing automation software. Lead management has to be built on a strategy that focuses on managing the entire pipeline, not just one end of it. Marketers have to work with sales to define the different stages of the buyer’s journey. Then, they must develop a process that will best lead the buyer down that path. This signals a paradigm shift in the marketer’s focus, from quantity of leads to quality of leads.
- Content marketing: As we know, today’s approach to marketing is about engaging the buyer. That is where content comes in. Content is any information that touches the buyer. It can include white papers, blogs, email, case studies, newsletters, video and social content, to name a few. Relevant content is the key to engaging the buyer and getting them interested. Marketers have to be able to build a content strategy around their buyer’s journey. Understanding the buyer’s behavior and path to purchase will help marketers map the right content each step along the way. Marketers must also understand that content is what fuels the entire marketing automation engine. A content development plan has to be part of your strategy in order to be successful.
- Social media: Love it or loathe it, social media is here to stay, and marketers and organizations that choose to ignore it are already left behind. A recent report by Pew Research indicated that adult engagement on social networks has risen from 11 percent in 2005 to 65 percent in 2011. More buyers are getting social, providing a viable medium for engagement. Being successful with social requires thought, strategy, content and consistent execution. Additionally, you have to measure your efforts. See what works and what doesn’t, modifying your approach appropriately. The marketer that gets social media right will be an invaluable asset to any company.
The B2B market is in a constant state of evolution. Marketers that hope to keep up will have to master these skills, not only to add value to their organization, but to stay relevant in a competitive job market.
Let us know your thoughts. What would you identify as weak areas where marketers need improvement? What skills are crucial in a technology-enabled, buyer-centric world? Leave your comments in the space below.
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