3 ways to gamble away next year's lead gen budget

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Paul Rafferty, Sales Engine International
Paul Rafferty, Sales Engine International

As the economy continues to confuse pundits and experts alike, all bets are off on what next year might hold for your marketing team's budget. For marketing departments charged with lead generation to support new business, now is a good time to take stock of what is and isn't working. The strong attendance at a recent Sales Engine International webinar on avoiding some of the major failure points of marketing automation tells us that this aspect of lead generation is presenting marketers with some challenges.

Just like you, we've read plenty of industry reports on the challenges B2Bs are encountering in achieving ROI on marketing automation. But instead of relying on the results of surveys given to selected recipients, we decided to turn to our webinar audience. Registration was open to the community as a whole and we did not know in advance who would attend.

On the day of the event, we were joined by a diverse collection of marketers: 72% were already using marketing automation and 28% were planning to purchase soon. We asked impromptu questions about their own experiences with automation and 75% acknowledged that they are underutilizing their investment. Based on the responses of our audience, we think it is fair to assume that many marketers are second guessing aspects of their automation program.

Here are three risky marketing games you should not play unless you enjoy making bets in a burning house:

Game 1: Getting lost in the shuffle. There's a lot of noise in the marketplace, but proper use of marketing automation should help you get your voice in front of your prospects.

Want to avoid this game? First, put all your cards on the table. What have you got? If you're like 94% of your colleagues what you don't have is enough content to make good use of the power of marketing automation.

Quality content starts with understanding the pains of the market and creating messaging that speaks to those pains across the personas and segments that make up your market. A strong content library is also deep with material in a variety of media, so you can deliver your message and meet the diverse content consumption preferences of prospects.

Game 2: Building a house of cards. Marketing automation is a great tool to deal out all your content, but you must have a process in place so that your campaigns work in lockstep with the automation.

How can you steer clear of a plan that stacks the deck against you? Create cadence to support your automation goals. Nearly 70% of marketers lack sufficient processes to manage automation. Cadence requires organizational buy-in for marketing automation and staffing to support strategy and execution. Clear standards for metrics and measurement are needed to monitor results.

Game 3: Counting your money when you're sitting at the table. Are you creating thousands of marketing qualified leads every month?  That's great, but it's not revenue.

How will you know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em?  Start with a defined process for closure. Marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are just the first step. Sales might pick the lead up from the deck and then quickly discard it. That's a problem, because 80% of MQLs do go on to buy from someone within two years.

A middle layer is required to nurture an MQL along until it is sales-ready, and only a human being can determine whether a prospect meets the requirements of BANT (budget, need, authority, and time). Companies that nurture leads using a mid-level inside sales person before passing them along to higher paid sales reps see higher close ratios and can demonstrate a return on their investment in automation.

Stop gambling with next year's marketing budget and play your cards right with Content, Cadence, and Closure.

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