Integrated marketing isn't only about crossing channels and merging campaigns but also about the potential for tearing down the silos between marketing, sales, IT and other departments. Aprimo Inc. recently debuted Service to Sales, an inbound marketing solution that analyzes customer data from the Web, call centers and retail sales in real time to provide targeted offers for cross- and up-sell programs.
“Marketing automation tools provide sales reps with the same powerful customer insights marketers use to close deals,” said Lisa Arthur, CMO at Aprimo. “We've reached a point where ... solutions can leverage these interactions, driving the sales profit center and maximizing customer experience at the same time.”
In today's buying cycle, buyers typically are quite a long way through their decision-making process before they are ready to hear from a company. Sales departments benefit when they know when a prospect is open to being contacted. Automation plays a role here.
“When a buyer does reach out to your company, marketing automation technologies can determine how hot of a lead the contact is,” said Ellen Valentine, product evangelist at Silverpop Systems. “If the prospect requires further nurturing, marketing can move him through programs to provide more information about the company before qualifying the lead for sales.”
Valentine said, that sometimes, when a lead makes initial contact, they are ready to make a purchase. In that instance, automation allows the lead to be passed directly to sales, bypassing any further nurturing from marketing.
“By integrating marketing automation with your customer relationship management system, you can also allow sales reps to be active participants in recycling leads that are not yet ready to buy and [place] them back into an automated nurture program,” she said.
No discussion about marketing automation would be complete without an acknowledgement of its impact on Big Data—how automation can consolidate it, analyze it and allow marketers (or triggers) to take action as a result.
“By aggregating data from across channels into a single, 360-degree view, organizations can gain insight into the needs and behavior of their customers and prospects,” said Kristin Hambelton, VP-marketing at Neolane Inc.
“In turn, they can provide greater relevancy and personalization in their communications—and dramatically increasing response rates. Imagine, for instance, that a key prospect tweets about one of your competitors. This behavior might, in turn, trigger an email containing a specific content asset designed to neutralize that threat.”
Marketing automation's advantage, Hambelton said, is found most compellingly in today's highly competitive marketplace.
“It's no longer about simply getting found,” Hambelton said. “It's about leveraging data to help prospects or customers find what they need quickly before moving on to a competitor's website.”