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Marketing Automation and Lifecycle Marketing, Explained

Marketing automation and lifecycle marketing: How do they fit together? Why should you be using them for your business?

In the general sense, marketing automation is defined as automating manual tasks associated with the marketing function. However, most people associate marketing automation with the process of delivering “sales-ready leads” to the sales team.

Many marketing automation platforms were designed with the marketing funnel in mind. For the concept of the marketing funnel to work, all of the nurtured, ideal-fit brand supporters at the bottom had to have come in to the top of the funnel to begin with – meaning, sourced from marketing. However, most business that closes is not “sourced” from marketing. It’s more than likely “influenced” by marketing. Ask any enterprising entrepreneur where their first 10 customers came from, and I assure you, they would not say marketing. They would say “from existing relationships.

It’s often been said that it’s easier and less expensive to retain or upsell a customer than to bring on a new one. But companies continue to allocate the majority of their marketing spend on generating more leads. If I were a VP of marketing, and I received bonuses based on the number of leads I generate that turn into sales – then, of course, I would focus 100 percent of my attention on driving more leads. The million-dollar question is: How much (percentage and actual revenue) can you truly show was sourced from marketing? Reports I have read say 25 percent is a very high percentage, even for best-in-class B2B companies.

Or, let’s look at it from the VP of sales standpoint. You have a field-based sales team with 10 representatives. In each territory, you identify 20 ideal targets.

  • Option A: Wait for marketing to put one of these folks in the funnel, qualify them and then pass to the sales team. “Hey! I’m still out here waiting for marketing to pass me one of my targets!”
    OR
  • Option B: You drive your sales team to engage with each of the 20 targets through their efforts and networks. They will never go in the marketing funnel – they will go in the sales funnel/pipeline.

Lifecycle marketing is about tracking, scoring and engaging all customers and prospects based on where they are in their relationship with the brand. It challenges the concept that all business is generated from marketing and all leads flow through a marketing funnel before the sales team (or others in the organization) engages with them. It is a paradigm shift that places a much more important emphasis on the marketing function (not just about generating leads and passing them to the sales team). It’s about understanding the business: Identifying who your best customers are and driving engagement throughout their customer experience. Happy, satisfied and loyal customers will drive more revenue than the old-school, “fill-the-funnel-with-leads” approach.

Lifecycle marketing is different way of looking at your business – across all stages of the customer experience. Marketing plays the critical role of ensuring the right programs and campaigns (sales, marketing and client success) are all working together to drive engagement with the best prospects and customers to move them forward in the relationship, regardless of their stage.

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