Let’s face it: educated guesswork makes up a fair portion of marketing strategies that exist today. As you look back at the successes, failures, and good intentions of 2015, I’m sure you’ll realize times when you wish more exact means were at hand to drive your digital marketing efforts.
On the sliding scale from guesswork to education, many marketers are realizing that new processes and approaches are necessary to get where they want to go. Intelligent marketing is the simplest description for the new methods that marketers will need to adopt to be successful in the coming years.
But just what do we mean by intelligent?
I’ll give you a hint – it has little to do with your IQ. Rather, intelligent marketing has to do with matching prospects and customers with messaging and value propositions at the right place and right time.
Sounds simple. It isn’t.
Know your audience
Intelligent marketing has everything to do with knowing your audience, and delivering the right value to them at the right place and right time.
“Knowing your audience” is a problem that has been met by marketers with varying levels of success. For content marketers, personae and demographics have been standard tools for some time. But just how do they get produced? For most marketing teams, there’s too much guesswork and not enough data that goes into persona development.
The solution to this problem lies in connecting customer data via sales records and CRM to top-of-funnel marketing strategies.
Let’s be clear, I’m not saying you should abandon persona development. Instead, I’m advocating for your marketing team to have direct access to information that’s often closely guarded by another department. Working with your IT and sales divisions will be critical in extracting the relevant information about a customer’s likelihood to buy based on demographic and psychographic tendencies.
View the customer holistically
What most marketers often find is a disconnected stream of information from the top of the funnel to the bottom that makes it hard to draw conclusions that inform personae development accurately, and thus strategic exercises become more guesswork than they should. In the next several years, we should begin seeing more and more mainstream marketing technologies make it easier for marketers to connect to CRM and lifecycle applications, and thus make better decisions from a more holistic view of the customer.
In the meantime, marketers should work to connect their lead gen technologies and top funnel marketing spends to CRM information, so that lead nurturing and sales follow up efforts can be attributed along the full history of a prospect as they move through the funnel.
Work the funnel for weak links and conversion problems
Once a holistic view from the top funnel to customer acquisition is formed, forecasting becomes a more straightforward calculation. Once the conversion rate from suspect, to prospect, to customer to advocate (insert your own labels as necessary) is known, marketers can focus their attention on the field of their audience which is most likely to take the next step in the buying process. Just as well, if a weak link is seen in the conversion process where too many prospects are falling out, a conversion rate optimization project would be a more apt spend against more ad dollars against a broken funnel.