Four “Random Acts” of Demand Marketing You Need to Stop If You Are Going to Achieve Perpetual Growth
Building a repeatable, scalable, and effective Perpetual Growth Engine is hard work.
If it were easy, funnel conversion benchmarks would be a lot higher than low, single-digit percentages, right? And even when you have crisp, perfectly aligned messaging, a lot can be lost in the execution phase in terms of aligning content and engagement channels with the right customer target, in the right place, at the right time.
Does this somewhat gloomy description hit home? If so, you’re not alone. The CMO Council recently found that only 12% of marketers believe they have content marketing engines that are strategically programmed to target the right audiences with relevant and persuasive content to engage across channels and perpetually.
When the pipeline is not where it needs to be, we almost always fall back on what we call “random acts” of demand marketing. You know what I mean: the haphazard, ‘more-is-more’ demand marketing tactics that try to help re-stuff the top of the funnel. But these are all short-term fixes that don’t really fix anything, and often they cost more in terms of time and energy than they deliver in results. Taking a strategic approach to go-to-market and building a Perpetual Growth Engine at the center of your Growth motion – one that you can invest in and optimize over time – simply yields better results.
So, what are the greatest offenders: What are the top random acts that we all need to stop?
Let’s take a look at the top four:
Random Act #1: More Cold Calls, More Trial Offers
We have all been there. It’s mid-to-late quarter and the numbers aren’t looking great. What do we do?
“Man the torpedoes! All hands on deck!”
We play hurry up and start jamming the phone lines with cold calls. Or we start spamming our contact list with free trial offers. Or worse – we SPEND WAY TOO MUCH on AdWords driving to free trials – and then cross our fingers. But this rarely has the desired effect.
ANNUITAS conducted a Go-to-Market Assessment of one B2B software testing company’s cold calling attempts prior to building a more orchestrated, content-led, multi-channel Perpetual Growth Engine. After making nearly 20,000 (yes, TWENTY THOUSAND) cold calls, this one company saw ultimate conversion rates from this tactic contribute to Closed Won just 0.07 percent of the time.
But, after building out a “right person, right time” Perpetual Growth Engine, the same company saw conversion rates improve by 9X.
The lesson? You can’t speed up the conversion cycle with a single motion. You can’t call Prospects into submission! It almost never works. Buyers are going to go through their (usually required) motions and time is not on your side when you simply try to add more cold calls to the mix.
Random Act #2: More Leads; ANY Leads!
Scene: There are 30 days left in the quarter and pipeline coverage is barely 2x of target. What do we do? Open the floodgates! Lower the scoring threshold and let those leads flow, baby! Just get the salespeople SOMEONE to talk to! Anyone. Let’s just make ANY inquiry an MQL right away!
Then what happens? Close rates stay low, and we burn potentially decent, early-stage leads by attacking them when they are not ready to buy. It sets the business up for less-than-ideal performance today, and also dries up future pipeline. In addition, trust between marketing and sales erodes: Salespeople start to look at MQLs as nothing worth pursuing. It’s a lose/lose scenario and should be avoided at all costs.
An ANNUITAS client, a publicly traded security company, was performing this random act – and feeling the pain. The company was essentially running a two-step qualification model, where nearly any inquiry from a prospect got the lead handed to sales. About 62% of prospects were being immediately converted with little qualification – to the point where sales were ignoring nearly 30% of all marketing sourced leads. While lead volume was high – there was very little orchestrated engagement to qualify and nurture prospects. Before working with ANNUITAS, sales were so rouge it was almost impossible to attribute revenue to any particular marketing activity.
Sometimes you need to take a step back. Look at the lead funnel and start implementing a multi-step qualification process – one that combines demographics, firmographics, content behaviors and overall intent into a composite ‘readiness’ score.
Create the “warm” bucket based on scoring behaviors, and a “hot” bucket based on prospects actively seeking an interaction. Build out the process flow in a way that keeps a steady flow of leads without ‘burning’ unready leads while also clogging sales with leads in a way that does not allow them to quickly get to hot leads.
This sounds so basic, but it is surprising how many sales and marketing teams we see committing this particular random act of demand marketing. And even if you have a multi-step qualification model in place, all too often we see sales and marketing leaders abandon it when they get spooked on lead flow mid-quarter. But if you have an intelligent Demand Process in place, this does not have to happen.
Once the security company above deployed a perpetual growth model for themselves, the pipeline lift was almost immediately noticeable. After several quarters, the company saw a 54% increase in conversions, a 50% increase in marketing qualified lead to opportunity conversion rate and could now attribute more than $100m in revenue directly attributed to marketing sourced leads.
Random Act #3: More Emails; More Campaigns
Similar to random act number two, when we see the pipeline start to look a little thin, the common knee-jerk reaction is to start pumping out emails and other campaigns and events. The notion being that creating any touchpoint is better than no touchpoint. (In fact, too often we’ve seen this logic lead to sales cadences that get out of control.)
But when you are haphazardly sending out emails or invites to random webinars with no alignment to the actual state of your prospects’ journey, the misalignment can result in your prospects seeing you as intrusive, if not totally clueless to their actual needs and buying process.
ANNUITAS worked with a B2B Media Company that was guilty of the typical “batch and blast” campaign model we all know too well. The results were also typical: in the initial analysis we found that demand marketing activities were contributing a meagre 3% of closed won opportunities.
But after building a Perpetual Growth Engine – the conversion metrics improved across the board. By orchestrating around the customer journey, this firm saw a 5X improvement in pipeline lift originating from multi-channel demand marketing programs. And they saw an 8X improvement in lead to revenue conversion rates over a two-year transformation period.
These graphics below show the transformation improvement over this period.
Random Act #4: Throw (More) Tech at the Problem
Technology is an enabler and an accelerator. It can improve go-to-market processes, get faster results, etc., but it only works if the people and processes behind it are aligned and configured properly. All too often Growth Leaders try to band-aid lead flow issues by adding yet another application or software tool. But this usually has a negative effect.
Why? Because again, if the data and processes are not aligned – the technology will fail. Also, if the go-to-market team is already overworked with random acts, taking the time to adopt and perfect yet another technology piece will set back other initiatives and possibly deteriorate morale.
More technology also creates more silos and lessens the ability to accurately report on lead flow. But once you rationalize your tech stack against the customer journey, you might find there are a lot of superfluous cogs in the wheel, or you might be able to lessen the use or costs associated with your go-to-market tech stack.
Aligning your tech stack with the customer journey – implementing CMS, MAP and CRM more strategically – can generate efficiencies and reduce redundant tech spend.
In fact, the same B2B software testing company mentioned above was able to reduce its technology license spend by 26% when it better aligned its customer journey and go-to-market technology assets. A simple assessment of the customer journey might reveal a lot of needless overlaps, data silos and other impediments to success.
Look … we understand how tempting it can be at various points in the cycle to resort to random acts of demand marketing. Even when we ‘think’ we have a solid, encompassing go-to-market strategy – things can blindside us into thinking we need to perform these types of nonproductive demand marketing activities.
But if you actually have the right scalable, repeatable, and reliable Perpetual Growth Engine in place, these random acts ideally become a thing of the past. When you orchestrate go-to-market in lock step with the customer journey, good things happen. The right people are either accessing or receiving the right content and experiences at the right time. Lead flow stays solid, predictable, and high quality. Conversions improve and revenue follows.
It really can be that simple.