How to Optimize Your Marketing Engagement Channel Strategy

More data and less insight are common problems in demand marketing. This deficiency becomes especially pronounced when it comes to decision-making around how to optimize engagement channel strategy and budget. Business leaders are often faced with making largely subjective decisions because existing data doesn’t support informed decision making.

Most businesses aren’t able to answer questions like:

  • Which personas in the top of funnel aren’t paying off down-funnel?
  • Are keywords and content aligned to their place in the funnel?
  • Which channels are leading to higher quality leads?

According to Salesforce Research, optimizing the marketing mix for the best return is a top priority for marketers, but only 29% believe they deliver the right message on the right channel at the right time, and only 28% of marketers are completely satisfied with their ability to engage customers across channels at scale.

And while the decision-making process surrounding channel investment is fraught with obstacles, it pales in comparison to the widespread pain that results from not having a reliable pipeline of demand because channels aren’t optimized to drive sales lift.

How do so many well-intentioned sales, marketing and growth leaders find themselves in this dilemma?

Misalignment with buyers

Often companies will shortcut the important work of discovering, documenting, and aligning their demand marketing around the buyer journey. According to CMI and MarketingProfs, only 42% of marketers actually talk with customers to understand their needs. Not surprisingly, fewer than half (49%) of marketing leaders believe they provide an experience completely aligned with customer expectations.

Without a thorough understanding of how decisions are made, who is involved, and how buyers consume information to make those decisions, it’s impossible to design an effective and efficient channel strategy. Whether the gap is knowledge of, or discipline to, the buyer journey, the result is the same — mismatched expectations for both the buyer and the business.

Incomplete infrastructure

There is a common concern with measurement across demand marketing. Often business leaders rely on less than complete or overly simplified metrics to guide their engagement channel approach. In a recent article from Think with Google, one executive shared, “We fell into a trap many brands do by measuring marketing effectiveness solely through last-click return on ad spend. That skews investment to existing high-spend customers and sometimes even our own employees.”

In fact, only 41% of business leaders measure marketing ROI using marketing attribution modeling like marketing mix modeling or multi- touch attribution. Stuck with last or first touch attribution or even less relevant metrics like clicks or form fills, many revenue leaders aren’t properly equipped to optimize engagement channel strategy and spend. (Read ANNUITAS’ POV on marketing attribution in this blog post).

Volume over value

There is a delicate balance of providing enough demand at the right quality level, but it’s a mix that must be pursued and is often too weighted towards volume. Channels or providers can look like good investments at first glance, but with the right measurement and focus, they might show themselves to be providing mass quantities of ‘leads’ with less than stellar sales lift.

To overcome these issues, leaders will need to build a solution that includes a Demand Process framework and a data structure around the buyer journey. This combination and all its interaction points are the only way to allow the reporting and insights necessary to optimize engagement channel strategy to the buyer’s critical path.

Operationalizing around the buyer journey

Orienting around the buyer journey starts with deep insights into that journey with the buyers themselves, learning what motivates them to buy. Once it’s known who is involved, what they care about and how they prefer to learn about solutions like yours, there is a solid base to build upon. Odds are you have some sort of information about your buyers right now, but it’s probably not enough. To start learning more we recommend reading this blog, “8 Deeper Questions to Ask to Understand Your Buyer.

The next building block is a Conversation Track Architecture. By taking all the insights about the customer and orchestrating them into interaction points through channels and content, technology systems are able to listen for behavioral signals and guide the buyer through a self-determined journey, without the typical outbound, product-first messaging. This architecture will make sure there are no dead ends, with an always-on approach to provide the next best action to ensure your buying information is in the right place at the right time.

Demand Process takes this to the next logical step by connecting the dots between people, process, content, and technology to monitor and respond to every marketing interaction appropriately, whether that’s with a persona-specific, down-funnel content offer in a preferred channel or a call from your sales team.

To learn more about what a Conversation Track Architecture and Demand Process look like, we recommend reading our “How We Do It” page.

Data structure built for strategic demand marketing

Rather than launch campaigns and make do with the measurement that is available, a customer-centered approach includes a data structure that is built to deliver the measurement needed for strategic demand marketing to be successful. With mechanisms to capture all facets of a point of interaction, rich data is available that gives a 360-degree view of every interaction, across multiple dimensions to give the ability to pivot on almost any angle necessary to optimize channel engagement. Whether that’s at a geo, channel, provider, persona, or content level, the ability to zoom in or out on the entire buyer journey, across every interaction, provides rich data that can be harnessed for driving higher ROI for your investments.

Rich insights to optimize results

When you are instrumented to properly assess the engagement channel mix, a ‘portfolio’ approach is possible. Now the types of insight you seek are possible and they allow you to align to the buyer journey while optimizing your sales lift. Previously unanswerable questions are possible now that let you understand differences by persona, funnel placement and content across your engagement channels. Now you’re able to answer questions like:

  • Does one persona surface again and again in the top of funnel, but rarely move beyond?
  • Are content offers aligned with keywords or have you matched lower funnel keywords with top of funnel content
  • Are your key stakeholders attending webinars to narrow their shortlist or do they prefer thought leadership through online events?

With an ROI model that measures and attributes every touch, you can be sure you’re not unfairly judging (and paying for) false positives or false negatives in your channel mix. Perhaps a channel gets fewer touches, but its overall value in the pipeline is higher. Maybe you have a lot of touches for a channel, but no opportunity attachment. That cost-effective buy that produced a high volume of leads might have a low return in sales.

With a strategic demand marketing state, business leaders are able to orchestrate buyer engagement to deliver predictable sales lift. Learning how to optimize your engagement channel strategy is critical to driving this demand engine, but too often, stop and start campaigns and tactical marketing aren’t driven by and measured according to the buyer journey. In a strategic demand marketing state, content and channels are optimized according to buyer insights and real-time visibility into results to be in the right place, at the right time for buyers. Adjusting course as needed is enabled by a data structure and reporting capabilities that are built to provide the right insights from the ground up to make smart decisions to meet the needs of the business and drive sales lift.

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