Taking A Phased Approach to Digital Demand Transformation

A Digital Demand Transformation Takes Time, But That's Not a Reason to Avoid Making Strategic Change

Strategic Demand Marketing is critical to the success of every business. It’s the only way to proactively ensure that your sales teams are armed with the high-quality leads they need to meet their targets, close deals, and generate revenue. But achieving a Strategic Demand Marketing state is a challenge and requires a Digital Demand Transformation. By evolving from a tactical, campaign-based lead generation approach to a continuous, automated, strategic approach, marketing can have a major impact on sales and business growth. But making a major shift like this can’t happen overnight, so it’s important to take a phased approach to Digital Demand Transformation.

Like any business transformation project, a Digital Demand Transformation takes time. That’s because implementing it has implications across all of the people, processes, content and technology you’re currently using to generate demand. In fact, depending on the size and complexity of your business, it can take more than a year for the transformation to reach maturity and perform to its full potential. And while that may sound daunting, there are two things to bear in mind:

  • Even before the transformation is complete, sales impact and lead performance will outpace campaign-driven, tactical demand generation, making the journey more than worth the effort.
  • The end result, when fully realized, is a strategic, long-term approach to demand that actually works. Companies that go through a Digital Demand Transformation led by ANNUITAS typically improves lead-to-revenue ROI by 4 to 10x industry averages.

With results like those, transforming can be a game changer. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for full implementation to start reaping the benefits. Instead, take a phased approach to Digital Demand Transformation. With this strategy, you can make incremental, impactful improvements to your demand process and start getting results in a matter of months.

In this guide, we’ll share some of the best practices that you can implement to help you realize meaningful results, faster.

The Building Blocks of a Transformation

A Digital Demand Transformation is enabled by a Perpetual Demand Generation (PDG) program. A PDG program touches lots of different parts of your business, so it’s virtually impossible to set it up all at once. But why wait for all of the work to be done before you start to see any of the benefits? ANNUITAS likes to work in phases that build upon each other and can be implemented sequentially over time. While there are many steps involved in PDG implementation, at the highest level you can group them into three main phases:

What is ANNUITAS Perpetual Demand Generation®?<br />ANNUITAS Perpetual Demand Generation® (PDG) is a process that creates actionable revenue opportunities for businesses by transforming marketing from a tactical, campaign-driven function to a predictable, consistent and reliable source of pipeline and revenue. PDG is rooted in a buyer-driven dialogue that is automated and always on, working to Engage, Nurture, Convert and ultimately deliver sales-ready leads.

Phase 1: Demand Process Integration

When you’re just getting started with PDG, the first step is to create a framework for the project. You want to develop a process and data structure that everyone can follow and build upon. To do so, you have to address a variety of lead management issues, such as:

  • Ensuring that you have all of your lead sourcing and lead tracking tools and mechanisms in place to capture and record information about your prospects and customers.
  • Deciding who within your organization will be responsible for handling leads, how exactly they’re going to do so, and in what timeframe.
  • Determining how you will score your leads and what your definition of a qualified lead will be.
  • Figuring out how you will classify leads along the buyer journey.

Practically speaking, to achieve all of this and more, you need to do several things.

First, you have to build some consensus within the team about how you’re going to take a phased approach to Digital Demand Transformation. That will help lay down some ground rules for everyone to follow. Next, you need to implement a marketing automation platform like Marketo or Eloqua and integrate it with your customer relationship management (CRM) tool for tracking and reporting purposes.

Once these tasks are completed, it’s time to start building out “accelerator” calls to action and corresponding data collection forms. Putting these types of accelerators on your website will allow you to start capturing data about the people interacting with your brand. You can also implement progressive profiling at this stage so that you can begin to capture new data about repeat visitors to your site. That way you start to develop a deeper understanding of who those prospects are and what specific needs they have.

Ultimately, the goal in phase one is to begin collecting information about your audience at the individual level. That’s critical for being able to score your prospects and figure out where they are in their buyer’s journey.

The custom data structure you create in this phase that makes all of that possible will consist of unique fields at the individual record level that gets updated over time as you capture new information. By creating the right data structure, you’ll be able to see all of this information on a prospect-by-prospect basis, and also roll it up to the account level providing unprecedented visibility into the journey that each of your buyers is on. Plus, doing so will give you more independence of action. You won’t be limited to any marketing automation platform’s out-of-the-box functionality or reporting and can bring more data into any tools you might use to optimize performance or analyze activity.

Once you have all of the above in place, you’re ready to start capturing “hot” leads, i.e., those people who come to your site and are ready to convert without any additional effort on your part. Plus, once you’ve reached this point you’re also ready to start reporting and optimizing your new program. Getting an early understanding of the baselines, and where you are starting from means you’ll soon be on your way to getting even better initial results.

Phase 1 best practices
• Bring your sales and marketing teams together early on in the process and get them to agree on basic concepts such as what your definition of a qualified lead will be and what your service level agreements are. Doing this at the outset helps avoid miscommunication and misaligned expectations later on.
• Make sure to have a business development rep in place who can triage leads as they come in rather than having them go directly to sales.
• Implement effective progressive profiling, which is possibly the most important and under-utilized feature of the leading marketing automation platforms.
• Understand that overcoming friction is a significant buying signal. Don’t be afraid to implement robust forms that, when completed, show that a prospect is truly interested in your business and therefore more likely to be a qualified lead.

Phase 2: PDG via Content Normalization and Field Marketing

While all of the lead management work in phase one is underway, in the background work is also being done to better understand your customer personas, the journey that they’re on, and the information that they need at every step of the way to answer their questions and resolve any objections that they may have.

To fuel your Demand Marketing efforts, you need content.

In phase two, all of those insights get translated into a content model that combines the personas you’re targeting with the steps of their individual buyer journeys and the content assets needed to help move them from one step of the journey to the next. This model is incredibly useful because it helps ensure that you’ve got the right content for your buyers at every stage of the buyer journey so that there aren’t any gaps.

Once that work is done, a few things need to happen. The first is the creation of new content assets designed to support your PDG program and align to your content model. While those new assets are being developed, it’s important to go back and “normalize” all of your existing content. This means assessing it and mapping it to your content model so that you know exactly which persona and stage of the buyer journey each asset aligns with. Finally, you’ll need to set up tracking and scoring for all that existing content using the tools and processes that you established in phase one.

What is content normalization?
Once you have identified the decision-makers and influencers involved with the decision to buy your products or services, and the steps these individuals are taking on their path to purchase, your next step is to align any existing content you have with those personas and their journey. When you can align a piece of content with the target audience and its step in the buyer’s journey, you can accurately score the leads that engage with it, place them at the appropriate step in any nurture programs, and predict when they might become qualified to hand off to sales.

It’s during phase two that you’ll also want to begin creating and executing initial drip programs, fueling them with your existing normalized content. This will allow you to have periodic touch points with your prospects. Now is also the time to start base nurturing by, for example, creating fulfillment emails. That way, when visitors come to your website and download a piece of gated content, they automatically receive an email thanking them and directing them to other pieces of content that they might also be interested in consuming.

Through these content interactions and progressive profiling, completion of phase two means that you will be able to start generating “qualified warm” leads based on a combination of behavioral and demographic identifiers. You can maximize the number of those leads by using insights gained through your reporting to go back and further optimize the program. For example, you might find that a particular piece of your existing content isn’t performing well and so you experiment with its location on the site to see if you can get a better result. Likewise, you may find that a certain field that you’re including in your forms isn’t as important as you thought it was and decide to swap it out.

By the end of phase two, you should have created a way for your leads to nurture themselves, albeit via a limited number of channels, by making their way through your existing content assets. As you continue to build upon phases, you’ll continue to see the benefits of taking a phased approach to Digital Demand Transformation.

Phase 2 best practices
• Make sure to develop the buyer journey and then map the content to it, rather than build out the journey based on the content you’ve got. That way you can identify content needs you have not yet filled.
• When assessing your existing content, it is essential to identify how it aligns back to your buyers’ journey. If it doesn’t align with the journey of the buyer, consider how to adapt it, whether or not it needs to be gated, or if it should be retired.

Phase 3: Full PDG

In phase three, it’s time to progress to full Perpetual Demand Generation. By this stage, you’re done creating all of your new content assets that align to the content model and have published them on your website. You have also built out an email nurture focused on adaptive interaction with the buyer at every stage of their journey, leveraging the new content you created. Plus, you have all of your accelerators in place and are using progressive profiling to track visitors to your site. Now it’s time to give your audience lots of different ways to access all of your new and existing content.

While the content you normalized in phase two will continue to exist on your website, you’ll want to actively promote the new assets that you created (and that are specifically aligned with the active engagement stages of the buyer’s journey) using a variety of engagement channel and promotion strategies. These might include things like pay-per-click, paid social advertising, or any of the thousands of other promotional techniques at your disposal. The idea is to use a multi-channel approach, based on research identifying your buyer’s content consumption preferences, that likely includes your website, email, social media and more. This ensures that you’re getting your best content in front of your audience wherever they happen to be.

At this stage, you have even more levers that you can pull and channels to play with to try to optimize your PDG program. Now is the time to further refine the program and make any changes necessary to further optimize your Perpetual Demand Generation program. As leads continue to roll in, you’ll be well placed to refine your program and make it as efficient and effective as possible.

Phase 3 best practices
• Although you ultimately want to optimize your program to closed/won opportunities, long sales cycles could mean it will be a while before you’re able to start refining your PDG program.
• Instead, look for earlier guide posts along the way that are upstream of closed won and that you can get to in a reasonable amount of time, and try to optimize them instead. Work with sales to determine what those guide posts might be. Consider optimizing to opportunity creation or warm leads until you have enough revenue data.

The Road to Strategic Demand Marketing

Strategic Demand Marketing is a destination and a Digital Demand Transformation is the way to get there. It’s a challenging road, but taking a phased approach means that there are many waypoints on the journey which could have an immediate impact on revenue.

By taking a phased approach to Digital Demand Transformation like the one outlined in this paper, you can begin to create a steady, consistent and predictable stream of qualified leads within just a few months. As you progress through the phases and build out and optimize your program, that stream will not only become more powerful, but also more precise. As a result, you’ll be well on your way to delivering the high-quality sales-ready leads your business needs to dramatically impact revenue.

ANNUITAS can guide you through your Digital Demand Transformation, helping you meet your long-term goals while maximizing revenue opportunities along the way. Our methodology will help you capture all of the data you need to optimize demand marketing, leaving you with high-quality leads that ultimately convert to sales. Let’s Connect.

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