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NMOA Direct Marketing Article
What's Your Online Marketing Score?
By Shawn Elledge

The biggest challenge for marketing professionals a decade ago was getting online, and transforming their mass communications-style marketing efforts into more segmented and personalized online models.

But now that online marketing is a standard element of every company's efforts, many of those campaigns are falling short because companies don't use newer technologies aimed at tracking their online tactics.

The first hurdle for businesses in the Internet age was just to get online with a web site that was engaging and thought-provoking. Soon, the challenge became devising a way to become visible in search engines and driving traffic which will hopefully turn into more leads. Today, however, many companies are missing the boat because they aren't truly tracking their online efforts in ways that could help them get even more business. They still don't understand the technology completely, so instead of finding comprehensive ways to integrate it with their marketing strategies, they compartmentalize it and keep it separate. If they want to be competitive, that dog just won't hunt.

Forrester Research reported that an integrated marketing strategy can outperform a non-integrated marketing strategy by as much as 800 percent. So why is it so hard for companies to integrate their strategies and efforts?

In the early days of television you could run a TV ad on the three networks and reach 85 percent of the entire U.S. population. Thanks to the Internet, buying behaviors have changed forever, and it's the consumers who now determine how you reach them, instead of the other way around before there were 1,000 channels. This paradigm shift in the marketplace has made it increasingly difficult for marketers to manage and maintain any sense of brand integrity. The sheer number of marketing channels combined with an ever increasing number of applications is forcing marketers to learn new techniques and technologies if they want to be successful or just keep their job.

Today the biggest problem for most companies is that most marketing and sales departments work in silos. The sales side complains that marketing doesn't know what they need, while marketers complain sales is only focused on their own compensation. No matter how much the two departments dislike each other; they each better learn how to integrate their efforts if they want to be successful in today's business environment.

Marketers can start by embracing technologies like Eloqua which is a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP). These platforms are designed to track and score online visitor behavior, passing only qualified leads to the sales team.

Example: Person A visits your web site and looks at two web pages and leaves 2 minutes later. This person's online lead score would be 10 points or cold lead.
Person B visits the same web site, looks at 10 web pages, signs up for your email newsletter and downloads your latest white paper. This person's lead score would be 150 points or hot lead. Who would you rather talk to?

By pushing that lead score into your CRM and making it visible to your sales team, a sales person can focus on Sales Ready Leads rather than a bunch of unqualified leads that will only result in a waste of time, a sales person most valuable possession.

These technologies will not only help you identify qualified leads but also nurture leads, automatically, by dripping emails and direct mail to that lead over any amount of time you determine appropriate. I recommend you nurture leads a few months beyond what you think your average sales cycle is. It has been my experience that most marketers don't really know when a lead becomes a lead and therefore think their sales cycle is less than it really is.

Why is lead nurturing so important?

Statistics prove that on average only 23% of the leads generated by marketing will close in year one, 24% in year two and over 40% three years or later.

Sales people better learn to embrace the CRM.

Most sales people don't like to enter information about their prospects into the CRM, leaving marketing and the company for that matter, in the dark regarding who is a potential lead. They often feel like a CRM is just a way for the company to keep track of their sales activities and don't want anyone telling them they are not working hard enough. So as a result, most sales people only list their real opportunities into the CRM which doesn't help marketing nurture leads that might buy in the future.

Tips for companies who want to get on the integration bandwagon include:

If you want to become more efficient, you have to add automation. You cannot hope to integrate your myriad of online and offline marketing tactics if there isn't some level of automation in both the execution and tracking of your marketing arsenal.

If you want to become more effective you must integrate all your online channels, and ensure they connect to your offline marketing strategies.

The need to learn new technologies in today's market is imperative for success. If you're not up to speed on the current marketing technologies available, you can bet your competitors already are.

If you are selling a product or service today you must adopt technologies that will track and score prospected online behavior, otherwise you'll forfeit the ability to tell hot leads from cold ones. That results in wasted time, inefficiency and lost sales.

If you know what you're doing, you can use automation and online tracking to get a clearer picture than ever before of what works and what doesn't work. That's the soul of efficient marketing, because it gives companies the ability to stop spending money that doesn't generate revenue, and focus the marketing budget on what does. At the end of the day, it's all about spending the least amount of money to drive the most revenue you can and as rapidly as possible.

About the Author:
Shawn Elledge is a veteran marketing executive, with more than 20 years in the field. He is currently the chief engagement officer of the Integrated Marketing Summit (www.integratedmarketingsummit.com), the signature summit for marketing, advertising and PR professionals in both B-to-B and B-to-C markets throughout the U.S. The Integrated Marketing Summit provides actionable insights, expertise and cutting-edge information in a convenient, affordable one-day educational format. And the best continues, with next-day, hands-on workshops presented by leading practitioners.
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