Marketing automation is a hot (yet complicated) topic these days, and platforms like Marketo and Pardot are popular for accomplishing a lot of complex tasks, efficiently. These platforms specialize in managing large bases of customers, who are categorized by the actions they take (or don’t take), and the emails they engage with or respond to in some way.
There is, however, a limit to the usefulness these systems can provide. They can leave you asking if you’ve optimized a customer path in the best possible way? Or, are you sending too many emails? Not enough? These marketing automation tools generally assume you know what your “recipe” for success is, and builds reporting for those specific tactics and how they perform. That’s not always enough.
With that in mind, here are some ways to elevate your CRM data to not only report performance, but also predict and help plan marketing tactics and strategy.
The campaign works, but how do you optimize it?
CRMs can do a lot – almost too much. We often hear from clients who use these platforms that they’ll run a marketing automation program, and while they can tell how many leads it produces at the end, or how many customers come out, the metrics are still very broad. Our clients want to know how to optimize paths to increase positive outcomes, but the CRM platforms don’t provide that guidance. They assume you know what goes into that recipe, and they are there to automate the execution.
These platforms have many, many advantages. They have tools to track all your leads/customers wherever they go. Site visits, emails, conversations with the sales team. They provide a full, 360° view of the relationship between customer and company. By extension, however, CRMs demand that marketers, who are predominantly focused on the communication strategy, to be data analysts and dig into complicated tools to find answers to their questions. It’s often where things break down.
Export from your CRM to find answers
We routinely pull data out of these platforms and load it into a bigger, more intuitive system—in our case, the Callahan Intelligence Platform. By doing this, we make it easier to ask and get answers to our and clients’ questions. And, we can tell if our client’s leads were actually on the best possible path for the action they actually wanted.
Putting your data into a platform designed to combine and present information in different ways makes it easier to see distinct stories emerge from what’s buried in your CRM.
When you look at a single lead or customer journey, it’s not very insightful, but when you can combine it with thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of other leads, insights become apparent. Rather than looking at one lead in a proverbial silo, you can look at a cohort of leads who meet certain criteria, and ultimately, craft a plan to generate more.
A common question
We’re often asked how leads and their activity, or lack of activity in a marketing platform dashboard, are affected by behavior and interaction that happen outside of the system.
A lot of the time, there’s a marketing automation or CRM team tasked with managing, well, CRM. And that team is often measured on the number of leads they produce, or the number of successful upsells to current customers if they’re marketing to a current base.
It’s important to look at the big picture, and consider what kind of priority marketing automation has—if any at all—over sales, customer growth, etc. When you can see, adjust and harmonize your entire marketing program as a whole, you get smarter, more intelligent business.
Pulling that data out of the platform? There are big insights to be had.
The first big insight for most, if not all, groups who pull their data out of their CRM platform is appropriate optimization. Recognizing how to improve the nurture path. Which steps to refine and what tweaks to make to the messaging sequence cadence. You’re making sure your approach is as good as it can be.
In our experience, not only are we already seeing changes to the nurture path, which is to be expected, we’re also seeing fundamental structural changes to the way these tools are implemented.
For example, several CRM platforms use systems that assign a score to a specific action, and once those actions reach a certain score threshold, your program is considered a success. But, conducting a deeper analysis can allow you to adapt the scoring method, evolving the system to be smarter and more nuanced to help achieve true, effective success instead of basic clicks, page visits and so on.
The second big insight comes from testing and learning to optimize the nurture path. You can test, create test groups, control groups and so on. This is a crucial part of increasing and optimizing the overall effectiveness of marketing activities.
Third big insight: You can really start to determine what kind of ROI you’re getting from your CRM efforts. Pulling your data out of a CRM platform and overlaying it with other information and sources can tell you its effectiveness. Regardless of how it’s defined—acquisition, retention, upsell and so on—this puts you in a position to get a broader view of the ROI specific to your efforts in the CRM, relative to other activities and tactics.
Leveraging and using your CRM data in another, more robust data environment is a great way to identify and optimize your marketing efforts for maximum ROI.