Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Test, Trend, Tweak: Don't Leave Your Campaigns on Auto-Pilot


By Sally Lowery, Director of Demand Generation, Bronto Software

In my mind, here’s the difference between lead generation and demand generation. Lead generation stops at the hand being raised by a prospect showing interest, while demand generation continues the conversation and cultivates that relationship with timely and relevant content. What causes most demand generation programs to miss the boat is not necessarily the timeliness but the relevance of the campaigns that they create.

Why? Marketers, often in a vacuum, run demand generation campaigns with very little influence by the sales organization. In addition, once a program is begun, little testing is done to optimize the program. If you want to have a dynamic demand generation program, you must start an open dialogue with your sales organization and you must incorporate testing. Here are a few ways that you can optimize your demand generation program and maximize your ROI.

  • Create conversations with sales. What is working? What isn’t working? No one knows better than your sales team the indicators of a prospect’s sales readiness. If you are excluding sales from the conversation, then you should rethink your strategy. I learned quickly that downloading a whitepaper, while exciting for me as a marketer, meant very little to our sales organization. Why? Because downloading educational material was less of an indicator of sales readiness in comparison to reviewing case studies. This ongoing conversation prompted me to rethink my scoring around whitepapers as well as whether or not that was a true “milestone” in the prospect’s engagement with us. Consider your current lead scoring, milestones, and campaigns when you sit down with your sales team. Ask the questions, and don’t be afraid of the answers. It will lead you on a path to a more successful demand generation program.
  • Test. Testing can seem very scary as a marketer, because we want to invest the time and energy into what we “know” will work. The reality is that we are missing out on great opportunities by playing it safe. The benefit of testing with your demand generation program is that you can create conversations you may have not experienced. So consider your campaigns and determine areas that you can test communications with your prospects.
    • Scoring. What scoring is the trigger point indicating that a lead is more sales ready? Perhaps you have been steadily funneling any lead with a score over 50 points, but want to consider whether or not you can improve the opportunity conversion rate on a higher or lower lead score. Consider testing diffeent scoring levels for 3-4 weeks and learn what impact it can have on your conversion rate.
    • Milestones. Test what milestones constitute a marked event in the sales process. As I alluded to previously, sales readiness may not be indicated by the behaviors that you assumed.
    • Message. Is your content stale? Are you creating relevant experiences based on your prospect’s behavior? There’s no easier way to uplift your campaign than to make easy edits to your content and offering.
    • Rules. Perhaps you have campaigns that trigger one day after an action. Consider testing same day or several days later and see which yields the better response.

These are just a few small ways that you can have a huge impact on your demand generation program.

  • Trend. Don’t just rely on your gut; review your metrics. You would be surprised at how many marketer’s can easily tout metrics on their email marketing, search engine marketing, and online advertising without even blinking, but fall short when it comes to the demand generation programs. Just ask them if adjusting their lead scoring impacted their average days until an opportunity or if their opportunity conversion rate increased or decreased based on their program and you may be met with blank stares. Know what key performance indicators are important for your organization and see what impact your testing has on those metrics.
  • Tweak. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Don’t give up. Not every test is going to be a win, but being willing to take time to optimize your program and drive more relevant experiences is going to pay off for you.

Test, trend and tweak your demand generation program and reap the benefits. Oh, and don’t forget to loop your sales team into the conversation. You won’t regret it.

Sally Lowery is the Director of Demand Generation at email service provider Bronto Software. In her role, she manages tactical and strategic lead acquisition, multi-channel marketing, marketing automation and the integration of marketing concepts. Sally has over 11 years of extensive experience in traditional and online marketing in both the BtoB and BtoC space.