Gaining an accurate, real-time picture of your marketing pipeline has traditionally been very difficult due to disconnected data, inconsistent processes, and a lack of resources. This is in stark contrast to the sales pipeline which comes with a formal process for managing and tracking opportunities from open to close.
But marketing needs accurate pipeline insights just as much as sales. In a 6sense survey of marketing leaders, 88% of CMOs cite pipeline or closed won business as their most important metric.
More Accurate Marketing Planning
The first step to creating a strong pipeline management strategy is to begin with a plan based on actual data. If your pipeline targets are based on guesses and arbitrary data points, your marketing team won’t be able to build campaigns that move the needle and capture a buyer’s attention.
Leverage tools that provide clear insights to your performance across past opportunities. By having a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses, you can build better forecasts and targets.
Why Marketers Struggle with Pipeline Accuracy
Marketers have historically struggled with pipeline accuracy due to buyers’ desire to stay hidden as long as possible, as well as shortcomings with internal data.
Anonymity is an obvious challenge because it makes it much harder to target the most available audiences.
But internal data disconnects can be just as pernicious.
Anonymous Buyer’s Journey Obfuscates the Pipeline
While buyers are searching for topics related to your services, visiting third-party industry sites, or visiting your website, your teams are unaware that a key account has begun the buying process.
Without that knowledge, the marketing pipeline becomes inaccurate. Instead of tracking an account in the early awareness stage of their journey, marketing has to wait for a form-fill or other hand-raising activity to discover and qualify the opportunity.
This disconnect creates several problems:
- You can’t focus your efforts on accounts that are in-market because you don’t know who they are
- You can’t focus your messaging on buying stage because you do not know where the buyer is in their journey
- You can’t personalize your messaging
The Problem with MQLs
In spite of the challenges marketers face, they do manage to collect a lot of data about prospects — especially after those prospects fill out a form. Once they are no longer anonymous, you may be able to track
- Which emails they have opened and clicked
- Which pages they have visited
- Which eBooks they have downloaded
- Which questions they have asked your chatbot
But until a sales rep gets involved, it can be hard to determine which MQLs represent likely revenue and which leads represent detritus.
The marketing team might qualify a lead who downloaded an eBook only for sales to follow-up and find no real opportunity. This leads to the ugly question that will make a marketer’s skin crawl: Just how much revenue are you actually contributing?
For the marketing pipeline to be as trustworthy as the sales pipeline, marketing needs tools that capture more data about the value of the leads they generate, and more power to predict how their actions are influencing growth.
Consolidated Data Leads to Accessible Insights
Artificial intelligence removes the need to hunt through multiple systems for all of the data you need for planning and forecasting. Instead of referencing 15 different spreadsheet tabs, an integrated AI-powered platform will consolidate your most important data and serve up the insights you need in one central place.
The Power of Pattern Recognition
Your company has closed a lot of deals, been involved in hundreds of opportunities, and engaged with thousands of buyers. All of that historical context adds up to statistically significant data that can help uncover the best opportunities.
Artificial intelligence ingests all of your company’s historical data and starts to learn the commonalities between your successes. Over time the AI becomes smarter and better at recognizing those patterns, leading to more accurate planning and forecasting.
Real-time Visibility into the Marketing Pipeline
A marketing pipeline is not static. It is constantly shifting and changing as buyers perform different actions and move from one stage to the next. The pipeline numbers you pull today won’t look like the ones you pull tomorrow.
That’s a big problem if you treat the pipeline as your north star like a majority of marketing teams now do. Relying on manual report pulling or processes to check your pipeline metrics will result in significant lag time between the activity of your accounts and the actions you take to influence them. And lag time is where deals die.
Pipeline Intelligence Breaks Down Data Silos
Marketing, sales, and operations each have their own systems, data, and reporting processes. It’s easy for data silos to form and make reporting even more difficult.
A robust pipeline intelligence strategy breaks down those silos to provide increased visibility into your marketing pipeline.
Data Silos Impede Analysis and Delay Action
Data silos cause inconsistent data, wasted effort, and error-riddled analysis.
When your marketing team is trying to check pipeline metrics but doesn’t know if they should log into Salesforce, HubSpot or ask operations to hop into Tableau, that’s going to cause costly delays.
Those delays not only limit your insights on where your team currently stands in relation to your goals, they slow the team’s ability to take corrective actions in the case of a pipeline gap.
Real-Time Access to Crucial Data
Your teams need to make quick decisions and having real-time pipeline data is crucial for their planning and forecasting. Use platforms that sync your multiple technologies and act as a single source of truth so that sales and marketing are always on the same page.
How Pipeline Intelligence Improves Forecasting for Marketing
Pipeline intelligence strategies take the guesswork out of forecasting by tracking pipeline KPIs by source, using AI models, real-time data, and historical performance.
A marketing team that can confidently forecast its impact by segment, source, and channel throughout the year will have:
- More focused engagements, like advertising campaigns that find the right buyer in the right place at the right time
- Increased awareness of the total number of engaged accounts
- More visibility into buying stages and the accounts in each stage
- Visibility into which GTM channels are making the most impact
More accurate forecasting produces better engagement.