We’ll be blunt: Marketing automation alone is just not cutting it in today’s dynamic purchasing environment. First, marketing automation systems are not built to aggregate the massive amounts of data which can precisely indicate likelihood to buy. Second, scoring and prioritization within marketing automation systems is inherently infused with human bias.
Limits of marketing automation
The power of marketing automation systems is built on lead scoring. Marketing and sales teams create scores based on their ideal customer and past sales history and align their marketing efforts accordingly. However, traditional marketing automation systems only aggregate a limited, static set of first-party data (i.e., job title, company size). Marketers make strategic decisions based on a mere sliver of the complete profile of their audiences. Without visibility into a prospect’s complete history, marketers risk missing unknown high-potential contacts.
The reality is that today’s buyers are on the most dynamic purchase journey ever. They’ll sift through a multitude of sources–often beyond brands’ campaigns–to research their next big purchase. The sheer amount of resources available for decision-making has increased the length of the sales cycle by 22% over the past five years, according to Marketing Weekly. As such, it’s unknown data (the hidden digital footprints of a buyer) that is key to executing more relevant campaigns. Think about it: If you knew what products your prospect had been researching before they even engaged with your campaign, you’d be in content-delivery heaven.
The potential of technology
Advances in data collection and technology have opened up huge potential to make marketing automation systems smarter. Recently, a new category called marketing intelligence has emerged which can provide an extra level of insight for marketers. Marketing intelligence engines combine third-party and internal first-party data to pinpoint where, exactly, a prospect is in the buyers journey. Sitting as a layer on top of marketing automation systems, this data-driven intelligence guides marketing teams on how to segment their audiences, where to spend money, what products to promote, and how to present a message.
Forrester Research reiterates the need to make use of the latest technology to help guide marketing campaigns, suggesting that new-age CMOs, “…should pick solutions that minimize the effort required to build and refine models by processing feedback about how customers interact with marketing activity and grading the results of their program spend.”
Ultimately, marketers’ ability to draw highly validated leads from their campaigns requires a full view into audiences’ behavioral patterns–insights not available from traditional marketing automation systems. Marketing intelligence can provide that additional layer of strategic knowledge, making sense of multiple nodes of known and unknown data to drive more effective marketing campaigns. After all, as Maria Minsker of destinationCRM notes, context, not campaigns, is the future of marketing.