Confidence in the marketing function by executives is at an all-time low. From finding the right marketing resources for their business to what technology to buy, CEOs are struggling to figure out whether to hire in-house or outsource, buy tools or buy tactics. This compounded with figuring out strategy, makes managing and executing the marketing role more complex than ever before.

The reason for this is that the digital age has transformed marketing more than any other business function and it needs to evolve at a much faster pace than most CEOs can handle. This, coupled with the power shift from the business to customer due to unlimited supply and changed buying habits, means that today’s modern marketer must not only understand how to build and use the technology, they also have to be closely tied to the customer and the buyer journey in order to truly deliver results. Many companies struggle with understanding the difference between the customer’s journey and the sales process, let alone figuring out how to execute it.

The marketing function in many organizations in the B2B space is outdated and unrealistic. If you don’t think this is true, ask yourself if you can honestly answer yes to the following statements:

  1. I have a clearly documented outline of the buyer I need to engage to achieve my sales goals for the year and I can run a report right now and know how my lead generation program is tracking against these goals.
  2. I have tied analytics from my web presence (what prospects are doing on the web) to data in my CRM and know how interested a prospect is in our offer at any given time of the day.
  3. I have lots of ways for prospects to connect with my business if they aren’t ready to buy, beyond just the “Contact Us” form on our website and I have established funnels for each step of the buyer journey to know what they are doing.

If you answered yes to all three of these statements, you understand the shift in the marketing function today and what tools like marketing automation can do to support this shift. If you answered no, you need to take time to consider where your business will be in three years, because the reality is that companies that do not embrace and evolve to transform the marketing function in their organizations, will quite simply be out of business in three years.

Marketing automation products, much like the popularity of CRM back in the early 2000’s, are now in a heated race to gain market share. And there’s no question they can do some amazing things like tell you what people are actually doing on your website and create interactive campaigns based on users’ behaviors. But no tool or technology can guarantee success all by itself.

Instead of having either the marketing or technology teams solely accountable, companies reap the most benefits from marketing automation when it’s a collaborative effort. If you consider that technology is responsible for running the tools and it’s marketing’s job to turn leads into customers, you need to bridge the gap between these roles. Sales also needs to be connected to ensure the overall success of marketing automation. This is why an integrated CRM and marketing automation software solution is so important. ClickDimensions and Dynamics 365 for Marketing software are both native to the Dynamics interface. This means saving time, managing a higher volume of leads, and taking the guesswork out of when your sales people need to make contact with the customer. In order to be successful in today’s landscape the whole organization needs to be less segmented and take a holistic approach so that not only marketing and technology, but the entire company are on the same page.

To guarantee success, you need to be willing to do the following:

  • Create agreement and understanding across your organization about the role of marketing for your business. Lead management should be the primary function and everything that goes with it from the website through to tracking deals based on those leads. How you build awareness and engage people is up to you. But marketing as a function should be supported and managed based on this function alone.
  • Understanding the customer journey is crucial. Build a plan based on the buyer journey and invest in content and a website to support that journey.
  • Document not only the way prospects buy today but the way you sell to them so you can transform the story from the sales team to an online self-serve model. Even if you sell the most expensive, complex item in the world, you need to be willing to put the buying function out front via your web presence.
  • Invest in long term, continuous testing. The digital era means fast and constant evolution. There is no silver bullet like there was in the advertising era. Buyer engagement needs to evolve over time the more you get to know your audience. It will cost money. It will take time. It won’t be easy.

A paper by Deloitte Australia, entitled Reviving Marketing – The new CMO states that “we have a generation of marketers who have been trained to output work that neither moves nor offends, says only what is expected and is noticed by very few.” Adding a marketing automation tool to this mix will tell you faster that you are not succeeding and by default makes the marketer accountable. But that’s not the real issue today.

The digital transformation of the marketing function is now. You should be spending as much time on understanding your customers’ journeys as you are executing tactics. Modern marketing is all about making connections with the right people at the right time. This is important not only for the marketing team to understand, but for people right across your organization. This means everyone needs to assume ownership and understand the real marketing function today: engaging customers and keeping them continuously moving through the buyer journey at all levels of the organization.

Are you ready for digital transformation of the marketing function?

We have designed a new guide to help you plan for marketing automation. Hot off the press, get it here and start the journey of making your whole organization more accountable to the marketing function in your business.