The marketing funnel is not exactly a new idea but neither is sales or customer service though all have morphed considerably from what they were more than a decade ago when CRM got started. Sales and service evolved organically making incremental changes as markets transformed and new technologies became available. Marketing is in the middle of some major changes itself right now, especially considering the social revolution, though it was earlier constrained by finance trying to figure out its ROI, and justly so.
Evolution of Marketing Metrics
Back in the day, marketing somewhat resembled the weekend sailor’s definition of a boat — a place in the water into which you throw money. Greater attention to the blocking and tackling of marketing (i.e. attending to program and campaign costs and the resulting revenue), helped mollify the accountants somewhat. But as any seasoned marketing professional will tell you, it often takes multiple touches by marketing to move a prospect to action so accounting for marketing has remained an inexact science.
Also, and very importantly, all of the major CRM disciplines have had to adjust to market changes that transformed new green field markets to mature zero-sum states. Many researchers like Clay Christensen and Geoffrey Moore have noted that during green field days, sales and marketing are rather bare bones operations dictated by the simple hunting logic of see an opportunity, sell to it, close the business.
Social media came along in force at the end of early markets’ salad days, just in time, not simply to provide a very low cost sales channel to the customer but also to provide a conduit of useful information from the customer. Ditto for analytics without which all that social data would be a bunch of gobbledygook.
What’s in Your Funnel?
So that brings us to the marketing funnel (or what it used to be). Just like a sales funnel where prospects and events are graded, scored and promoted or demoted as candidates for closure, the marketing funnel is a place where suspects and leads are scored and matured until they are acceptable to sales for the final push. But the marketplace changes alluded to above have conspired to bring the marketing and sales funnels together and today everyone’s prosperity depends on it. (See David Lewis’ book “Manufacturing Demand” for more.)
The most successful organizations in many markets admit to little if any daylight between sales and marketing funnels beyond the obvious rationale that marketers and sales people manage the processes in their respective areas. But generally, there is a mindset that all are one when it comes to progressing a lead from earliest contact to final closure. That’s because, as Lewis accurately observes, it’s all about demand.
So that brings up an important question, how do you know your marketing efforts are succeeding? That they’re generating enough demand at a reasonable cost? Certainly, cost per revenue dollar and similar measures of ROI are useful, but that leaves a great deal unsaid, like what’s happening with all the leads that don’t contribute to the “R” in ROI? Are they stuck? Where are they stuck? What will unstick them? For that you need Marketing Performance Management, a new term but you’ll pick it up quickly.
MPM — Marketing Performance Management
With process comes management and management requires measurement, which inevitably drives metrics. In the sales part of the funnel most organizations have a process and metrics that help them to evaluate progress but in marketing? Not so much. Truth be told, sales has always been able to process leads faster than marketing could make them which means that marketing must make even more but it also brings us right back to management and metrics.
If sales is going to persist with its process analysis and if marketing is ever going to bridge the gap to provide sufficient leads for sales, then marketing has to adopt some of the same performance management approaches that sales uses. Of course we are not talking about using the same tactics or metrics; we are talking strategy.
Strategy involves developing standards for lead development and velocity through the funnel. This is where marketing performance management (MPM) comes in. MPM might not roll off the tongue just yet but it neatly encompasses the need for strategic approaches to marketing and to managing the progress of leads through the funnel.
Full Circle CRM is an early leader in the marketing performance management market. They use a no-nonsense approach of collecting marketing data and analyzing it for patterns. Full Circle CRM then enables marketers to easily develop the measures and metrics that can help them understand which leads are worth while and which campaigns and programs are driving the results they need.
From what I can see, MPM is the next logical step in CRM’s long evolution. It comes along at a time when spray and pray marketing techniques are just about played out and marketers are hungry for new approaches. You will still need social media, content and inbound marketing to name a few other worthwhile tools. But MPM is right up there with those tools to help you measure and understand your successes with your new marketing kit.
(Cross-posted @ Beagle Research, LLC.)