Naked Marketing: A Big Data Marketing Operations Odyssey
In a recent blog post, Putting Big Data to Work for Marketing, I summarized how Informatica’s own marketing department transformed itself to attack some of the most intractable problems in B2B marketing leveraging big data—and did it in 60 days.
The response to that post from fellow B2B marketers encouraged me to open up our own marketing operations even further.
So this is the start of our Naked Marketing blog series, so called because we’ll completely open our kimono — and share everything about our marketing operations and big data wrangling journey — the good and the bad.
An inside view of transformation
At the risk of bragging, I think we’re doing something amazing here. We’re using all the data at our disposal—plus a stack of technology that’s available to every marketing department—to tackle the toughest challenges in B2B marketing and selling.
Things like attribution models that really work; or a truly account-based view of the world (instead of an exclusively lead-centric one); or handing leads to the sales team that are 5-10 times more likely to result in a sale than the leads we generated through our traditional model.
A view into our world
Don’t just take my word for it. Below are examples of the rich data we have at our fingertips. The first is a dashboard that shows which marketing channels contribute how many net-new names and qualified leads with their predictive scores (A-D: e.g. A leads are up to 12x more likely to turn into revenue; an average A lead converts 6x better than average).
We can see the multi-touch attribution by program channel. Below is the view for just marketing sourced revenue.
And of course we have various account-based views to support our Account Based Marketing (ABM) programs and activities. Sales development reps use them for mining and sourcing of contacts and interest for the accounts they are covering. Below is an example:
Before the big data bang there was no way for us to get a heat map of web traffic by account and understand which individuals are interested in what products. This information is now being used to identify cross-sell opportunities, target event invitations and shape the agenda, identify new contacts in accounts, etc.
Sharing our experiences
It’s early in our journey but we’re already seeing remarkable results. And we thought it would be useful to share these results with like-minded marketers struggling with the same issues.
The spirit of Naked Marketing is to be completely open about our journey so that fellow data-oriented marketers and marketing operations pros can learn from our mistakes as well as from our successes. And throughout, we’ll demonstrate how to use big data to create an effective marketing engine that achieves real and measurable results.
I hope you enjoy it, learn from it, and share your own experiences with us.
But first a confession.
In my previous post I said that we accomplished our transformation in 60 days. That is true. But I was also exaggerating a bit.
Because the two years that preceded our 60-day assault on Mount Obscurity (the Everest of marketing operations) were actually critical preparation for our two-month program.
During that time, we made a lot of decisions that made the 60-day sprint possible. Decisions about what marketing apps we’d use; how they’d integrate; and, crucially, about how we’d store, manage, and tag our data.
I’ll share that two-year preparation in another Naked Marketing post (blog post #3). But I just wanted to get that off my chest.
I also don’t want to over-promise. It is possible for any marketing department to go from a standing start to an all-singing, all-dancing marketing chorus line in 60 days. But it’s not very realistic.
Here’s the whole truth: you can do what we did (and more). It won’t be easy. You will hit a wall or two. And you’ll encounter resistance from people who don’t support the direction for whatever reason.
But you can do this.
All it takes is a stubborn insistence that the things you’re trying to do are possible and the conviction that it’s worth doing.
Here’s why it’s worth doing…
The Q in MQL
In 2014, the Informatica marketing department shattered all of our targets.
We said we’d increase traffic to our website and content by 35 percent—we doubled it.
We over-achieved our pipeline goals by up to 42 percent.
I was proud of our achievements. We’d come a long way from a department that couldn’t even measure these things much less move them.
Then reality kicked in—marketing-generated revenue had not climbed at the same clip as marketing-sourced pipeline. Don’t get me wrong, we had a terrific year and delivered on our projections to investors.
But those MQLs? They turned out to not to be as qualified as we expected.
And that pipeline? Not enough of it was converting into real revenue.
If the numbers were correct (more on this later), marketing was simply not doing enough to drive real revenue.
That left us with two options:
We could blame Sales for failing to convert all that wonderful opportunity we’d created for them.
Or we could admit that we weren’t generating real opportunities despite the apparent pipeline numbers or created opportunities where we didn’t have sales coverage.
For me, the choice was painful but clear. I knew that our products run circles around the competition and that our sales team is one of the best in the business. Give them the right opportunities and they’ll close them.
The problem was somewhere in our marketing machine.
A commitment to change
So, as a team, we committed to solving this problem. And to find the answer, we need to measure the effectiveness of two key marketing areas—our data and our programs. In addition, alignment with sales priorities and coverage was crucial.
We have a wealth of amazing data from our marketing automation system, our CRM, and our finance system (for actual revenue data), but we need to get to the bottom of the oldest problem in marketing: What actually works?
We employ a wide range of marketing programs and tactics, including SEO, paid search and social, content marketing, events, display advertising, social media marketing, and analyst relations. We need to understand which ones help us achieve our goals and which we need to fix.
With marketing technology being so rich, answering these fundamental questions could not possibly be beyond our reach.
We had to crack this. And if we did, we’d be able to do something very few B2B marketing departments have ever accomplished.
That’s what this journey is all about.