Automating lead-to-sales conversion initiatives can improve the number of quality leads, give a shot in the arm to marketing ROI, and trim sales cycles.
Posted Apr 12, 2007
Few marketers are unaware of the challenges associated with delivering a batch of better-quality leads. Fifty-three percent of companies use marketing automation for lead management, but that percentage is expected to increase to 83 percent in the next two years, according to "Automating Leads to Sales: Prioritize Leads Stop Tracking Dead Leads," by Aberdeen Group. The benchmark report is based on the firm's survey of more than 230 respondents.
CMOs and marketing organizations are being held more accountable than ever before, says Alan Hubbard, senior vice president of Aberdeen Group's customer management technology group and the report author. "As part of this accountability they need to be able to track and measure some of the following things: improve lead conversion rate, improve ROI on marketing campaigns, reduce sales cycles, [and] ensure lead follow-up." In fact, while 68 percent of respondents deployed a lead management solution to increase lead-to-sales conversion rates, 54 percent are doing so to improve ROI on marketing campaigns to justify implementation, 49 percent to reduce sales cycles, and 47 percent to ensure lead follow-up, according to the report. "Marketing executives realize they need to automate these processes and this is where marketing automation tools come in," Hubbard says.
However, other report findings reveal that in addition to lead management 33 percent of respondents plan on using marketing automation solutions to provide workflow automation. "This demonstrates that marketers are still carrying out several tasks manually, without much visibility into the real results on those campaigns," the report states.
When segmented based on practices and performance best-in-class companies outpaced counterparts classified as industry-norm organizations and laggards over KPI improvement. Forty-eight best-in-class companies that measure performance metrics on a real-time or weekly basis have realized more than a 25 percent jump in lead-to-sales conversion rates year-over-year, compared to 16 percent of average companies, and none of the laggards, according to the report. Similarly, 72 percent of best-in-class companies saw more than a 25 percent uptake in lead-to-sales revenue, followed by 29 percent of average organizations, and no laggards.
Part of the reasoning behind why best-in-class companies are fairing significantly better with lead management than average companies and laggards lies in deployment length, according to the report. Thirty-three percent of best-in-class companies have used marketing automation solutions for lead management for the past three to four years, but 34 percent of average companies have been using similar solutions for one to two years; 50 percent of laggards have for less than one year. "Not only have best-in-class companies implemented marketing automation solutions for lead management for a longer period of time, but also continue to invest more than their counterparts going forward."
Hubbard offers the following actions for all companies looking to realize the best results from leveraging marketing automation solutions for lead management:
Define sales stages
Hubbard notes that automated lead-to-sales conversion is generally about driving quality leads, improving return on marketing investment, and reducing the sales cycle, but he says that marketing automation applications can aid companies in each of these endeavors. "Aberdeen research shows that the greatest impact of lead management tools is realized in lead-to-sales conversion rate. This, in turn, benefits marketing's goals of growing revenue and streamlining marketing operations."
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