Earlier this month, Gartner published its Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management. Naturally, Eloqua and Marketo commanded top spots in the upper right quadrant. But a cluster of really big companies look poised to close in on them from the lower left. So marketing automation – in particular lead management — looks pretty hot. Right?
I’m not so sure. In this report, I was struck by the second sentence in Gartner’s opening summary, which said:
“Impact on revenue generation is high and satisfaction with vendors is generally strong, but organizational alignment issues continue to reduce potential impact.”
Reduce potential impact. Ouch. Not good.
But which organizational alignment issues does Gartner mean? Inside the vendors studied? No, I think Gartner is referring to organizational issues between sales and marketing.
Despite growth in market size, vendor offering sophistication, and customer interest, marketing automation has yet to reach that tipping point where marketing operations (who manages automation tools and directs campaign execution) stands on equal footing to brand, PR, product promotion, collateral development and sponsorships. Even steadfast marketing automation practitioners still suffer from fundamental concerns about how well their systems pay off – especially when marketing metrics and sales numbers don’t line up.
I hear many marketing execs ask the following questions, which – to my mind – are symptomatic of deeper problems in the automation world perpetuated by the chronic tension between marketing activity and sales results:
- Which campaigns actually had the most impact on deals? Which drove the most sales activity and follow up that, in turn, drove more deals?
- How can I demonstrate Marketing’s contribution and influence on revenue? And show the executive team that money spent in Marketing is more effective at moving the top line than hiring more salespeople?
- How can we generate more pipeline/opportunity from each campaign? Where should I invest to do this?
- Why don’t my reports match what Sales has in its pipeline or forecasts? Why am I always defending Marketing metrics as a result?
- What really happened to all those leads I generated last year? What percentage went into the pipeline? Became deals? Are still active? Require more nurturing to re-engage? Why can’t we track sales activity on a per contact basis, instead of opportunity or lead?
These questions, and others like them, speak to the continuing inability to prove and improve Marketing’s contribution to the business. To use this technology to really get to the facts and levers that move the business — and to stand on equal footing with Sales.
Because of my longstanding interest in demand management - and the people, process and technology issues that arise when marketers undertake automation efforts – I was intrigued when a friend told me about a new business she had started to help answer these questions. As a former CMO in large and small companies, she felt these pains acutely and believes marketing execs need something more to help them understand what’s happening with campaigns, make sure marketing data adds up, drive more revenue, and plan with confidence.
I was also very honored when she asked me to join her company’s advisory board to help her shape its future. I worked with CEO Bonnie Crater at a company called Stratify (now part of Iron Mountain) in 2000 and 2001, and am pleased to become one of her firm’s advisors.
In future blog posts, I plan to share what I’m learning about marketing automation by working with Bonnie and her company. And shed some light on the best practices that answer the questions that will move automation and operations from the marketing back office into the forefront of the business.