October 05, 2020 Michael Mayday
Marketing gets a bad rap. It’s typically seen as a cost-center, taking more than it contributes to the business. But why? The department single-handedly develops and implements campaigns, and promotes the brand and its vision to partners and prospects — and there is value in that.
Part of the reason may be that marketers are still pushing the 4 PS — product, price, place and promotion — a concept developed in the 1950s. But thinking of marketing as a cost-center is as outdated as the 4 Ps themselves (the modern 4Ps of marketing, however, are a different story). Today’s modern marketer is empowered by technologies that help track, analyze and target specific audiences and verticals on a global scale. Strategies and processes have, as a result, matured as well.
It’s time for marketing to become a source of revenue growth. No concept encompasses and embraces these changes and developments as well as revenue marketing.
What Revenue Marketing Is
Revenue marketing is a marketing strategy designed to track and attribute revenue generated by marketing through predictable, scalable and repeatable tactics and processes. Dr. Debbie Qaqish defined revenue marketing in her 2013 book, “Rise of the Revenue Marketer.” The concept is based on one principle that marketers, like sales, are responsible for not only generating revenue but forecasting its impact on the bottom line and proving marketing ROI.
Executing a revenue marketing vision, however, requires a great deal of foresight, coordination and documentation. It also requires the right martech stack — one that is fully integrated with marketing automation and customer relationship management platforms.
A mature marketing revenue approach carries with it a few characteristics. First, it provides a holistic touch to the buyer’s journey, following customers from prospect to advocate. This requires mature inbound marketing, lead generation, demand generation and customer marketing programs. Second, it’s data-heavy, meaning digital interactions with a brand are tracked and analyzed in real-time to qualify possible leads, pass those leads on to sales and establish a predictable pipeline. Third, it’s scalable, meaning campaigns, content development and the wider marketing apparatus can repeatedly reuse and repurpose the revenue marketing process for any vertical, account or region.
Putting these elements together may sound intimidating, but, fortunately for the modern marketer, there is already a model that incorporates all of these elements: comprehensive digital experiences.
How Digital Experiences Drive Revenue Marketing
A digital experience is a collection of interactive, engaging digital touchpoints that follow prospects throughout their buying journey. These experiences can start with an inbound marketing tactic, like an email or display ad, nurture through interactive experiences like webinars and targeted landing pages, and provide visitors with the most relevant resources when and where they need them. Though often delivered as a one-off touchpoint or event, the events and content used to comprise a digital experience can be repurposed and reworked to deliver leads and engage audiences well beyond the live date.
Crucially, digital experiences are also data-rich, allowing marketers to seamlessly pass the hottest leads on to sales. And, crucially for sales, those leads are passed on with the necessary context — from a prospect’s questions asked during a webinar and resources downloaded to overall engagement with a brand. Armed with this context, salespeople can seamlessly continue the conversation, cater messaging as appropriate and accelerate the buying journey.
Digital experiences are a natural fit for a revenue marketing strategy because the processes needed for a successful digital experience are baked in from the outset. For example, a good digital experience has a unified marketing technology stack that updates the team of a prospect’s journey and informs the next action. Typically, these integrations flow from front-end experiences, like webinars, to backend solutions, like marketing automation and CRM platforms.
Often, sales and marketing teams, too, have met, negotiated and aligned on how leads will be scored, what qualifies as an MQL and more. In this scenario, inbound marketing, lead and demand generation are also humming in sync, funneling visitors from anonymous names to known names to interested prospects through tactics like content and webinar marketing.
What Does A Digital Experience Look Like with Revenue Marketing In Mind?
Modern B2B buyers do not easily map to buying stages. While it’s important to map out personas for the top, mid and bottom of the marketing funnel, the truth is that today’s buyers can — and do — start their buying journey at any stage from virtually any touchpoint.
A mature digital experience program means a marketing team has crafted experiences — from webinars and downloadable content to personalized landing pages and dynamic content hubs — for every stage of the buyer’s journey, anticipating and responding to the prospect’s needs, questions and preferences. To break it down here’s a high-level look at what a comprehensive digital experience — with a revenue marketing strategy in mind — would look like:
Top of Funnel
The very top of the funnel is where revenue marketing gets its start. The process begins with inbound and content marketing working together to produce digital touchpoints — like social media, display ads, thought leadership articles, infographics and more — that help fuel brand awareness and hook would-be prospects.
Once those prospects are hooked, lead generation — again, working with content marketing — swings into action to provide content that is timely and relevant to a prospect. Useful tactics here include gated e-books, high-level thought leadership webinars, dynamic content hubs, newsletters and reports on the latest trends within an industry. With the right offer, that unknown prospect can quickly become a hot lead eager to move further down the funnel.
Middle of Funnel
Your prospect is a known name and is aware your organization provides a potential solution to a problem. Here, digital experiences like on-demand demos, deep-dive webinars and customer case studies provide an opportunity for a prospect to learn how your solution directly applies their needs.
This is also a critical stage where your experiences will determine what happens next for the prospect. For example, if a visitor attends a webinar specific to an industry or vertical, then it’s likely they’ll need to be served more content relevant to that industry. Additionally, if they continue to click through to more content — like through a webinar’s CTA tool — it could signal that they have a high interest in what you have to offer.
With these signals, both your sales team and your team can package a bespoke experience. For example, a salesperson can take the above indicators, quickly set up a targeted landing page and send an email to the prospect to encourage them to explore more. And, once they’re on the landing page, they can be encouraged to attend a live demo built for them, chat with a sales representative or book a meeting with sales.
Bottom of Funnel
A meeting is booked with sales and all that remains is to push the prospect across the finish line. Except, when you’re selling to an account, you’re not dealing with just one person, but several busy professionals. In fact, according to Gartner, the typical buying committee can consist of six to 10 people.
To provide everyone with what they need, sales and marketing can work together to set up targeted landing pages for an account. This landing page — or even content hub — can include everything the buying committee needs to make an informed decision — from technical deep-dives and case studies to live, interactive demos. Here, committee members should have the opportunity to interact with your content and product and be free to ask any questions they’d like before purchasing your services.
Cross and Upsell
Revenue marketing doesn’t end at purchase. In fact, once a prospect becomes a customer, it’s time to nurture them into advocates and provide opportunities to take the relationship further. Customer advocacy programs, exclusive content and customer communities are all excellent ways to both cross and upsell additional services.
Consider creating content for your customer community that features the breadth of your services. Virtual trade shows, conferences and summits are also excellent opportunities to provide value to current customers while also highlighting the next step.
Digital Experiences Create Data You Can Act On
Each touchpoint throughout your digital journey provides your team with an opportunity to better understand your audience, refine your messaging and drive real revenue impact.
Low-intent signals — like visiting your site or reading a blog — provide you with an opportunity to re-target the visitor. For example, you can use a chatbot to say “Welcome back!” should the visitor return to your site (you can even customize the interaction based on past cookies, IP address or UTM code) and point them to additional content that’ll lead them further down the marketing funnel.
High-intent signals, like engagement within a webinar or enough visits to high-intent pages, can help your sales team prioritize leads and accelerate their journey.
Finally, you can use the data generated from your digital experiences to inform your marketing team’s next actions. For example, your data can indicate how different types of content perform and what channel they perform best on. Historical data can show you when your revenue marketing efforts first influenced a deal and how that customer’s digital journey led to revenue generation. This data can then be used to forecast revenue and estimate marketing’s impact on the bottom line. You can even use the data generated in your experiences to identify the key decision-makers who have interacted with your brand and the influencers that surround them.
Ultimately, every marketer today is a revenue marketer. The massive shift to digital and virtual interactions, spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic requires that every element of the business somehow contributes to revenue growth. For marketers, digital experiences provide a unified environment that can clarify interactions, inform decisions and fuel a predictable pipeline for growth.