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Three major marketing mistakes – and how to avoid them

The practice of marketing has changed dramatically over the past 20 years, and I’ve been fortunate to witness the transformation while serving as a marketing executive for some of the world’s leading brands. The rise of digital marketing platforms has certainly been a gamechanger from the customer-facing marketers’ perspective. But internally, the rise of data as a factor in driving decision-making — not just within marketing but across the organization — is every bit as important.

Bonnie Crater

Business intelligence and automated marketing solutions have fundamentally changed marketing, as everyone in the business understands. However, too many marketing teams haven’t taken the next logical step and integrated their data and efforts with other departments, most notably, sales. At a basic level, too many companies don’t yet recognize that revenue creation is a value chain that spans across the organization, and that leads to significant pitfalls. Here are three marketing mistakes and how to fix them:

Mistake #1 — Measuring marketing based on leads instead of revenue

Sometimes marketing programs generate a great response that doesn’t automatically translate into new business. Therein lies the danger of measuring marketing based on leads instead of on revenue. Unfortunately, I've seen this happen when the fulfillment piece or offer is too attractive — the amazing party, the promotion with fabulous book, etc. And that’s all well and good if the lead is immediately converted into revenue.

But the reality is that not all leads pan out immediately. Some of these leads may well be best served by nurture programs, and that's where lead scoring can be an enormous help. When marketers can identify where prospects are in the sales cycle, calculate conversion rates and determine deal velocity, they can qualify leads effectively before turning them over to sales.

Mistake #2 — Data mismatches between sales and marketing

It's quite common today for marketing to get its data solely from marketing automation systems and for sales to get its data exclusively from the CRM system. And more often than not, the data doesn't match. So a happy marketing leader goes to meet the sales leader to present campaign results and have a discussion on the next big marketing campaign. The response from sales? “That's not what my data says.”

Mismatched datasets are a huge problem. Before the two teams can agree on a way forward, they have to be in agreement on where they are, and if the data doesn’t match, they won’t be. As a result, nothing gets done because the teams cannot get aligned on the current status of the programs. To address this problem, the teams have to break down silos and find a single source of data truth.

Mistake #3 — Going into a senior-level meeting with unreliable information

In past roles as a marketing executive, I often found myself going into an executive or board meeting to present marketing results suspecting that the data was not absolutely accurate. Back then, there just wasn’t a way to measure performance as accurately as I would have liked, so I had to hope that I’d get through my slides quickly and sit down before anyone asked for details or questioned my charts.

Not having confidence in the data is unnerving! But mine wasn’t an isolated case — that scenario was, until recently, the rule rather than the exception. Fortunately, times have changed. With modern analytics tools, marketers can reverse-engineer the sales funnel, determining how many marketing-sourced leads are necessary to meet targets and using data to accurately attribute conversions and calculate win rates across campaign types. In that scenario, data integrity isn’t an issue.

"Always be closing" is famously the motto of sales teams worldwide. Marketing needs a slogan of its own, and "Always be measuring" would make a great rallying cry. In today’s data-driven economy, it’s not enough to simply measure leads, rely solely on marketing-centric data sources or hope information presented at an executive meeting doesn’t come under close scrutiny. Instead, marketers need to embrace their role in the organizational revenue chain. In that way, they can truly earn a seat at the table.

Bonnie Crater is CEO of Full Circle insights