It is no secret that technology is playing an increasingly important role in business success. Regardless of the product or service your organization provides, in today’s digital business environment you are really competing in the information business. The accuracy, speed and precision of IT systems can be the difference between winning and losing customers, being able to accurately measure marketing’s revenue contribution and forecast future business growth.
Within the inbound marketing community we hear a lot of talk about sales and marketing alignment – shared lead generation targets, processes for transitioning leads from marketing automation to direct sales outreach, and funnel performance metrics. However, as we examine the factors that contribute to successful sales and marketing alignment it is evident that accurate lead and customer data along with reliable IT systems form the foundation that enables organizations to work collaboratively across departments.
For many organizations, data is their most valuable asset and biggest competitive advantage. The IT team’s ability to integrate applications, maintain an accurate set of lead and customer data and deliver relevant information in the right place, at the right time is a key driver of inbound marketing success. From a marketer’s point of view, the more lead and customer data the better. Savvy marketers have no shortage of ideas to segment data and deliver more targeted messaging. Similarly, sales and customer service teams want to be armed with a complete and accurate set of customer data.
Cloud based technology has transformed the way IT teams deliver business applications. IT teams can now focus on solution evaluation, implementation, optimization and innovation that creates competitive advantage. However, as organizations continue to adopt cloud based Software as a Service (SaaS) applications for various business functions, critical business data becomes distributed across numerous third party platforms. To ensure that all stakeholders within the organization can access a consistent and reliable set of lead and customer data and collaborate seamlessly the IT team must integrate applications so data can be shared in near real time.
Integrating business systems like HubSpot and Salesforce enables closed loop reporting – a holistic measurement of the impact of sales and marketing efforts throughout the entire customer lifecycle. For instance, HubSpot captures marketing data like how a lead found your website, which pieces of content they have viewed and a history of their social media interactions with your organization. The information captured via HubSpot can be synced into popular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications like Salesforce so your sales team can have direct access to a complete record of every lead’s interactions with your brand. As members of your sales and customer service teams continue to engage with leads and customers, these activities are then recorded in your CRM. With an accurate record of these interactions, you can begin to measure things like the performance of each piece of marketing content, the most effective number of follow up calls or average length of your sales cycle.
Organizations with a formalized information management procedure practice what is known as Master Data Management (MDM)– a set of processes, governance, policies, standards and tools that consistently define and manage data. For many organizations, Salesforce, or their CRM of choice, houses their master data collection. With your CRM as the master data collection, the goal is to integrate the various platforms that sales and marketing use (email, social media tools, landing pages, etc) and let the appropriate data sync between platforms. Data synchronization across multiple business applications ensures everyone within the organization has a single customer view – a single, consistent, accurate and holistic view of your organisation’s customers, prospects and their data.
With CMOs on pace to out spend CIOs on IT by 2017 there is a growing need to work closely with the IT department to evaluate and select business applications, align business processes and manage the growing technology stack. As marketers we often don’t think about the impact of application integration, data security or control but there are some important lessons we can learn from our technical colleagues in the IT department. When the marketing department evaluates a new technology they likely focus on the application’s functionality, how it will improve the results of their marketing efforts, and provide measurable ROI. Members of the IT department are focused on an entirely different, but equally important, set of criteria, including data security, integration, reliability, and control.
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