Two Stories of Marketing Automation Sabotage

Guest post from Eric Holmen, CMO of Invoca.

This is a story about how automation backfired for some well known brands (don’t worry, we’ll keep names anonymous).  And, this is a story of what is likely happening to every marketer that attended Tech Marketing 360 in Dana Point a few weeks ago.


Let’s Talk Paid Search And The Bid Management That Comes With It

There is not a modern marketer today who isn’t spending money on paid search. It’s the moment in your prospect’s life of discovery and intent.  When marketers place a paid search ad, the ideal buyer clicks through to a landing page and registers their contact information.

Increasingly, marketers are using bid management tools like Kenshoo, Marin, and others – this automates the bidding on the most valuable keywords. Simply stated, the more a keyword drives high-value conversions, the more the system automatically increases the bid price. Conversely, under-converting keywords get a lower bid to the point that they are eliminated.

This marketer, I shall call him Don Draper, thought he had the systems dialed in. But he missed something. To his surprise, the most valuable prospects were clicking on the search ad to the landing page, then calling his sales line. These calls had the highest sales rate and the highest order values.

But his paid search bidding automation didn’t know that, and it backfired. When prospects called instead of registering online, the technology saw it as an abandoned click and lowered the bid. With every call the bid was lowered and lowered until his ads were no longer getting impressions for these highly valuable keywords.

Don Draper realized that without inbound call data, his automation was incomplete and capable of sabotaging his decision making.

The Blind Spot in Marketing Automation

Another marketer, I shall call her Dawn Draper, had wired the most complete marketing automation system. Like many marketers using Marketo, Eloqua, or Silverpop, she had every possible lead source and lead detail displayed on her dashboard. But there was always the nagging “other” bucket that seemed beyond her control.

Upon exploring these “miscellaneous” leads, Dawn discovered whenever the sales line rang with an inbound lead, a rep would log the call as a new lead -without a lead source.

It turned out these weren’t random, low value leads Dawn could continue to ignore. In fact, many of these calls actually turned into valuable buyers. As it happened, more than 50% converted to Stage 2 Qualified Leads – a 2x conversion factor compared to Dawn’s highest marketing lead source.

Dawn realized all her brilliant marketing systems were missing this one piece of data – automation had blinded her to what the sales team called “the money line.” But Dawn had unwittingly buried the phone number to the sales line.  Hyper focused on the online lead sources in her marketing automation, she was completely oblivious to the potential of inbound calls. All along, the best buyers were calling.

Modern marketing focuses on automation and a complete picture of the customer. But without inbound call marketing automation, it’s incomplete and potentially dangerous.

How do you know if you’re vulnerable to these risks? Two simple questions:

1. Do you do online marketing and advertising, tracking buyers and clicks?

2. Do most of your purchases happen, at some point, over the phone?

If you answered yes to both of these, then you likely have an automation and visibility problem with your inbound call marketing, even if you don’t publish phone numbers in your advertising and search.

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