Technology accounted for little more than 1 percent of the $1 trillion spent on marketing worldwide in 2014. But times are changing.

Projections indicate CMO technology spending will grow tenfold, to $120 billion by 2025. With a multichannel engagement strategy already essential simply to remaining competitive, marketers need to embrace technological integration.

Elements like sales, account management, support and billing can all play a part in an effective engagement strategy. 

Unfortunately, these segments often remain disconnected from more traditional marketing efforts. By failing to coordinate these client-facing aspects with their email, advertising and social outreach, companies are needlessly limiting the effectiveness of their marketing strategies.

Insights from customer acquisition marketing campaigns can assist sales. Sales feedback can improve support functions, which in turn can highlight additional opportunities for sales. 

By looking into your customer beyond the marketing campaign, after the sale is complete, and viewing items such as support tickets as part of the customer lifecycle, not just as individual issues, you can derive exceptionally insightful business intelligence.

What’s the Catch?

Businesses are already adopting multi-faceted marketing tools such as InfusionSoft, HubSpot and Marketo, which close the loop across email, social, advertising and website. 

But there’s still a big disconnect between that integration and the day-to-day business operations, creating a difficult problem.

Large corporations spend millions on customized, integrated client database systems that connect all departments, as well as business intelligence tools that provide insights across the customer engagement lifecycle.

Small and mid-sized businesses should also consider these types of solutions. They make it easier to use off-the-shelf products, and, with the API trend in the SaaS industry, it’s now easier to connect the dots and create a unified approach.

The key is planning your client engagement strategy.

Key Areas of Concern

Integrating the Website and Online Experience with the Backend CRM

This is the largest and most critical disconnect. 

Websites regularly generate new leads, qualifying them with forms and increasing followers and newsletter subscribers. Many business sites support online payments, secure document sharing and online scheduling as well – all of which are usually not connected to day-to-day operations systems.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. 

  1. Mid-sized businesses with CRM (customer relationship management) tools in place should look for lead capturing and online servicing solutions, such as invoicing, payments and scheduling that will integrate these systems. 
  2. Small businesses can simply upgrade to a more modern client engagement platform that will handle both the website and online client experience as well as the client management backend.

Incorporating Customer Service and Sales

Integrating sales and support — seamless client transfer, full view of customer issues, satisfaction, etc. — builds your team’s overall investment in the customer and can offset the small compromises made in combining the two. If merging sales and support isn’t possible, then establishing a hand-off protocol that allows each side to complement the other is the next best thing. 

Train both teams on the other’s system, and ensure support notes “unhappy customer” info in the sales database.

Connecting Marketing and Sales

This is probably the easiest step to take. Once the lead is generated and the client is somewhere in the sales funnel, marketing should start adjusting their engagement. There are differences between someone who’s never heard of you, someone who’s visited your site and left, and a prospect that’s talking to your sales team. Using the same email campaign or banner for all three is pointless and ineffective.

For those who decided not to move forward with you, try creating different emails, banners and social messages. 

Reusing the same content strategy that brought them in the first time won’t bring them back a second time. Once the customer is engaged, switch from generic emails to more targeted ones sent on behalf of the sales rep. 

These messages should include online scheduling functionality and encourage prospects to arrange a time — at their convenience — to speak with the rep. Employing CRM solutions with drip-marketing functionality is a great way to send custom emails at various phases of the sale.

If your requirements are more sophisticated, most marketing automation solutions work with CRMs and offer extended capabilities to meet these needs.

Completing the Circle

The marketing landscape is constantly evolving with new technologies and tools that seem to overlap, even appearing to compete — yet they actually complement each other by providing alternate perspectives on the consumer’s journey and thus different insights and metrics for analysis. 

Understanding the full breadth of a customer relationship can bring exponentially greater benefit if businesses take the time to effectively coordinate each channel so that the results of one complement the others. 

Becoming familiar with the technology options and capabilities out there is essential to optimizing marketing strategy and accurately evaluating marketing performance.

Title image by Charles Forerunner.