Sales and marketing have, historically, been different means to the same end- the acquiring, nurturing, and conversion of potential prospects into new customers. One of the more fundamental changes of business and marketing moving increasingly online has been the ability to quantify previously ambiguous channels and, subsequently, find ways for them to better work together. I wanted to use this post to discuss how individual channels like paid media, SEO, and social media factor into the acquisition of customers within a larger online marketing engagement.
In fully online, eCommerce sales, this process works more seamlessly than with the inclusion of an offline, outbound sales force; however, when used correctly the synergy of sales and marketing can be effective no matter where the final value-add occurs.
Although I don’t have a lot of experience working in purely eCommerce models thus far, the space is extremely attractive from a customer acquisition standpoint because it truly is a combination of sales and marketing. In most B2B or high-margin B2C engagements, ‘leads’ are delivered to the client and depending on the effectiveness or capacity of their outbound sales teams, it’s harder to create direct value and quantify our impact. With eCommerce, though, there is no outbound sales process and its much easier to claim direct value-adds to marketers and be much more proactive in adjusting our strategies dynamically to map activities to the creation of direct, monetary value rather than mid-pipeline leads or unquantifiable social collateral and branding.
Paid media, on the other hand, can work effectively within the eCommerce space or with other B2B or B2C engagements. Display and search marketing are especially attractive from a sales standpoint because the message is very much closer to the end of a sales funnel and leads generated are often highly intent-driven. While it’s true that most organizations haven’t distilled their marketing spend to a cost-per-lead or cost-per-sale model, they are likely to have had experience accounting for marketing spend on a revenue-generated-per-marketing-dollar-spend model. Paid marketing is, intuitively, more heavily skewed toward last-touch attribution than organic and social media and thus fits more readily and comfortably into traditional models. Content marketing is much more high-level and intangible to organizations because it creates value through building a reputation in the vertical, creating and nurturing social connections, and gaining mid-long term wins in the SEO field. With paid media, it’s easier to understand the targeting, both intent-driven or demographic, and the dollars spend versus paid leads metric, while not perfect, is a very relevant KPI. Finally, from a sales and business development perspective, many organizations already have budgets for paid media that may be performing at suboptimal or even unacceptable levels. Improvement in existing spend, rather than creating value from scratch, is easy to quantify because of the inherent and concrete benchmark.
On a side note, as I mentioned above, paid media and eCommerce are highly quantifiable but not perfect. It’s important to understand that only certain purchases, usually not long-term or high-margin b2b or b2c, can be sold with very short sales cycles or with one-off paid media. For other products and purchases, paid media or eCommerce will often serve as the last-touch in an attribution model, with branding, content creation, and lead nurturing fulfilling necessary intermediary points. While nothing in marketing is mathematically perfect, cutting-edge marketing engagements that are contingent upon the bridging of sales and marketing into a quantifiable customer acquisition model creates a new and more business-centric way of looking marketing dollars spent. I’ll be writing a post soon on some more specific ways to create this type of tracking model so check back soon.