“I know you are good at what you do, but I just don’t see why marketing matters for our business; people see the signs. They know us.”
What I thought to myself was simply - #@%$? My entire validation as a professional was questioned—a hairline from basically stating that my adult human existence didn’t matter.
“Does revenue matter to your business?”
Questioning why marketing applies to business does have some truth to it. Why does marketing matter when you are in a traditional business— especially a B2B business? Depending on the market conditions, you could be in an industry riding an economic wave, such as the building industry. You aren’t quite printing money, but times are good. So why does marketing matter?
If revenue is a metric you measure, then yes, marketing matters for your business. So let’s walk through the one key performance indicator you should employ even when there is a money tree in your business’s backyard.
The revenue operations KPI: Build your audience — aka “the list.”
The cliche, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" is a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and perception. What we perceive about our businesses is usually skewed. After years in business, we assume we have robust contact lists with customers waiting to throw their money at us.
According to research by Dun & Bradstreet, the sad truth is that 91% of data in CRM systems is incomplete, 18% is duplicated, and 70% is rendered stale each year.
When times are good, we become even laxer in our data hygiene habits. When times are bad, we turn to our contact lists to squeeze blood from the proverbial CRM stone, only to find them in a sad state. This disadvantage to your business is 100% preventable.
As you read this, dozens of contacts in your CRM became outdated. So how do you keep up? First, segment, then filter.
Segmentation for Revenue Operations
The revenue metric for every business to monitor revenue is their CRM's size and health segmented into two buckets — customers and non-customers.
Customer records in your CRM are hopefully in good order. They should include the customer’s purchase and communication history, including presale and post-sale. If your customer database itself isn’t in good order, or worse, resides in multiple CRM systems, start with a tech-stack audit. Your marketing, sales, service, and operational functions should be working off one CRM. If that isn’t possible, then select a master CRM as the single source of truth and integrate key data points with other departments' CRM systems while working to de-duplicate your technologies as much as possible. Aligning your CRMs into one single source is key to business success. You cannot scale your business for revenue if the foundational footers it is built upon are siloed from each other.
Non-customer records are a little harder to organize. However, a well-built email list is simply your best investment in future sales. Failing to cultivate a growing list of prospective customers to engage with your company leaves money on the table.
Now, you might be thinking this doesn’t apply to you. That the phone just rings or that things are so hot in your market at the moment no one is going to wait because of supply issues in the industry.
Remember, one day, the phone will stop ringing. One day the economics fairy will correct the supply chain curve, or a recession will settle in, etc. Not all times are good times. Not all purchase decisions are immediate. Discounting potential customers engaged with your brand but not ready to buy today doesn’t mean they will not be tomorrow or even years from now. Consider a home purchase or remodel. The customer may have dreamed of their forever home for years, curated the perfect Pinterest board, taken multiple jobs, sacrificed vacations, and saved their money — what brand are you to stop communicating with them if they are engaged? Better yet, your brand should be helping to educate them along the way so that by the time they are ready to buy, the only brand is your brand.
RevOps Filtering formula for email list engagement
Sitting with an extensive list of possibly thousands of emails? Here is a quick segmentation you can run on your database to give you an idea of how many in your list are genuinely active with your brand — don’t be surprised if the number is low:
- Remove unengaged, poor quality contacts:
- Low engagement (if your CRM has this functionality)
- Not your ideal customer profile: for example, if you only sell to distributors, or you only sell to a specific industry, remove contacts that don’t fit that vertical if you have accurate industry data in your database
- Filter your contact list for engagement on the following criteria within the last six months:
- +5 pages viewed -or-
- +3 emails opened - or-
- +3 website visits
Turning CRM data into revenue
There are thousands of ways to leverage a finely tuned CRM into revenue. Correcting the alignment between marketing, sales, service, and operations in your business with the right people and processes is truly the art of revenue operations.
For purposes of focusing only on the one metric — list health data — and having an actionable way to lift revenue quickly from data, we focus on email marketing and email automation. Of course, data isn’t just about email marketing. However, it is the heart of any good CRM.
Consider, every dollar spent on email marketing on average yields $36. Email marketing isn’t dead — far from it. While social media channels get a lot of attention, the currency of B2B and large B2C transactions is email. If you don’t have a contact’s email address, you simply don’t have a contact. No one DocuSigns a contract by “sliding into DMs.” More importantly, 80% of customer retention communication transacts via email post-sale. According to a 2019 study by MarketingSherpa, 86% of surveyed adults wanted at least monthly emails from their preferred brands, and 62% chose to receive emails at least weekly.
Segmented marketing emails focused on sales campaigns are a given, but what emails should you be sending that are not related to sales campaigns that can turn into future revenue? The Illumine8 foundational build model includes the following for businesses in the building industry, including manufacturers, distributors, builders, and professional services:
- Newsletter: Usually monthly, a curated roundup of content and offers (if applicable).
- PR: Special newsworthy announcements such as a top industry award, etc.
- Thought leadership: For brands that regularly publish high-value content written by company leaders or experts, email these subscribers with the thought-leadership articles separately from your monthly newsletter. The minimum amount of content per month to consider this strategy is 3,000 words of high-value unique content.
- Welcome: To welcome someone to your brand community, send an automated email when they subscribe to your newsletter or blog.
- Form-fill: Specific to the form or offer, this automated email would send the lead the content requested or, in the case of a contact form, confirm the communication has been received and when the customer can expect a reply.
- E-commerce: Automated abandoned cart automated emails to customers reminding them to complete their purchase and shipment emails with tracking information.
- Appointment setting and reminders: Automated emails for appointment requests, i.e., service calls or virtual appointments or tours.
- Survey: Post-sale NPS survey within 48 hours of service or delivery.
- Referral/Review: Post-sale email to high NPS score survey customers asking for a referral or review.
When the next market correction occurs, those with inaccurate databases will be left colder than Leonardo DiCaprio in that final scene of “Titanic.” Don’t be Jack from “Titanic”; there is plenty of room on that door for your clean data.
Illustrations by John Gummere