How Marketers Should Answer “What Is It You Do Here?”

Josh Shirley Alight Insights, Analytics for Marketers Leave a Comment

If you’re a marketer, there’s a possibility you’ve been asked, likely in the absence of any reality, this infuriating question by a salesperson: “what is it you do here again?”

Salespeople live in a world between the brass tacks of success or failure. You hit your quota, or you don’t. You contribute to the company, or you’re a mouth to feed. Salespeople can be incapable of abstract thinking. Don’t be too hard on them; it’s the result of not doing what you really wanted to do with your life.

Here at Alight Analytics, our clients sell important things: seeds, bridges, healthcare, loans, just to name a few. In order to sell more important things, the salesperson needs to get more people to trust him or her enough to pull the trigger on a new deal. A salesperson will tell you that the best way to do that is to get someone you’ve already worked with to tell the person you want to work with how great you are to work with. And so the network grows.

The marketer does abstract things to stimulate and support that. He or she builds awareness of the product, generates interest in trial, cultivates the consumer base with cool and interesting methods to research the product, and pushes qualified leads to trustworthy people. In other words, things that can be hard to measure.

Often, when these two people are in the same room it can be reminiscent of a fight breaking out inside of a horse costume. It gets ugly fast. And for some reason people want to watch.

The marketer will say that website visits are up, and the salesperson will cry about how a jazz-handsy marketing mix does nothing for trust and relationships. It’s like two engineers building a car – only one’s holding the steering wheel, and the other, all four tires. There’s just a lot more to it than that.

Your funnel has a middle. The customer journey can’t come to its renewable end without passing through a complex center. And for sales and marketing, that’s where the two must meet.

This problem exists for every company – it’s why I have a job. We’re in the business of helping marketers measure performance, attribute success, and elevate the value of marketing in front of their companies.

Here’s one familiar problem:

One of our clients is a credit union. They have a mortgage calculator. They’d like to segment traffic based on use of the calculator to deploy targeted mortgage promotions at researchers in the middle of the funnel, putting valued leads in the hands of their sales team.

Here’s another:

I have a Vice President of Marketing who wants to arm salespeople in the field with more context for discussions they’re having with clients. He wants to give them a list of nurtured leads and tell them what actions they are taking on the site: what articles are they reading? What whitepapers do they find most useful?

Here’s what we’re doing about them:
Both of these conversations encounter a logjam in the middle of the funnel. For the credit union, how can we leverage analytics around web utility to drive targeted promotions to people showing interest in relevant products? For the Marketing VP, how can we utilize our content strategy to tip off sales managers with good insights?

To make this conversation more productive, we’ve developed a product called ChannelMix ID. This essentially slices data up into smaller pieces. It can tell you what actions are taken by specific visitors. The way Google Analytics is configured on most sites is that it will assign any user a session-level unique ID so that it can tell you how many users you received at any given time, and whether or not they triggered an event or a conversion. Not long after the person leaves the site, the ID self-destructs, and when the person visits again, they’re seen as a returning visitor, but they aren’t differentiated beyond that level of detail.

First, we’re helping these clients take advantage of advancements in the cadre of Google tools by applying a longer-lasting unique ID. Here, Google Analytics will assign an ID that lasts up to two years. When the user visits again during that time, all actions taken during the new session will be attributed to the person’s unique ID. Now, the user becomes a dimension: you can see metrics like pageviews, conversions, downloads, and tool interactions by user.

Using our credit union example, we can batch users who take similar actions into cohorts, and report on users who trigger the mortgage calculator as opposed to those who don’t.

It gets cooler: If the users are logging into the site, we can marry the Google-assigned unique ID with a “ChannelMix ID” assigned by the client. This allows us to tie the user interactions on the web with an email address, so that clients can use our data warehouse to organize more effective marketing campaigns, or push custom reports about specific leads to client managers.

Here’s another problem:

I have a group of ad agencies that report to the regional sales teams belonging to a mutual client. The sales teams are focused on how marketing can answer for losses and gains in territories by geography.

Here’s what we’re doing about it:

We accumulated online and offline media from the agencies by geography, down to the county level. The counties are assigned to district sales managers, and the reporting solution within ChannelMix reports impressions, spend, and sales by the lowest geographical level. The agencies, together with client marketing teams, are able to report to sales managers the awareness created for teams in their region, and can relate gains, explain losses, and propose changes in the plan using a combination of performance, sales, and awareness metrics on a map.

We enable marketers to make more informed decisions. We evolve a custom dashboard visualization to track performance, measure it against past results; target opportunities found in the data, and predict outcomes using proposed changes in the plan. This requires us to get all of the data into one place, break it down into its simplest form, and put it all together again in a way that makes more sense.

This also helps marketers overcome what many of them do worst: showing the sales team “what you’d say it is ya do here.”

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