Over the years we have been in a position to watch the constantly evolving cycle between marketing teams and sales teams in their efforts to deliver the right message and information to their customers. Marketing should be focused on creating the proper materials to support the brand objectives and complement the sales efforts with the ultimate goal of providing useful content that will be consumed by potential or existing customers.
Those of us who have resided either on the agency side or the brand/sales team know there are constant challenges in balancing what information to create, the best format to use, and the best way to measure the effectiveness of each piece. Common themes we hear are:
- The message reached customers too late; our materials are now outdated.
- The information was just a rehash of what they already know; we need something new.
- We delivered the piece but were not truly able to gauge the customers response. I am not sure this is providing any ROI.
- Numerous other scenarios of marketing and sales trying to get "the right mix" of materials and delivery approach.
One of the key trends people have been using to measure the effectiveness of their pieces has been to listen to the internet and see what people are saying about their brand. There are now very powerful tools and services that allow companies to scour the web and learn how they are being perceived online.
While we think this is a great tactic and a wonderful use of the internet, we have found another tactic that has more direct correlation and less abstract feedback: it's what we call "feedback loops." No, we are not looking to create a new widespread methodology or business term with this process, but we utilize the concept and thought it deserved a solid name.
Creating feedback loops is simple in nature and powerful in practice. The key is intelligently harnessing technology to organize and manage normal, everyday marketing concepts. This organization and management sets the foundation to provide a natural feedback loop back into sales and marketing.
Each loop is designed to provide immediate feedback on how materials are being consumed, providing benefits to all stakeholders (sales, marketing, and, most importantly, the customer).
For example, let's take an everyday concept like an email campaign. The goal of the campaign is to deliver a specific message or link to an existing marketing piece. Instead of focusing on just one message or campaign, we have worked with our customers to create multiple types of campaigns, which are created and managed by marketing. These messages are provided to the sales team electronically and grouped by specific tactics. The sales team can find the pieces they feel are the most beneficial and push them directly to their customers in a personalized approach. The feedback is instant to both the sales and marketing team:
- Marketing sees what pieces the sales team is naturally leaning toward by following the metrics of what is being sent by them.
- Sales gets automatic feedback from their customers of what is actually being consumed and how well it is being received.
Add these loops to that traditional web metrics (downloads, click-through rates, etc.) and you get some very powerful feedback loops going on. Using this simple approach, our clients have been able to adjust how their messages are being consumed on a quarterly basis and get a better read on what their clients need. This leads to an evolution of better campaigns and materials that have consistently delivered traditional interactive metrics that are significantly better than the industry average.
Finding New Connections
Feedback loops create recursive streams of information that tell your brand more about your customer base. There are many simple and productive tools that can be used to garner information from users, but they don't go far enough. By examining relationships within your team – or your client's team – you can find new ways to create connections that give you feedback about feedback (and so on), giving you a loop of informative insights to improve your brand. It's a veritable Jacob's Ladder of possibilities.