An often underserved aspect of modern marketing is the formation of a plan and design for the marketing data you need to make the buyer’s journey more relevant and accelerate your deal velocity. Acceleration comes from focusing the right sales and marketing messaging and tactics on the right prospects at the right time. The marketing data needed to make that sort of success predictable must be intentionally sought, recorded and leveraged.
Higher Fidelity Marketing Data
Higher fidelity data delivers higher fidelity sales and marketing results. Higher certainty in a data point leads to a higher success rate when you use that data point to make sales or marketing more relevant. In my experience, inferred data from behaviors is of lower fidelity than explicitly collected data—sometimes called declared data. The irony of that is that most organizations put a tremendous amount of effort into collecting and parsing inferred data with far less understanding and effort invested in declared data.
Declared Marketing Data vs. Inferred Marketing Data
For that matter, all declared data is not alike. How the user makes his or her declaration matters. For example, form-declared data is less accurate than experience-declared data. To focus on the highest fidelity data, we have to design declaration points that put accuracy and honesty in the user’s self-interest. Often, accuracy and honesty are better expressed through needs and choices than through black and white form questions.
As an aside, I don’t believe people are intentional in their inaccuracies—and certainly not malicious. I just think they need some guidance to provide answers that are transparent to their pains, intentions, buying authority and velocity.
Intentional Marketing Data Collection
‘Designing experience-declared data’ is a big mouthful of words that translates into asking questions and getting answers via user experience. And asking those questions in the user’s self-interest simply means that the best thing for them is to answer accurately. Misunderstanding, guesswork, bias, shame, and ego that hurt the accuracy of form-declared data are minimized when explicit choices are made in thoughtful user experience.
The burning question is ‘what are the right questions?’ I’ve found this easier to answer through the lens of a conversation. And it may be easier to answer if you’re in sales rather than marketing. For each stage of your funnel or journey, have a literal conversation that gets at the critical wants or needs that drive your buyer to the next stage. The method you used to navigate that conversation and uncover motivators should be translated into an interactive, digital experience. The magic of looking at it as a conversation is that it’s a two-way street. The path of the conversation changes with each answer. The questions go from least to most specific, and from least to most relevant. Good conversations, like good salespeople, grab and hold attention by listening and sharpening the focus with each response. Digital can do that too.
Content Relevance Accelerates Sales Deal Velocity
That brings us back to the reason for this post — acceleration of deal velocity. Generally speaking, relevance drives velocity. The more relevant your message is to your audience, the faster they will move to take action. Self-directed, digital interactions put progressive relevance in users’ hands. They control the pace and specificity of their journey through your messaging funnel. When there is a need, they will move to solve that pain far faster on their own than through your nurture program or sales process. The sales team can then pick them up at the bottom of the funnel, with articulated needs, piqued interest, and acute desire. That’s a buy-ready lead.
Of course, critical to the transition from marketing to sales is the ability for marketing to clearly communicate everything about that buy-ready lead to sales. If that doesn’t happen, sales may actually slow the close down with ignorance of the buyer’s journey and the choices they made along the way. But, like so many of my posts recently, that topic is certainly for another day.
Engaging in Digital Conversations
So, how do you design a data strategy and plan to collect the highest value, highest fidelity data? At a high level, engage your best salespeople in conversations just like the ones they might have with prospects. Focus those conversations on someone who’s never heard of you before (high funnel); knows you, but isn’t ready to buy yet (mid-funnel); knows you and is ready to buy (low funnel). For each of those conversations, note what was asked, how it was asked, how you felt and how their probing and your answers helped narrow the conversation to become progressively more relevant to your specific needs. Boil those conversations down to their essence and then have some digital experience folks translate that into entertaining, useful and informative choice-based digital experiences—no forms. Each choice becomes a declarative datapoint that you can use to make the journey more specific and use in your marketing automation for faster and more reliable targeting, segmentation, and scoring.
In addition to the self-directed utopia for admittedly a small number of highly motivated users that take themselves to buy ready, you’ll accelerate your nurture and demand-gen for everyone else. That will enable you to get more specific, faster to accelerate deal velocity from the marketing side of the coin.
Watch the video for a bit more perspective.