Science (n.) Systematic knowledge. Application of facts and principles. Proficiency.
Talk about a misnomer. Marketing automation is not science. It is a badly coined term that describes the automation of push marketing. The name is often associated with a class of cloud software that helps marketing become more efficient and effective. Marketing automation is simply software waiting for someone to apply science to it. So if marketing automation is not science, what is it?
A quick study of several professions reveals how science is applied. In sports, teams win with the application of better training techniques, playbooks and game plans. In manufacturing, companies win by applying quality controls, improving production capacity, implementing a better distribution system. In sales, companies sell more with the consistent application of a selling methodology, forecast controls, and training.
Out of Focus
Marketing was once the bastion of science. It was only 20 years ago when print mail, advertising and events were the main channels. Back then, marketers tested everything, because it was too expensive not to — but they never could tie their performance to revenue.
Then came email and the Internet. Online marketing became pervasive. Print advertising was replaced with online advertising. The speed of business increased and the pressure on marketing to get campaigns out the door increased as well. In a very short time, testing and discipline gave way to batch and blast — unsegmented, undifferentiated and irrelevant communication.
Marketers continued to measure the wrong things: impressions, response, website traffic. And they failed to focus on the right ones: return on marketing spend, marketing contribution to pipeline, lifetime value of a customer. This lack of focus led to even shorter job tenures for CMOs and a further lack of trust in marketing by the sales organization.
The rise of social media, mobile devices and the pervasiveness of the Internet flipped the buy/sell process. No one ever really wanted to be sold to; they just never had a choice. Marketers found increasingly better ways of pushing their company’s message in front of an unwilling prospect, with the hope that the numbers would eventually work out in their favor. (There is some science in that.)
Now and forevermore, buyers are in control. They dictate how, when and where they will engage with you. Say goodbye, push marketing. Enter the revenue marketer.
Revenue marketers look at the science of integrating buyer and seller, creating opportunities for mutual dialogue at multiple stages throughout the buy cycle. They map content to the relevant touchpoints and then apply technology to facilitate more effective conversations.
Part of the technology is marketing automation, but other parts include CRM, content management systems, social business, data, analytics, and multichannel marketing platforms. The science is in determining the optimal way to drive constructive conversations, and then measure those activities in financial terms.
Companies that apply these techniques more effectively than their competition will be able to connect marketing to revenue and drive predictable, repeatable and sustainable results.
Manufacturers use capability maturity models to tie quality control and cost management with their proficiency in process and program optimization. Marketers can use a revenue maturity model to assess how well their programs and processes drive costs efficiencies and improvements to revenue performance.
Science is an incremental, disciplined process that yields results over time. The selection and implementation of software does not guarantee a shortcut. Rather, it can have quite the opposite effect, exposing poor or nonexisting processes and quickly exasperating inherent design flaws.
“Revenue science” is a better descriptor than “marketing automation,” and parts of it can be automated. Integrate people, process and technology. Measure and refine. Test and optimize. Apply relevant technology. Take the time to know your customers and your market. Create meaningful dialogue and build relationships. Do all of this systematically, and you have found your science.