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Marketing Ops: Why TOFU Matters to You Now More Than Ever

June 14, 2016

Marketing_Ops_and_top-funeel_marketing.pngThe rise of the marketing operations (MOPs) profession has driven efficiency, new capabilities and a much more analytical and process-driven approach to marketing. MOPs’ biggest area of impact has been the enablement of demand generation and customer acquisition.

To date, MOPs has primarily focused on what happens inside the organization. This includes the deployment and optimization of core marketing platforms such as the organization’s web site, marketing automation (MA) and CRM systems, as well as any analytics tools. MOPs is responsible for ensuring all these internal systems are applied and integrated to provide maximal efficiency, data insights and overall value to the business. Such requirements are pretty well understood by this point (there’s always room for improvement, of course).

But what about all the interactions, data and effort happening outside the organization, where discovering and engaging new prospects is essential to creating new customers?  

Look up and out for the next opportunity to improve marketing performance

A significant marketing investment is happening outside the organization – search, display advertising, content syndication, paid lead gen, events and list acquisition (to name just a few). This investment is often more than 50% of the marketing budget and includes a massive amount of resources and time spent at the “top of the funnel” (TOFU) to generate initial prospect interest in the companies’ brands, products and services.

In fact, in the average B2B organization, 10x more dollars and resources are spent on this TOFU investment than on the back-end systems that have become the pride of most marketing ops teams. A large majority of the TOFU marketing effort is disconnected, woefully manual, massively inefficient, and weakly measured. It’s in dire need of MOPs’ expertise to apply the same automation, efficiency and “measure everything” mindset that’s already been applied to lower-funnel efforts (e.g., lead nurturing and scoring, data appending, conversion analytics, etc.).

Working with hundreds of B2B MOPs pros, I continuously witness a clear case of “out of sight, out of mind.” Outbound marketing activities (i.e., media investment and prospect data captured beyond website and landing pages) are often the jurisdiction of others – maybe an agency, demand gen groups or media teams – so it’s easy to see how marketing ops teams can neglect these initiatives.

However, TOFU initiatives present a big opportunity for ops teams to leverage their technological acumen to automate processes, apply deeper analytics and create positive business impact. The best news is this won’t impede or slow down the work going on with core, lower-funnel marketing systems and processes. Done methodically, this full-stack integrated approach can have a significant impact on a companies’ ability to generate more customers, faster and more efficiently.

It’s time to get the full view – integrate TOFU marketing

This focus on and mastery of TOFU automation and integration is a hero project waiting to happen. Most importantly, the organization needs it to hit escalating growth and customer acquisition targets.  So what’s in it for you as the marketing ops leader? And where can you start? Here are four areas where I’m seeing success on the path to integrate TOFU and create a full-stack view.

Be proactive with your demand generation and media colleagues. The first step is to get the true lay of the TOFU land. If you don’t know the players who own this TOFU marketing activity or haven’t spent time with them, break out the corporate card and schedule lunch or a working session or coffee to get the scoop. Invest some time to understand their world, their current efforts and challenges, and how you can help make their lives easier. Together, you’ll drive bigger results.

Go for the immediate win. The organization is wasting precious media budget and resources every day by manually processing all the data from these disconnected systems, processes and programs. Spreadsheet scrubbing and data transfer along with one-file-at-a-time manual uploads have to go. Use data governance software and out-of-the-box integration APIs to connect this newly auto-governed data directly to your MA and/or CRM databases. Eliminating bad data and applying automation are two big wins.

Apply your analytics, systems integration and process expertise. By understanding the steps your media and demand gen colleagues go through, as well as the flow of data, you can provide immediate control with not just automated data processing discussed above, but closed-loop analytics. This means you can empower your colleagues with real-time performance data on how TOFU programs are performing, allowing them to optimize this significant investment for better results.  

It’s all about accurate, up-to-date and actionable data. Who wants inaccurate, incomplete or out-of-date data polluting your database (especially when you’re paying for it)? You’re already enhancing/appending data and attaching behavioral intent data to score new prospects coming through your website or entering your MA and CRM systems. Why not apply the same level of data integrity before it gets in your systems. Many MOPs leaders refer to this as standardizing the way inbound and outbound data is processed and handled. Done right, your sales colleagues and your customers/prospects will notice, because accurate data will now inform the communications and experience they receive. The results will follow.

By integrating, automating and orchestrating the key components at the top of the funnel – data, process and systems – with your current marketing ops efforts, you’ll create a more complete view. This holistic view provides a straightforward way to enable new levels of control and predictability for increased performance.

This benefits all stakeholders involved – marketing execs, the sales team, finance and, of course, demand gen and media colleagues. Most importantly, you’ll get the satisfaction of knowing you’ve contributed another level of value to your organization. And who knows, ultimately a raise, promotion or just a big high-five will follow this full-stack effort. 

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By  Scott Vaughan

Scott Vaughan is CMO of Integrate, a marketing technology software provider automating top-of-funnel marketing for B2B marketers to enable demand marketing orchestration. Scott leads the company's go-to-market and growth marketing strategy. He’s passionately focused on unlocking the potential of marketing, media, data and technology to drive business and customer value.

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