President of Besondy Consulting & Interim Management, Charles Besondy, explores how to get more of the right marketing activity, to the right contact, at the right time…

Up to now I’ve been intrigued by how Marketing Automation systems can enable a resource-limited marketing department to execute more lead generation and lead nurturing activities, more systematically, with more rhythm, and do a better job of capturing metrics along the way.

To my way of thinking that represents a pretty strong value proposition—more of the right marketing activity to the right person at the right time. I can see immediately how a marketing automation solution contributes to revenue growth when the system is used to support a funnel management strategy agreed to by both Sales and Marketing. (I can also see how a system could fail if it was implemented before a funnel management strategy was in place).

All Marketing Automation solutions have an Achilles Heel. They need accurate contact information. Contact names have to be input from a database, or generated via some marketing response vehicle (800#, web form, etc.).

Marketing to the Anonymous Majority

Today’s marketing executive recognizes that there is an  “anonymous majority” of potential buyers for their product or service who are researching solutions and vendors online and in social networks in secret well into their buying process.  A multitude of buyers are out there, invisible to the vendor because they are concealing their identity and/or their purchasing role. Without a name, purchasing role, and contact info these valuable buyers cannot be systematically marketed to via a Marketing Automation system and outbound tactics.

However, what is exciting me about Marketing Automation today (okay, call it 2.0 if you must) is how some solutions are able to reveal the identity of these anonymous majority buyers.

A caveat before I go further. I am not an expert on marketing automation tools or systems. Neither am  I a professional product reviewer.  I don’t live and breathe this stuff. I don’t make my living from within the category. This is not a product review round up.

Marketo , and Manticore Technology, to name just two of many marketing automation vendors, provide anonymous web visitor identification functionality.  By cross referencing the domain name of a web visitor with domain registration information and contact databases such as LinkedIn and Jigsaw these systems can basically point you in the right direction. You won’t know for sure who visited your site, but at least you’ll know that someone from a specific business location visited your site and it could be one of half a dozen people that work for the company and surfaced in LinkedIn and Jigsaw. This is great information for an inside sales team to use.

It’s also very valuable information to turn over to a company such as ReachForce who is extremely proficient at identifying people within an organization that have the right roles for purchasing a specific product or service, and can obtain accurate contact information for those individuals.

With Marketing Automation, a little data mining and elbow grease it’s  possible to continually harvest for the funnel fresh names who just days before were anonymously browsing your site.

This excites me. If your site receives 10,000 visitors a month and only 2% fill out a web form or send an email identifying them that means 9800 visitors come and go every month without electing to identify themselves. Certainly, not all anonymous visitors are worth chasing down, but shouldn’t we be interested in proactively engaging with those who spent, say, over 1 minute on our site and who visited a certain set of pages? If just 30% of 9800 anonymous visitors met this test, we’d have an opportunity to identify and add up to 2,940 new names to our funnel every month using Marketing Automation and our own inside sales team, or a lead qualification service.

LeadForce1 is a relative new comer (2008) to the Marketing Automation field. What intrigues me about their product is how it evaluates a visitor’s behavior and activity to assess the visitor’s intent. When the visitor’s intent is known we have a better understanding of what stage in our funnel the visitor should be placed (and how we should interact with the contact).

I envision using a system like LeadForce1 to:

  1. Automate the process of identifying anonymous web visitors (this can’t be completely automated; it requires some human touch and decision making)
  2. Score or classify each contact based on intent and behavior
  3. Place the contact in the appropriate stage of my funnel
  4. Automatically initiate outbound marketing / sales tactics to that contact that are appropriate based on the funnel stage level

Chasing down anonymous web visitors must be done tactfully, with a good heart, and in compliance with your site’s privacy policy.

I’m looking forward to hearing from practitioners who are using Marketing Automation systems to identify and connect with anonymous web visitors.

Charles Besondy is the President of Besondy Consulting & Interim Management, and an accredited Funnel Coach. To read more of his insights, go to The Sales Funnel Fanatic blog.