Editor's note: The following is a guest article from Graeme Thompson, SVP and CIO of Informatica.
Demand generation is so necessary to a company's growth, and even its survival, that I'm genuinely shocked at how little CIOs are talking about the role IT plays in it, or even that IT has a role to play.
I understand that tech people will always gravitate toward the most interesting problem, regardless of how profitable it might be, but demand generation is an interesting, challenging problem that also happens to have outcomes that can be quantified in the form of profits.
IT's end-to-end view of the way processes and systems fit together across the enterprise make it a key player. So, if you're sitting on the sidelines with demand gen, there's no excuse not to get in the game.
The simplistic view of the customer journey assumes that once a potential customer learns that you exist, all they need to do is attend a webinar or read a white paper. Once that convinces them that you can help solve their problem, it's a greased slide from becoming a prospect to becoming a lead to becoming a buyer. But it's not that simple.
You can't just create a contact form on your website and expect leads to appear.
Prospective customers have to know about you as a brand. They have to look over your offering. They have to make a decision to buy from you instead of your competition.
Demand generation is about understanding the how and why behind each of those steps. What's unique about the customers who completed the journey from prospect to purchaser? What can you determine about the pattern they went through? How can you use that data to find more customers like them?
No one functional group can answer those questions. They're each experts in their own areas:
- Marketing knows how to plan events and campaigns, drive traffic to them, and make sure prospects flow into the lead generation process.
- Sales knows how to generate pipeline and close deals.
- Finance keeps track of the numbers, and so forth.
But what they need is someone who can put the whole story together, end to end.
That's where IT comes in. By connecting functional processes end to end, it creates unique value by making it possible to identify entry and exit points throughout the customer journey.
We use a common sales and marketing technology stack but we've optimized how they work, individually and as a whole. We've also developed ways to capture and measure every interaction across all of them as well as on our website.
The next step is analytics, making sure all of those interactions go into an Intelligent Data Lake so we can identify and analyze patterns in the data that indicate which combinations of campaigns, events, responses, time spent on the website, and other variables are more or less likely to turn into an opportunity.
IT can also provide insights into the customer journey from the view of the customer.
Think about it: in many companies, the CIO no longer buys technology; they just sign off on purchases that someone else in the organization has sourced, researched and recommended through a professional, well-governed process.
Consider asking the people who actually do the purchasing how they source and select technology solutions. Ask them what persuades them to register for a webinar or download a solution brief. Then incorporate that information into your analysis for even deeper insight into being on the buying side of a transaction.
It's not that IT is going to save the day. IT can't do anything on its own; but there is an opportunity for IT to step onto the field and help because demand generation is a team sport.
There are a million different ways to generate more pipeline to feed more salespeople, and it's different for every industry, but there is a common role for IT to play by making sure the integration between systems captures the right data at every interaction point so it’s possible to determine the demand gen investments that yield the highest return.
With the right process, data and systems, IT can pinpoint the crucial moment when a potential customer stops being a cookie and starts being a named individual. It can also identify the magical combination of events and interactions that turn an individual from a browser to a lead to a buyer.
Put those things together and your business can deliver similar experiences for similar visitors … which are highly likely to result in similar outcomes.