an executive in a suit represented in black and white, outlined in brand colors

Pipeline Generation: Face Economic Headwinds and Win

Rising ROI expectations, increased inflation, and decreased consumer spending all add up to a CMO role that is quickly evolving. 
Article Outline

Rising ROI expectations, increased inflation, and decreased consumer spending all add up to a CMO role that is quickly evolving. 

“Surveys show CMOs are concerned about demonstrating ROI, with another significant challenge being the generation of leads,” says Jeff Day, SVP of Marketing at Act-On Software. 

As CMOs create strategies to solve these challenges in the coming months, their role is also evolving. CMSWire surveyed 700+ marketers and found the future will require: 

  1. Increased cross-functional partnerships with sales
  2. More pressure to improve customer experience
  3. More robust data strategies

As leaders focus on these areas and build stronger pipeline generation, a few strategies can help increase success while navigating economic headwinds. 

Cross-functional partnerships with sales and pipeline generation 

Leaders are familiar with the age-old rift between sales and marketing. The disconnect becomes especially apparent when it comes to missing revenue targets. You might hear things like: 

“Sales isn’t following up! We worked so hard to get those leads… .”

“Marketing keeps sending us all these terrible leads; we’re sick of wasting our time!” 

However, this apparent challenge is actually a huge opportunity. And the key to capturing it is shifting from quantity to quality.

We recently talked with Kevin Butler, VP of Marketing & Strategy at Goose Digital. 

He noted the need to consider MQLs in the context of your total addressable market (TAM). “When you look at your MQLs, does that number make sense with your TAM?” asks Kevin. “Your team might say, ‘We drove 4,000 leads this month.’ But what if there are only 200 companies in your target market? How is that possible?”

Copy reads "How marketing leaders say their role is changing, 35% more pressure to improve the customer experience, 28% customer lifetime value becoming more important, 23% too much focus on tech over message/strategy, Source CMSWire Insights State of the CMO Report 2023.

Part of this goes back to your lead-scoring system and talking with your sales team to ask questions like: 

What’s a “good lead” for you? 

Which leads are the easiest for you to make contact with and qualify? 

For marketing, that might mean narrowing the focus to provide higher-quality leads, and sales might need to dive deeper and get specific about what makes a good lead. 

Improving the customer experience and pipeline generation 

Not surprisingly, survey respondents said another key factor that would shape a CMO’s role in the future is the customer experience. However, according to leaders, when considering experience improvements, they face two major challenges: 

  1. Lack of budget
  2. Difficulty measuring ROI in marketing

Jeff explains that “cautiously optimistic buyers expect more value from their purchases in the current environment.” Building that value starts with nurturing prospects and continues long after the purchase. 

As prospects and customers explore your website, open your emails, and engage on social media, they leave “digital breadcrumbs.” Collecting and knowing how to use this data is your team’s gateway to improving the customer experience.

For example, if you sell marketing automation, perhaps an existing customer attends a webinar about email deliverability and then downloads an eBook on the same topic. Tracking that behavior, your team can trigger campaigns to send that customer the most relevant resources to build pipeline and future cross-sells and upsells. 

You can also track behavioral data to identify prospects with a high sense of urgency. For example, a prospect who visits a product pricing page several times in a single day might receive a message asking if they’d like to connect with a salesperson. Allowing the prospect to self-identify their needs helps improve the experience. 

Additionally, you’ll want to reconsider how you’re collecting first-party data. Marketers often ask for information such as name, email address, and phone number when gating content. However, according to Kevin, they rarely collect answers to questions like:

  1. When are you looking to make a purchase?
  2. What is your greatest need? 

Gathering this information helps you build a stronger marketing pipeline that focuses on quality instead of quantity. It also helps you provide a better customer experience by identifying prospect interest and intent early. 

More robust data strategies and pipeline generation 

When asking marketing leaders about metric accountability, the survey found that: 

  1. 59% reported that leadership expects “marketing to have quantifiable, measurable results for everything in the department.”
  2. 41% said that “leadership accepts that some of the goals may not have quantifiable results.”

Regardless of how your leadership team approaches results, marketing teams still face budget concerns, doing more with less, and demands around scaling. 

Copy reads: how marketing leaders say their role is changing, 43% demonstrating ROI, 35% increasing content production, 31% justifying budget, source CMSWire Insights State of the CMO Report 2023.

As you work to overcome these challenges, marketing automation is a tool that helps you understand your audience’s needs, supports pipeline marketing, and provides sales with better leads

The challenge is that many marketing teams use tools that don’t adequately support their needs.Gartner shows that only 33% of marketers fully use their martech stack, which means that many teams pay for capabilities they aren’t using (hardly a good thing when budgets are shrinking). 

“Martech vendors, racing to build bigger and better features, ended up with so much “extra stuff” in their suites that getting even the most basic work done—let alone anything complicated—became difficult,” says Jeff. “The result is frustration and wasted time.” 

This frustration is likely why 23% of marketers report they switched their marketing automation solution for a better alternative. 

And at the end of the day, when you sit down with your CEO to discuss marketing strategies, they want to know:

How does this program, strategy, or campaign translate to dollars? 

“When you can leverage data-driven strategies with tools like marketing automation, it’s easier to answer that question,” says Jeff.  “But you want to use tools that have the capabilities you need, instead of paying for functionality you don’t want or need.” 

If you’re concerned about the rising cost of operating your marketing automation along with increasing complexity, check out our free marketing automation assessment tool. It will guide you to calculate the business benefits of a more efficient solution to navigate the way forward.

What's New?