Blog-Post-Graphic_ClosedLoopMarketers today are constantly hustling to ensure prospective and existing customers get the info they need when they need it. This is incredibly difficult if customer-facing roles (demand generation, brand management, product marketing, etc.) can’t access the performance data (often enabled by marketing ops) that highlights specific persona needs.

Herein lies the value of a closed marketing loop – it shows marketers:

  • which content is resonating with personas
  • through which channels those personas are most likely to engage
  • which media partners have audiences matching your personas
  • the combination of tactics that provides maximal ROI
  • where media and content budget should be allocated
  • which efforts are failing and which are succeeding

…the list of benefits is extensive. But most marketing organizations are falling short due to operational roadblocks that prevent data from being shared between various marketing roles and the media partners that need it.

For example, demand generation programs are typically hamstrung by fragmented data produced from multi-touch campaigns and disconnected sources. One campaign may leverage several media channels (including content syndication, email and webinar), numerous media partners and even more creative assets (various white papers, eBooks, case studies, etc.).

The demand marketer managing such a campaign is greatly empowered if she can break down volume and conversion rates by channel, media partner and asset (and even geolocation, day-parting, etc.). Unfortunately, demand marketers rarely have access to this level of performance measurement.

Instead they mostly receive delayed, high-level feedback on the campaign as a whole via spreadsheets. Think of how much more helpful it would be to have performance data via analytics charts that highlight variations between each influential factor in real time – that’s what closed-loop marketing provides.

The current state of closed-loop marketing measurement

Though the term has been around for years, its application is very much in the initial stages with regard to outbound marketing. Marketing automation systems have done a pretty good job of closing the loop for inbound marketing, but with today’s expectations for rapid pipeline scale, inbound initiatives alone usually don’t cut it. And this is why marketers are increasingly investing in outbound channels.

Unfortunately, closing the loop for outbound marketing programs is a very cumbersome ordeal due to disparate media sources, siloed teams, unstandardized data and disconnected systems. Demand marketers buy everything from contacts/leads, clicks, impressions, inbound calls and mobile-app installs from third-party media sources, each having its own systems and operational methods.

Fragmentation of all this outbound marketing data is so extensive that it greatly undermines the true value of sophisticated marketing automation systems. Marketing tech stacks simply can’t do what they’re designed to do because data arrives from numerous sources in many differing formats.

As a result, instead of leaning on tech for analytics and insights, marketers spend days manually sifting through numerous campaign reports in an effort to identify winning and losing tactics (sources, media partners, content, creative, channels, etc.). Attributing performance to individual factors is such a time- and resource-intensive processes that any insights gained can only be used to make future campaign-planning decisions, rather than current campaign adjustments.

Standardized data > connected systems > closed loop 

At the heart of the problem is unstandardized data that can’t move between systems and teams. It prevents the analysis of source, content and channel performance needed to decide which efforts are working and which need to be replaced.

Think of the difficulty involved with following a recipe that uses the metric system when you only have standard-unit measuring cups – it requires a lot of extra calculation and slows everything down. Ensuring prospect and customer data conforms to a standardized format enables systems to interoperate because the data is commonly understood.

Most marketing orgs have integrations between marketing automation and CRM systems, but these technologies are rarely integrated with third-party demand gen prospect data sources, which hinders the ability to optimize outbound initiatives.

Ensuring all outbound demand generation sources (e.g., lead-gen pubs, adtech systems, webinar platforms, events, etc.) are delivering prospect/customer data in a standard, marketing automation-accepted format is the fundamental step to closing the entire marketing loop.

How to standardize outbound demand gen data

The pivotal first step to data standardization is centralizing all outbound demand gen sources (a step best facilitated with outbound demand marketing automation tech). This first requires an understanding of where and how prospect data sources converge. Knowing this, you’ll then be able to focus on discovering, organizing and managing all the media and various data sources that you plan to work with. It also ensures each source formats and imports data into your marketing automation system the exact same way.

Allowing for a seamless flow of standardized data between each source and martech system facilitating the customer journey will enable you to see which channels, assets and sources are generating the best contacts. Without this closed loop, programs will always perform below their full potential. With it, your budget, resources and time will go much further, growing your business and pleasing customers.