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Closed-loop marketing, closed-loop analytics, closed-loop reporting and any term that discusses “closing the loop” has gained recognition among sales and marketing teams because of what it can accomplish. Ultimately, closing the loop means that the entire customer lifecycle is tracked and this can help to build a predictable, accelerated and more efficient customer funnel. Digital campaigns and analytic’s tools have helped to take marketing and sales one step closer to closing the loop, but we’ve still got some work to do.

With the new year upon us, however, many of these obstacles are likely to be overcome plus many new opportunities will be presented that will ultimately take marketing and sales teams even closer to closing the loop.

Customer data drives decisions in all funnels

A recent Forbes article has dubbed 2016” the year of the customer”, and for good reason, with one of the first pieces of support being that customers are smarter than ever. Customers know they have options and aren’t afraid to put in a little research either through Google search or the guidance of friends to ensure they get the best value at a fair price. Happy customers are great, but they are often pretty silent. However, this doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Your existing customers provide you so much untapped value to close the gap including:

  • Referrals: Your customers provide you with referrals, and customer referrals are the most trusted channel of advertising out there.
  • Market research: Developing great content and a successful marketing strategy requires you to continually conduct market research, and where else to gain this than your customers.
  • Innovation: Whether you provide a product or service, your customers are the only source you have to measure how well you are delivering on what you’ve promised.
  • Brand protection: Your customers, other than providing referrals through word of mouth, also are your brand’s advocates and evangelist. If you don’t create a truly valuable and incredible brand experience, your customers have no message to carry. This is also true when your brand doesn’t deliver. Customers can become worst enemy by using social platforms to voice their opinion.

Other than the fact that your customers pay you, they are valuable in so many ways, and as shown in the last point, can also be dangerous when not taken care of. In 2016, marketing and sales will get a lot better at closing the loop by focusing on customers.

SLAs no longer ignored

Marketing and sales teams know the importance of service-level agreements (SLA), but making a priority of it and updates as the business changes are another story. An SLA created six, even two years ago without a revisit will not be sufficient in today’s fast growing business. Evidence that SLAs are a dead fish comes from this year’s 2015 State of Inbound. Survey results showed a staggering 83 percent of UNSUCCESSFUL sales teams say they don’t have enough lead information/ it isn’t applicable to them. Not surprisingly, only 17 percent of SUCCESSFUL teams gave the same answer. If those 83 percent of respondants would have a proper SLA, the lead information they need would be available, and they’d also find that lead data is applicable to them.

As a marketer, all of this information haunts me because I know that marketers either have this lead data or could obtain it. The unfortunate truth, however, is that many marketers aren’t on the same page as their sales team, so marketing doesn’t know what data to provide and sales doesn’t know it exists or see the value in it..

The State of Inbound re emphasizes that marketing and sales aren’t on the same page. According to the results, the existence of a service-level agreement (SLA) between sales and marketing was most predictive of higher ROI than the previous year.

More focus on the same data and metrics

Data is critical to closing the gap between marketing sales. But, while analytics have enabled many companies to collect data throughout the customer lifecycle, marketing and sales teams have yet to work together to synthesize this data, as demonstrated in the previous section. But, this spans across multiple areas of the business. As said by, Daniel Waisberg, an Analytics Advocate at Google, in Data & Analytics In 2016: Superstar Industry Experts Weigh In, “don’t let your data organization become a Tower of Babel!”. Removing the silos that isolate data and working to decode the metrics and measurement of this data across departments means that marketing and sales will finally be able to to build campaigns that benefit all areas of business. We’ll see giant strides towards this in 2016.

Better protection of customer data

At the end of the loop and throughout your customer’s journey occurs something that inbound marketers have likely taken for granted, until now. Along conversion paths, in your CRM, accounting system, and other business systems rests your customer’s data. Up until recently, prospects and customers haven’t thought too much about the exchange of their data. If the value is worth the exchange of information, why not give your email or credit card information? But, thanks to a heightened awareness of cybersecurity from events like breaches of Ashley Madison or CVS, more and more people are apprehensive when giving allowing you to collect and store their data. This doesn’t mean, just yet, that marketers can say goodbye to cookie tracking or seeing form submissions, but it does mean that they should take extra measures in 2016 to show their customers that their data is secure and safe through measures like having a secure website.

Let’s see if we can make giant leaps towards closing the loop through a bigger focus on customers, their data, and putting it all together.