On the tail end of Marketo’s news – private equity firm Vista Equity Partners acquired the marketing automation company for $1.8 billion recently – let’s talk about this sort of software's role in the marketing stack. 

Many companies look to marketing automation tools such as Hubspot, Eloqua, Pardot, and Marketo as a stack consolidator, picking one and using it for all email marketing, content publication, landing page creation and hosting, analytics, and so on. These tools aren’t particularly a breeze to use, but they reduce marketing manual labor, reveal buyer behavior, and automate lead qualification – and that makes them indispensable.

Their shortfall is that they can’t truly measure end-to-end marketing performance, which means most marketing teams – which use analytics from these tools to judge success or failure of campaigns – can't either.

We’re not talking about the common complaints about these tools’ analytics (that they don’t update fast enough, don’t include all the numbers we’d like them to, etc.). We’re talking about the fact that the system is built to track only the first part of the customer lifecycle. That means marketing remains blind to whether its campaigns not only attract customers at the top of the funnel, but close them at the bottom of it.

Marketing automation is great for meticulously tracking touches like email opens and page visits, content downloads, call to action clicks, and so on. And it’s fantastic for helping marketers figure out when a prospect is valuable, and then automatically routing that lead to the right sales person. But when leads advance through the later stages – those that require a one-on-one meeting with sales or personalized sales pitches – marketing automation isn’t useful anymore.

The weird thing: sales still uses marketing content in those pitches. Marketers just stop tracking it. Marketing automation systems and other tracking tools like Google Analytics, don’t show you how often your content is used in sales meetings or whether the use of certain pieces of content in meetings correlates to deals closed.

That means most content marketers don’t have a complete view of how much of an impact the stuff they create has on new business.

Of course, the analytics that marketing automation systems track are an important piece of the puzzle – but when sales reps use marketing content to help close a deal, that’s the real indication of late-stage content ROI. So why aren’t we trying to analyze it, so that we can create better content, and close more deals? When a rep pulls out an infographic, a technical spec, a feature explanation, a blog post that speaks to a customer’s strategic problem – I’m willing to bet you have no idea. That’s true for most of us.

One of the reasons for this widespread truth is that it’s hard to digitally track in-person conversations. You can record the conversation and transcribe it, add notes from it into a CRM – but there’s no record of content used unless the sales rep remembers to manually input that into the CRM as well. And very few do that.  

Tools like Showpad help automatically track bottom-of-funnel analytics around content used in sales meetings, but tools are also only part of the puzzle. We need a mindset shift around how marketers judge the the full value of the content and campaigns they spend time and money creating. It’s not just about what goes in at the top of the funnel; it’s what, how, and why, they move through the funnel.

That’s why you’ll see many more posts around this topic from us in the future. Impact doesn’t stop when marketers throw a lead over the fence to sales, and that means we need to start talking about how we can measure better.

Have thoughts of your own on tracking bottom-of-funnel customer touch points, or understanding how marketing content is used in sales meetings? Leave them in the comments section below.

Last update: February 22, 2017
Marketers are blind to whether their efforts not only attract customers at the top of the funnel, but close them at the bottom of it.

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