Usually, when people talk about “closing the loop” in a marketing context, they’re referring to the practice of getting information from the sales team about which leads they successfully converted into customers. This is because sales often fails to report back to marking on the fate of leads, so that’s the part of the loop that gets left gaping. But the loop begins the first time a potential client visits your website and you can start tracking that client’s behavior. The idea is that you take this information about how people are interacting with your site—or with any other marketing materials—and use it to customize your campaign strategy. (So really we’re talking about multiple loops tied together in a sequence that forms a larger loop.) Obviously, this kind of tracking means you need to have the proper technology in place, and you also must have the cooperation of the sales team. So what exactly should you expect an investment in closed-looped marketing to accomplish?
Getting beyond the Shopping List Mentality
The default approach to digital marketing emerges out of the shopping list mentality. Business leaders ask questions like: Do we have a website—yes or no? Is the website optimized for search—yes or no? Do we have a blog—yes or no? Are we active on social media? And so on. You check off all the items and you’re set, right?
The problem with the shopping list approach is that each of the items in isolation will have effectively no impact. It’s not enough to merely build a website. You have to build a website that appeals to your potential customers. Untargeted SEO is next to meaningless because you need to write blog posts that not only generate traffic, but that cater to potential customers’ needs at the particular part of the decision-making process they’re at when they do the search. And just posting to Facebook and Twitter once in a while isn’t enough either. Are your customers even on these platforms? What types of images or content do they click on?
The thread that ties your strategy for all these marketing areas together is your buyer persona. This is the template for your ideal customer, and you use it as a guide for creating and distributing effective content. And the more detailed your buyer persona is the better.
What you want to do with all that data you’re collecting about how people arrive on your site and what they do once they get there is factor it back into a more detailed and more refined buyer persona. You’ll know not just who your most promising customers are, but what their path from first being interested in a product or service to making the decision to buy from you looks like. This will in turn allow you to create content that more effectively nudges new customers through each stage of that process.
So what are the main selling points of the closed-loop approach?
1. You’ll Have Quantifiable ROI.
In the old days, you put your marketing materials out there and hoped for the best. There really weren’t all that many ways to measure the success of any given campaign beyond comparing sales numbers before and after it went live. With today’s marketing technology, you can track leads’ behavior to find out when they first visit your site, which blog posts they read, when they converted by downloading which white papers, all the way to which salesperson closed the deal. So it’s relatively easy to generate reports to show everyone how much return each campaign generates.
2. You’ll Gain Insight into What Campaign Strategies Are Most Effective.
You can think of each metric as an experiment to test your theories about your ideal customers. Only in this case we call those theories buyer personas. The more you know about your customers and the decision-making process they go through leading up to a purchase, the better positioned you’ll be to create effective campaigns.
3. You’ll Be Better Able to Coordinate Efforts between Marketing and Sales.
With properly integrated CRM and marketing automation tools, you can set up better sales assignment rules, create lead scoring systems, and customize lead nurturing campaigns. Basically, marketing shares information with the salespeople so they know who to reach out to and what to talk about, and salespeople in turn share information about which leads they closed and which campaigns were most effective. That’s the loop being closed.