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Ten years ago I hated many of the techniques used by corporate marketing departments. The strategy was to interrupt people with pushy messaging about why they should buy your products.

The “best place to generate leads” was at trade shows. Sales people were taken out of the field and forced to stand at a booth for days talking to people – most of whom were more interested in collecting a stuffed animal for their kids than hearing about their value proposition.

Field marketing teams would flood corporate mailrooms with junk mail, 99% of which was quickly transferred into the recycling bin. And marketers would lay awake at night pondering the identity of the 1% of recipients that accepted the call to action.

Chasing brand awareness marketers would spend millions on advertisements – in magazines, airports, newspapers and on television. Ad agency executives were endlessly tortured with the realization that they had no idea which advertising locations worked and why.

For almost 100 years, business leaders joked that “I know half of my advertising is working. I just don’t know which half.” Marketing was viewed more as an art than science. But those days are over. The new wave of digital technologies – social selling, marketing automation and predictive analytics – are bring data and science to the world of marketing.

With today’s technology you can see exactly how many people opened and clicked through on the email campaign you sent out this morning. You can track how many people downloaded the white paper you published last week. And you can see exactly how the leads you converted from Google Pay-Per-Click ads navigated through your website.

Emerging technologies like neuromarketing can tell you what words and pictures people’s eyes focused on so you can optimize the design of your site. Predictive analytics applications will tell you which of the thousand leads you got this week are most likely to close so you know who to call first. And new digital signage will tell you the gender, race and approximate age of anyone who looks at your airport advertisements so you know if you are reaching your target market.

Marketers don’t need to guess any more. You can collect data about any aspect of your marketing activities then analyze the results to identify ways to improve. Do emails with five word subject lines get a higher open rate than subject lines with only three words? Do more people answer the phone at 9am in the morning or 5pm at night? Do more people watch videos that are two minutes or three minutes in length?

Armed with data and this new scientific approach to sales and marketing, you can confidently predict which techniques will be most effective to reach your ideal customer profile. And you are empowered to make changes on the fly as user behaviors start to change.

Rather than crossing your fingers and hoping your marketing programs will generate enough leads this quarter, you can instead confidently approach sales targets with a data-driven model for generating pipeline and converting leads. I call this approach engineering revenue.  And that is the new mission for today’s marketing organization.  Gone are the days of guessing, hoping and praying for results.  Today’s marketer needs to scientifically, reliably and predictably generate demand using data-driven approaches and modern technology.  More thoughts about data-driven approaches to marketing in 2016.

Steve Keifer

Steve Keifer has led marketing and product management teams at seven different SaaS and cloud providers ranging from venture-backed, early-stage startups to multi-billion, publicly traded companies - including several that experienced hypergrowth, filed IPOs, and reached unicorn status. In Bantrr, Steve shares many of the best practices and lessons learned from building and scaling marketing organizations. Topics include new category creation, brand development, and demand generation.

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