Three Ways Marketers Can Discern the Signal from the Noise in Today’s Era of Customer Behavior Change

By Adriana Gil Miner, CMO at Qumulo

So often I hear from marketing leaders who say that they have more leads than ever before, and yet they continue to struggle with actually converting those leads into pipeline and revenue.

This is all the more-so given customer behavior changes due to the pandemic. For example, at Qumulo we would have previously qualified the majority of our leads automatically because customer interactions typically came from trade shows or in-person events. Follow-up and lead nurture after those interactions were the natural progression along the customer journey because showing up at an event in-person normally indicates a pretty high intent to buy.

But today, where customer interactions are nearly 100 percent digital or virtual given the COVID-19 pandemic, this type of lead qualification no longer applies. Having a prospect download a white paper, for example, is not a major indication of their intent to purchase. It’s an indicator, yes, but not in the same way as before. Customer behavior has changed and truthfully we have to throw out the old patterns and go back to “test and learn” until we have enough data for new patterns to emerge.

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Here are some lessons we’ve learned along the way about connecting (and re-connecting) with customers in a more meaningful (and profitable!) way:

  1. Transform digital platforms and strategies for engagement and conversion

While marketing teams may have done away with in-person events in 2020, let’s not forget that prospects still require information and interaction at all phases of the buyer’s journey to influence their purchasing decisions. The big challenge in today’s environment is to reconsider and reinvent the digital platforms and strategies we use to engage and convert prospects into sales.

For example, at Qumulo we overhauled our website with a new architecture and navigation optimized for lead capture. We updated our customer story pages to provide prospects with use cases and examples across multiple industries to guide their decisions. Our product was placed front-and-center of the new site offering interactive experiences and demos for visitors. Finally, we created pages focused on product reviews and competitive comparisons.

Each stage of the customer journey requires thoughtful and useful content that influences, informs, and creates/nurtures a relationship with the customer in the absence of live sales meetings. Think of this as “always-on” nurture. It is hard to know when a prospect is ready to jump into the next phase, so have that next level of engagement always ready and easy to find.

  1. To think bigger, think smaller and more targeted

The days of long, “blast all out,” big campaigns are over. Today’s marketing organizations should think about their marketing as ready and available year-long with as much specificity as possible. It’s super important to have content that engages each problem and creates a drumbeat of content that “drips” throughout the year. And you can complement those by creating “moments in time” to break through.

These extremely focused and more targeted efforts will be far more effective than sending out generic emails or newsletters to your contact mailing list. And this can also be applied to your events. We’ve seen success by conducting micro-virtual events like online “lunch and learn”-style events like “pizza-casts” or virtual wine tastings that bring a small, targeted group of prospects and customers together, enable them to learn about and demo our offerings in an interactive format, and – oh yes – enjoy some food and wine from the comfort of their remote offices while doing so.

These types of micro-events are particularly helpful if you have an ABM strategy. According to the “2020 ABM Benchmark Survey Report” from Demand Gen Report, “The majority of marketers doing ABM have seen positive trends and results when using or reinventing their ABM strategies.” Specifically the survey respondents cited benefits from ABM campaigns such as:

  1. Efficient use of marketing resources (53%)
  2. Better marketing and sales alignment (51%)
  3. Clearer path to ROI (37%)
  4. More trustworthy relationships (36%)
  5. Faster sales cycles (27%)

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  1. Practice Agile Marketing

According to the American Marketing Association (AMA), “Agile is helping marketers stay afloat, remain flexible, and adapt to survive at a time when all our plans seem to be up in the air.”

Here at Qumulo, we release our Qumulo Core software every two weeks. Shipping early and often is unique in the world of traditional enterprise software, which still adheres to a multi-year cadence in terms of planning and establishing a release date. We wanted to provide enterprise-grade software and deliver it at the speed of online companies.

The same benefits of this agile approach to software development apply equally to marketing teams:

  • The ability to continuously provide customers with value in the form of new products/features, content and information
  • The ability to quickly adapt to evolving customer and marketing needs in weeks versus years
  • Faster time-to-market in terms of product launches, campaigns, events and assets.

Indeed, as the Scrum Alliance states, “By helping marketers weather the social and

economic storm of the current pandemic, agile marketing is proving that it is not just a buzzword. In fact, the most recent data from the 3rd Annual State of Agile Marketing Report shows that agile is becoming a pillar that marketers can lean on strategically.”

Those agile notions from our dev team became our blueprint and we made the scramble a part of our modus operandi. When COVID-19 hit, the Qumulo marketing team pivoted like many other organizations, re-configuring the entire annual plan for digital activities and treating everything like “Day 1.”

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Going into 2021, we are still seeing a huge amount of instability and change in the world; we don’t know how people are going to behave and what habits are here to stay. So the most important marketing advice I can give you is to remain absolutely flexible. The world turned over last year and it will likely do it more times over. Those who master agility and adaptability will do well.