As a former client-side marketer for Fortune 100 and 500 brands, I’ve seen first hand the benefits (and pitfalls) of lead qualification and marketing automation. When done right, marketing automation can be your secret to success. Automating key communications and establishing a framework for only sending the most qualified leads to sales can develop trust with your sales teams and exponentially increase ROI.
When done wrong, Marketing can lose credibility and other teams who rely on effective lead qualification and ongoing 1:1 communications will undoubtedly look for something else to serve their needs. In some cases, Marketing can be excluded entirely, leaving communications and lead qualification activities to the Sales teams – which is significantly worse for everyone and often leads to declining ROI and distracted sales efforts.
When generating inbound leads, it’s best practice to ensure you have an effective funnel – where leads are qualified and nurtured based on customer interest and ideal fit for your business.
Effective lead qualification and routing is where Pardot comes into play – Pardot can automate your lead qualification and lead nurturing efforts. By using a combination of lead scoring and grading criteria, you can ensure your sales team is only working the most qualified leads. And for those leads who aren’t yet ready to buy, Pardot automates ongoing lead nurturing efforts, allowing you to stay in touch by sending out periodic drip communications.
I lead the Marketing Automation Practice here at CloudMasonry, and we can help you implement Marketing Cloud Account Engagement so you can begin using marketing automation to your advantage.
By choosing Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, powered by Pardot, you’ve already started down the path towards marketing automation success.
Pardot software is live on more than 96,000 websites around the world, including Amazon. And users have reported a 25% reduction in sales cycles, a 40% increase in marketing productivity & email subscribers, and a 63% increase in website leads.
As a side note, Pardot was recently renamed “Marketing Cloud Account Engagement” (MCAE) on April 6, 2022 by Salesforce and product documentation will continue to be updated to reflect the name change during remainder of year 2022. We will use Marketing Cloud Account Engagement and MCAE interchangeably to reflect the “former Pardot” platform throughout this post.
Involve the right people from the beginning
Web and IT teams, Sales Teams, Product and Operations – involve them from the beginning to ensure alignment with your B2B marketing efforts.
Webmaster and IT Teams: Every implementation begins with the technical setup of Pardot and you’ll need help from your webmaster and IT admin teams.
Technical setup items include:
- Website tracking codes
- First party tracker domains
- Email authentication
- IP whitelisting
Sales Teams: Additionally, having input from Sales is crucial and Marketing should involve Sales from the beginning because the main objective is to pass more qualified leads to the Sales team. Discuss how leads should be nurtured, using relevant content streams using Engagement Studio within MCAE.
Consider the following with your Sales Team:
- Conduct upfront discovery sessions on both the current and the desired sales process.
Establish lead routing in Marketing Cloud Account Engagement in partnership with your
sales teams, keeping in mind team structure such as sales regions or divisions
- Understand current lead generation efforts
- Establish existing form migration strategies
- Establish criteria for lead scoring and lead grading
- Review content strategy and plan for lead nurturing based on prospect behaviors and engagement
Product and Operations: Involve stakeholders from Product and Operations so they’re aware of MCAE platform and lead qualification capabilities from the beginning. These groups likely have important insights on what works best (or doesn’t) from an operational and product perspective.
Integrate with your CRM
Planning your data model, CRM integration, and prospect syncing are critical steps in the implementation process.
Involve your Salesforce Admin. Integrating with Salesforce as your CRM will involve your Salesforce Admin to help map lead and contact fields, and set up user roles & permissions.
Plan for MCAE Business Units. If there will be more than one Marketing Cloud Account Engagement business unit, this distinction is critical and you’ll need to plan on establishing Marketing Data Sharing rules to keep leads separated across Marketing Cloud Account Engagement BUs.
Import Your Prospects. Once you’ve outlined your data strategy, import prospects by unpausing the Salesforce to Pardot Connector.
NOTE: If you don’t have a dedicated Salesforce admin, implementations can be challenging and can lead to significant issues. Contact an experienced Salesforce Partner like CloudMasonry who can ensure your Salesforce and Marketing Cloud Account Engagement instances are in sync and set up properly from the beginning.
Define Your Lead Strategy
Once the technical phase of your MCAE implementation is complete, the next step is to establish MCAE lead qualification criteria, i.e., leads that qualify to be passed on to Sales.
Establish Lead Scoring criteria. Lead scoring measures prospect behavior on your site with a derived “score” based on certain actions. This score can be used to infer buyer intent and readiness to buy. MCAE has default lead scoring in place. However you can customize lead scores based on priority pages or key actions that indicate a stronger buying signal for your specific business.
Establish Lead Grading criteria. Lead grading is more persona based, meaning how well does the prospect meet the profile of your “desired customer.” This letter grade helps identify your target audience and can be used as another qualifier for Sales.
Define MCAE Lead Qualification criteria. Once lead scoring and grading are in place, establish a process to optimize your Sales Team and lead generation efforts. Marketing should partner with Sales, Product, and Operations to establish lead score and lead grade parameters along with thresholds for identifying a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) within Marketing Cloud Account Engagement.
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) are when the prospect meets criteria to be passed on to the sales team and is most likely ready to engage in a sales conversation.
Conversely, lead nurturing programs should be put in place for leads who who do not meet MQL thresholds, to support with relevant and timely content until they’re ready to purchase. These drip campaigns can be established based on the customer sales cycle journey within MCAE Engagement Studio.
Establish a Lead Routing Process for Your Sales Team
Setup automated lead routing processes in MCAE to assign leads. Send leads to your sales team or a round-robin queue based on sales region or other client-defined criteria.
Plan to use automations for lead routing, for example:
- Leverage form completion actions, automation rules, segmentation rules, and or dynamic lists
- Ensure leads are routed to the appropriate salesperson or sales team for follow-up
- Notifications and tasks related to the processes / lead record are also best practice
Establish an Ongoing Lead Nurturing Program
Nurture leads not yet ready for sale with lead nurturing.
Leverage Engagement Studio in MCAE until leads are ready to buy. For those leads who are not yet Marketing Qualified (MQL) as a result of their corresponding lead score and lead grade, include them in an ongoing prospect lead nurturing program.
Content creation will be important in this effort. By using a variety of content tactics based on prospect activity, relevant and timely information can be automatically sent to the prospect. Based on various engagement paths, this email content should be designed to intentionally move prospects forward through the sales cycle.
Establish an Ongoing Lead Nurturing Program
Although the foundational infrastructure of your Marketing Cloud Account Engagement implementation may be complete, ongoing refinement and optimization should continue to take place.
Establish a process for continuous improvement. Are leads from location A converting at a higher rate than Location B?
Plan for the following:
- Use B2B Marketing Analytics within MCAE to monitor engagement and form conversion metrics
- Take advantage of creating and testing various form types
- Plan a/b testing of emails and varying content types for improved conversion over time
CloudMasonry is a full-service Salesforce consulting firm, with a focus on maximizing the value of investments made in the Salesforce ecosystem. With service offerings covering the entire digital transformation journey, CloudMasonry partners with organizations of all sizes to deliver best-in-class business outcomes.
CloudMasonry’s dedicated Marketing Automation Practice can manage your implementation for Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, powered by Pardot. If you’re looking for an MCAE implementation consultant, we can help.
Or if you need a Salesforce Partner who can help extend your existing Marketing Cloud Account Engagement instance — whether that’s optimizing your single business unit or adding a second business unit to your existing instance for scale. We are a Marketing Cloud Account Engagement implementation partner who can help.
Our marketing automation consultants have hands-on experience implementing and working with Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement and Salesforce Marketing Cloud, including 20+ years of both client and agency-side experience in marketing strategy across a variety of verticals, including leading personalization efforts for well known Fortune 100 and 500 brands.
CloudMasonry can partner with you to establish your Marketing Cloud Account Engagement strategy ranging from discovery sessions with your sales teams to email development and personalized content strategies based on prospect behaviors and CRM lead attributes.
Contact us today if you need a Salesforce Consulting Partner for Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, powered by Pardot.