“Personalization, dynamism, and efficiency need to be at the forefront of your lifecycle operations strategy right from the very beginning,” says Tom Mitchell, Senior Lifecycle Operations Manager at Sona.
When Mitchell, who has spent half his career working in MarkOps, joined the UK-based frontline operations platform based in the UK a year ago, the company was still in its infancy. He was charged with building out the company’s lifecycle operations function from scratch.
“There was no real inbound functionality, the website was just a website - there was a blog on it with a couple of pieces of content, but otherwise it was very much just about what we do, and sending emails to everyone we could find in our sector,” says Mitchell. “But they had always planned to build out an inbound process and take a more coordinated approach to growth.”
Building a lifecycle operations function from the ground up
The first thing Mitchell did was move everything - the company’s website, email marketing, and CRM - into a single platform, so that they had “a single source of truth”, with all their prospect and customer data and activity in one place. “Then it was a case of mapping out our audience, breaking down our target markets, and categorizing them accordingly,” says Mitchell.
He segmented their contacts based on a combination of demographic information - such as their job, their sector, their seniority - and building behavioral scores based on actions they’ve taken so that Sona can personalize their marketing to them. Mitchell says they focus on converting hot leads straight away, but for those who come in slightly colder they take a more subtle approach and “give them time to explore”.
Taking personalization to the next level
Nothing is off limits when it comes to personalization, with Sona leveraging chat, pop-ups, and dynamic spaces on their website. “If someone’s already taken an action, we won't try and get them to do it again. We have mechanisms in place so that we can send people down their perfect lead journey towards booking a demo or, if they’re not ready to book a demo yet, feel really good about the brand when they are ready to convert,” he says.
“We combine that with really targeted advertising on LinkedIn and Google, as well as making use of UTM targeting. If someone comes from AdWords for example, we've got a specific pop-up that only shows up for people who come from that channel. At the moment, AdWords is probably our biggest channel when it comes to inbound traffic."
Why marketers must be "as militant and efficient as possible in organizing their data"
Ultimately, says Mitchell, when it comes to building a successful lifecycle operations function, “you've got to take a step back and not just look at marketing but look at sales and success and then back to the start again and make sure that you're all that the whole the whole life cycle of a prospect to customer is looked at holistically and is handled consistently.”
Most importantly, you must have the systems and processes in place to collect and manage your data effectively. "For example, if you're using free text boxes to categorize companies then rather than actually grouping them by using drop downs, you're doing yourself a disservice."
Mitchell believes marketers need to be “as militant and efficient as possible in organizing their data". "Because at the end of the day, your marketing is only going to be as good as your data.”
Andrea Warmington is a content strategist and writer, who has been working in content for 10+ years. She started her career as a journalist before moving into the world of content strategy, for both B2B and B2C businesses. She has a lifelong love of storytelling and believes in taking a journalistic approach to all of the content she creates. In recent years, she's developed a real passion for leading transformative content projects that establish tech businesses as thought leaders and reputable publications in their own right.