Are revenue optimization teams the answer to alignment issues between sales and marketing?

It is more critical than ever that sales and marketing collaborate in the full sales process.

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Challenges between sales and marketing, stemming from broader organizational issues, are not uncommon. From miscommunication to mismatched data, there are plenty of frustrating problems that hinder alignment across siloed teams. A recent report (registration required) from Aragon Research found that customer revenue optimization helps organizations increase sales volume, improve win rates and deal sizes while delivering increased customer value. The research also showed that marketers tend to grade their relationship with sales higher than their counterparts on the sales team — indicative of just how disconnected these teams can be.

Co-founder and executive vice president of enterprise software firm Altify, Áine Denn, recognized these challenges when she co-founded the firm in 2005. “Sales and marketing aren’t speaking the same language,” said Denn. “Buyers have elevated expectations, but many brands’ sales and marketing teams are disconnected.”

Revenue optimization teams can reframe conversations

As businesses increasingly shift toward subscription-based models, brands apply an account-based marketing strategy to support the sales process. According to Altify’s chief marketing officer Patrick Morrisey, it’s time for a fundamental shift in our sales and marketing efforts, and even our larger organizational structures. “We need to shift the conversation from ‘what are we trying to sell’ to ‘what problems are we trying to solve?'”, said Morrisey. “That’s where the revenue optimization team comes in.”  He also noted that by creating a revenue optimization team, brands can increase transparency into sales campaigns and provide better insights into their digital marketing efforts.

“As marketers, our roles are changing as the buying cycle continues to shift,” said Allie Hughes, founder of Hughes & Co., a digital marketing agency with a strategic focus on profitability and revenue generation. “We need a better picture of the sales process to get better at what we do.”

One step towards solving the challenges of accessibility, insights and transparency across teams is to establish deal review meetings with the internal stakeholders involved in an account’s sales process. “It’s not the ‘old-world’, tech-driven center of excellence,” says Morrisey. “It’s establishing cross-functional resources grounded in account plans and driven by processes and metrics bringing internal stakeholders to the table.”

Cross-functional teams can lead to more effective campaigns

By establishing a cross-functional revenue optimization team and involving stakeholders from across sales and marketing in the process from beginning to end, digital marketers can set the tone for the entire sales process. Building rapport with your counterparts in sales — from business development to customer success managers — will provide valuable insights your team can act on to drive conversions. Partnering with the product marketing team and involving them in the process is also critical for ensuring that sales is well-equipped to manage customers’ expectations and solve challenges.

“Buyers can be extremely well-informed. Sales need to be equipped with accurate information from business development, product marketing team to deliver the right message — and solutions — to the customer during the sales process,” said Morrisey. “The tangible value that marketers are delivering to customers is actually equipping the sales team to understand the customer and products that will best solve the customer’s problems.”

Alignment can lead to competitive advantage

The view into accounts that marketing receives from sales generally doesn’t extend much further than the information put in the organizations’ CRM. This makes it challenging for marketers to understand the customer’s expectations and needs. “Sales very inadequately supports marketing with the information and insights that they need to understand how to shift marketing campaigns,” said Denn.

“Marketing is a sales-enabling activity, with more access to information about the entire sales process our efforts are more informed, our data-based decision making has a stronger foundation and ultimately our marketing efforts and products will scale up in quality as these teams are implemented in companies,” said Hughes. “We see clients shifting in this direction and our capacity to help generate strong ROI is improving.”

The importance of alignment cannot be understated; our sales and marketing teams should be as well-informed as the customers we are trying to reach.

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Beyond call tracking: Measuring sentiment for marketing success

Call analytics can be a touchy subject among some marketing teams, particularly those that have strained relationships with the sales team of their organizations. The tension between the two departments often leaves a gap between our teams that, when bridged, create valuable insights into cross-channel campaign effectiveness and sales results. Thanks to the rise of […]

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Call analytics can be a touchy subject among some marketing teams, particularly those that have strained relationships with the sales team of their organizations. The tension between the two departments often leaves a gap between our teams that, when bridged, create valuable insights into cross-channel campaign effectiveness and sales results. Thanks to the rise of mobile in e-commerce, digital marketers need to incorporate call analytics into their reporting strategies to tell the whole story of the customer journey.

Go beyond basic call tracking

According to research from Forrester, customers who call tend to buy more, make purchases quicker and remain customers longer than customers from other channels. Customers who initiate an inbound phone call during the customer journey convert an average of 30 percent faster — and spend an average of 28 percent more.

Having a handle on customer sentiment will significantly improve your holistic digital strategy. You know what your customers “do” with your campaigns, but how do they “feel” towards your brand? What happened when they called? What was the salesperson’s impression of the customer’s attitude towards him or her? Understanding the conversational context in which the sales team engages with them can help you better understand these factors and identify signals of intent (or attrition).

Amanda Farley, partner at SS Digital Media, recommends that marketers with the bandwidth listen in to sales calls — with both positive and negative outcomes — to better understand the conversation that drove the result. “There is usually a disconnect between marketing campaigns and the people answering the phone,” she said. “The messaging on the ads might be clear about who a brand is, but it’s really about how phone calls are facilitated.” Establishing this practice, according to Farley, can create valuable learnings for sales and marketing teams and improve the experience for inbound callers.

On smaller teams, dedicating a marketer to listen in on recorded phone calls might not be feasible. However, working with the sales team to provide visibility into your digital campaigns can be a step in the right direction towards understanding the context of inbound calls. Enabling the sales team with a process and the right tools to do this; for example, custom fields can be added to your CRM to capture the information.

More advanced organizations with systems already in place can take advantage of natural language processing features to perform on-call analysis of spoken words and phrases that have been identified as signals of conversion intent.

Create sentiment-informed campaigns

Analytics provide a healthy performance analysis, but they lack the contextual elements of what the customer’s experience with your brand was. Conversation analytics are an example of measurable insights that we can use to determine messaging, identify strengths and weaknesses, assess campaign effectiveness and measure customer sentiment.

Customer sentiment should be considered when you are developing segmentation strategies for email campaigns, designing landing pages and marketing automation. Messaging, for example, can be explicitly written to serve the individual’s needs based on their sentiment rating. If a salesperson indicates a customer has a negative experience, use the event as a trigger to initiate a win-back campaign — before the customer hangs up for good.

It’s all about the relationships

Our relationships with sales can present many challenges for organizations of all sizes — from using siloed platforms to being in different physical locations, it can be difficult to establish rapport with other teams. However, building that relationship is a critical element to optimizing and truly understanding call analytics and customer sentiment. Partnering with sales to clearly define and align goals improves the holistic sales and marketing strategy with the added layer of customer-data to help influence campaigns.  Adding the measurement of customer sentiment to this will provide new opportunities for your teams to share valuable insights, better understand customers and foster better relationships with them.

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Safari’s ITP lead on Chrome’s tracking prevention: It ‘has a long way to go’

His comments highlight the differences in how the two browsers are approaching restrictions on cross-site tracking.

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John Wilander, Apple Webkit engineer and architect of Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) solution, said Wednesday that Chrome’s new approach to privacy and cookie handling will do little to stop trackers.

Google announced Tuesday that it is changing the way its Chrome browser handles third-party cookies and will more aggressively aim to limit fingerprinting. It will require developers to identify cookies that are allowed to work across sites and potentially could be used to track users with a mechanism based on the web’s SameSite cookie attribute. Cookies without the new SameSite attribute will not be available in a third-party context. The browser will later introduce tools to allow users to block or clear third-party cookies and keep first-party cookies to stay logged in and retain site settings.

“What Chrome has announced is a change to their default cookie policy, going from allowing third-party cookie access to not allowing it,”  Wilander said in a Twitter thread. “However, developers can simply reconfigure their cookies to opt out [of] this new policy and we should expect all trackers to do so immediately.”

Wilander said while he sees Chrome’s willingness to “acknowledge that tracking is a problem on the web” and make changes as positive steps, it’s not going far enough. “For a cookie policy to have meaningful effect on cross-site tracking,” he wrote, “you also need to partition storage available to third-parties such as LocalStorage, IndexedDB, ServiceWorkers, and cache.” Safari has enabled this kind of partitioning to prevent cross-site tracking in a third-party context since 2013.

He pointed to a 2013 WebKit bug tracker page on cache partitioning in which a Chrome engineer — back when Chromium used Webkit — essentially asked to be able to opt out of the partitioning because “the cache partitioning feature is not supported by the consensus of the WebKit project.” Just over a month later, Google forked WebKit and launched Blink, its rendering engine still used by Chromium.

ITP cross-site cookie blocking. Safari introduced ITP in 2017 to block third-party trackers from capturing cross-site browsing data — chiefly preventing retargeting efforts. “ITP detects which domains have the ability to track the user and either deletes all of their cookies and website data, or blocks third-party cookie access,” said Wilander. The latest versions, 2.1 and 2.2, go further to keep third-party cookies from abusing first-party storage space, he added.

“This is all to say that Chrome has a long way to go if they are serious about fighting tracking on the web,” Wilander said. “Their announced changes will not do anything now, but they are important steps because they show Chrome’s willingness to move.”

Why we should care. Wilander’s response can be seen simply as a jab at a rival, but it highlights the divergent approaches to — and attitudes toward — tracking by Apple and Google. Apple has long staked out an anti-tracking stance, and ITP’s escalating restrictions have marketers scrambling to understand the impact on retargeting and analytics.

Chrome’s approach is significant given Google’s decade-long role in data collection and tracking. Privacy was a theme of I/O this week  (supported by a New York Times op-ed by CEO Sundar Pichai Tuesday) and spanned multiple products, including more location data controls in Android and products such as search and Maps.

That said, Chrome’s cookie handling change is relatively small and likely just a first step. With both a developer component — which may invite workarounds as Wilander suggests — and a user component that may or may not be widely adopted. It’s entirely unclear how much of a shakeup this will mean for marketers. But two different approaches means marketers will need to have both eyes open.

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Google’s Chrome will change cross-site cookie handling, ‘aggressively’ tackle fingerprinting

Though the cookie is exceeding its shelf-life, the change stands to further shake up marketers’ remarketing, analytics and attribution efforts.

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As expected, Google announced coming changes to the way its Chrome browser handles cookies and addresses fingerprinting on Tuesday at its annual I/O developer conference. New tools in Chrome will allow users to block or clear third-party cookies more easily, Google said. The company also announced a browser extension that will show more information about parties involved in ad transactions and tracking.

Chrome’s new cookie handling. Google said “blunt approaches” to cookie blocking haven’t been effective for users because they treat all cookies alike — from first-party cookies used to keep users signed-in to sites to third-party cookies used for tracking — so it’s changing how cookies work in Chrome.

From a security standpoint, Google said this change will also help protect cookies from cross-site injection and data disclosure attacks by default. Eventually, Google said, Chrome will limit cross-site cookies to HTTPS connections.

In the coming months, developers will be required to specify explicitly which cookies are able to work across sites and potentially used to track users through a new mechanism based on the web’s SameSite cookie attribute. The SameSite attribute can be used to restrict cookies to first-party or same-site context.

In the weeds. Chrome 76 will include a new same-site-by-default-cookies flag, according to web.dev. Cookies without the SameSite attribute will not be available in a third-party context. Developers will need to declare cookies that need to be available on third-party sites to Chrome with SameSite=None. Google says this will allow Chrome users to clear cross-site cookies and leave single domain cookies used that are used for logins and site settings in tact.

Developers can start testing their sites to see how the cookie-handling changes will affect their sites in the latest developer version of Chrome.

Cracking down on fingerprinting. The company also said it is taking further measures to restrict browser fingerprinting methods that are used as workarounds to keep tracking in place when users opt out of third-party cookies.

Google said Chrome plans to “aggressively restrict” browser fingerprinting and reduce the ways browsers can be passively fingerprinted. “Because fingerprinting is neither transparent nor under the user’s control, it results in tracking that doesn’t respect user choice,” said Google.

The company added that it doesn’t use fingerprinting for personalizing ads or allow fingerprinting data to be imported into its ad products.

User cookie controls. Google said it will provide users will more information about how sites are using cookies and give them simpler controls for managing cross-site cookies. The company didn’t say what these changes will look like in the Chrome interface, but said it will preview the features for users later this year.

Ad data browser extension. The company also announced it is developing an open-source browser extension that will show the names of ad tech players involved in an ad transaction as well as the companies with ad trackers attached to an ad. The extension will also show the factors used for personalization. That will be the same information Google shows when you click “Why this ad”.

Why we should care. The end of digital advertising ecosystem’s reliance on cookies for tracking and attribution has been a long time coming. Cookies aren’t supported on mobile apps, and the mobile web and apps now account for the majority of ad spend. Google and Facebook have led a shift away from cookies to relying on deterministic IDs of signed-in users.

Chrome is not a first mover in this realm, either. It’s following in Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) footsteps. The latest version, ITP 2.2, will limit cross-site cookie tracking of users in Safari to one day. Earlier this week, Microsoft announced its Chromium-based Edge browser will also have new tracking controls for third-party cookies.

For marketers, the full impact of these changes and how users respond to the tools likely won’t be seen for months, but stand to have a significant impact on remarketing, analytics and attribution efforts. It’s also unclear if (or how much) Chrome’s new requirements will benefit Google with its first-party relationships with billions of users over other ad tech firms, as the Wall Street Journal has predicted.

The Chrome announcements come amid a broader PR campaign by Google aimed at would-be U.S. regulators. Google CEO Sundar Pichai published an op-ed in The New York Times Tuesday night titled “Privacy should not be a luxury good” in which he reiterated Google’s position that “a small subset of data helps serve ads that are relevant and that provide the revenue that keeps Google products free and accessible” and listed ways in which the company addresses user data. Pichai called for federal data privacy legislation in the vein of the EU’s GDPR. Google reportedly began lobbying for a “friendly” version of a federal law last summer.

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Salesforce announces Pardot Business Units for enterprise marketers

Salesforce is launching Pardot Business Units, a new feature for digital marketers looking to segment audiences across different areas of an enterprise. The solution, announced Monday, aims to provide agile functionality and analytics to global marketing teams for account-based marketing efforts. The tool leverages Pardot Einstein, Salesforce’s AI, seeking to help sales and marketing teams […]

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Salesforce is launching Pardot Business Units, a new feature for digital marketers looking to segment audiences across different areas of an enterprise. The solution, announced Monday, aims to provide agile functionality and analytics to global marketing teams for account-based marketing efforts. The tool leverages Pardot Einstein, Salesforce’s AI, seeking to help sales and marketing teams interpret digital engagement metrics and understand what type of content effectively resonates with the individuals who compose enterprise buying teams. The AI analyzes engagement metrics from across an entire enterprise, rather than the business units, giving digital marketers access to enterprise-level data and connect with their global marketing partners to share insights.

Why we should care

Enterprise digital marketers are familiar with the challenges of operating in an environment with limited access to different parts of the business. For companies composed of sub-brands, business units and across multiple geographies, most team have their own siloed data, best practices and processes. The lack of visibility and processes can hinder teams from sharing data and aligning messaging across the organization. Pardot Business Units seeks to allow users to break down those silos.

It also addresses privacy and compliance regulations by allowing teams in different geographies to see when a customers has provided explicit permission. “Compliance is such an important part of this capability,” says Nate Skinner, Pardot vice president. “We’re focused taking care of compliance to help marketers manage it.”

More on the news

Digital marketers using Pardot can now:

  • Segment audiences by line of business, sub-brand or geography for targeting.
  • Understand what customers and leads have provided consent for marketing.
  • Create visual reports for engagement metrics across multiple domains.

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