Closed loop marketing may be a new term, but it actually stems from an old concept. It is, simply, the notion that a business (or a marketing department) ought to measure the results of any advertising, marketing or promotional efforts in terms of sales. It is akin to data analysis and ROI, but closing the loop between marketing and sales is a bit more comprehensive.
Ideally, sales and marketing executives analyze all aspects of the process, tying every dollar received from customers back along the path and the specific lead that created it. Online analytics make that possible, but the process can seem daunting, and it does take some set-up work. Neglect this step, and your marketing efforts may be compared to "throwing spaghetti at a wall to see what sticks." That is not the most effective use of time, energy or budget dollars.
Your Website Is Critical
Ideally, your website will be the focus of your marketing efforts. It is also the source of the necessary analytics, and there are a myriad of tools available. If you find online analytics and tracking tools daunting, however, this is one area you should entrust to someone who specializes in it.
By utilizing your website not only as an outbound tool, but also as a central filter of a whole universe of inbound information, you can streamline your entire business operation. Your website platform is the launch pad as well as the landing spot for all marketing and sales efforts. Tracking strategies are the fuel that makes it effective.
Even if you have little understanding of cookies and tracking URLs, the ability to determine whether your site visitors arrive via Twitter, email or your latest blog post can largely determine where and how you spend marketing dollars that will result in better bottom line performance.
By profiling your customers and knowing how they arrive, you can employ specific strategies to convert leads into sales.
Leads and Customers
Of course, it's not quite as simple as attracting large numbers of virtual visitors. If you count every visitor as a lead, then it is vital to encourage the transition into the category of customer. Not to be overly simplistic, but it is the customer who spends the dollars. The progression is: Visitor, Lead, Customer, Sale.
A "lead capture" process, or a submission form, will aid in identifying potential buyers. Collecting specific information also builds your data base. Knowing the demographics not only identifies common characteristics of your audience, but will also supply valuable information about your customers.
The final aspect of closing the loop is to use the basic information that you have already obtained in order to track backwards from each sale. As you well know, not every potential customer completes the process by buying. A comprehensive tracking process, however, will help you strengthen certain triggers, encourage a response and identify the efforts that result in sales. Conversely, the same analytics might graphically illustrate where you are spending money (or time or effort) unnecessarily.
Tying it all together requires a critical examination of your company initiatives along the continuum of sales and marketing and customer support. One of the primary benefits of a closed loop marketing strategy is that the process is continually evolving. There is no beginning and no end. Rather, it is an unbroken circle: The path to success.