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Managing the Lead Upload Process

July 20, 2012 | By Jay Famico

Uploading leads into a marketing automation platform (MAP) or sales force automation (SFA) system from marketing events (e.g. trade shows, webinars) is a routine process. It is also a process that’s often in need of standardization. Why does this matter? Lack of process standardization can cause several negative outcomes, including:

  • Timeliness. The more time it takes before a lead is entered into a MAP or SFA, the less receptive a lead is to engagement and followup activities. When upload processes are not well defined, the average time to upload leads from events can increase by several days.
  • Data quality. Leads obtained from different sources can have substantially different quality levels (e.g. accuracy, level of completeness). This impacts marketing’s ability to add leads to the most relevant nurturing program, personalize messaging, route the lead to the right sales rep and correctly score the lead.
  • Marketing attribution. Putting in place a systematic way of capturing and recording marketing campaign responses enables the marketing organization to measure campaign and program effectiveness.
  • Given these potential issues, it makes sense for organizations to craft a lead upload policy that includes data quality specifications. Define the data quality levels that the leads must achieve to be entered into the MAP or SFA. Elements to specify include:

    • Accuracy. Specify the process for determining that lead data can be considered up-to-date/correct; also outline the process to follow if some of the leads already exist in the MAP or SFA (e.g. if/how they should be updated).
    • Standardization. When storing data, note specific format/database attributes for each data field and indicate how leads recorded in different languages will be addressed.
    • Completeness. Indicate the fields a lead must contain for uploading (e.g. must have a first name and an email address) and which fields are strongly preferred (e.g. department, level). Also indicate how fields related to a lead, but not present in the SFA or MAP, will be managed.
    • Connectedness. Define the degree for attaching new leads to existing accounts and note the marketing program/tactic that generated the response.
    • An optimal lead upload process should also cover:

      • The establishment of lead upload administrators. Indicate who/what roles are allowed to upload leads into the MAP or SFA. Not all field marketers should have the ability to upload leads directly into the MAP or SFA; instead, to ensure consistency, lead uploads should be restricted to the SFA or MAP administrators and/or no more than two marketing resources per region.
      • Primary owner. Indicate the person who ultimately owns the upload process. This is important so lead upload administrators know who to turn to when they have questions; in addition, with an identified owner, the upload process is more easily updated when related applications or data inputs change.
      • Service-level agreement. Specify the amount of time that lead upload administrators have to upload leads into the MAP or SFA once they are received. In addition, specify what escalation process to follow should leads not be uploaded within this timeframe.
      • Template approach. Specifying what should occur is one thing; creating a systematic and scalable business process is quite another. Create a standard framework for lead upload administrators to follow. This framework should reduce the level of effort and likelihood of errors, providing a structured (and often automated) approach to ensuring that the leads meet data specifications and are correctly entered into the SFA or MAP.