Even after USA’s heartbreaking loss, I still enjoy watching the World Cup.
I played soccer for ten years growing up, so I understand the rules and the strategy behind what most Americans think of as the “boring” game. I love seeing the fantastic plays, the wild goals, and the amazing acting jobs of the sport’s biggest stars.
(I mean, really? When he brushed up next to you it made you fall down in agony as if he tried to bite off your arm? Even Luis Suarez couldn’t inflict that much pain!)
Another highlight of the World Cup is that soccer fans get to witness technology being used for the first time at a global level. This year, it’s goal-line technology.
Goal-line technology allows referees to make a more definitive “goal” or “no goal” decision in real-time during a game. GoalControl is the official provider of the technology for this year’s World Cup. 14 high-speed cameras are placed around the stadium, with seven facing each goal, tracking the ball as it enters the goal area. If the ball crosses the goal line, the referee is alerted within one second after the ball has crossed the line through a signal on a watch.
So why should sales and marketing professionals care about new soccer technology?
Because we experience the same reactions and controversies soccer organizations do over the introduction of new technology, and can take some of the same lessons and ideas from FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association).
Highlight the Human Element
Goal-line technology faced its fair share of pushback before the World Cup. Sure, everyone agreed that the refs needed some help, especially after the 2010 debacle.
But there were still some that felt more technology wasn’t necessarily a good thing for this tradition-filled sport, and that it would negatively affect the human element of refereeing. Even FIFA tried to avoid it by adding extra refs to the goal areas.
The same can be said of sales and marketing technology, such as marketing automation software. At its introduction, many marketers felt that the system would make marketing messages impersonal and robotic. In the age of social media and instant gratification, why would marketers want to take away the human element of communicating with their target audiences?
Marketing automation software actually allows for personalization at an advanced level. Depending on prospects’ specific behaviors, marketers can automate different types actions.
For example, if a prospect has a certain lead score, a corresponding email can be sent, customized with their first name, company name, and any other data that would fit your marketing message.This kind of personalization has improved click-through-rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%.
Put it in Practice
For FIFA, the best way to show the world that more technology is actually a good thing for soccer has been to just implement it. And so far, it’s been great! The first use of goal-line technology was in the group round, during the France-Honduras match. GoalControl ruled that the ball went off of the Honduras goalkeeper and crossed the line (seen below). France would eventually win the game 3-0.
Of course, some fans still didn’t believe that the technology was fool-proof, stating their doubts all over social media. But the majority believe that the technology is working and improving the overall watching experience. With the speed of the ball and the sudden realization that it went into the goal, it’s difficult to make that judgement with only the naked eye. Just as instant replay is needed in most American sports, goal-line technology systems are crucial to the integrity of the game.
The conversations and reactions surrounding goal-line technology this year can also apply to implementing marketing automation software. However, I wouldn’t recommend following FIFA’s example by just implementing it to show its value. First, a strong case needs to be made.
Whether you’re fighting for marketing automation, or another software system, you need to show the benefits of the new tech solution and how it will help the company achieve its goals.
The biggest challenge has always been explaining why you need the new technology. Whether it’s justifying the cost, or making the case for an upgrade, there always seems to be someone who disagrees with your reasoning.
If the company wants to save money, discuss how the different features will do just that. If upper management is sick and tired of spending time on mundane tasks, demonstrate how the software will automate those tasks and give them more time for strategy.
Today, as marketing automation becomes more and more commonplace, marketers see more benefits than drawbacks in the software. Try using stats like these in your argument:
- Businesses using marketing automation to nurture prospects saw a 451% increase in qualified leads
- Effective lead nurturing has generated 50% more sales-ready leads at a 33% lower cost
If you want to go the route of FIFA and experience the software first-hand, then a free trial of marketing automation is definitely the right path. You’ll have a limited time to use the software and see how it would work for your business.
You can test how it handles your contacts, the process of creating an email or nurture track, and the different types of reporting and analytics available. After you see how your team reacts to the new technology, you’ll have a better understanding of whether marketing automation is right for the company.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Necessary
One thing you should not take from FIFA is what drove them to look into goal-line technology: a bad call that caused controversy and bad press. Don’t wait until something goes wrong to implement new technology; try to stay ahead of the game and actively consider new ways to improve your company’s performance.
For example, don’t wait until half of your email list has unsubscribed because they keep getting emails addressed to “First Name,” or if sales leads are getting lost in the funnel because there is not enough communication between them and your sales team.
Marketing automation can easily help personalize those emails in whatever way your company wants, and it can put your important sales leads on a nurture track that will automatically keep communication going, based on your custom specifications.
In the end, goal-line technology was a great investment for FIFA and the soccer community. Once people saw what it could actually do in a live game, the reaction was positive. The same goes for new software implementation.
There will be some hiccups and pushback along the way, but in the end, the new technology will bring great benefits to your business.
So when you’re watching the next World Cup game, think about how much has changed since it first started in 1930. Technology has been a driving force for that change, as new technology is always developing, and will likely continue to.
The same is true in the business world. Technology is a good thing, and if used properly, can grow your business to new heights by making it easier to create, manage, and implement your company’s strategies.
How has sales and marketing technology affected your company?
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