Marketing automation helps your organization increase operational efficiency to grow revenue and reach strategic business goals faster.
According to the 2016 Green Hat/ADMA B2B Marketing Outlook Report, 43 percent of participants were satisfied or very satisfied with the ROI generated from marketing automation, signifying its long-term role in the B2B marketer's arsenal.
This article will shed some light on some of the more technical aspects of B2B marketing automation.
But more importantly, it will show you how marketing automation can help your organisation reach business outcomes, regardless of its size.
Who Uses Marketing Automation?
Although large companies have traditionally had an increasing interest in marketing automation technologies, it’s important to note that these tools can be utilized by companies of all sizes. The largest growth segment, according to marketing automation platform Marketo, is the small to mid-size business sector (SMBs). This consists of organizations with annual revenue between $5 and $500 million, however many thousands of smaller companies successfully use marketing automation platforms.
Related Article: Using Sales and Marketing Automation to Improve Your Bottomline
Not only is marketing automation implemented by companies of all sizes, it’s also used across a wide variety of industries. Initially, the heaviest users were in the B2B space; predominantly those in technology, software, business services and manufacturing. However there's now an increase in B2C users as well. This is due to the relationship-oriented approach to building and managing relationships.
Marketing Automation Platform Features for B2B Companies
The best marketing automation platforms consist of a broad range of functionality across lead nurturing and scoring, CRM integration, social marketing, analytics, lead lifecycle management, campaign management, landing pages/forms and of course, email marketing.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
Widely known as one of the most effective digital marketing channels, email marketing is even more powerful when it becomes part of a single platform with forms and landing pages. In fact, marketing automation platforms can take the place of your email service provider, depending on the functionality of the vendor platform you select.
All marketing automation platforms generally provide at least some level of lead management functionality. Through lead management, you can automate lead scoring and grading, segmentation, view your marketing database and create multi-touch lead nurturing campaigns.
Lead Generation Programs
Initially, marketing automation platforms didn’t include the capabilities required to create broad functioning lead generation programs. However this is slowly starting to change, with many platforms (including Marketo and Hubspot) starting to realise the value this provides to their users.
Social Media Marketing
In recent years marketing automation platforms have been adding features for social media marketing. Such features can be extremely useful, especially if you’re interested in social listening, social analytics, and finding new ways to reach your audience and engage with them through promotion.
Reporting and Analytics
Situated at the cross roads between the elements of marketing art and science is analytics and reporting. This is where you have the ability to track and measure your efforts, especially in terms of measuring ROI and the impact of each campaign.
What B2B Marketing Automation Isn’t
1. Marketing automation isn’t email marketing on steroids
Marketing automation is the combination of many different insight-focused capabilities; this includes CRM, lead management and web analytics. Many marketers mistakenly believe it’s just for email marketing, which really is not the case. Ideal for multi-channel marketing efforts, automation platforms help plan email marketing campaigns more effectively.
2. Marketing automation isn’t for spamming your database
The technology used for marketing automation has the potential to deliver outstanding results. As such, it is a tool that can be used for good and bad, and unfortunately, some people do give it a bad name by using these tools for the wrong purposes. Instead, you should use it to develop meaningfully connect with your database.
Related Article: 9 Web Tools That Make Marketing Automation a Breeze
3. Marketing automation isn’t only for your marketing department
Your organization’s marketing department can benefit greatly by implementing marketing automation into your digital strategy; but they’re not the only ones, your sales team can also benefit. Ultimately, it’s all about increasing revenue by using marketing automation as a strategic tool across your entire organization.
4. Marketing automation isn’t without effort required on your part
Many people think that marketing automation is a solution that delivers results without any effort. This simply is not the case. If you expect to purchase a marketing automation platform then sit back and watch your revenue climb, you would be very mistaken. For actual success, you need to learn how it works and implement it as part of a broader B2B marketing strategy.
The Real Value of B2B Marketing Automation
Marketing automation helps you nurture and build relationships with prospects and leads that aren’t quite ready to buy. When implemented correctly, nurturing has the potential to result in 50 percent more sales leads at a 33 percent lower cost per lead, according to Marketo.
Additionally, when a lead converts, what happens then? It is the B2B marketer’s job to continue extending customer relationships long after the first sale has been made.
You will find that in the majority of industries, real value can be accomplished by nurturing relationships over time. This could include up-selling or cross selling; but relationship marketing involves much more than just sending a monthly email.
Marketing automation also helps you target each buyer persona during every stage of their journey. It’s at this stage where you have the ability to listen and learn how your customers behave, and then adjust your own behaviour accordingly, similar to that of a real life relationship.
But it doesn’t end there. Marketing automation also assists with sales and marketing alignment, because not all leads are created equally. You will find that most of the leads passed through to sales are not qualified and certainly not ready to buy yet.
Because of this, it is necessary to develop demographic lead scoring which enables you to find the most suitable target customers. When this audience is displaying buyer behaviors (such as downloading your ebooks and case studies) it means they can progress through to the next stage. Once they’ve been identified as a hot lead, it could mean they’re ready to purchase from you.