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Businesses are always pushing for better results. However, moving to a B2B marketing automation strategy can be overwhelming, even with the long list of benefits. Companies realize that the move to marketing automation will take away a lot of busy work, save time, and improve conversion rates, but marketing and sales teams often find themselves bogged down in outdated ways of doing things.

Fear no more.

This article will show you the basic tasks required to set up a strong foundation for your marketing automation strategy, and outline the ways it will improve your business.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is a process designed to increase efficiency while decreasing overhead by automating once manual tasks. With marketing automation, tasks such as email campaigns, social media postings, and lead qualification become automated, which will improve your output as an organization. Marketing automation is more than a simple approach aimed at the automation of repetitive tasks within the sales and marketing departments. It actually manage a large part of the sales funnel process.

Simply put, marketing automation leads to success.

Every B2B marketing strategy should consider marketing automation plugins to compete and be successful. 75% of marketers say they currently use at least one automation tool for lead generation, lead nurturing, and account-based marketing. Whether you work at a start-up or a large corporation, marketing automation gives you more horsepower. You can accomplish more tasks, interact with potential customers more quickly, serve up specific content, and identify the best candidates for additional exploration.

Laying the Foundation for Marketing Automation Success

Before jumping into the world of marketing automation, B2B companies need to have a strong foundation to implement new B2B software that will yield the best results. Marketing automation is more than just a new software system for your company. It’s a digital strategy that affects all areas of your business. In many cases, marketing and sales departments must rethink their processes from scratch and align them. Marketing used to be responsible for the website, social media, and newsletters, where Sales were accountable for purchases. Both now work together to achieve the defined sales targets.

The success of a B2B marketing automation strategy is indisputable, but there are also some challenges. Having the proper foundation in place can be overwhelming for many marketers, and some are hesitant to step away from traditional strategies.

Staff who can manage customer databases, content writers who can produce targeted and appropriate content, and sales and marketing teams dedicated to improving metrics are necessary to implement a robust marketing automation platform. Educating and empowering your employees on the capabilities of these tools will help move the needle forward.

Here are some tips to build a strong foundation for B2B marketing automation at your comapny.

Know Your Numbers

  • Know the total number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs) that you hope to acquire using marketing automation software.
  • Study your current email open rates and click-through rates and agree on the growth you hope to see.
  • Determine your outreach strategy, which includes how often you contact leads, what method you use, and what you say to them.
  • Know your general trial-to-conversion rates and set goals to improve them (if applicable).

Create Customer Personas

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Personas are at the center of inbound marketing, as getting the right messaging in front of the right person at the right time is essential. Personas help you organize what you already know about your prospects and feed the appropriate content at the right time in the customer journey. Knowing your customer personas encourages customer engagement across all channels, including social, digital advertising, and email campaigns.

Personas are critical to marketing automation, because they are how you target your automated campaigns. If you don’t know what you’re saying to whom, it won’t matter how many times you interact with a client. Nobody responds to inappropriate or misdirected content.

Read more about personas and psychographic segmentation.

Build a Solid Landing Page

A strong landing page is vital to a successful B2B marketing plan. Landing pages aren’t pages you find in a typical web search. They are usually focused on a specific product, promotion, or service that your business offers. The page should stand out on its own and drive users down the path to eventually become your customers. A useful landing page will focus on one product feature, answer a specific question, or target content to one portion of your audience.

Design a landing page with your customers’ needs in mind. In most cases, your lead has arrived at this page because they’ve clicked on a link you sent them. Landing pages should be short because users prefer not to scroll down very far or spend too much time reading.

Landing pages are often a “gate” to a piece of content that is valuable to your audience. It may be a whitepaper, guide, toolkit, or an invitation sign up for an event or webinar. It’s also useful to have a chat bot on your landing page, since these automated tools can provide key information and further increase the conversion rate of your pages.

Implement Lead Scoring

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Lead scoring is a sales and marketing strategy for ranking leads to determine their sales-readiness. Companies score leads based on the interest they show in your business, their current place in the buying cycle, and their fit for your product or service.

Companies can score leads in various ways, including assigning points, implementing rankings like A, B, C, D, or using terms like ‘hot,’ ‘warm’ or ‘cold.’

Having lead scoring in place is vital to your B2B marketing automation strategy as it will keep your program moving forward. For example, when a lead score hits “warm,” you can automate your software so that the sales cycle stage changes to MQL, the sales rep is notified, and your emails change sequence and tone.

The following examples are processes that may change a score of a lead, triggering a rep to be notified by your marketing automation software:

  • Clicking a link
  • Completing a form
  • Visiting a webpage
  • Signing up for a demo
  • Opening a certain number of emails
  • Spending a specific amount of time on your website.

Produce Personalized and Dynamic Content

A Content Marketing Institute report found that 60% of B2B marketers struggle to produce engaging content, while 57% can’t create content consistently. Not enough quality content results in lost opportunities due to lack of engagement. According to a study by ITSMA, 48% of B2B buyers are “more likely to consider solution providers that personalize their marketing to address their specific business issues.”

Common forms of “personalized” campaigns include emails and in-app messages. Emails built in automation tools like MailChimp can be customized to include a customer’s name and other relevant information to make them “friendlier,” while helpful pop-up messages (like the kind you can deploy with the Formilla plugin) can be designed to highlight information that’s relevant to a specific customer visiting your site, such as recent updates to a plan or service to which they subscribe.

For “software as a service” (SaaS) companies like us at Formilla, personalized emails can be sent focused specifically on helping customers get the most out of your product. For example, when we have customers trying out our service, if we notice they haven’t added enough questions to make their chat bot perform well, we’ll send an automated email explaining best practices and chat bot training. Personalized attention like this from your B2B company increases the satisfaction of your clients and helps turn them into steady and loyal customers.

Getting personal drives business.

Maintain Accurate Databases

Fundamentally, your automated campaigns can only be as good as the customer information you have on hand. Many companies struggle to maintain accurate databases of customer data. When databases are incomplete, it isn’t easy to produce personalized and dynamic content.

Many CRM database tools have built-in methods for periodically checking and updating information, and it’s good to take advantage of those on a regular basis. The common practice of confirming customer information during interactions with your customer service team is also wise.

One of the most common causes of customer information issues for B2B companies has to do with employee turnover at your client companies. If your automated emails start going unanswered or they receive automatic replies (such as the dreaded “This person no longer works here” response), make it a priority to confirm the updated, correct point of contact at your client company, and change the info in your database accordingly. And that means more than just swapping the email address on file – change the contact name and title too, as needed, so automated emails aren’t going out with the wrong name in the subject line.

Clean up your messy database. You’ll be glad you did.

Marketing Automation Best Practices

How Do B2B Marketers Use Automation?

Marketing automation has the potential to help your business substantially by generating leads and increasing conversations. There are so many ways to incorporate B2B marketing automation solutions, including:

Email Automation – Marketing automation software lets you automatically email customers based on their personal needs, behaviors, interests, and preferences.

Onboarding – Sending welcome emails, scheduling kick-off calls, new client questionnaires, contract completion, and payment processing – all of these steps of the onboarding process can benefit from some degree of automation. For SaaS companies, a series of automated onboarding emails is also a great opportunity to convince a “free trial” user of the value of your software by teaching them how to use it properly, so they see the value of converting to a paying customer.

Lead Generation/Lead Scoring – Helps you determine which leads you should spend your time nurturing based on how they interact with your company. Not everyone who visits your website is a lead. Marketing automation can trigger a live on-site chat, blog posts, ads, email, and social media content once a customer performs a specific action on your website. For example, if they start a live on-site chat while exploring your website, an email can be sent to a sales rep identifying them as a lead.

Lead Routing – The process of distributing incoming leads among sales reps is usually automated. According to Salesforce.com, “A lead routing process could be as simple as making an alphabetical list of all of your sales representatives and assigning each new lead to whoever’s next in line.” You can also base lead routing on the territory (geography), industry, potential deal size, or other factors.

MQL/SQL – Automation helps both marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). An MQL designation is the point in the buyer’s journey at which nurturing can start. It’s activated when a contact downloads a piece of content or interacts in a live on-site chat on your website. From there, you offer the lead relevant information that you think may help them solve the need that brought them to your website.  The content you deliver to them may then trigger an action that converts that lead into a SQL. Once that happens, the automated software can route an email to a qualified sales representative to complete the sale with personal attention.

Upselling/Cross-selling – Marketing automation can trigger emails and communications to your customers during the decision-making process to offer additional products or bundles. It can also trigger emails to go out a few months after a sale to offer an upsell or inform your customer about a new product or service. For B2B SaaS companies, automated emails can inform existing customers of key updates to your software or limited-time discounts on upgrading to higher subscription tiers.

How Will B2B Marketing Automation Help Your Business?

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Marketing automation will help you use artificial intelligence and analytics tools to perform standard and repetitive processes such as sending emails and deploying in-app messages for site visitors. Automating many of the most common marketing tasks will save your business time and money.

Here are some additional benefits of marketing automation for your B2B company.

Improve Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Marketing automation aligns with CRM software to provide a unified platform for all your teams to track and analyze customer activities and behavior. It also makes the customer experience more seamless as it helps move leads more quickly and more efficiently through the sales funnel. The sales team will have better relationships with the customers as the process will be seamless and hassle-free.

Increase Efficiency – According to the Digital Marketing Institute, businesses that use marketing automation have seen increased leads and sales, driving a 14% in sales productivity and 12% reduction in overheads. For B2B marketers, automation offers an exciting opportunity for greater efficiency, cost reduction, and an enhanced customer experience.

Drives CPL Down – Marketing automation helps shorten sales cycles and improve lead quality, driving down your cost per lead (CPL).

Increase Conversion Rates – No matter how your company defines conversion, marketing automation will improve the process.  Whether there is an inquiry, a purchase, or a client meeting, automated campaigns driven by customer personas and lead scoring makes it easier to deliver messaging that will convert at the right time.

Increase Customer Lifetime Value – Automation increases each customer’s value over their “lifetime,” which contributes to sustained financial success for your company.  The process helps to care for your existing customers in ways that were not feasible in the past.

Reduce Churn – A company’s churn rate is the percentage of customers who stop subscribing to a service in a given time frame. According to Risefuel.com, keeping customers from canceling their subscription is essential to growing a stable, reliable revenue stream and growing your business overall.

Reduce Cost of Obtaining New Customers – According to the Harvard Business Review, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. Marketing automation helps reduce this cost.

Personalization – You can use customer data to effectively personalize your automated marketing activities, resulting in a big jump in customer engagement. According to 2016 data from Statistica, people open 13.1% of emails that have no personalization. Personalized emails are opened 18.8% of the time. Campaign Monitor, a marketing company, found it possible to boost revenue by at least 760% if you create segmented, personalized campaigns. Consumers have come to demand and expect relevant and personalized content and experience.

Are you ready to learn more? We are here to guide you.

Sign up for a free trial of Formilla to get started with marketing automation for your B2B site.

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