Society as a whole, by way of innovative technology, has advanced far beyond the imagination of generations past. Features about new innovations in science and technology are constantly in the media, whether they represent a scientific breakthrough or simply a technology that eliminates the performance of a mundane or unpleasant task.
Now apply such innovations to your marketing process: imagine an easy, fast and flexible way of marketing your products to your customers. If you think the opportunity sounds irresistible, presumably it sounds equally tempting to your competitors. In many industries, investing in some of the latest marketing gadgets is now a necessity in order to prevent your business from falling behind.
Improving the efficiency of your processes is the benefit of a lot of the marketing automation technology currently available, thereby saving you time and money. B2B companies are becoming increasingly aware of the ways that marketing automation technology can key a play role in achieving their business goals. They understand the competitive edge afforded by systems that reduce the waste of resources.
Turning towards automation may seem daunting initially, however it can dramatically increase savings in terms of administrative hours for B2B companies. Overall productivity also increases when these automated tools are used to complete tasks quickly and more efficiently.
Automation tools for B2B companies can track market trends and offer information on how a business should adapt to them. The complete optimization of sales and marketing strategy that is provided is a necessary investment for long-term profit maximization.
What is marketing automation?
B2B business owners have long sought out processes to improve the efficiency of their companies, and one such example of marketing automation technology facilitates better communication between the client and the business. They help increase productivity as employees no longer have to spend time on monotonous or tedious tasks that can now be completed via automation.
Such innovative tools allow for market growth in both the short and long term. Generating inbound leads instead of buying out emails and building relationships are one of the major benefits of such tools for B2B companies. Your company also saves financial assets to be utilized for tasks that require a higher level of understanding and human creativity.
Marketing automation also allows for the management of multifunctional campaigns automatically. Marketing data-collection across different channels can be entirely automated using these tools. A digitalized strategy using the data acquired and analyzed automatically is more efficient than a strategy in which you send emails to every client individually.
What do the tools do?
One such tool compiles a list of your most important clients based on their engagement with the company. The emails you draft are automatically sent to them by pressing a single button. They can also provide information on your audience, allowing you to design content that best suits them.
Another tool links to a database of keywords of its own, and this database is constantly being updating as the tool continually gathers data. Search engines like Google play a key role in the use of this technology as most customers use Google to search using specific keywords.
These keywords are then automatically added as recommendations for your content. Infographics such as graphs and bar charts are also available and updated automatically based on changes the tool observes in the market. Until recently, all these tasks had to be performed manually, representing a huge cost in man-hours.
Best practices in marketing automation
Defining the buyers persona:
Just as you would segment your customers if selling to the mass market, B2B customers can be grouped into similar segments as well. A buyers persona represents the demographics, preferences, and habits of that segment of customers or potential customers.
Once grouped into segments, customers can be fed individual content tailored to their specific tastes. Marketing automation can then be leveraged to send this tailored content to customers instantly. This significantly improves efficiency for B2B companies.
Check analytics in order to better understand the buyer’s persona, and use analytic tools to monitor the performance of such marketing automation. If the process isn’t furthering your business goals, then adapting your approach will be necessary.
Build workflow based on the buyer:
To optimize the ROI of marketing automation, you must take into account customer needs. This extends to the customer journey. Where are they in the sales funnel? How do they typically interact with you? What are there business goals and how can you meet them?
Individual buyer personas have individual customer journeys, and this should be reflected in the content you feed them. For B2B companies, different buyer personas may contact you in different ways, and those closer to conversion are different from those performing a casual information search.
Marketing automation should be set up to reflect this, giving customers the right information at the right time. Again, use analytic tools to monitor the efficiency of this automation.
Collecting the right lead information:
Analytic tools allow you to capture vast amounts of data as part of your automated strategy, but not all information is relevant in helping generate sales. You’ll want to collect as much information as possible for prospects that are in the consideration phase.
Ideally, this will include contact details along with their wants and desires. As for customers in the awareness phase, the level of information required is much lower.
For B2B companies, marketing automation can facilitate the collection of this data and allows you to use it in a meaningful way that will help you gain a firm understanding of your customer.
Create strong content:
Marketing automation can increase workflow efficiency, but ultimately it is only a benefit to your company if it increases conversions. This is the point at which your company requires a human element. Creating content that customers find useful or interesting will increase the companies standing in the eyes of potential customers, spamming them constantly will not (more on that later).
In order to meet deadlines, content marketers need to continue churning out quality content consistently, especially for B2B companies where the customer journey can be much longer. In this case it is not uncommon to suffer creative burnout however, and this is where marketing automation tools can help.
Marketing tools can help discover relevant topics for content marketers to cover. Based on your input of specific keywords, an automated marketing tool will find articles online that have performed well. Once you have your topic, an automated tool can then assess the effectiveness of a blog title, (remember that the title is not only crucial in terms of keywords, but also in grabbing readers attention).
Once you have created a series of content relevant to your customers, and the stages of the customer journey they are at, a marketing automation tool can be used to pre-schedule communications. These tools can be set to send different types of communications to customers depending on their stage in the customer journey.
Create a lead scoring model:
Not all users who arrive on your landing page will become customers, no matter how well performing your website is. Some users are merely in an information search phase and will move on to your competitors, while others are ready to purchase now.
A lead scoring model helps to assess the likelihood of a prospect converting based on factors specific to your company. An automated marketing tool can be used as a lead scoring model that acts in real-time, analyzing a users activity on your website, and based on the aforementioned factors determine the conversion potential of a user.
The tool will then send then automated marketing communications based on where they are in the sales funnel. Users close to converting can be sent calls to action, and their contact sent directly to the sales department, those in the discovery phase can be sent information-rich content without a direct sales pitch.
Benefits of marketing automation
An increase in efficiency:
Humans are limited by the simple fact that we are only able to complete a single task at once. This is not a factor limiting the ability of the software used in automated tools. Manual tasks such as generating target audience, data entry, monitoring social media activity and prospecting are all tasks critical to for a B2B company, but they are time-consuming and can be completed much quicker with automation.
Assuming your competitors have implemented automation, your comparatively low level of efficiency will impede your ability to compete. The time saved by your competitor can be used closing deals and building lasting relationships with customers.
Upon implementing automation overall productivity will increase. The investment will produce up-to-date figures and errorless data that you can use for strategic decision-making. Administrative tasks do not generate sales until the customer agrees, and your company may be sidelined out of a deal because you were not able to devote enough time to the client.
Reduction in overall cost:
There is a misconception in business about how costly automation can be but cost depends on the kind of marketing tool you need. When considering the cost of a marketing tool you must consider the benefits and cost savings it will bring to your business.
Upon making these calculations, often you will find that marketing automation allows you to save money by maximizing optimization with fewer resources wasted. As those tasks that took the greatest length of time are completed quicker, less can be spent on wages, which typically make up a significant portion of a company’s budget.
Automation allows employees to focus on tasks that enable them to generate income. Companies should be careful in the selection of the tool they invest in order to bring the most benefits to their business. Such automated tools include content management systems, client relationship management systems and social media monitoring tools, and the most advantageous tool is individual to the company’s needs, though all these tools can provide a reduction of management costs and an increase in sales.
Downsides of marketing automation?
Customers do not like to feel they are being ‘spammed’. They will not appreciate being steamrolled by dozens of emails that they do not want to read. Overtaking your client’s inbox with a constant stream of emails is more likely to push them away.
This issue is commonplace when companies invest in lower-cost marketing automation tools. A poorly engineered tool may constantly send unwanted emails to a segment that doesn’t even wish to purchase anything. Having purchased the software, you have expectations that some kind of result is inevitable when quite frankly, there is none.
This problem is faced by companies worldwide, and many have taken measures to reduce the number of messages sent to prevent customers from moving away from the product. This highlights the fact that, while this software can be highly effective, it must be correctly managed in order to provide value for the business.
Another way in which these tools must be optimized is when collecting information via a survey. These surveys can indicate customer preferences and behavior, but the automated software has to be modified to generate useful questions. Questions based on the keywords searched online, for example, would collect data that is useful, however, if the software is not properly managed, the information gathered will be useless.
Though there has been a reluctance in B2B companies for adopting marketing automation, it is becoming increasingly common. As with any new technology, automation does carry both advantages and disadvantages.
It is up to you as a business owner to understand your company’s needs. Client relationships are extremely important for overall growth and companies are increasingly investing in such software to help establish these.
Data warehousing is an area that is particularly popular within market automation as the most recent market data available will inform your marketing goals and plans. However, contingency plans should also be drawn up in case the automated tool brings unwanted consequences.
Understand your customers rather than relying on your gut and expecting a return. The efficacy of the software will depend on the type of software you choose, and this will be reflected in the profits you are able to generate. Automation can make or break your company, and this entirely depends on how well you use the software.
CMO at Valuer.ai.
Taylor has co-founded 5 startups and published several marketing e-books. He is a mentor, start up junkie, technical market, and growth hacker.