Defining Marketing Automation is no easy task – everyone has their own special description of the term that usually encompasses their own specialties, interests and processes – and this is because there are so many ways to implement a strong B2B marketing automation system to help boost your presence and sales funnel.
The best way to accurately define Marketing Automation is to take the advice and expertise of the greater Inbound landscape. We’ve compiled a few examples of what industry leaders say about the term and best to capture its spirit.
So, what exactly is B2B Marketing Automation?
The crew at Marketo weigh in by saying marketing automation is “a category of software that streamlines, automates, and measures marketing tasks and workflows so that companies like yours can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.”
Meanwhile, the gurus at Hubspot tell their readers and subscribers that marketing automation is software and tactics that help companies “nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into delighted customers… software that exists with the goal of automating marketing actions… The technology of marketing automation makes these tasks easier.”
OK – so we can accurately gather that Marketing Automation:
- Refers to programs and helpful software designed to embolden marketing efforts through automatically distributing content, following up with leads, measure data so you can prioritize your efforts and grow your business.
- It helps to connect multiple channels like email marketing, social media and content marketing to nurture leads over the long f.
- Makes traditionally manual tasks much more efficient, and enables new initiatives to address the quality of customer relationships
Sounds great, right? In this post, we’ll share some insight on how marketing automation can help to improve your sales process.
How Do You Use It?
Before we can investigate how these software solutions work, your business needs a reason to explore the concept.
The problem with rapid business growth and expansion is that your brand will eventually get so big that time-tested routines of contacting and responding to customers and clients via your existing marketing practices will become impossible – maintaining meaningful relationships with your audience becomes difficult when you’re stretched thin for time and resources.
Marketing Automation works by aligning your marketing efforts with sales to drive value. Properly integrated with effective content marketing efforts, automation of your marketing processes translates into higher quality leads for sales, reduced costs, and increased revenue.
In fact, 95% of companies report some benefit from marketing automation. Published by Marketo, the study suggests that companies can expect an increase of marketing productivity between 1.5 and 6.9%, and a boost to sales productivity by about 4%. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly – sales time spent selling increases 11% over non-marketing automation users.
Newfangled COO, Chris Butler, reaffirms that the reason for collecting data is to learn from what you collect for the purpose of using it! Most marketers employ use of email marketing to connect with their whole arsenal of prospects while hoping that it spurs sales. The reality is, probably, you’re wasting your time because most of those recipients won’t want to receive what you’re sharing. This is where marketing automation comes in.
An automated email workflow should look something like this:
- Email an invitation to download a targeted piece of content.
- Send an automated thank you note to those who take you up on the offer.
- Follow up with an automated response a few days later offering a new piece of relatable content.
- Automate a notification to your sales team to contact those who take you up on this second offer – these are your qualified leads that need to be nurtured.
Get the Tools to Work for You
Lead scoring is a powerful tool in a sales-driven marketing automation platform. Its key purpose is to continue to align sales and marketing teams in ranking leads to determine their sales readiness. The above mentioned automated email workflow is a great way to begin ranking leads realized through email marketing in that sales are tipped off when a lead reaches a certain point in the buyer’s journey.
Marketo’s Big List of Lead Scoring Rules is a great resource that helps companies identify key demographics that can be relevant to your company through behaviour based checklists to consider.
Some relevant criteria that will help you to score your leads are:
- Contact Info – Get your prospects information when you offer your content! Ask for names, email addresses, phone numbers, etc. All this information can be used to help you score your leads in terms of how interested they may be on your product.
- Budget – You can access this info in a variety of ways – sometimes through asking for it on a landing page for your prospect to access your content, or taking a guess on the revenue of their company.
- Organization Type – Score your leads strategically based on what type of business your brand has success in selling too. Award automation points to groups that fit your criteria.
- Location – helps when you’re trying to target businesses within a specific geographical area. Prospects that are located outside of your requirements are simply not scored as high as those within.
- Pages visited – Hubspot notes that the activity you can track of your prospect on your website says a lot about their intentions. If they’re searching out the About Us page – negative scoring. If they’re visiting your pricing pages – score accordingly.
- Downloads – If a prospect downloads any available eBook or Whitepaper, they’re going to score better than a prospect that doesn’t click your call-to-action.
- Lead Sources – Leads coming through organic searches often close at higher rates than those that come to your business through paid search – it makes sense to score organically ranking prospects over those who you’ve influenced to come your way.
These telling little traits can help you to score your qualified leads more accurately, giving your sales process a better chance at closing more deals.
Automate Lead Nurturing
Have your qualified leads requested a consultation with your business? Marketing automation allows you to send an automated confirmation along with a brochure or other piece of helpful content to reaffirm your commitment to the business/customer relationship.
For example, if a lead happens to download a pricing guide, sending over an automated prompt asking if they would like to schedule a phone call helps to nurture the lead and sustain communication so that your sales team can intervene more efficiently.
Build Scalability in Communications
Sites like MailChimp offer free email automation of follow up’s to leads on their free accounts to help their users get started. MailChimp’s marketing automation tools help your brand to effectively speak to your customers more efficiently by promoting your business and connecting with your new customers by offering a look-book of your new products, or by sending a simple annual happy birthday email based on collected contact info.
The site can even automate a reminder about an abandoned cart to encourage them to finish their purchase. Then ask for feedback by sending out a quick automated survey. You can even make suggested product recommendations through automated email services via MailChimp, as they analyze purchasing history to make data-driven suggestions.
Similarly, automation of scheduling is a primary function of Acuity, a self-serve appointment booking agent that allows clients to see your real-time calendar availability and allows them to set up and pay for appointments in advance – sparing you 89% of miscommunications, mix-up’s and headaches over scheduling. Tools like Podio are incredible resources to help align your team on task-oriented deadlines and deliverables. Tasking out production of content and building a constant stream of reliable communication is integral to helping the automation process – as we said, automation is not a tool that can simply be purchased and put to work without constant intervention and tinkering – it’s more of a tool that requires dedicating investment and care.
Automate Promotional Activities
Automating social media posts, mobile messages and twitter campaigns is central to marketing automation tools like Automate.io. The software allows you to score and nurture leads through drip campaigns, as well as engage customers on a variety of social media platforms to run integrated media marketing workflows across multiple channels.
Programs like Buffer offer similar automation practices and help to automate your promotional activities when you’re unable to do it yourself, or when you’re stretched thin on availability. Buffer allows you to pre-determine release times for social media posts, optimizing them for maximum exposure among targeted demographics at specific times of the day. Want to reach the mid-morning coffee break crowd in the entrepreneurial bracket? Simply schedule out a week’s worth of blog posts to publish at 10:30am and assess the data that comes back to you to customize and cater your content marketing strategy to effectively reach more qualified leads.