Marketing has undergone many changes throughout the years, and it continues to evolve. It has become incredibly sophisticated thanks to innovative technologies, like B2B marketing automation, that seem to have made their way into virtually every aspect of marketing.
The truth is, automating your marketing processes is not an option anymore. It has become a crucial part of any business. You cannot keep up with the ever-changing audience expectations or even your competitors if you don’t adopt marketing automation.
According to a study, 53% of business-to-business (B2B) companies currently use marketing automation, while 37% plan to implement it soon. You should consider automating your marketing processes as well if you haven’t already.According to a study, 53% of business-to-business (B2B) companies currently use marketing automation, while 37% plan to implement it soon. #B2BMarketingAutomation Click To Tweet
We’ll be sure to answer just that. In this article, we take a look at the following:
● What is a marketing automation
● Common examples of marketing automation
● How to choose the right marketing automation software
● The best-known marketing automation tools
● Bonus – How to Make the Most of B2B marketing automation practices
What is B2B Marketing Automation?
In a nutshell, marketing automation refers to the use of software or tools to automate repetitive marketing tasks. Today, marketers all over the world use automation tools for just about every part of marketing, including social media managing, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), nurturing leads, and so on.
B2B marketers are increasingly incorporating marketing automation into their marketing efforts. However, not all of them get results right off the bat, as it requires a fair bit of understanding of the processes as well as the tools to get the most out of marketing automation.
For starters, having a decent understanding of marketing and sales funnels can help you plan your automation a lot better. After all, you need to time your marketing efforts well and position your tools into your marketing processes accordingly to get anywhere.
For example, while you do not want to try and close a lead too early and possibly scare them away, you also shouldn’t meander unless you want one of your competitors to steal them from you. So, what should be the best time? Your marketing tools can help you to understand that better.
So, understanding and knowing the buyer’s journey through a marketing and sales funnel can help you understand where you need marketing automation to quicken the process and make it easier for your teams too.
Common Examples of B2B Marketing Automation
As mentioned above, B2B marketers can automate a variety of processes. Here are some of the most common examples of marketing processes that are often automated by businesses worldwide:
Email Marketing and Lead Nurturing
One cannot emphasize the importance of lead nurturing. Most prospects are not ready to purchase your product right away, which means you need lead nurturing to increase your conversion rates. As per research, over 35% of B2B marketers have a lead nurturing strategy.
Lead nurturing generally involves multiple emails and phone calls. These emails are personalized and provide prospect-specific content.
Marketers often send educational blog posts and videos, and ebooks and Whitepapers for lead nurturing during the awareness and the considerations stages, respectively. And, then send case studies and video testimonials to take prospects to the decision stage. Timing this process correctly can prepare your prospect for a call with your sales team.
But how do you keep up with all the prospects and individually send them personalized emails? At the top of the funnels the numbers of prospects are many, and manually doing such a humungous task can be very difficult, if not downright impossible.
Using marketing automation instead to automate lead scoring, manage email marketing campaigns, and track customer behaviors can do wonders. For one thing, you can expect to get high-quality results, due to increased understanding of customer behavior and efficient email marketing management.
Onboarding New Customers
Generating and converting leads is only one part of the marketing equation. Onboarding new customers is another issue that many B2B marketers seem to face. It can be difficult to onboard new customers, especially for Software as a Service (SaaS) companies, since customers may not know how to use their software.
In such cases, marketing automation can help you send your customers timely emails, giving them a step-by-step process to understand your product or service. This way, you can help your customers make the most out of their investment without you having to spend time giving presentations, tutorials, and so forth.
Automated Website Chat
Chatbots are becoming increasingly popular. Websites are expected to have chatbots these days. According to an article by Forbes, 60% of millennials have used chatboxes. 70% of these people claimed to have had a positive experience. Half of the millennials who haven’t used chatbots say they are interested in doing so.
Considering your team might be overloaded with work, a website chatbot can help take care of your website visitors and turn them into leads. At times, you cannot get certain prospects to turn into leads unless and until you address some queries they might have. The automated website live chatbot tools can help answer frequently asked questions, direct visitors to customer sales representatives, and help them find out more about your company and your products.
Reducing Churn Rate
It is no secret that you ought to maintain a low churn rate. This is especially true for subscription-based companies, including SaaS.
Why would someone want to stop using your product or service? It could be for several reasons:
● They might not use the product often
● They might feel the subscription is unreasonably expensive
● They might not have figured out how to use the product or service you are offering
● They might have prioritized another company or another product
However, you can only speculate unless you figure out a way to actually find out. This is where marketing automation can help you. You can set up a marketing automation workflow to not only find out how many customers are leaving, but also analyze the reasons for them leaving your business and moving elsewhere.
You could also use marketing automation to run drip campaigns. Keeping your audience engaged by sending timely, valuable content will reduce your churn rate.
Reducing your churn rate has a lot to do with lead nurturing, a point we have already discussed. If you can find out why your customer is considering leaving, you may be able to retain them with an improved lead nurturing strategy. Again, you can do this for multiple customers without having to spend any extra time.
Social Media B2B Marketing Automation
Social media marketing is huge in today’s world. You can find just about every company on social media. These companies get a large number of leads from Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. However, this requires posting content regularly, which can be challenging as your business grows.
This is where automation comes into play. Automating your social media marketing tasks like posting content, replying to direct messages, etc., can help you be consistent in your social media marketing efforts, leading to stellar results.
We have established the importance of lead nurturing. But, what about lead scoring? How do you know which leads you want to nurture? Because not every lead will end up as a paying customer. So, nurturing every potential lead can be a waste of time as well as effort.
This is where lead scoring comes in. Lead scoring involves placing a numerical value on potential customers based on the way they interact with your brand.
Once you have a lead scoring model in place, you can use marketing automation to assign points to leads when they show interest in your brand through their actions. These actions could be clicking an email link, checking out your products pages, subscribing to your newsletters, etc.
As you know, referral marketing is popular because customers generally trust the products that their friends recommend. Research suggests that 69% of companies with referral programs claim that referred sales take relatively less time to close.
You can automate referral marketing tasks just as you would other tasks. You can use marketing automation to promote your referral program, offer discounts and incentives, and track the referrals made.
How Do You Choose the Right B2B Marketing Automation Software?
There are a ton of marketing automation tools available in the market, some of which we shall discuss later in this article.
When choosing a marketing automation tool for your B2B business, besides your budget, there are a few other factors you must consider, some of which are as follows:
B2B Marketing Automation Features
This one is a no-brainer. Ask yourself if the marketing automation software that you have your eye on offers the features that you are looking for. You should also check if it integrates with the current technologies you are using.
Customer support is incredibly vital, especially considering how it is difficult to get the hang of new complicated software. You will need to check what kind of customer support is available, if at all. You will also have to determine how long you may have to wait for help.
Ideally, you should look for automation platforms that have easy-to-navigate user interfaces (UI). You should also go for a marketing automation software that does not require you to put in too much effort and time to get a simple task done.
The Most Popular B2B Marketing Automation Software
Here are a few of the greatest marketing automation platforms that you can try for your B2B business:
Since its inception in 2006, HubSpot has managed to cement itself as one of the most important names in the market for marketing, sales, and customer service products. HubSpot has helped countless businesses with their automation services. It prides itself on providing incredibly powerful Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools that one can use without any technical knowledge.
Their software can be used for a variety of purposes, including email marketing, lead management, and sales performance. HubSpot tools are intuitive and offer seamless learning to help anyone who has not used marketing automation before, to pick up the operations with ease.
HubSpot’s key features include:
● Creating and launching email marketing as well as other paid advertising campaigns.
● Providing a personalized website experience using HubSpot CMS.
● Using Social Inbox to publish and track social media content.
HubSpot offers three pricing plans:
● Starter ($45 per month),
● Professional ($800 per month),
● Enterprise ($3200 per month)
Marketo is another top marketing automation platform, perfectly suited for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Marketo is known for its reliability, providing solutions for just about every aspect of digital marketing. It has a visual drag and drop interface, which anyone can use because it doesn’t require any advanced IT skills.
Some of Marketo’s essential features include:
● Seamless integration with CRMs like Salesforce, Sugar CRM, Unbounce, and so on.
● Comprehensive reporting and analytics, covering lead, landing page, and email marketing performance.
● Excellent landing page creation with data capture forms.
Marketo offers four plans, including Select, Prime, Ultimate, Enterprise. You can contact Marketo representatives to find out the rates.
MailChimp is synonymous with email marketing. In fact, it is one of the leading email marketing automation tools on the market. With MailChimp, you can automatically send an email or a series of emails based on certain predetermined triggers.
Some of its features are:
● Content personalization and advanced analytics
● Creating and automating various email marketing campaigns
● Customizing signup forms
● Email blasts and targeted emails
● Making product recommendations
● Sending cart abandonment notifications
● Creating remarketing ads for Facebook, Instagram, and Google
MailChimp offers four pricing plans:
● Essentials (starting at $15 per month)
● Standard (starting at $25 per month)
● Premium (starting at $420 per month)
Bonus – How to Make the Most of B2B Marketing Automation
If you are looking to make the best of your B2B marketing automation and boost your Return on Investment (ROI), here are some additional practices you ought to follow:
Consider Buyer Personas
Your marketing automation strategy will depend on your buyer personas. Just consider this, how do you expect to send personalized emails if you don’t know who you are sending them to? This is why you need buyer personas, to have an idea of the kind of audience you are targeting.
You have to define buyer personas and understand them before you implement any marketing strategies. Details like job title, educational background, skills, industry, demographic information, and behavioral patterns constitute a buyer persona.
You can conduct surveys, take feedbacks, and interview existing customers to build your buyer personas.
To learn more about creating B2B buyer personas, read Know Your Buyers: How to Create B2B Buyer Personas.
Rock Solid Content Strategy
If you want to gain an edge over your competitors and maximize your leads, offering high-quality content is the way to go. Marketing automation can only fine-tune and streamline your marketing processes. But your content is the foundation for all of your marketing strategies.
Understanding your prospects’ pain points is crucial to creating killer content. Besides that, you need to also ensure you create the right content for different stages of the buyer’s journey.
Set Up a Lead Scoring Model
As you know, lead scoring involves assigning numbers to your prospective customers. This is primarily to gauge their sales-readiness to determine how much time and effort your sales team must invest in leads.
With a lead scoring model, you can target prospects at the bottom of the sales funnel, i.e., the decision stage. You can also send content to those who are in the consideration stage to bring them down to the decision stage.
Businesses across all niches and sectors have embraced marketing automation. Because as businesses scale, it becomes impossible to handle customer journeys, increased personalization, and a multitude of other tasks that come with business growth, which is where marketing automation has stepped in to lead the way.
The key to succeeding with marketing automation is to not only choose the right platform for your business but pinpoint the processes that can be automated to better streamline your marketing efforts.
To conclude, marketing automation has proven to be incredibly powerful, causing just about every B2B business in the market to use it. It helps you reach thousands of prospects at once through personalized communications while also saving you the time and effort required to reach out to each one individually.
If you need help with automating your marketing processes, contact our team at OneIMS.