Marketing Strategy
The B2B Marketer’s Handbook of Marketing Automation

The B2B Marketer’s Handbook of Marketing Automation

July 5, 2023
9 min read

B2B marketing automation remains a popular topic among data-driven marketers. Social Media Today’s “State of Marketing Automation” report found that 3 out of 4 marketers now use automation tools.

Other data shows that thriving businesses readily embrace marketing automation. 72% of successful companies are all-in on the technology, while only 18% of unsuccessful ones are.

successful companies embrace B2B marketing automation

Image Source: StartUpBonsai

So, B2B marketing automation definitely works — but enough about everyone else. How can you make automation work for you?

We’ve been talking about successful automation at MIG for years. Now we’ve written the handbook on it.

Whether you’re a beginner or need a refresher, here’s a practical guide for B2B marketing automation for maximum results.

Key Takeaways:

  • Marketing software automates tedious tasks so you can focus on revenue-generating activities.
  • Automation helps you align sales and marketing, enhance customer experiences, and generate higher-quality leads.
  • Live chat, mobile marketing, content targeting, lead scoring, and email campaigns are key areas for automation.
  • HubSpot, Adobe Marketo, ActiveCampaign, Salesforce, and MailChimp are a few effective B2B marketing automation tools.
  • Before automating your marketing, conduct audience research, map the buyer’s journey, and identify strategic placements.

What Is B2B Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation uses software to perform repetitive tasks. In particular, programmed workflows and triggers prompt automated messages that guide leads through the buyer funnel and collect vital data.

Marketing departments use automation more than any other business sector. This software can manage tasks such as social media post scheduling, email marketing, social media advertising, and much more.

B2B marketing automation continues to evolve with advanced capabilities. Automated chatbots, AI-based predictive analytics, and other conversational marketing have added another dimension to modern marketing.

How Effective Is B2B Marketing Automation?

B2B marketing automation helps companies increase their marketing efforts across channels and produce better results. For example, Omnisend found that marketers using three or more channels had a 287% higher purchase rate than those using single-channel campaigns.

Specifically, the use of SMS in omnichannel campaigns continues to rise. Automation that includes text messages delivers a 47.7% higher conversion rate and an average ROI of 2,755%.

Custom email automation also stands out. The average open rate is 50.89%, and the clickthrough rate is 14.99%.

Business view B2B marketing automation as suitable for many marketing activities

Image Source: Social Media Today

However, this data doesn’t mean that B2B marketing automation is a marketing cure-all. Machines can only work as well as the humans who program them and provide their inputs.

Also, careless automation could interfere with customer relationships by removing the “human touch” from outreach and engagement. A clumsy campaign could negatively impact brand perception through mistakes and missed opportunities.

What Are the Main Advantages of B2B Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation offers B2B marketers a plethora of powerful benefits. Consider these six.

1. Better Sales and Marketing Alignment

Using a single software solution to automate your sales and marketing efforts helps align your goals and strategies. The process of earning marketing-qualified leads and then nurturing them into sales-qualified leads becomes seamless.

Companies that use B2B marketing automation to align sales and marketing have higher revenue and brand awareness

Image Source: SuperOffice

2. Increased Efficiency and Productivity

Automating time-consuming manual tasks saves time and money. Develop a more productive team by automating the following assignments:

  • Creating, personalizing, and managing content
  • Scheduling and executing campaigns
  • Cleaning up data
  • Nurturing leads
  • Communicating between sales and marketing

The right tools can eliminate tedious, repetitive duties. This frees your team to focus on more revenue-generating activities.

3. Successful Data-Driven Strategies

Another big reason B2B marketing automation can lead to such incredible improvement is it ensures your marketing strategies are data-driven. Ad targeting and lead generation require reliable data and quick action to be effective.

Automation technology enables marketing teams to execute these strategies successfully. Plus, when you have the data on why a strategy worked, you can easily repeat winning tactics.

4. Quality Lead Generation

Marketing automation software can help you identify and generate high-quality leads. You can then nurture and convert MQLs to SQLs more easily.

5. Better Lead Conversions and Higher ROI

Studies confirm that marketing automation increases lead conversion rates. It can also help you better manage your leads by automatically tracking and retargeting them by their behaviors.

6. Enhanced Understanding of Your Customers

B2B marketing automation can give you a multichannel view of your customers and prospects. You gain a more holistic view of your customers when you integrate feedback from email, mobile, and social media campaigns.

In turn, your results can inform future strategies. The data empowers you to build more personalized experiences for each audience segment.

Other benefits of B2B marketing automation include:

  • Better campaign tracking and execution
  • Improved acquisition of business intelligence
  • Improved user engagement and experience
  • Reduction in human error
  • Seamless multichannel experiences for customers

When you do automation right, it’s a win-win.

What Are Examples of Successful B2B Marketing Automation Strategies?

The best marketing tactics for your team will depend on your circumstances. However, several principles and strategies work consistently for most B2B businesses, such as attention to timing and content quality.

Here are a few tried-and-true B2B marketing automation functions to consider incorporating if you haven’t already.

Live Chat

Automated live chat on your website lets your brand instantly interact with customers and prospects. Instant connections are crucial in our fast-paced world, and the first response often wins the sale.

Your chatbot can improve the customer experience by answering commonly asked questions, offering help, and guiding users to practical solutions.

Content Targeting

Business buyers often view purchases as investments. As a result, B2B customers usually gather lots of information before making a final decision.

Use trigger-based content targeting to capitalize on your buyers’ quest for knowledge. However, remember that content preferences change as they move through the stages of the customer journey.

For example, those in the early stages of a purchasing decision usually seek surface-level educational content from blog posts, ebooks, infographics, and podcasts. Late-stage buyers prefer data-driven content like reports, case studies, and assessments.

Use automation tools that offer dynamic, personalized content to website visitors in response to how they interact with a page or form. You can also program forms to auto-populate with known data for a smoother customer experience.

Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing is an increasingly successful tactic for B2B marketers. B2B automation marketing technology lets you create a more engaging experience for prospects and customers searching for your product or service on a smartphone or tablet.

Also, responsive email, website, and landing page templates enhance mobile user experiences. Try text messaging and in-app marketing to reach users in personal ways that immediately grab their attention and get them to act.

The mobile marketing market is exploding and ripe for effective B2B marketing automation strategies

Image Source: Grand View Research

Lead Scoring

Sales teams hate to waste time on leads that are not ready to buy. However, studies indicate that buyers are spending more time in the marketing part of the buyer funnel.

Your marketing software collects data on how each lead engages with your content. The system can also score each lead by considering the amount and types of engagement.

Sales reps can then concentrate on warm and hot leads and avoid scaring off cool ones.

Email Campaigns

Email marketing is still an inexpensive marketing channel with outstanding ROI. Supercharge your campaigns by automating campaigns as well as regularly testing and refining your messaging.

Which B2B Marketing Automation Software Is Best?

You’ll need the right tools to succeed with your B2B marketing automation. The following programs have worked for many marketing teams.

HubSpot Marketing Hub

HubSpot is a rich resource for free and paid automated marketing tools. You can segment your audience and create custom email drip campaigns to nurture your prospects.

A visual editor helps you design workflows in a user-friendly system. You can connect your CRM to pull contact details for quick personalization of your messages.

Adobe Marketo Engage

Marketo is an account-based marketing platform. The system helps your marketing and sales teams collaborate and automate the simplest tasks.

You’re also able to enrich your audience data with engagement information from automated scoring. Those details help you segment and target individuals for their specific location in the buyer funnel.

ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign offers a cost-effective B2B marketing automation solution for small businesses. You can access engagement scores to find loyal buyers and program automatic reminders to push more sales.

Salesforce

Many marketers know Salesforce for their CRM. The company also offers social media and automated email marketing.

You can also customize emails and develop customer journeys that function throughout different channels. You also gain rich features for A/B testing to optimize your content.

MailChimp

MailChimp is a leader in the email marketing game and still going strong. Check out its easy-to-use customer journey builder for automated workflows.

Transactional email features keep customers current on what’s happening with their accounts. You can also retarget ads and use predictive segmentation.

How Do You Start Automating Your B2B Marketing?

Remember that successful B2B marketing automation is dependent on data. An effective strategy requires a significant volume of verified customer account information and clearly defined buyer personas.

Follow these steps to achieve productive automation in your business.

1. Conduct Audience Research

Conduct thorough audience research to determine distinct deviations within your customer groups. Verify that your audience personas and segmentation strategies align.

Your marketing team may have already created personas to connect with your audience. (If so, great work!) Update them with your latest data sets to ensure accuracy.

Audience research and creating buyer personas is an essential step to take before starting B2B marketing automation

Image Source: HubSpot

2. Define the Buyer’s Journey

Next, define the customer journey using collected consumer data. Customers today interact with brands through multiple channels, so expect the buyer’s journey to be much more complex than in the past.

Instead of a straight line, the journey will resemble a winding “choose your own adventure” map. Multiple options lead to various roads and destinations that you create with your B2B marketing automation.

Draw your customer journey map according to the behavioral flow of your audience. For your website, you can chart the courses visitors take using Google Analytics.

Google Analytics behavior flow charts are an effective part of B2B marketing automation

Image Source

Pay attention to key performance indicators from various interactions. Answer these types of questions to help you draw an accurate map:

  • What percentage of your customers convert after their first interaction with your brand?
  • Where are your conversions coming from (for example, social media ads, targeted content, or email leads)?
  • On average, how many interactions does it take before a customer makes a purchasing decision?
  • Where are the most significant or most common fall-off points?

You’ll create effective marketing when you understand the route buyers take on the way to a purchase.

3. Identify Strategic Placement for Automation

Determine where automation systems can make the most impact on your marketing efforts and start there. Find the tools that get the most out of your top-performing channels.

Remember to rely on the data and store it in centralized marketing databases. Use the data to analyze web traffic, visitor behavior, and campaign results.

Don’t forget these common capabilities of B2B marketing automation tools:

  • Landing page development
  • Lead generation and management
  • Content relationship management that includes functionality for account-based marketing
  • Integration with and add-ons for other martech tools
  • Remarketing and advertising on mobile devices and major platforms

Focus on where you can get the most ROI, then test and refine your results. Gradually add more automation strategies to avoid overwhelming yourself.

Why Do Businesses Fail at Marketing Automation?

As the stats above show, not everyone triumphs with their marketing automation strategies. Learn from others’ mistakes to avoid or address these issues in your organization.

Fail #1: Not Including the Right People in the Decision

Marketing automation tools function by capturing, tracking, communicating with, and prioritizing prospects. Here is where your sales team has key insights.

Successful marketing automation implementation includes the sales team early and often in the conversation. Let sales give input on deciding which platform is right for your business.

Sales team members also ensure your B2B marketing automation platform integrates well with your CRM to qualify leads. Including sales in the conversation leads you to the best system for the team’s overall needs and creates another champion in your organization for this technology.

Fail #2: Choosing the Wrong Vendor

When you get down to it, choosing any new technology can be a real pain. As marketers, we often struggle to evaluate technology because we’re typically “people persons” and not techno junkies.

These elements will help you in your vendor evaluation process:

  • A complete list of requirements from marketing, sales, and IT
  • Well-defined goals
  • Peer and customer recommendations
  • Analyst reviews
  • In-house talent review

Ask each vendor to show you exactly how they’re going to help you achieve your specific goals. Request customer referrals from companies with similar objectives and CRM.

Don’t just evaluate a vendor’s system; take a look at each one’s services. Some vendors offer “Done for You” services to help maximize your B2B marketing automation investments.

Service and support from your vendor are just as important as the product. Look for a company that isn’t just going to teach you where to click but also shows you how to efficiently use the platform to reach your goals.

Finally, be sure to ask about a vendor’s roadmap for your success. Analyst reports are a good source for understanding each vendor’s product vision and ability to execute that vision.

Fail #3: Not Getting Educated

Thousands of martech solutions and tools are in the market now. It might seem easier to just throw your hands up and pick the first thing you find (or the cheapest product).

Don’t get lazy now! Find someone who can patiently guide you through the basics and level up your skillset.

Even when you discover an intuitive and easy-to-use platform, take the time and additional education to improve your odds of success within your environment. Apply yourself diligently to the onboarding experience with your B2B marketing automation vendors.

Fail #4: Leaving No Room for Growth

Clearly outline the future state of your business before you make your selection. Then ensure your chosen platform can handle your plans to grow and expand. Your long-term success is at stake!

How Can You Create Quality Content for Your B2B Marketing Automation Strategy?

B2B marketing automation is only one aspect of a successful marketing solution. The key to developing leads and holding onto high-value customers is consistently published, high-quality content.

When you need help keeping a flow of strong material coming, MIG has your back. Check out our Content Builder Service or set up a quick consultation.

We’ll help you start generating more traffic and leads so you can engage customers faster alongside your B2B marketing automation.

Get a Free Consultation
for Content Marketing

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.

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