B2B marketing automation is a hot-button topic among data-driven marketers. According to Social Media Today’s “State of Marketing Automation” report, 3 out of 4 marketers currently use some form of automation tool in their business.
Many modern marketers use automation to manage social media post scheduling, email marketing, and social media advertising. Automated chatbots, AI-based predictive analytics, and other conversational marketing aspects are becoming more common as technology develops.
Source: Social Media Today
In 2020, Omnisend found that marketers using three or more channels had a 287% higher purchase rate than those who used single-channel campaigns. Specifically, the use of SMS in omnichannel campaigns continues to rise. When a business’s omnichannel automation involves SMS, they see a 47.7% higher conversion rate. On average, SMS has an ROI of 2,755%.
Custom email automation also stands out, earning an average open rate of 50.89% and a CTR of 14.99%.
Keep in mind, however, that just because automated campaigns and technology are becoming more commonplace doesn’t mean they market to and engage prospects perfectly. The same Social Media Today report found that although 72% of business leaders believe automation is inevitable, they’re worried about potential implications.
Many fear that marketing automation will interfere with their customer relationships by removing the “human touch” from outreach and engagement. Others are afraid it could negatively impact their brand perception and lead to mistakes and missed opportunities.
Automation can undoubtedly be a powerful and effective marketing tool – if used correctly. Since automation is considered inevitable, B2B marketing leaders must understand why and how to use automation for maximum results.
- Marketing automation offers B2B marketers many powerful benefits, such as better sales and marketing alignment, enhanced customer experiences, and higher quality lead generation.
- You can start automating your marketing efforts by following three straightforward steps: conduct audience research, map the buyer’s journey, and identify strategic placements.
- Live chat functionality, mobile marketing, and content targeting are three areas B2B marketers should focus their automation efforts on in 2021.
Why Do You Need Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation offers B2B marketers and businesses a plethora of powerful benefits.
1. Better Sales and Marketing Alignment
Using the same software to automate your sales and marketing efforts will help you align your goals and strategies. The process of earning marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and then nurturing them into sales qualified leads (SQLs) will be more seamless.
2. Increased Efficiency and Productivity
Automating manual and time-consuming tasks can save your team time and your business money. Using the right tools, you can remove tedious, repetitive tasks and allow your team to focus on more revenue-generating activities. Develop a more productive team by automating tasks like:
- Content creation, personalization, and management
- Scheduling and executing campaigns
- Cleaning up data
- Nurturing leads
- Communication between sales and marketing
3. Successful Data-Driven Strategies
Another big reason marketing automation can lead to such incredible improvement is because it ensures that your marketing strategies are data-driven. Ad targeting and lead generation are two methods that require reliable data and quick action to be effective. Automation technology enables marketing teams to execute these strategies successfully.
4. Quality Lead Generation
Marketing automation software can help you identify and generate high-quality leads to nurture and convert MQLs to SQLs more easily. Set up lead scoring to automate the process of sending SQLs to your sales team at the right time.
5. Better Lead Conversions and Higher ROI
Studies have proven that marketing automation increases lead conversion rates. It can also help you better manage your leads by automatically tracking and retargeting them based on different behaviors.
6. Enhanced Customer Experiences
B2B marketing automation can give you a multichannel view of your customers and prospects. By integrating multiple channels – like email, mobile, and social media – you’ll create a more holistic view of your customers. This can help inform future strategies, empowering you to build more personalized experiences based on actual user behaviors.
Other expected benefits of marketing automation include:
- Measurable results
- Enhanced targeting and personalization
- Seamless campaign tracking and execution
- Increased efficiency and productivity
- Better customer relationship management
- Improved acquisition of business intelligence
- Improved user engagement and experience
- Higher ROI
- Improved targeting of prospects and current customers
- Reduction in human error
- Seamless multichannel experiences for customers
How Do You Start Automating Your Marketing?
Automation is dependent on data. To create an effective automation strategy, you must have a significant volume of verified customer account information, along with clearly defined buyer personas. Follow these steps to activate automation strategies in your business.
1. Conduct Audience Research
Start by conducting thorough audience research to determine distinct deviations within your customer groups. Ensure your audience personas and segmentation strategies align.
If your marketing team has already created these personas to help them connect with your audience, update them with your latest data sets to ensure accuracy.
2. Define the Buyer’s Journey
Next, define the customer journey based on collected consumer data. Customers today interact with brands through multiple channels, so the buyer’s journey can be much more complex than it used to be. Rather than a straight line, it will look more like a winding “choose your own adventure” map, including multiple options that lead to various destinations.
Draw your customer journey map based on the behavioral flow of your audience. For your website, you can chart the course(s) visitors take using Google Analytics.
Pay attention to key performance indicators (KPIs) from various interactions. Answer these types of questions to help you draw an accurate journey map:
- What percentage of your customers convert after their first interaction with your brand?
- Where are your conversions coming from (social media ads, targeted content, email leads, etc.)?
- How many interactions does it take, on average, before a customer makes a purchasing decision?
- Where are the most significant or most common fall-off points?
3. Identify Strategic Placement for Automation
By answering those questions, you will start to see where automation systems can make the most considerable impact on your marketing efforts. Many automation platforms provide tools for campaign development and execution, as well as lead capture, scoring, and nurturing.
You can store customer data in centralized marketing databases, which you can use for analyzing web traffic, visitor behavior, and campaign results.
Here are some of the most common capabilities of B2B marketing automation tools:
- Landing page development
- Running email marketing campaigns
- Social media scheduling and management
- Lead generation and management
- Content relationship management (CRM) that includes functionality for account-based marketing
- Integration with and add-ons for other SaaS martech tools
- Application programming interfaces (APIs)
- Predictive analytics
- Personalized, dynamic content for website, emails, or other platforms
- Remarketing and advertising on mobile devices and major platforms
What Parts of Your B2B Marketing Strategy Should Be Automated?
As with most marketing tactics, the best methods for your business will depend on your business. However, several strategies have proven to work successfully for most B2B businesses to connect better with target audiences and attract the right buyers.
Timing and content quality are two of the most critical aspects of B2B marketing. Since purchases are often investments, B2B customers often focus on gathering lots of information before making a final decision. The customer experience you facilitate can have a powerful influence on the number of conversions you earn.
Here are a few tried-and-true marketing automation functions to consider incorporating if you haven’t already.
Automated live chat functionality on your website is an effective way to interact with customers and prospects instantly. Since instant connections are crucial in our fast-paced, modern world, incorporating AI technology to automate conversations can be extremely useful.
Your chatbot can improve the customer experience by answering commonly asked questions, offering help, and guiding users to locations and solutions.
Trigger-based content targeting is another popular automation strategy. Content preferences of B2B buyers can change as they move through different stages of the customer journey.
For example, those in the early stages of making a purchase decision will interact with educational content like blog posts, ebooks, infographics, and podcasts. Late-stage buyers prefer data-driven content like reports, case studies, and assessments.
Some automation tools will offer dynamic, personalized content to website visitors on the fly, based on how they interact with a page or form. You can also set up forms to auto-populate with known data to create a smoother customer experience.
As we already mentioned, mobile marketing is becoming an increasingly successful tactic for B2B marketers. Using automation technology, you can create a more engaging experience for prospects and customers searching for your product or service on a smartphone or tablet.
Tools like responsive email, website, and landing page templates will enhance mobile user experiences. Features like SMS (short message service) and MMS (multimedia message service) text messaging and in-app marketing can reach users in new ways that immediately grab their attention and get them to act.
Source: Grand View Research
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