By Raman Mittal
B2B marketers are witnessing a rapid snowballing of digital platforms that can influence the overall customer journey. The emergence of these platforms has made it increasingly difficult for marketers to manually utilize their full potential simultaneously. This leads to increased adoption of marketing automation tools to reduce manual inefficiencies and automate trigger and rule-based communications.
Nonetheless, a B2B marketing automation implementation, depending on the size of a business, is usually an expensive and resource-intensive task that requires a thorough needs assessment and due diligence. Yet, when implemented correctly, it can potentially have a big impact on sales funnel performance.
Let’s take a look at some of the important benefits of a well-implemented marketing automation platform (MAP).
Marketing effectiveness – Marketing automation eliminates the tedious, manual tasks of content management and personalization, campaign planning and execution, data hygiene, and lead nurturing to ensure efficiency
Improved performance – Marketing automation can combine multiple variables such as demographic and behavioral data with a lead scoring system to generate and identify better qualified leads for sales
Multi-channel personas – Marketing automation platforms can integrate multiple channels to create a more complete user personality
Synergy Sales & Marketing – Marketing automation software aligns sales and marketing efforts to ensure sales reps are working with genuine leads. By working in unison to define scoring metrics and define qualified leads, sales and marketing synergize
Improved return on investment – According to Forrester Research, B2B marketers who implement marketing automation experience a 10% increase in their contribution to the sales pipeline. Consequently, companies using marketing automation have a higher likelihood of building a more robust sales pipeline, having more productive sales reps, and witnessing better revenue growth.
It’s more important than ever for B2B marketers to create competitive advantage, resonate with audiences, build brand awareness, and win customers through marketing automation. To do this, Marketers must find answers to three essential questions:
What is the key goal of B2B marketing automation?
Marketing automation for B2B shares the same principle as its B2C counterpart, namely triggering automated messages in response to contact activity and maintaining regular communications with contacts, prospects, and customers. Although both focus on targeting users with the right message in real time, there is a fundamental difference in their goals. While B2C focuses heavily on personalization, B2B focuses on education. B2B marketing automation transitions lead to conversion and retention by feeding them with useful and educational content.
Why does a business need a MAP?
According to HubSpot’s State of Marketing 2021 report, 76% of businesses in 2021 say they use automation. Of those who don’t, 26% plan to adopt automation in 2021. Early adopters of marketing automation start reaping the rewards much sooner. Implementing MAP helps B2B marketers save time by automating scheduled social media posts and emails. When merged with CRM, MAPs can give you a complete overview of your entire funnel in real time and the relationship the business has with its target audience. MAPs also play a crucial role in lead nurturing by assigning lead scoring based on a contact’s activities and pushing them with targeted communications to increase engagement, ultimately converting them into a customer.
How do you determine if a company has the capacity and expertise to implement and manage a MAP?
Setting up and managing a MAP is a resource-intensive task, and companies should ensure that they conduct comprehensive due diligence of the company’s organizational and technical capabilities. In addition, a clear understanding of the MAP implementation process and post-implementation support is essential. Then there is the human factor, deploying a marketing cloud without the right people is a challenge. Companies will need to hire experts or outsource the implementation and maintenance of the MAP. Therefore, to avoid overspending on a system that will underperform, companies first consider the necessary resources at hand to execute the MAP successfully.
What features should I look for in a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP)?
An organization wishing to automate its marketing processes should focus on the key parameters/features of a MAP that are important for the success of such an endeavor.
The main features to consider when evaluating a MAP are:
1) Complexity and cost of initial setup with CAPEX and OPEX planning
2) Third-party software interaction to use all MarTech platforms used.
3) Social media integration capability
4) Lead lifecycle management to manage the lead journey from lead generation to close
5) Visitor/page tracking to track user engagement
6) Multi-channel marketing campaigns for different customer journeys
7) Lead scoring mechanism to qualify and target leads most likely to convert
8) Reporting and analytics capability to monitor performance and ROI
9) Smart list and static list capability for different targeting strategies
10) Complexity of technical operations to identify gaps in current capabilities.
11) ABM strategy to target key decision makers of target companies
12) Community of users to improve skills of stakeholders or identify and hire experts
13) Customer support for reliability and speed, and technical depth
Marketing automation, when implemented correctly, can work wonders in nurturing leads, building sales pipelines, and driving revenue. Nonetheless, B2B marketers should conduct a comprehensive needs assessment of a MAP’s features and capabilities to successfully target leads and convert them into customers. B2B marketers should also weigh the benefits these platforms offer against the overall cost in terms of talent and resources to implement, operate and maintain such a platform. Purchasing and deploying a marketing automation platform is an expensive and time-consuming activity and should only be done after thorough due diligence.
The author is co-founder and marketing director of TO THE NEW. The opinions expressed are personal.