Marketing involves a great deal of creativity, and so the fact that many aspects of it can be automated may seem strange.
But B2B marketing—when done right—is a process-driven activity that can benefit greatly from automation.
And let’s get this straight—marketing automation doesn’t diminish creativity. On the contrary, marketing automation enhances creativity because it allows you to focus on providing quality, creative content rather than on the details of your marketing campaign that can be automated.
But what exactly does marketing automation look like?
Marketing automation software automatically fulfills routine marketing tasks—such as updating lead information, sending nurturing emails, and posting to social media. It also automatically “scores” leads, so that when leads meet the predetermined criteria you’ve set, the software immediately moves them to new level of marketing attention, or to sales.
Of course, the software only provides good results if you develop a strong automated marketing strategy, which often involves the assistance of a marketing automation agency.
Why Is This Important?
Marketing automation can lead to increased efficiency, scalability, and return on investment in your marketing efforts. Because you’re always providing leads with useful, relevant content that will attract them to your website and your company—creating the foundation for a profitable long-term relationship—automation can help you grow your business with marketing.
There’s also that period between initial interest and being ready to buy—when leads are what we call “marketing-qualified” (more than just a name but not yet “sales-qualified”). Marketing automation supplies these leads with appropriate content before they are ready to talk to sales—keeping the leads nurtured with minimal time on the part of your team.
Without this automation, the process of keeping leads supplied with the right content is far less cost-effective and reliable. Marketing automation results in higher conversion rates because content is targeted so much better and is always delivered at the right time in the customer lifecycle.
Marketing automation also provides reporting that allows you to get a “single source of truth” for how well your marketing is really doing. Marketing automation checks itself!
What Can You Do?
You need to carefully evaluate marketing automation software, looking at factors such as:
- How well does it manage leads? Does it do a good job of moving leads through customer lifecycle stages, always providing them with the appropriate content for their stage?
- How easy does it make it to use a full range of marketing tools—your website, nurturing emails, blogs, videos, webinars, social media, etc.?
- Does the software support and easily integrate with your customer relationship management (CRM) software? Does it provide benefits beyond the marketing department, such as sales and marketing alignment?
- What is the cost? Does the software allow for a measurement of return on investment?
But while software is critical, don’t lose sight of the fact that marketing automation software is only the beginning of a marketing automation solution. The technology is servant to the strategy, so if the strategy is flawed or incomplete, the technology won’t magically make it all better.
The Bottom Line
In the modern world of B2B sales, having a well-planned marketing automation strategy supported by marketing automation software can set you apart from the competition.
One Red Bird is a B2B marketing services provider that specializes in helping companies increase their sales by changing the way they do marketing. Chris Hokansson is One Red Bird’s Managing Director. Send your B2B marketing questions to [email protected] and visit www.oneredbird.ca for whitepapers, videos and other resources.
Photo Credit: herval Used under CC 2.0 license.