Marketing Automation – prepare yoursefl before you start acting

Marketing Automation tools are used in analysing profiles and behaviours of current and future clients, and designing personal content for each of them. Thanks to this individually measured approach, a client visiting your website for the first time, will see different content than somebody else visiting it again. The goal of employing methods and tools of Marketing Automation is to increase the amount and the quality of so called leads, that is prospective clients who are ready to make purchases.

In this article you will learn about:

  • Things to know before you enter the Marketing Automation strategy in the B2B model.
  • Benefits of using the Marketing Automation System.
  • When to start using the Marketing Automation System and how to do it.

Marketing Automation tools create a “digital body language” that is based on information about clients. Having access to a client’s profile, you can decide what information is useful at every stage of purchasing process, and when the sales department should get involved.

To be able to do that, you should make sure that the elements mentioned below are in place, because they can help in securing the effectiveness of employed strategy and Marketing Automation tools:

  • Knowledge of a client’s decisive process and profiles of all people who are involved in it.
  • Personal content/messages based on a client’s set of characteristics and needs. Work on Content Strategy and familiarize yourself with Content Marketing before you start using Marketing Automation. If you don’t, you will most likely fail.
  • Collaboration between sellers, who should appropriately use information they received about prospecting clients.

What do you need Marketing Automation for?

To answer the question of where does the need of using Marketing Automation System come from in the first place, I want to tell you about a situation that happened to me quite often when I was working as a marketer.

I would be in the middle of a presentation showing the goals of a campaign – with beautiful slides, animations, taglines, talking about advanced techniques of retargeting and lookalike modelling that would make an impression on anybody…except the board of directors who were falling into a coma. I would manage to wake them up just as I would be about to finish – by showing them what the required budget for the campaign would be – and suddenly everybody would shout all at once, “HOW MUCH???”

I have this weird feeling that becomes almost a certainty that I’m not the only one having to go through such recurring situations. It is easy to blame lack of knowledge or interest in twists and turns of marketing within board members, but it seems that we – as marketers – are also guilty of not being ready with our homework on time.

How should we then place the value of marketing in an environment that only reacts to one impulse – the sound of bills being taken out of a pocket? Marketing involves costs – this is common knowledge. The costs should be as small as possible – this is common sense. So, the only way out of this situation is by proving that marketing actions in the B2B model are translating into tangible selling. And this is where Marketing Automation System can help.

What will you get from using Marketing Automation?

Marketing Automation stimulates business for marketers, by treading them through the performance of tasks that they may have been unaware of or reluctant to perform previously. Examples would be defining strategies, content and discussing precise definitions of leads and how leads generated by the marketing strategy should be treated…All of these are examples of valuable tasks. Once you begin using Marketing Automation, the list of benefits multiplies and it does not apply only to the Marketing Division.

First – you are entering the side of generating income in your company

But how can you prove that marketing does not only mean spending but also selling? You need tools and processes that will make the work of the Marketing Division visible to the Sales Department. The B2B model is all about generating leads. A lead does not automatically mean a finalized purchase, but it is a chance of a purchase. It is the marketing that generates leads. There has to be many of them and they have to be of good quality – meaning, they have to quickly result in purchase.

This is when you need Marketing Automation tools. Your job is to communicate with prospective clients, that people who often have no idea about the existence of your company or the products that you are promoting. In order to be effective, you must learn how to communicate through many channels. Marketing Automation tools will teach you to determine which channel is the best for your needs. The times when a business client would wait for the seller to explain his/her offer are over. Currently – the client gets to know 60%-80% of information about a product even before the meeting with sales staff. This means that digital marketing is absolutely indispensable in the B2B model. My colleagues working in B2B are probably surprised by what they’re reading, but it’s the truth – the B2B sector in Poland is just starting to discover digital marketing.

Marketing Automation enables you to connect different means of action – digital, offline, media- related, event-related, and to assess their usefulness. Instead of talking about reaching others, Facebook Likes and outside looks, there is information at your disposal that will really interest the board – since you will be talking about money. You can persuade them of a bigger investment into marketing because you know its influence on sales.

Second – you will have chaos under control

Let us say that I am drawing a schema of a simple B2B campaign. I want to reach clients within 3 branches, while considering 5 types of marketing persona on 4 stages of a decisive process. One more thing – my product has 5 variables and each one is relevant for a different division. Simple maths tells me that I should work on a couple of dozen different messages to make that multi-dimensional campaign hit just where the target groups’ needs lie.

I am not describing a university course exercise – this is the reality of B2B marketing. There is a 5-dimensional matrix of content (adding the channel of communication between partners, agents or middlemen into the equation). If you succeed in leading such a campaign without using Marketing Automation tools, let me know, because most probably, you’re a genius. I’m not one, so I use it and although it has not solved all of my problems, it definitely helps me not getting lost in the maze of messages and media.

It is worth explaining what “automation” in Marketing Automation means. It is not a robot that sends e-mails for marketers. Automation means that a whole campaign has to be planned much earlier in time, and the next content must be planned based on the observed clients’ behaviours. In short, it is as much about communicating well with people who are on mailing lists and will very quickly come to a landing page, as communicating with those who only sometimes click on an advertisement but are not ready for intensive communication. In this way, you can lead your client from the stage of sharing content to the stage of considering a purchase at their individual pace.

Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks, and sometimes a couple of years. During this time, you give them a chance to deepen their knowledge about the product, so that in the moment of meeting with a seller that 60%-80% of information concerning their choices would come from you and not from the competition.

Third – you will get to know your client

Another advantage of Marketing Automation System is the ability to acquire knowledge about clients’ needs without having to outsource conducting additional research.
You can conduct Progressive Profiling, which is a tool for creating a profile of a client, based on a series of short surveys placed on websites. Clients, encouraged by worthwhile content on the website are happy to provide additional information, for example, how many employees their company has. Here comes another difficult phrase – Gated Content – which is content that is available only after providing additional information, or after logging-in.

This strategy allows the gathering of very interesting information without compelling a client to fill out long surveys. But, it is worthwhile to give something in exchange for the information– an eBook, a guide, access to a webinar video, etc.

I hope that now you can clearly see that without sharing knowledge, Marketing Automation will not work well. Giving high-quality content, you encourage clients to supply personal information, which in turn, completes their profile. Why completes? Because you do already have some part of it – behavioural data: whether he/she clicked on email, how long he/she was visiting the website, whether he/she watched the webinar or not, etc. The other part is information provided through surveys – job positions, interests, challenges, activity in social media. It tells you that not only does somebody respond to your campaigns but also who that person is. Thanks to this, you can bring more variety into your message based on age, job position, etc.

The true icing on the cake though is Lead Scoring, a method used for example in Oracle Eloqua. It is an assessment of how much a given lead is worth, based on behavioral and profile data, as well as starting sales activities at the exact moment when you identify the director of sales who has visited your website 3 times during past week.

Fourth – you will cut short cold calling

The Sales Department has quite a bit of information to pass on when calling a client. They also understand that they are not calling a completely random person. Sales people will love you for that because there is nothing worse than cold calling – unpleasant and ineffective. But thanks to clients’ profiles built with Marketing Automation, they can check if a client had previously visited the company’s websites, or whether he/she is getting newsletters, and what area would be of interest to him/her – before even making that call or writing that email. This, of course, is a very basic example of using Lead Scoring. Depending on the tool and level of integration with CRM, sales people can use many much more advanced tactics of personalized communication.

Remember

The abilities of Marketing Automation Systems:

• An analysis of all interactions of prospective clients with the company’s content (e-mails, websites, social media, webinars, conferences, publications).

• Personalizing content and messages to each of the prospective clients to fit their preferences and gathering information about them.

• Creating campaigns involving different activities (such as e-mailing, premium content, webinars, conferences), activated by the level of engagement and decisions of a client.

• Creating personalized websites and e-mails targeting clients that stay within certain criteria.

• Assessing effectiveness of all communication activities based on the ultimate criterion of generating leads – which is identifying a client who displays high likelihood of purchasing.

• Effective, legal clients’ personal data management and automatic reaction to their requests and ceasing of communication.

• The best Marketing Automation Systems enable integration with CRM systems, social media, video-conference platforms, editorial calendars and teamwork platforms.

Summary
Marketing Automation offers great tools. If a Board of Awards for the Noble Prize had a Noble Prize in the category of marketing, Marketing Automation would surely be nominated. Yet remember that it will not solve all the problems. If you do not have a cohesive communication strategy, known personas and you do not create any valuable content – Marketing Automation would only make it worse.

But if you want to be seen as the provider of value and not a provider of additional costs by your company, and you want to become a partner in discussion with the board, you need good arguments to support the input of marketing into your company’s outcomes so do not wait to use these tools.

Marketing Automation increases the value of the Marketing Division in an organization because it allows them to communicate with their company’s board using the same language – the poetry of a handful of money!

 

Digital and B2B Marketing practitioner. Helps B2B Companies to fully utilize the potential of digital sales and marketing tools. Previously Head of B2B Marketing team at Samsung Electronics Poland before holding several marketing and channel development roles in Microsoft Poland.

CEO and Head of Consulting at Grow Consulting.

Over 15 years of experience in building marketing and leads generation strategies in B2B market. Pioneer of Marketing Automation deployment in B2B space.Effie Award winner in B2B category. Blogger, contributor to professional media : Marketerplus, Brief, Marketing w Praktyce. Author of the book “ABC of B2B Marketing” first handbook for B2B Marketers in Poland.

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