How does B2B marketing automation help in lead generation?
Fact 1: There is no magic trick to “automatically” turn leads into customers.
Fact 2: There are ways to automate processes leading to optimized lead generation and shorter sales cycles.
Automation helps businesses track data and analytics related to their marketing campaigns, allowing them to constantly fine-tune their approach to generate the most qualified leads possible.
If you’re ready to learn how to take your B2B marketing automation efforts to the next level, keep reading.
What Is B2B Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation means operating with software and technology to mechanize marketing processes such as customer segmentation, prospect conversion, and monitoring sales performance. By automating these processes, businesses can free up time and resources to focus on more strategic tasks. It makes it easier for marketers to focus on their core objectives and achieve better results.
When Did B2B Marketing Automation Start?
Marketing automation became a known term in the early 2000s. With the advent of digitization, however, a company called Unica began offering management tools that helped businesses to automate various marketing tasks. Unica is now a member of the HCL Technologies conglomerate.
After the turn of the 21st Century, more marketing automation companies began to appear. For example, HubSpot and Salesforce appeared on the scene between 2006 and 2008. These tools helped businesses to automate email marketing, social media, and lead management.
B2B marketing automation is so prevalent today that even email service providers like ActiveCampaign, Drip, and ConvertKit include this technology as a regular feature. Companies of any size can easily leverage B2B marketing automation to guide prospects through the digital marketing funnel.
Should You Automate Now?
Remember that marketing automation strives to optimize your marketing activities. It will help you identify which audience to focus on or find specific touchpoints that efficiently utilize your time. Overall, automating repetitive tasks within the marketing department allows you to manage every lead from beginning to end.
Underneath the time-saving and efficiency-driving surface are a few more compelling reasons to consider marketing automation.
For one, it allows businesses to scale their marketing efforts. As your business grows, your customer base will grow with it. Marketing automation can help you keep up with the demand by automatically sending targeted content to new leads.
Using marketing automation, you can streamline marketing tasks such as the following:
- Sending out email sequences
- Nurturing leads
- Scoring leads
- Automatically converting leads into customer lists
- Tracking customer engagement
- Notifying your team about vital events
Marketing automation can also help you generate more qualified leads. By automating your marketing operations, you can focus on developing quality content that will attract the right kind of attention from potential customers.
For example, your business can use marketing automation to publish new content. Use it to publish blog posts, social media content, team analytics reports, or feedback surveys.
So, it’s wise to automate your lead generation processes the soonest time possible.
Understanding How Marketing Automation Works
Although several B2B companies use some form of marketing automation, many fail to do so correctly.
One of the secrets to marketing via automation is to schedule appropriately. Leads generally take some time before turning into customers. As a result, be cautious not to contact them too soon since this may cause anxiety or overwhelm them.
Remember, too, that you have competitors in the market. Do not delay approaching your prospects. Instead, study their marketing behaviors and act swiftly based on their interests and actions.
Types of B2B Marketing Automation
There are three marketing automation types, each with unique features.
Lead-based marketing automation is the most basic form of marketing automation. As the name implies, lead-based marketing automation works to generate and nurture leads. Small businesses usually use this type of marketing automation.
Opportunity-based marketing automation is the next step up from lead-based marketing automation. In addition to generating and nurturing leads, opportunity-based marketing automation also helps businesses close deals. It is a marketing automation process that medium to large businesses typically use.
Account-based marketing automation is the most advanced form of marketing automation. In addition to generating and nurturing leads and closing deals, account-based marketing automation helps larger businesses manage long-term customer relationships.
What Is a Sales Funnel?
A big part of understanding marketing automation is realizing what the sales funnel is all about. A sales funnel is an instrumental process that helps you guide your leads toward becoming customers.
The marketing funnel is generally composed of the following stages.
Awareness – The lead becomes aware of the problem and starts looking for a solution.
Interest – The lead becomes interested in your product or service as a possible solution.
Consideration – The lead begins to consider whether your product or service is the best solution.
Intent – The lead decides your product or service is the best solution and wants to buy it.
Purchase – The lead buys your product.
The sales funnel doesn’t end there, however. Once a purchase comes in, you need to focus on customer retention and loyalty.
In the modern marketing environment, it’s not enough to build a marketing funnel. Customers expect more attention and nurturing than in years past. However, it’s nearly impossible to nurture leads manually. That’s where B2B marketing automation enters the picture.
Seven B2B Marketing Automation Strategies To Try
Let’s review seven specific B2B marketing automation solutions to include in your marketing plan.
Nurturing leads is a vital component of any marketing automation strategy. The purpose of lead nurturing is to build relationships with leads so they eventually become customers.
There are several steps involved in lead nurturing.
Step 1: Identify Your Target Audience. Once you know your target audience, you can create content that appeals to it.
Step 2: Create a lead magnet. A lead magnet is a persuasive offer that entices leads to hand over contact information. Webinars and white papers work well as lead magnets in the B2B space.
Step 3: Set up a lead capture form. A lead capture form is a form that appears on your website and allows visitors to enter their contact details in exchange for the lead magnet.
Step 4: Create an email sequence. Email sequences are a series of emails sent to leads over time. The purpose of an email sequence is to build relationships with leads and eventually convert them into customers.
Step 5: Measure your results. You should measure the number of leads you generate, the number of leads that convert into customers, and the ROI of your marketing campaigns.
Lead nurturing helps in two major ways.
- Tracking the leads as they progress through the buyer’s journey
- Customizing your messaging through different phases
How To Set up a Lead Nurturing Workflow
Start by creating a list of all the tasks required to nurture prospects effectively. It might include actions such as creating content, sending emails, setting up webinars, and so on.
Then, create the workflow in your CRM system. A lead nurturing workflow is a sequenced automated emails triggered when someone takes a certain action.
For example, you might set up a lead nurturing workflow that sends an email to someone who downloads a white paper. The email should offer additional resources related to the topic of the white paper.
You can also set up workflows that trigger when someone visits a certain page on your website or fills out a form. The key is to make sure that the lead nurturing workflow remains relevant to the lead’s needs and interests.
In addition to lead nurturing workflows, you can also create self-nurturing content.
It’s important to remember that the average B2B lead will spend a lot of time investigating your product before making a purchase. After all, if they’re going to spend money with you. They want to know as much about you as possible. They’ll want to investigate your product’s advantages, features, and more.
Many of your leads will also want to learn more about your industry as a whole and will look to your content for answers.
That’s where self-nurturing content can help. It is content that leads can consume on their own time without interacting with you. Self-nurturing content aims to keep your brand top of mind and build relationships with leads even when they’re not actively engaging with you.
Various types of self-nurturing content exist. Examples include the following.
- Blog posts
- White papers
Here’s a scenario where a prospect guides themselves through your self-nurturing content.
Your lead reads a blog post of interest on your website. At the bottom of the page, they see links to three related blog posts. When they click through to another article, they move through the process. It helps them understand your company, its products, and whether it is all a good fit for their needs.
Segmentation and Customer Profiling
One of the principal aspects of any marketing automation strategy is segmentation. Segmentation divides your leads into groups based on shared characteristics. The goal of segmentation is to send the right message to the right people at the right time.
To segment your leads, you need to understand who they are and what they’re interested in. Understanding your prospects leads you into a process called customer profiling.
- Customer profiling involves creating a detailed picture of your ideal customer. To do this, you need to factor in the location, job title, and role in the buying process.
Once you clearly understand your ideal customer, you can segment your leads accordingly. For example, if you’re selling enterprise software, you might segment your leads according to the business size. After you’ve segmented your leads, you can create targeted content for each group.
Page Tracking and Trigger Marketing
Page tracking is a feature of most marketing automation platforms. It allows you to see which pages on your website each lead has already visited. You can use this “website behavior” information to trigger marketing messages.
Trigger marketing works in concert with page tracking. As your leads perform various actions, you tell your automation software to perform certain tasks. You can use almost any action to trigger an event. Examples of actions to track include form conversions, the number of pages viewed, and specific pages viewed.
The concept here is that you design your website so that audiences see content related to their specific actions. You want to use this digital marketing technique to build a more effective and streamlined funnel.
For instance, if a lead hits your pricing page but doesn’t purchase anything, you could send them an email with a special offer. To accomplish this, your marketing automation tool will give you a piece of code to install on your website. After placing the tracking code on your website, you can follow leads as they interact with your website’s content.
Here is another example: if you sell software that helps businesses with their customer service, you might use the following trigger marketing strategy.
If a prospect lands on a “how-to” post about user experience, you know they’re looking for practical and helpful content about helping their customers enjoy the company’s processes. You also know that they’re a potential fit for buying your software.
As they continue to read the “how-to” post, you might offer them a popup box that offers them a free software demo. If they click the link on the popup, your new lead lands on one of your opt-in landing pages where they can access the demo.
Using trigger marketing like this, you can effectively get relevant marketing material in front of leads. It builds more trust and eventually increases the chances of converting to sales.
A multichannel campaign is a marketing campaign that uses multiple channels to reach leads. The most common channels are email, social media, and paid ads. The goal of multichannel marketing campaigns is to reach leads where they are. You don’t want to rely on a single channel to reach your target audience.
For example, imagine you’re only using email to reach your leads. However, many people inside your target audience may use social media. In this case, you can’t reach all of your potential customers effectively.
A multichannel campaign solves this problem by using multiple channels to reach leads. You can target a larger portion of your audience, giving you a better chance of making sales.
In addition to segmentation, lead scoring is another important aspect of B2B marketing automation.
Lead scoring is the process of assigning a numerical value to each lead. It is a score based on the lead’s behavior, such as the number of pages they’ve viewed on your website or whether they’ve subscribed to your email list. The more “engaged” a lead is, the higher their score.
The purpose of lead scoring is to prioritize leads. You can use lead scores to determine which leads are more likely to convert into customers. For example, if you have two leads with the same score, but one lead visited your pricing page, and the other hasn’t, you know that the lead that went to your pricing page is further along in their buyer’s journey.
The information allows you to prioritize time for your marketing and sales teams. They can focus on the leads that should likely convert rather than spending time on leads that aren’t ready to buy yet.
HubSpot, for example, is one of the marketing automation solutions that makes this process easy to set up. It offers its Predictive Lead Scoring system that helps you fine-tune your approach to lead scoring. Depending on how important you view a customer’s action, you can use the tool to assign weighted points.
Using this system, you might score a “Book a Demo” action higher than a webinar opt-in action.
Automated Email Sequences
One of the most common uses for automation is creating automated email sequences. An automated email sequence is a series of emails sent to leads over time.
For example, your lead generation process might include an automated email sequence sent to new subscribers. The first email might welcome them to your list. The second email might provide more information about your company. The third email might offer an opportunity to book a software demo.
The goal of an effective lead generation system is to nurture leads and eventually convert them into customers. By sending a series of emails, you can build trust and rapport with leads.
Use B2B marketing automation tools to set up automated email sequences that generate sales by reaching prospects when they’re most interested in what you offer.
For instance, you can time emails to go out to first-time prospects within minutes or hours after their first opt-in. One method might involve automating your system to email new prospects one hour after downloading a white paper. Ask them if they want to know more. Get your sales team involved with all the leads who respond positively.
If the prospect doesn’t respond, keep them in your nurture sequence. Provide more value over time. Then, ask again if they’re interested in talking to your sales team. Continue this process until you get a “yes” or the prospect unsubscribes from your email sequence.
You can’t possibly keep track of this on a manual basis. Hence, the need to think thoughtfully through how to set up your automated email sequences.
Use Chatbots to Answer Questions
Another common use for marketing and sales automation is chatbots. Chatbots are computer programs that can simulate a conversation with a human.
They’re commonly used to answer lead questions and direct prospects to relevant resources. For example, if you have a lead who’s interested in your product but they’re not sure if it’s the right fit for their needs, you can use a chatbot to ask them qualifying questions.
Based on their answers, the chatbot can direct them to either a salesperson or a relevant resource, like an eBook or case study. It helps you qualify leads and connect them with the right information at the right time. It also frees up your sales team’s time so they can focus on other tasks.
How Do You Choose B2B Marketing Automation Software?
Not all marketing automation software works equally. When choosing B2B marketing automation software, there are a few key factors you should consider.
First, think about your specific needs. What features do you need? Make a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. Then, research the different options on the market. Read reviews and compare pricing. Finally, take a free trial of the software to see if it’s a good fit for your marketing activities.
By taking these steps, you’ll be sure to choose the right marketing solutions for your business.
An Overview of Top Marketing Automation Platforms
To get you started with finding a marketing automation platform that fits your needs, here are six leaders within the marketing automation industry:
HubSpot: HubSpot is a quality choice for businesses that want to increase sales and close more deals. It offers a wide range of features, including lead capture forms, email tracking, deal management, and CRM integration. Plus, it’s free to use.
Pardot: Pardot is another popular automation platform, especially for businesses in the B2B space. It offers features like lead management, email marketing, social media automation, and ROI reporting. Pardot also integrates with the Salesforce CRM.
Userfox: Use Userfox if you’re a tech company. You can trigger events easily inside a lightweight dashboard experience. AdRoll acquired Userfox. If you already use AdRoll, then Userfox is the logical choice in this area.
Marketo: Marketo is a marketing automation platform that provides features like lead management, email marketing, and customer relationship management (CRM).
Eloqua: Eloqua is a popular marketing automation platform for large businesses. It offers features like lead capture forms and email marketing automation. Eloqua also integrates with Oracle CRM.
Customer.io: Customer.io works well when you need advanced functionality. It allows for customization and flexibility not offered by some competitors. It also gives you a lightweight software solution.
Take the time to research and compare different options before making a decision. By considering your specific needs and what features each platform offers, you’ll be sure to find the perfect solution for your business.
Marketing automation is a process that allows B2B businesses to automate their marketing tasks and business processes. Automating your marketing tasks can save you time and money while helping you reach your target audience more effectively.
To get the most out of B2B marketing automation, familiarize yourself with all its features and use case scenarios. Try implementing some of the strategies outlined in this article to see how they work for you and your business.
You may still have questions about B2B marketing automation and the way it applies to your overall digital marketing plan. Here are the answers to two commonly asked questions.
B2C marketing automation deals exclusively with the individual’s needs as he or she moves through the customer journey.
B2B marketing automation needs to consider the needs of an entire organization. While you might begin with one individual from that business your company targets, you need to make sure follow-up information helps that person see how your solutions will satisfy other decision-makers in their organization.
There are a few different ways businesses can use artificial intelligence in B2B marketing automation processes. Some companies use AI-powered chatbots to interact with leads and answer questions about their products or services. Others use AI and machine learning to score leads, segment their audiences, or personalize content.