The Content Marketing Institute reported that 54% of B2B marketers in North America use marketing automation software to assist with content marketing efforts, and 75% said it provides better insight into content performance. A key part of any holistic digital marketing strategy, marketing automation is a great way to make repetitive tasks, such as email marketing and ad campaigns, more efficient, while providing your audience with personalized content.
Marketing automation is an extremely beneficial tool, but it’s important to have a comprehensive marketing game plan already in play to maximize your success. Here are five marketing automation best practices that will benefit your B2B business:
1. Define the Objectives for Your Digital Marketing Strategy
Are you seeking new customers or return customers? Do you want to drive sign-ups for free trials or push sales for one of your products? Marketing automation is a great way to improve key messages, target higher-quality leads and improve the overall user experience.
Whether you are implementing a new marketing automation system or improving your current marketing plan, defining your goals will help you determine how to utilize your automated system—ultimately paving the path to victory. A few key benefits of marketing automation include:
- Increased customer lifetime value
- Hyper-targeted marketing across various channels
- Repurposed content to nurture leads along the buyer’s journey
- Enhanced analytics reporting capabilities
- Email workflows to keep your business in front of prospective customers
- Reduced lead conversion time
Without a marketing strategy and actionable objectives, implementing a marketing automation system could quickly become an aimless investment. To make sure your goals are clear and achievable, take the time to create SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely—goals to help guide the implementation process for your business.
2. Improve Your Lead Generation Process
Some businesses turn to purchased lists for leads, but this method is counterintuitive to the core purpose of marketing automation—which is to send authentic messages, instead of spam. To capture quality leads, start at the top of the sales funnel with a content marketing, blogging or social media plan that will attract leads if you don’t already have enough in your pipeline to serve the demand from marketing automation.
Once your leads have been generated, marketing automation systems are designed to keep these leads organized, which allows for effective and efficient lead nurturing. Companies that focus on lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads than those that don’t. It’s also important that your business pipeline is full of leads and has a system already in place to consistently replenish it before taking the step to automate your marketing efforts.
3. Integrate Your Contact Database
A mere list of contacts doesn’t allow for much selectiveness when segmenting a target audience for a campaign, but merging your existing CRM with your marketing automation system allows for improved segmentation.
You will have more success implementing marketing automation if you already have an existing CRM that you can merge into the system’s database, rather than building customer profiles from scratch. Integrating your CRM with your marketing automation system can impact your business by developing better relationships with customers early on, prioritizing your leads with a lead score, shortening the sales process and more.
4. Develop Your Marketing Automation Expertise
Most software is not self-sufficient and requires a human touch to maximize its effectiveness. A marketing automation system is no different. In fact, one reason marketing automation efforts fail is because businesses don’t completely understand the available features, and therefore underutilize it. This lack of expertise and human resources are among the most common reasons why companies do not use marketing automation at all.
For a successful launch and to sustain the momentum of your marketing automation program, it’s important to make sure your team has the time and resources needed for software setup, training, integrations, campaign planning, content development and ongoing management. If in-house implementation risks overloading your team, consider bringing on an agency partner to outsource your marketing.
5. Create a Consistent Stream of Content
Marketing automation is essentially a vehicle for getting your content in front of customers, and a strong content team is needed to feed the beast. Content marketing and marketing automation should be used together to help your business create cohesive, engaging and effective marketing content that are relevant and personalized.
Drip campaigns, or automated sets of emails sent out based on timelines or actions, need a bevy of well-developed resources to be successful. Otherwise, it would be impossible to send personalized content that is relevant to customers’ stage in the buyer’s journey. Because you can’t repeatedly send the same content to prospective customers, marketing automation demands a rockstar production team of internal marketers and external partners who can regularly create click-worthy articles, videos, whitepapers and more for the sales department to have on reserve. The marketing automation system then helps keep your audience and marketing efforts organized, ensuring the right content will be used at the appropriate times.
Marketing automation is a great tool for B2B businesses to get ahead of the competition, streamline marketing strategies and improve revenue. Before getting started, your team should be prepared to spend time implementing and maintaining the automation software in order for your efforts to be successful.