The reasons for marketing automation are obvious to any stressed out, overworked B2B marketer. B2B sales cycles are longer than ever, making it more difficult track leads that may become active months before a budget exists. Product research by customers relies more on digital sources and social media than sales reps. At the same time, the number of people involved in the purchase – the buying committee – continues to grow.
In short, marketers have to squeeze leads from a tight market, understand the disparate needs of the buying committee over a long period of time, and produce content that satisfies all of them.
One of the beauties of marketing automation software is that companies can use it in a myriad of ways to meet their specific needs. In general, companies employ it to do some combination of creating, executing, managing and measuring online marketing programs.
How to Jump-start Marketing Automation
But the real issue is not whether to invest in marketing automation — most B2B companies should — it’s how to get started. To help with that problem, here are five ways to jump-start your marketing automation strategy:
1. Simple Lead Generation
You already employ landing pages on your website. To implement basic marketing automation, simply recreate the landing page within your system, offering valuable content behind a registration form. Leads can be scored on activities such as form submissions, page-views, file downloads, and email clicks. Once a lead reaches your lead criteria threshold, marketing automation automatically assigns the lead to the appropriate sales reps.
2. Lead Nurturing for Early-Stage Leads
You can set up simple lead nurturing for early-stage leads by sending personalized email messages at set intervals to encourage prospects to engage with your brand. Here is an example of what a lead nurturing campaign might look like:
- A prospect fills out and submits a form on your website. You send him an automated email containing a link to the content that was requested.
- Five days later, you send another automated email that features a related whitepaper.
- 10 days later, you send an automated email with a link to a topical post from your company blog.
- 30 days after the initial contact, you send an automated, but personalized reconnect message asking if you can help them in any other way.
When a lead shows additional interest by responding to one of these automated messages or interacting with your content, they gain additional points on their lead score. When the threshold that you previously set is reached, they are automatically assigned to a sales rep for follow-up.
Webinars are another way to leverage your marketing automation investment, as many systems integrate seamlessly with webinar applications from start to finish:
- Setup and registration. Track registrations directly within your marketing automation platform for easier promotion and follow-up.
- Promotion. Promote a webinar to the leads in your database via email, or schedule social postings to such networks as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
- Scoring and segmentation. Send reminder messages based on registration status. You can increase or decrease a prospect’s score based on attendance, and add prospects to segments based on topic of interest.
- Following up. Notify sales to follow up when a prospect signs up for a webinar. You can also target follow-up emails based on whether a prospect attended the webinar or not.
Setup and registration. Track registrations directly within your marketing automation platform for easier promotion and follow-up.
Promotion. Promote a webinar to the leads in your database via email, or schedule social postings to such networks as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Scoring and segmentation. Send reminder messages based on registration status. You can increase or decrease a prospect’s score based on attendance, and add prospects to segments based on topic of interest.
Following up. Notify sales to follow up when a prospect signs up for a webinar. You can also target follow-up emails based on whether a prospect attended the webinar or not.
4. Warming Up Cold Leads
Sales reps are paid for short-term results. That’s why they are mostly interested in hot leads. But many longer-term leads have value. You can use marketing automation to resurrect old, colder leads and nurture them back to life. A cold-lead campaign designed to re-engage prospects who have been unresponsive or who may have purchased your competitor’s product may yield up to 25% in warmer leads. Best of all, you can set it and forget it, waiting for these leads to raise their hand and respond.
5. Sales Follow Up
Take advantage of the integration between your marketing automation system and your CRM. You can set up entire campaigns that are triggered by Sales. Marketing controls the content, the creative, the timing, and the lead scoring. But the trick is that sales reps can add people from a CRM to lead nurturing campaign lists. Rather than having a salesperson check in periodically over the next six months, sales reps can simply select a “Six Month Nurturing Track” from a drop-down menu, for example. All messages sent to leads will appear to come directly from the assigned rep despite the automation behind the scenes.
Marketing automation is a supporting technology that helps marketers perform all the complex and time-consuming aspects of lead management, including lead scoring, lead nurturing and CRM integration. Starting simple and gradually progressing to more targeted programs is the best way to gain confidence and management support in generating more qualified leads.
Looking for professional help to get you on track with your marketing automation needs? From choosing the right platform to navigating the complexities of implementation, to optimizing performance, the inbound marketing experts at HiveMind Marketing are here to help.
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