Marketing Automation Trumps Email for the Complex Sale

Email marketing is one of the most powerful tools in any B2B marketer’s toolbox of marketing tips and techniques.

Compared to traditional marketing strategies like direct mail, print advertising, and attending trade shows, email marketing has been proved to cost less and drive a higher return.

Simple Email Marketing

Straightforward email marketing is particularly effective for immediate purchases. If you have a “house” mailing list of some size, you can email new offers to incite repeat purchases.

So when do you need to think about marketing automation? Usually, it works best with products that have long or complex buying cycles.

Marketing automation that fits buyer journey

Dealing with Complex Marketing Buying Processes

If you are a B2B company, it’s likely that your customers go through many stages in their buying process, including doing some initial research, asking their colleagues for opinions, reading independent reviews, and ultimately coming to a decision — all without engagement with your sales force. Why do they take so much time? It’s likely because:

  • Your product is not an impulse purchase
  • Your product is vital to the success of your customers
  • Your product is vital to the success of your customers
  • You compete with multiple vendors
  • A customer’s buying decision cannot be easily reversed
  • There are many people involved in the purchase decision

All of this describe a complex buying process that can’t be effectively handled with simple email marketing.

What is marketing automation?

Wouldn’t it be great if you could provide customers with relevant information right when they need it. That’s the goal of marketing automation.

Basically, marketing automation technology helps you determine which stage of the buying process your customers are in. Instead of sending a single email, you design campaigns with a series of emails and other customer engagements. As an example, here is a very simple automated marketing campaign:

4 Steps to Automate Your Marketing Campaign

Step 1: You create an offer for a free report on your website.

Step 2: You send a thank you to web visitors who download the report.

Step 3: Based on the likely industry of the people who downloaded the report, you send a link to a relevant case study.

Step 4: For customers who click on the case study link, you create an alert for a sales rep to follow up.

All of this is set up in advance. So the work required to craft a single email is now used to create a multi-stage campaign that nurtures leads over time.

Marketing automation advantages

Marketing team: Using marketing automation, the marketing team can produce more leads and higher quality leads in less time.

Sales team: Marketing and sales decide which leads are worth the attention of the sales team and which leads need further nurturing. This cuts down on the wasted time sales spends chasing poorly qualified leads.

Executives: Marketing automation raises the visibility of marketing campaign results, tying metrics to revenue, and helping executives decide how to best allocate their budgets.

Additional powerful functionality

While crafting multi-stage email campaigns is the primary function of marketing automation, technology vendors have added related capabilities over the years that are both useful and powerful

Website Integration. Marketing automation enables you to connect Calls-to-Action (CTAs) with email campaigns. It also allows you to trigger actions based on website behavior. For example, you could email someone who visited a product page, who visited more than three pages, or who spent more than 5 minutes on your site.

Advanced Analytics. Standard email marketing analytics, such as open rates and click through rates are exciting at first, but provide a limited view of success. Marketing automation, which integrates easily with your CRM system, enables you to track respondents through the entire buying cycle to determine true ROI. In addition, many systems provide “Reverse IP” functionality, which attaches company names to your otherwise anonymous website traffic.

Landing pages. Using a built-in email editor, many marketing automation solutions also help you create website landing pages and set up A/B tests to compare landing page attributes, such as headlines, images, the length of forms, and other variables to maximize performance.

Conclusion on Marketing Automation

You should consider replacing your email marketing strategy with marketing automation if:

  • Your customers’ buying process lasts longer than a week
  • You sell different products or services to different demographics
  • You want to send different messages to different titles or industries
  • Your marketing team needs an easier way to create targeted, multi-touch email campaigns
  • Your marketing team needs an easier way to deploy website forms and landing pages
  • Your salespeople complain about the quality of the leads from marketing
  • You want to know which of your marketing campaigns are most effective

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