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June 28, 2022

5 Ways to Elevate Your B2B Marketing Automation

By Kaci Antoine, Marketing Content Specialist

The sales cycle of a small-to-medium B2B company can last as long as 60 days, while enterprise sales cycles can last six months or longer.¹ Implementing a B2B marketing automation tool like Hubspot helps companies engage more prospects across channels and nurture them successfully throughout these long sales cycles. 64% of B2B marketers say marketing automation leads to more sales, and 95% of marketers say marketing automation helped them achieve primary objectives.² 

As marketing automation becomes more common, sales and marketing teams can utilize it in myriad ways to improve their buyer’s journey, customer experience, and even marketing and sales alignment.

hands-5435053_1920Map Automation to a Tailored Buyer’s Journey

Your buyer's journey maps the path potential buyers take from initial interest to purchase. Studying your buyer’s journey can help you identify where your teams can use B2B marketing automation most effectively. Ensure you understand:

  • Your leads’ buying trends, pain points, and the market forces affecting them
  • Buyer’s concerns at each stage of the buying process
  • Which criteria indicate that leads are likely to become a customer

With this data, you can optimize your marketing strategy by implementing marketing automation at key points in the buyer’s journey. For instance, look at your most successful nurturing campaigns. Are there any specific parts of that campaign that lend themselves to automation? Would segmenting your leads make it easier to automate pieces of the buyer’s journey?

Marketing automation is also an excellent tool for automating lead nurturing for leads who are further away from a purchasing decision or may not be qualified right now. Instead of manually tracking leads needing additional nurturing or removing them from your nurturing process, you can drop them into a long-term nurturing process and be alerted when a long-term nurture meets a certain threshold or takes a certain action that makes them a marketing-qualified lead.

Finally, consider how you might use marketing automation to connect with and activate your current customers by alerting them to new product releases, upselling them on additional features, or encouraging them to send referrals your way.

Set Goals for Automated Processes

The ideal outcomes of marketing automation are that you can automate repetitive tasks — allowing you to focus on higher-value projects — and that these automated processes perform better than a manual process by consistently implementing successful marketing practices across all lead interactions. You must set clear and measurable goals to ensure your marketing automation performs well. Focus on metrics that measure effectiveness rather than vanity-based metrics, like the number of emails sent. For example:

  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs): A metric used to measure the percentage of leads that qualify for follow-up from sales teams. These leads become opportunities when they meet your company's qualification criteria. The higher this number, the better. Marketing automation should ideally increase the number of MQLs moving through your process.
  • Sales-qualified leads (SQLs):  A metric that measures the percentage of leads that have been qualified by the marketing and sales teams and are ready for the next step in the sales process. Marketing automation should help you convert more MQLs to SQLs.
  • Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC): CAC is the total amount spent acquiring a customer. Marketing automation should lower your CAC by allowing you to scale up your marketing and sales activities without additional personnel costs.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): CLV measures the revenue generated by a customer over their lifetime. Marketing automation tools can help marketing and sales teams increase their CLV, especially when used to scale customer activation and upselling processes.

Read more about evaluating and improving these metrics here: Marketing Math for Beginners: How to Calculate and Improve Key Marketing Metrics

Make Continued Training a Priority 

As marketing automation continues to evolve, companies must provide their teams with training and education to ensure they use it effectively. Failure to provide these resources leads to lower ROI on automation, lost revenue opportunities, and poor experiences for your leads and customers.

With that in mind, companies can keep employees up to date on the latest B2B marketing tools and automation strategies by: 

  • Making automation training part of new hire onboarding. When all new employees are trained on automation software and processes specific to your team, there’s a better chance they’ll be comfortable fully utilizing it.
  • Utilizing training resources that automation software companies provide for their customers. These vendors often offer training manuals and videos, webinars, FAQ pages, and sometimes even one-on-one training for their clients. Use all the resources at your disposal to ensure your team is current on the software’s capabilities.
  • Creating an employee resource guide about B2B marketing automation and best practices for using automation tools. This can be useful for sales, marketing, and sometimes even people in other departments interacting with those teams. 
  • Meeting regularly with key stakeholders to review the company's current strategy and the results of their B2B marketing automation process. If there are issues with your marketing automation strategy or its execution, you want to know as soon as possible. Create opportunities for feedback and open communication about how your automation software is being used and where there is room for improvement.
  • Have regular employee training meetings and a point person who can answer questions and help employees who encounter roadblocks. Having a single person designated to answer questions, train new employees, schedule training meetings, and communicate with the vendor about updates ensures that your team always knows who to approach with questions or ideas.

Automate Sales and Marketing Alignment

Sales and marketing teams need to work together to significantly increase revenue opportunities. About 35% of marketers reported that their top reason for implementing marketing automation was to improve relations with the sales team.3 When these teams are aligned throughout the marketing and sales processes, they can deliver a unified buyer experience and generate more value. A few areas where marketing automation can improve marketing and sales alignment include:

  • Lead handoffs: Using triggers based on specific criteria, you can automate the handoff of qualified sales leads between marketing and sales. Automating this process ensures the right leads are handed off to sales at the right time — and that marketing and sales agree on when that should happen.
  • Long-term lead nurturing: Sales and marketing should work together to determine how to cultivate a lead over time, how often to contact that potential customer, and when leads should be connected to a salesperson.
  • Defining MQL and SQL criteria: Marketing and sales should work together to create MQL and SQL definitions that the team can automate and set up alerts that tell them when a lead has crossed those thresholds.

Test and Iterate Marketing Campaigns

Automated marketing applies processes consistently across all leads, so it provides a great opportunity to test messaging, strategies, and content with leads and find out what is most effective. Testing can help you quickly identify what works and what doesn't so you can iterate on successful ideas and eliminate those that don't produce results.

If you're not sure what to test, start with the basics:

  • Use A/B tests to improve your automation: A/B testing allows you to gather data on which messages resonate with your audience, which ones don't, and why they do or don't work. Companies can then use this information to create better content in the future and fine-tune their messaging and strategy,
  • Review automated processes: Look for places where you can streamline processes and eliminate steps that are not adding value. Also, review where leads are dropping off and unsubscribing.
  • Evaluate the efficacy of MQL/SQL criteria: Ensure your MQL or SQL criteria are working correctly before moving forward with automation campaigns. Poor MQL or SQL criteria make it harder to progress good leads and weed out unqualified leads. Excellent MQL or SQL criteria produce highly relevant leads and increase conversions for your sales team.

Marketing automation is changing the way companies do business. Marketing automation platforms provide many tools that help B2B marketers create innovative solutions and understand their buyers on a deeper level. 

Using these five strategies will help you elevate your marketing automation and improve outcomes for your marketing and sales teams.

Sources

¹HubSpot,The Enterprise Sales Cycle: How Massive Deals Come Together, July 08, 2021

2Oracle, Five Keys to Successful Automated Marketing, 2021

3Ascend, The State of Marketing Automation: A Research-based Guide for Marketers, August 2021

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