B2B marketing has evolved exponentially over the last decade. Earlier, sales and marketing used to be mutually exclusive teams, digital was just one of the many channels for reaching target prospects, and personalization was all about addressing customers by their first names in emails. In the past few years, we’ve seen the likes of Slack, Shopify, and HubSpot redefine the legacy of marketing by leveraging data like never before. And B2B marketing automation tools are a (not so) secret ingredient in making it possible to mine deep prospect data, build integrated marketing programs, and grow businesses.
In this blog post, we will break down the fundamentals of B2B marketing automation to better understand what makes it so pivotal to the success of any marketing strategy in 2022.
What is B2B Marketing Automation?
Put simply, marketing automation is a type of technology that allows businesses to deploy tools and software to automate repetitive marketing activities. By streamlining communications, workflows, and processes, marketing teams can achieve operational excellence and better position themselves for growth.
Automation can be deployed across various functions in the department to align all resources to achieve common marketing goals faster and with improved efficiency. However, that’s not the only benefit to it. Marketing automation also allows teams to deliver enhanced, more personalized experiences that strategically nurture prospects through the funnel at their own pace.
By integrating all marketing channels and efforts, and automating routine campaigns, drips, and processes, teams can achieve improved results from their strategies and future-proof themselves.
In fact, recent statistics show that leveraging marketing automation boosts the quantity of total leads businesses are able to generate by 80% and the quantity of qualified leads by 451%. It's clear that the use of automation in marketing is only going to grow in the coming years.
To summarize, marketing automation empowers your team to:
Improve operational efficiency by automating monotonous tasks
Reduce the probability of errors in repetitive processes
Free up bandwidth to focus on strategic projects
Target prospects more effectively
Overcome analysis paralysis and make better use of collected data
Deliver enhanced prospect/customer experiences
Personalize every prospect/customer interaction
Types of B2B Marketing Automation
Marketing automation can help streamline a plethora of marketing and business functions. Here’s a look at the most crucial ones:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Customer Relationship Management solutions are the foundation of marketing automation. These powerful tools help to streamline the last stage of the marketing funnel and the entire sales cycle, right through to customer success management. With a CRM tool, B2B or SaaS marketing businesses can automate the process of collecting, organizing, and monitoring prospect information, nurturing them through the sales cycle, and tracking every interaction that the prospect has with the company. This enables businesses to optimize their experiences and build better relationships that result in more sales.
Here’s what the dashboard of the world’s largest CRM software (Salesforce) looks like:
If you are just getting started, it can be challenging to unlock the full potential of robust CRM tools. At Hypelocal, we specialize in empowering B2B businesses to optimize their marketing automation workflows by helping them in all their implementation needs. Reach out to us to discuss how we can partner with your teams to implement marketing automation tools to build best-in-class customer journeys.
Marketing analytics is the automated collection of data points around every interaction that a prospect has with a brand, which can then be analyzed to determine the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. With the use of automation, B2B businesses are able to collect actionable insights on:
How potential customers are engaging with the brand
Sources that are driving traffic
Campaigns that are leading to conversions
Content that is encouraging action
By leveraging technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, and combining it with the use of statistics, analytics tools such as Google Analytics, SEMrush, and MixPanel equip marketers with the ability to make data-backed decisions regarding the ROI they are driving.
Here’s a quick snapshot of the Google Analytics dashboard and how it shares data points on critical KPIs:
Social media marketing
The use of automation in social media is relatively newer as compared to other functions of B2B marketing automation. However, it also happens to be the most rapidly growing channel in terms of building engagement and generating demand for any business that’s fighting for market share today.
Although traditional B2B businesses wouldn't have depended on social channels to engage with their prospects or drive leads, the situation’s completely changed now. Brands are seen scaling their social media marketing efforts at an unimaginable pace, and marketing automation is making it possible.
Social media management tools including Buffer, Sprout Social, and Hootsuite are offering businesses access to services that allow them to automate their end-to-end social strategy. From building social calendars and posting on various platforms simultaneously, to managing analytics and social listening, marketing teams can rely on these automated dashboards to scale their social efforts.
Here’s a quick look at the Sprout Social’s dashboard and analytics:
Email marketing automation
Marketing automation has allowed businesses to reach their prospects’ inboxes with relevant, customized, and engaging content that nurtures them down the funnel. With powerful tools that enable intelligent segmentation, granular personalization, in-depth insights/analytics, ease of content creation/curation, and more; marketers can now automate how they reach their prospects, no matter which stage of the buyer’s journey they are at.
Some email marketing activities that automation helps streamline include:
Content update emails
Customer onboarding email drips
Nurture drip campaigns
Loyalty email campaigns
Reviving disengaged users
Product update emails
From the minute a lead enters the sales pipeline to when it finally converts into a paying customer, there are a plethora of operational challenges that B2B businesses need to overcome to effectively nurture the prospect, develop a memorable relationship, and fasten the sales process.
Lead management tools help to automate this entire cycle to ensure that it runs efficiently. For example, the moment a visitor fills out a form on your site, they can be added to your lead management system and every activity that follows can be managed.
Manually activities that can be automated include:
Here’s a look at Pipedrive (one of the most commonly used lead management tools) in action:
Digital advertising is a competitive space, and there’s only so much you can do in terms of perfecting your bidding strategies and assets to get prime real estate on search engines, social media channels, and other ad platforms. Advertising automation reduces the manual effort required in driving results from campaigns by automating ad creation, modification for various platforms, and continuous optimization, depending upon early results and insights derived.
Automated advertising platforms, such as Google Ads, LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager, and Facebook’s Ads Manager use your historical performance data to predict what is likely to work, and thus based on that and current trends, they can be configured to pause low-performing ads or optimize them based on insights collected. By automating your ad campaigns, you not only save time and resources, but can also expect a higher CTR and lower CPC if you let the algorithms do their job.
Ad platforms managing your campaigns automate the following tasks so you don’t have to constantly monitor your ads and do these manually:
Schedule your ads and display them on the selected date and time
Tailor bidding strategies to maximize conversions
Pause or stop poorly performing ads
Optimize headlines, descriptions, and CTAs provided based on what seems to be working
Enable audience expansion to reach a wider audience base showcasing similar attributes
Lookalike creation so your ads are displayed to people that are just like your existing customers
At Hypelocal, our team of digital advertising experts can help you manage the portions of digital advertising campaigns that aren’t automated, including strategy, setup, optimization, and landing page design. Book a free strategy session with our team to discuss how we can help you to drive limitless growth for your B2B business.
How to Build a B2B Marketing Automation Strategy
Crafting a promising marketing automation strategy may seem challenging in the beginning, but it’s not all that complicated if you break down the steps based on your desired outcome. Here’s a checklist to help you build your strategy from scratch:
Establish your B2B marketing automation software goals
No strategy can be set in motion without establishing S.M.A.R.T. goals with corresponding benchmarks/data. This will help provide clarity on the starting point, where exactly you are headed, and the journey in between.
For example, your goals could be improving the efficiency of your marketing efforts, boosting prospect engagement, increasing lead quality, improving the frequency of communication with paying customers, reducing churn, or a combination of those.
All you need to do is have a clear set of measurable marketing automation objectives that your team agrees upon and will be working towards in a particular order of priority.
Create your ideal customer profile and market segments
Since one of the two most significant goals of marketing automation is personalizing customer and prospect interactions at every single touch point, you need to first build (or revisit) your ideal customer profile before anything else.
This will help you gauge the demographic, behavioral, and psychographic attributes of your potential customers, so you can tailor your communications to align with their preferences. It’s also crucial to create your audience segments at this stage, so you can use these lists to decide how to target them with the most relevant messaging at the respective stages in their customer journey.
Get access to accurate data
The success of your marketing automation strategy hinges on the quantity, quality, and depth of previously-collected customer data. To make sure you are targeting the right segment with the most relevant information, at their preferred time, and via their most-used channel, you will need access to updated, accurate, and granular data and insights that you can feed into your automation tools.
Therefore, before you begin implementing your strategy, you should mine all the data you have at your disposal, so it can serve as a solid foundation for your automation activities.
Zero in on the marketing automation tools you will need
Depending upon the goals you shortlisted and the functions you need to automate, zero in on the tools you will need for executing your strategy. For example, if one of your goals is to improve prospect engagement via a weekly newsletter, you will need an email marketing solution such as HubSpot to help you implement it. Similarly, if you need to streamline your social media strategy and start building a comprehensive social calendar, you will need a tool such as Buffer or Hootsuite to automate that aspect for you.
So, based on the exact list of marketing tasks that you need to automate, examine and assess the tools you would need. While evaluating, also check for tools that can easily be integrated with your current tech stack so you can centralize your data collection and monitoring processes.
Map out your entire customer journey
Your next order of business is to draft your entire customer journey in terms of the automation strategies that you are going to implement.
There are three reasons why you need to complete this exercise:
It will help you streamline the entire sequence of interactions and better manage your workflows so as to not overwhelm your prospects with excessive nudges.
It will allow you to manage how you will collect, track, and utilize data that your automated campaigns will yield to further optimize them along the way.
And, mapping out your buyer journey will enable your team to uncover further opportunities to improve your omnichannel experiences now that you have automation solutions to back your strategy.
Determine your critical KPIs
Next, it's time to establish how you are going to measure the success of your automated marketing campaigns. Based on the goals set in the first step, create a list of corresponding KPIs that are precise and actionable. For example, if one of your goals is to improve prospect engagement, your corresponding KPI could be to boost your weekly newsletter open rate by 20% and, subsequently, click-through rate by 15%.
Deploy the various marketing automation tools along your customer journey
Finally, you can go ahead and put your tools and strategy into action once you have the content, creatives, and calendar ready. To ensure that your strategy yields the desired results, create three checklists for pre, during, and post automation tasks that you need to follow.
These could be as simple as double-checking that the right segment list has been deployed or that the conversions are firing correctly, or even as complex as optimizing the post-conversion experience. This will help you ensure that your deployed tools are functioning properly and your strategy is working just as you expected it to.
Marketing Automation Examples
As a consumer, you witness marketing automation in action almost every single day. Below are some of the most common examples of marketing activities that automation helps streamline:
A poor onboarding experience can be an absolute deal-breaker, especially if the product is complex and tricky to get familiar with. Creating a seamless and personalized onboarding experience is one excellent use of marketing automation tools. You can utilize email marketing solutions such as Mailchimp or HubSpot to create an email sequence that handholds your customers through their first steps in becoming acquainted with your product.
This way, the customer can complete the process at their own pace, while you automate and personalize every step for them. And as a marketer, you wouldn’t need to spend time as many resources to onboard each customer.
While creating a customer onboarding email workflow, make sure to keep it contextual, interactive, and easy to grasp. You want to ensure that it works as a self-serve tutorial that is sufficient to get a new user familiar with everything they need to get started. You can even segment your email lists and create separate sequences for engaged and disengaged users, so you can target them accordingly with appropriate content.
Here’s an effective example of an automated onboarding email from LastPass:
Reach out to us today to kickstart your customer onboarding automation implementation!
Social media scheduling
Social posting is another task that takes up significant bandwidth for marketing teams. Using apps such as Hootsuite and Buffer, you can automate your posts and schedule them as required in one go. Or you could use a tool like HubSpot to bring social media scheduling, email marketing automation, and lead management all under one roof.
These tools allow you to keep your social engagement metrics up by posting regularly and consistently. And beyond that, such tools allow you to gauge your audiences’ interaction with your brand, based on which you can decide when and what to post. Therefore, automation doesn’t only help improve your team’s efficiency, but it also gives you access to data on your audience’s behavior which you can leverage to improve your content’s performance.
Here’s a snapshot of a social calendar that you can create on Buffer to automate all your monthly posts:
It’s 2022, and the average consumer is more time-starved than they’ve ever been. Website chatbots, therefore, have grown to become one of the quickest and most efficient ways to answer visitor queries without disrupting their experience.
Being a prime example of marketing automation in action, chatbots help provide personalized solutions and self-help troubleshooting resources that consumers can put to use themselves. With well-trained bots around, your sales and marketing teams don’t have to personally answer every single customer query, but can filter them out based on the level of team involvement required.
Here’s how HubSpot deploys a chatbot on its site:
Gated content delivery and lead capturing
You can automate the collection of leads that share their information in exchange for access to your gated content. The entire process of delivering the content via email, following up with more similar resources, and nurturing the lead to enter the sales funnel can be automated so that the leads gathered from gated content don’t go to waste.
In fact, you can use this as an opportunity to engage with those low-intent prospects further and elevate their level of interest in your products and brand with a separate content strategy.
Here’s an example of a gated resource designed for lead generation by Salesforce:
Lead routing is one of the most basic examples of utilizing technology to improve process efficiency. Tools such as Chili Piper and Lean Data route each incoming lead to a particular sales representative based on predetermined criteria such as industry, location, or company size.
Automating how leads are assigned to reps eliminates any chances of errors, information falling through the cracks, or delays in follow-ups. By using these tools, you can rest assured knowing that your CRM is always updated with the latest lead information and prospects are contacted efficiently.
B2B marketing automation tools help brands to develop meaningful and long-lasting relationships with prospects that have displayed interest in your offerings through personalized communications.
By automating communication to collected leads based on their stage in the funnel, teams can create and share content at scale, while maintaining its relevance for every prospect. With a robust omnichannel lead nurture plan that engages potential customers constructively, marketing teams can steadily build purchase intent in buyers and shorten the sales cycle, as unengaged leads are less likely to convert into paying customers.
Here’s an example of an automated lead nurture email from Mouseflow:
Once you’ve turned a prospect into a paying customer, all your communication after that must be directed towards helping them achieve success with your product and turning that client into an evangelist.
Automation helps streamline all your customer marketing efforts tailored towards driving loyalty towards your products. These could be email drips that regularly check in with customers on any issues they might be facing, dashboard notifications that ask them to share their feedback, push notifications that guide them through the setup process, or even invite emails for relevant webinars and podcasts.
Automating this chain of communication will ensure you are always on top of your customers’ needs, without spending unnecessary amounts of time and resources in doing so.
Here’s an excellent example of a post-purchase email by Buffer:
Get in touch with the experts at Hypelocal to build an email-based customer loyalty program that meaningfully engages your costumes and improves your retention rate.
Responsive advertising on Google
B2B marketing automation helps teams run and manage their responsive ads with increased efficiency. With responsive ads, all you need to do is upload all your ad assets and Google automatically creates multiple combinations of the uploaded images, headlines, videos, descriptions, and logos to fit the available ad spaces. This is especially beneficial for smaller teams as they don’t have to spend additional resources on creating multiple high-resolution variations of their ad images, but can rely on Google to do the tweaking.
Also, with this automated optimization, you can expect better ad performance and results along with improved reach as Google uses its algorithms to determine the most effective combination of your ad that drives the most conversions.
At Hypelocal, we specialize in digital advertising solutions that are designed to generate more leads for your B2B business. With a proven track record of having generated over $250M in new sales volume for our clients, our team works diligently to ensure that right from ad account set up and ad creation to driving results and optimization, you don’t have to spend a minute worrying about your campaigns. Schedule a free strategy session with our experts to learn how we can help you leverage digital advertising to achieve your business goals.
Reducing customer churn
By automating communication at every stage of the post-purchase journey, marketing teams can detect lack of engagement or usage-related issues well in advance and work towards fixing them. This helps reduce the probability of customers churning because they couldn’t drive the expected results with the service they signed up for. Marketing automation, in this case, helps businesses to stay on top of customer concerns and make sure they are resolved before it's too late.
Let’s take a look at an example of a customer retention email from CloudApp:
When it was first popularized, the use of marketing automation tools was limited to large-scale enterprises, and rightfully so. The amount of tech sophistication and data it required was only available to industry giants. However, there is no business today, big or small, that can thrive without having the right automation tools in its arsenal to streamline its marketing activities and deliver integrated customer experiences.
Successfully implementing the above-discussed automation tools and strategies to streamline your marketing workflows can be overwhelming if you are just starting out. At Hypelocal, we work with a range of fast-growing SaaS brands and B2B businesses to help execute their marketing automation strategies at scale. Book a free strategy session with our experienced team to understand how we can supercharge growth for your B2B business by deploying marketing automation at every stage of the funnel and customer journey.