The Expert’s Guide to B2B Marketing Automation

B2B marketing automation tools hold a lot of promise for busy marketers looking to squeeze the most out of their marketing budget. Here’s all you need to know about marketing automation, lead nurturing and its ROI.

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B2B marketing automation platforms save marketers time and energy daily, whilst also ensuring leads receive appropriate nurturing treatment. They bring together and automate an increasing variety of marketing tasks, like sending timely marketing emails and text messages, managing social media posts and paid ads, scoring leads, segmenting contacts and ordering communication. The list goes on and on. 

Marketing automation platforms also track and analyze visitor behavior to deliver metrics that guide marketing campaigns, and help marketers build personalized, cross-channel journeys that generate leads and convert them into loyal customers, and then retain them. 

While marketing automation platforms have been around for almost two decades now, most B2B marketers are not using them to their full potential. 

That’s why we’ve put together this expert’s guide to B2B marketing automation to help guide you to make the most of the tech.

What is a B2B marketing automation platform?

We tend to talk about marketing automation platforms as if they’re monolithic, but actually, each platform is made up of a number of features, or components, which should work together smoothly. Each platform varies a little, but here’s the gist of what you can expect to find:

A central database to hold all your marketing data, making it easy for you to segment your audience and target the right message to each lead. Usually, this database will be integrated with a Customer Relationship Management system.

An engagement marketing engine that helps you create marketing messages and conversations, and which manages and automates them across all your online and offline channels.

An analytics engine to test, track, measure, and optimize the impact and RoI of your marketing efforts. 

A collection of MarTech tools that deliver various solutions to help you scale, manage, and orchestrate marketing work to reach your goals, such as workflows, scoring systems and more.  

However, marketing teams don’t use all the features equally. A study found that email automation is the most commonly-used capability, followed by landing page creation and lead nurturing. Analytics and lead scoring have a far lower take-up, while web tracking is used less often and social media automation is largely neglected.

That’s not to say that the least-used features aren’t important, just that they aren’t as valued by marketers. As the market matures and people become more familiar with the tech, we might see that change.

The many benefits of B2B marketing automation

Still on the fence about marketing automation? Here are some of the wonders it can do for you.

1

Save time

Time is a scarce resource, and B2B marketers need as much of it as they can to develop marketing strategies, brainstorm new campaigns, and respond to the most promising leads. Marketing automation saves time otherwise wasted on manual, repetitive processes like responding to early-stage prospects, scoring leads, and answering prospect questions. It also saves time when communicating with other software, such as Salesforce – with automation you don’t need to enter the data twice.

Importantly, it saves marketers and sales teams time by surfacing (aka qualifying) the leads which are most likely to buy, enabling them to focus energy on them first while nurturing others.

When you use marketing automation software, your contacts can be sorted automatically into customized segments. Unlike humans, if your settings (and scoring) are right (and that’s important IF) tech doesn’t accidentally overlook or miscategorize anybody, so now all your marketing communications can be increasingly relevant and organized. That’s because software, unlike people, doesn’t cherry pick based on a whim, but on algorithms.

2

Respond at the right moment

Bye bye to the days where B2B marketers need to set a reminder for every marketing email and ad campaign. Marketing automation platforms work based on pre-defined triggers, (most actions can be scheduled). They will send each email at the right time, plus they remember to follow up in 2 weeks when your lead returns from vacation and reply instantly to a new prospect’s questions.

3

Reduce operating costs

It can get expensive to hire extra personnel to carry out basic tasks like sending welcome emails and filing contacts. Software can complete time-consuming tasks whenever the right trigger is hit, saving you money on labor costs and significantly reducing the number of menial tasks marketers have to undertake. 

Simply put, you can do more marketing and run more campaigns when the operations are automated. More importantly, you can focus on the stuff that turns the needle, which can’t be done by machines: devising new strategies, coming up with a killer creative concept, crafting just the right copy for the next messaging effort, and more.

4

Increase RoI

Marketing automation enables you to run more campaigns when operations are automatic, increasing your ROI.

It allows you to focus your spending on the right (Correctly scored) leads, driving pipeline for your sales team, helping it generate more revenue, quicker. When set up correctly, marketing automation can enhance the efficiency of generating and converting leads, boosting RoI.

It’s estimated that the average company saves 3.4% on their administrative overheads, boosts sales productivity by 28% and revenue growth by 33% when using marketing automation. Not only that, but costs on average are lowered per lead by 33%, while driving 50% more sales leads.

5

Supercharge reporting and monitoring

Marketing automation platforms (well, some of them at least,) can track leads across channels and monitor their every interaction, enabling you to produce detailed reports at the click of a button. Certain platforms include data visualizations to make the results even more accessible. These insights help you refine campaigns to be more effective, hone personalized messaging, and develop a more coherent and unified marketing strategy. You’ll easily be able to see which ebook campaign is driving the most leads and from which ads. Testing which follow up emails convert best is a default view. Different platforms differ greatly in their support of analytics and reporting.

6

Sales and marketing alignment

Sometimes, sales and marketing alignment is easier said than done. Marketing automation is no magic wand, but it can help you create cross-team service-level agreements, collaborate on strategies, streamline the marketing-sales funnel, and ensure that sales reps can access information about leads at the right time.

7

Fail fast

Today’s top marketing teams are borrowing strategies from R&D teams, including that of “failing fast.” Marketing automation platforms help you to float new content and campaign ideas, test them rigorously, and reject, refine, or ramp them up accordingly.

That said, marketing automation platforms are no silver bullet for your marketing problems, and if you implement them carelessly or insufficiently, you’ll find you’re just creating more problems for yourself.

Need help with marketing automation?
Schedule a consultation with us today.

Steps to setting up your B2B marketing automation

Choosing the
right platform

Deploying
your solution

Ongoing fine
tuning

Choosing the right platform

Your choice of marketing automation platform makes a huge difference. We’ll be covering how to choose the best platform soon, but what matters is that you pick a platform that addresses your core requirements, and provides the best match for your business processes. Remember, marketing success is all about integration, so if your marketing automation doesn’t play nicely with your existing tech, it’s not likely to serve you well.

Three of our favorite B2B marketing Automation Platforms:

Once you’ve made your choice, you need to deploy it correctly. A typical marketing automation deployment comprises these three core aspects: 

Business process definition – this is the crucial step on which the success of the initiative depends. In this step, you need to map out all the business processes that are about to be impacted by the new system. At a minimum, these should include:

  • Lead Lifecycle Management
  • Marketing-Sales Alignment
  • Lead Scoring
  • Lead Qualification
  • Lead Nurture
  • Revenue Attribution
  • Campaign Management

Depending on your company, you may need to define additional business processes that your marketing automation system can affect. 

Marketing set up – putting in place the templates for all the different assets that your marketing automation system will use as part of its one-off or automated campaign management.

  • Landing pages
  • Lead capture forms
  • Emails
  • Audience segments & lists
  • Calls to Action
  • Chat scripts (when supported)

Technical configuration – integrating the marketing automation platform with all the other business tools in place, such as your website, CRM, email servers, webinar platform provider, ad network accounts, social media accounts, etc. This step is usually very well documented and supported by the platform vendors, so as long as you’ve done a good job with the previous two steps, your path to blissful enjoyment of all the benefits that marketing automation can offer is now open.

Ongoing fine tuning

Contrary to popular thoughts, a marketing automation platform doesn’t mean you can “set and forget” it; in fact, the opposite is true. You need to constantly review and optimize it. Your marketing goals keep changing, your audience’s needs keep evolving, and the platform and tech itself also keeps developing. For example, your criteria for MQLs/SQLs will change over time based on experience from numerous campaigns. Your automation platform needs to also be updated in order to remain relevant.

Furthermore, since in its essence marketing automation systems deal with marketing and sales data, keeping that data clean and maintaining its hygiene will soon become a top priority for your system admins. Truly it is one of the most basic jobs of any marketing operations specialist.

Getting to Know Marketing Automation on HubSpot

See what the most common issues Marketing Operations/Automation teams encounter when working on a new account on HubSpot and learn why we love the HubSpot Ops Hub.

Common Problems Ops Teams Encounter
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Most Common Problems Ops Teams Encounter

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Why HubSpot and Salesforce Speak a Different Language

Why we love HubSpot Ops Hub
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Best Things About the HubSpot Ops Hub

Three of our favorite B2B marketing Automation Platforms:

Caption: Traffic Analytics HubSpot

B2B HubSpot platform is much loved by businesses of all sizes. It is incredibly user friendly and has the most complete reporting and analytics package, hands-down.

HubSpot marketing automation is also our recommendation for landing page and email newsletter creation, as long as you’re just targeting one geographic location at a time. The HubL language, the intuitive editing experience, and the versatile templating system make it a great tool for marketing operations experts.

On top of that, HubSpot is known for offering excellent help services and fantastic resources, and boasts, in addition to the core marketing platform, an Operations Hub to serve as a unified toolset for marketing apps, business process automation, and customer data processing.

We answer some of your commonly asked questions about HubSpot in our blog:

1) How do I handle HubSpot Database Decay?

2) How are HubSpot’s Offline Contacts created?

3) Why don’t my HubSpot Analytics and Google Analytics match?

Pricing (as of summer 2021)

Starter
Marketing Hub
$45/month
$540/year
Professional
Marketing Hub
$800/month
$9,600/year
Enterprise
Marketing Hub
$3,200/month
$38,200/year

You can also purchase various HubSpot tools individually

Caption: traffic Analytics on Pardot

Pardot, built by Salesforce, is another solid marketing automation option for medium to large marketing teams. It also offers an easy to use, effective editing platform for landing page and email newsletter creation, with useful templating features. 

It has efficient analytics, even if they aren’t quite as powerful as those offered by HubSpot, but what users really love is the ability to build streamlined lead nurturing campaigns with versatile workflows that can be reworked for different leads. Of course, because it’s run by Salesforce, it’s a good choice if you already use the Salesforce CRM, because they slot together neatly.

Pricing (summer 2021)

Growth plan
$1,250/month
Plus
$2,500/month
Advanced
$4,000/month
Premium
$15,000/month

You can also buy certain features individually

Caption: Leads nurturing on Marketo.

Marketo is a powerful marketing automation platform that’s a good choice for large enterprises with well-staffed, experienced marketing operations teams. That being said, it’s an absolute overkill for startups or SMBs that simply don’t need the under-the-hood power of Adobe’s Marketo engine. 

Adobe Marketo is software designed and built for marketing operations specialists, not for marketers. It supports many of the usual features that marketing needs, like email and landing page templating, data management tools, and an exceptionally powerful automation rule engine,

Marketo Pricing

Marketo doesn’t publicize its prices on the website; you’ll need to get in touch for a customized quote. However, there are 4 tiers of plans: Select, Prime, Ultimate, and Enterprise. Prices begin at just under $900/month for the lowest tier.

Getting started: The first 5 things to automate

When you get started with marketing automation, you’re probably eager to apply it to everything and anything on your to-do list. But like with everything in life, you need to walk before you can run. Here are the top 5 tasks to prioritize for automation:

Lead scoring

Marketing automation can track activity for each lead and analyze it to produce reliable lead scoring for each prospect. With better lead scoring, you can make better decisions about how to target each lead, make better use of your resources, and analyze your highest-performing channels.

Sales notifications

Sales notifications are alerts which let you know when a lead crosses a threshold for interest and/or purchase intent towards your company. They help make sure you strike while the iron is hot and the lead is paying attention, so you don’t miss an opportunity.

Sales sequences

Sales sequences take email automation to the next level. Use your platform to create streamlined, smooth, automated marketing campaigns spanning multiple channels which send personalized messages to the right lead, on the right channel, at the right time.

Lead nurture funnels

Marketing automation allows you to build lead nurture funnels which take your unqualified prospects, score them, and move them through a carefully thought-out series of interactions until they are ready to make a purchase.

Auto-responses

Leads expect to receive some kind of notification after they submit a form, and these emails have extremely high open rates. So make the most of the opportunity by using marketing automation to send customized, relevant messages that delight your leads, instead of generic thank-you messages

Next on the list

Once you’ve covered the basics, you can move on to:

Split testing

Dynamic personalization

Advanced segmentation

Automated form submission and tracking

Social media automation

Multi-channel analytics

Marketing Envy is here for your marketing automation

When it’s in the right hands,marketing automation can rocket-power your B2B tech marketing.
Marketing Envy has the experience and know how to help you set up your marketing automation platform and make the most of its capabilities. We’ve so far deployed and managed 100s of HubSpot platforms. 

Our packages include the technical setup of your B2B HubSpot deployment and automation,
setting parameters for your lead qualification, sorting out your social media profiles, blog, landing page, etc., aligning your sales and marketing teams, syncing and migrating Salesforce, setting up your CRM, dashboards, and reporting, and more. 

Our reputation as HubSpot experts precedes us, but we’re also pretty brilliant with Marketo and Pardot.
With dozens of implementations behind us our team is exceptionally well positioned to set up any B2B sales and marketing tech stack. 

C-level execs care about results.
We believe that whatever tech stack you have deployed, your ability to produce results depends on your marketing strategy, sales execution and the smooth processes flowing between them – more than on the vendor of your marketing automation system. As experts in all leading platforms, we will gear you up for success and implement whatever’s necessary to answer your management’s call. 

We’ll implement and operate whatever sales and marketing tech stack you choose
and instead of getting bogged down by tool-specific capabilities, we’ll set up the technologies and processes required to succeed. This enables you to focus on what your business needs to achieve and where you want it to get to.