B2B companies are moving fast towards marketing automation. In a survey by Econsultancy in 2017, 53% of marketers said their firm is currently using marketing automation and another 37% said they are planning to use marketing automation in the near future.
But don’t let those stats mislead you.
For small and mid-sized companies, the adoption and use of marketing automation is still evolving. In a study by Gleanster, only 14% of SMBs rated themselves as strong users of marketing automation.
This article is for B2B companies who are thinking about using marketing automation for the first time and are wondering if they should.
Let’s start by understanding what marketing automation is and how it works.
What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is most often a software that automates repetitive marketing tasks like sending emails, managing social media and sequences of follow-up activities. Marketing automation takes care of the repetitive tasks, which allows marketers to focus on the more important aspects of their plan. In addition, a marketing automation software helps personalize messages and campaigns, which boosts lead quality and overall marketing effectiveness.
There are lots of marketing automation options available. From HubSpot to MailChimp, Pardot to Marketo to Salesfusion - and plenty of others - there's a system to meet every need. (More on how to choose the right system for your company later in this post).
How Marketing Automation Works
- Each marketing automation platform offers a variety of functions. Usually, it allows you to create emails, publish blog posts, engage in social media and other activities.
- The software generates code that you place on your website, which tracks the visitors that land on your site, and the actions they take.
- This information is captured by the platform and is presented to you in detail.
- You can program the software to take certain actions when a lead or visitor takes certain actions. This could be as simple as sending an email when a visitor abandons the shopping cart or retargeting visitors with follow-on advertising.
Should You Use Marketing Automation?
With stats like the one from eConsultancy above, it's easy to think that every company is already using - or should use - marketing automation.
That's not the case.
There's one fundamental situation when companies shouldn't use marketing automation. It's when they don't have any marketing. or they have limited marketing.
Too many companies think marketing automation will create a marketing function for them. It doesn't. What it does is automate what they're currently doing, so they can do more of it and do it better without dropping the ball.
For companies that are at an early stage of marketing, marketing automation is impractical. It's more important for those companies to put marketing fundamentals in place - make sure they have a strategy and action plan. Once they've become competent in those areas, then they should think about marketing automation.
Here's When To Use Marketing Automation
Once you have the basics in place, there are lots of reasons to use marketing automation. It benefits SMBs in several ways. It makes it easier for B2B marketers to accurately target prospects with the right message, on the right device, at the right time. Studies find that marketing automation can result in a 15% increase in sales productivity and a 12% decrease in marketing overhead (Nucleus Research).
Some of the other benefits of marketing automation:
Improved customer experience
Automating your marketing efforts help you in improving customer experience. This is because the software helps you in understanding your customers better by providing an enormous amount of relevant insight about the customer.
This way, it enables you to predict and analyze the customers’ needs and requirements and helps you in serving them better.
Better quality leads
Marketing automation helps you in targeting your audiences more precisely, and thus, you are able to get better quality leads which are exactly in line with your goals.
Further, this whole process also makes lead nurturing easier. You no more need to connect with your lead. This is not only time consuming, but less effective too.
For instance, a customer recently visited your website and signed up for newsletters. This is when your marketing automation tool will get to work and send your customer a welcome email right away along with a confirmation message, and a welcome coupon as well!
All this and much more can be taken care of when you are sleeping, or having a meeting or focusing somewhere else.
Marketing automation boosts your revenue. This is not something that we are saying, but stats do not lie! 78% of marketers agree that marketing automation has improved their revenue. Further, B2B marketers with successful lead-generating strategy in place have reported a 20% increase in sales opportunity.
This is pretty self-explanatory. By helping you target the interested audiences strategically, you are boosting your chances of converting leads into customers, and this increases your revenue automatically.
Reduced marketing costs through better efficiency
The beauty of marketing automation is that it fulfills the needs of both small and big businesses alike. While big businesses are able to draw useful conclusions from the enormous amount of data they have, small businesses are able to automate most of their processes, thus saving on staffing costs.
Ability to measure performance of all facets of your marketing
Since the entire process is automated and well-recorded, you can have a closer look at all the elements of your marketing through detailed reports and data-driven dashboards.
This way, a marketing automation system not only helps you in measuring the performance of your various marketing strategies but also highlights all the strategies which performed best and the ones which were a waste of resources.
Does Your Business Needs Marketing Automation?
Knowing whether marketing automation will be a help, or merely overdone hype for your business, is vital. Here are a few signs to help you identify if you need to automate your marketing efforts, or are better to focus on other priorities in the near-term:
- Your marketing efforts are not bringing the desired results
- Your sales cycle is far too long
- Your sales team spends too much time with poor leads
- You find it hard to integrate your social media and email marketing
- You cannot afford to hire more staff
- Your growth graph resembles a plateau
Choosing the marketing automation platform that’s right for you
To start your evaluation process, consider the functionality of some of the major B2B marketing automation platforms:
Marketing automation can be a huge help to marketing teams - in the right situations. Make sure your marketing function is ready to make use of marketing automation before you jump in and make a big investment.
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