Automation is certainly a hot-button topic these days, especially among data-driven marketers. According to recent research from Social Media Today, 3 out of 4 marketing teams are utilizing automation in some form in their current strategies.
Most marketers have used automation to take over social media post scheduling, email marketing, and search and social advertising, with automated chatbots and other aspects of conversational marketing becoming more common as technology develops.
However, just because this technology is becoming more popular and common does not mean that it is without its issues. This same report found that although 72% of business leaders believe that automation is inevitable, they are worried about the implications it will have on their company. Many fear that it will interfere with customer relationships by removing the “human touch.” Others fear that it could have a negative impact on brand perception and increase the risk of mistakes and missed opportunities.
The truth here is that automation can be an incredibly powerful and effective marketing tool – if it is used correctly. The majority of companies that have used these strategies have reported incredible benefits, including 250% increases in engagement rates and 13% growth in purchase totals.
Since automation is considered as an inevitability, it is imperative that marketing leaders understand the implications and know how to implement this strategy the correct way.
Why Do You Need Marketing Automation?
Some of the main benefits of automation are incredibly obvious. Clearly it can save your team time and make them more productive. But, can it actually improve marketing in any way?
The answer here of course is yes. According to one survey, nearly 69% of marketers agreed that automation could improve their targeting strategies and 46% believed it could improve the customer experience. Automation can also assist in lead generation and conversions rates while simultaneously cutting costs.
One of the main reasons that marketing automation can make such incredible improvements is because it ensures that all strategies are truly data-driven. Methods like ad targeting and lead generation require solid data and quick action in order to be effective – automation technology makes it possible for marketing teams to execute these strategies successfully.
How Do You Start Automating Your Marketing?
Again, automation is really dependent on data, so in order to create an effective automated strategy, you need to have a significant volume of verified customer account information, along with clearly defined buyer personas.
Start off by conducting some intense audience research in order to determine the distinct deviations within your customer groups. Be sure that your audience personas and segmentation strategies line up. Your marketing team may have already created these personas in order to help them connect with your audience. However, be sure to correlate them with updated data sets to ensure their accuracy.
From there, you need to also define the buyer’s journey based on past consumer data. Since modern customers are interacting with brands through multiple channels these days, the buyer’s journey is much more complex than the model you learned in business school. It will not be a straight line – it will look much more like a winding “choose your own adventure” type map with multiple options leading to various destinations.
Therefore, it’s best to draw your own customer journey map that is based on your audience’s behavioral flow. For your website at least, you can chart the course your visitors take with the help of Google Analytics.
Pay attention to KPIs from various interactions. For example, what percentage of customers convert after their first interaction with your business? Where are these conversions stemming from (social media ads, targeted content, email leads)? How many interactions does it generally take before a customer makes a purchasing decision and where are the largest falling off points?
By answering these questions, you can start to see the places where automation systems can make the biggest impact. These platforms typically provide tools for campaign development and execution, as well as lead capture, scoring and nurturing. They give you the option of storing your customer data in centralized marketing databases, which you can then mine for analyzing web traffic, visitor behavior, and campaign results.
Some of the common features offered by B2B marketing automation tools are:
- Landing page development
- Email marketing campaigns
- Social media scheduling and management
- Lead generation and management
- CRM (with functionality for Account-Based Marketing)
- Add-ons and integration with other SaaS martech tools
- Advertising and remarketing on major platforms and mobile devices
- Dynamic, personalized content for website, emails, or other platforms
- Predictive analytics
What Parts of B2B Marketing Should Be Automated?
As with most marketing strategies, the methods that work best will vary from business to business. However, there are numerous strategies that seem to work quite well with B2B buyers and help companies to connect better with their audiences.
In B2B marketing, timing and content quality is everything. Since these purchases are often investments, B2B customers are often quite focused on gathering lots of information before they make a final decision. Furthermore, the customer experience that they have with your brand is extremely influential in their conversion.
One way that marketing automation can be extremely useful for B2B organizations is through automated live chat for instant interactions. Since the instant connection is so crucial in the fast-paced modern world, using AI technology to automate these conversions can be extremely useful for answering customer’s questions or offering them assistance and guidance to improve their experiences.
Another popular usage for automation in B2B marketing is trigger-based content targeting. B2B buyers’ content preferences change as they move from stage to stage in the customer journey. For instance, those who are in the early stages of a purchasing decision will interact with informative content like e-books, infographics, and podcasts, while late-stage buyers prefer more data-driven content like case studies, reports, and assessments.
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