Marketing automation for B2B – For some it’s just email marketing, or a monthly newsletter. For others, it’s the core of their business, providing lead capture across different platforms, segmenting leads into highly targeted pools, allowing the sales team to know when to make the call, and the marketing team to send focused and relevant messaging at the right time in the right place to drive conversions and keep their audience for longer.
For those using marketing automation for B2B, this post is designed to inspire you to expand on what you are already doing. If you are yet to make the leap into marketing automation, it should show you some of the things that are possible, beyond the newsletter, that could help you capture, convert and keep quality leads and customers
Automation is not just there to tell your readers what you’ve been up to for the month, or that your new flagship product is now available in lime green and (by overwhelming demand) – fuschia. It can help you capture leads with contact forms, surveys, competitions, facebook ads, lead magnets. It can help you follow up with each segment of those leads separately, so those that have signed up for your office health and safety checklist can get a completely different set of emails from those that sign up for your short video series on the type of PPE needed for a Tree Surgeon.
Your business is there to deliver what people want or need. Regardless of what you sell, you are either solving a problem, or making someone’s life easier or nicer.
Every business has a customer journey, and marketing automation is there to improve that customer journey.
If you can master it, it will help you scale by increasing lead volume, lead conversions, save you time, and bring you more business.
It’s not all just about the customer either. It should make your life easier, and give you more time back from repetitive tasks, like searching for reports, checking up on the progress of your pipeline, or working out what marketing is the most effective in providing leads that are converting the best.
Keep reading to see how we use it in our B2B agency, and how our B2B clients use it to get great results.
No matter how small or large your business is, we all need the same thing in the same order.
We need to attract leads, engage with them, sell to them, and then give them what they want with bells on.
Those four stages are the bare bones of our version of a framework called Lifecycle Marketing.
(Click the link above for a more detailed explanation on LCM)
Most businesses are great at one of those, and when we start working with a company, the first area we look at is how they are performing in those stages
What are you nailing in these 4 stages?
What stages are your biggest opportunities in?
If a business is spending all of its resources – whether that be money, time or attention on attracting new customers, they cannot be delivering the wow factor in any great depth.
Naturally, you can go into great depth in all of those stages for your business, and if you aren’t sure of your current customer journey, or what you may be able to achieve through marketing automation, read on below to see some examples of ways that we’ve used marketing automation to augment the customer journey for those we’ve worked with, broken up into the stages of Lifecycle Marketing.
Even if you’re an old-school blue jean, brown shoe, tucked in shirt kinda MD that gets most business from word of mouth, there’s something for you guys too!
You go to a whole lot of networking events, and you get in the room with a lot of people that you’ve met before, and some that you haven’t. Some are your target market, and you know you can make a difference. However, there are two other people in the room that offer a similar service as you. It’s all down to the elevator pitch to get their card. You’ve given out hundreds of business cards, and many have never turned into a call.
Marketing automation to the rescue. Most marketing automation platforms allow you to create a webform in the software that you can either use on its own, or put on a hidden page on your website.
I have one of these, and if you’ve met me recently at a networking event, and shown interest in what I do, AND I think I can help, I’ll use that very short and easy form to take the details on your card. Then I will give you back your card and you’ll be automatically in my task management system.
The form has two mandatory fields:
Optional fields are:
If there are a lot of people I’d like to have further conversations with, I’ll fill in
It takes a few seconds to fill in the form, and two minutes later, or an hour, or whatever I’ve set the system to do, an email will arrive in their inbox
One of our emails looks like this:
Hello ~first name~
It was great meeting you today.
Just wanted to send you a quick email so you have my contact info 🙂
[nice to meet you text] – (Merged from the form that I filled in)
I’ve also popped some more generic info about us below, with some links – so you can go have a snoop around if you like…
Have a great Thursday
That is the basic version.
There are so many ways to customise this form and customise the outcome of the form submission that it could be a half day workshop.
However, with new systems, always start simple, get used to it, and then progress into things like adding checkboxes that send them into a specific interest campaign.
Simplify, Amplify, Iterate.
The PDF is still a great way to get people to sign themselves up to be in your email list, wherein you email them forever for the rest of their life. However, if you’re anything like me, you have a hundred or more PDF’s that you have on your reading list, and it’s only when you’ve refreshed your social media feed twice that you’ll get to reading them and taking notes.
Checklists are still greater in a B2B environment. Because they’re instantly useful. One page of usefulness that could make a huge difference to a business.
Take Lucy’s blog here, on optimising Blogs for SEO. It has a really handy checklist for anyone wanting their blog to actually get people coming to their site, and all it asks is that you fill in a cute little form with your email and name. Not that I’m suggesting you do that right now, or you’ll stop reading this blog.
We’ve only just released Lucy’s SEO blog, but it’s getting views already, and it won’t be long before content creators start hitting the purple button and signing up.
As soon as they download, they will be marked with segmentation tags. That way, they can go into specific email campaigns that are directed toward their areas of interest. We’re not selling straight away, as we haven’t yet earned their trust, but what we are doing is continuing to send useful targeted information.
The segmentation that follows is what allows us to be able to help businesses with the information they actually are looking for, and probably need help with.
The two examples above are only a drop in the ocean as far as the attract phase is concerned.
You can have a lead sign up form in any content that is on the internet. We’ve used all of the below for attracting new B2B leads.
Once your audience have put up their hand and showed interest, and hopefully are segmented into their groups, you have the chance to move them on in the journey. All the hard work of finding and attracting is done.
Making the sale could happen here if they have a high awareness of their need, and that you are the solution to that need. However, all you know at this point is that they have an interest in the lead magnet they have downloaded. You need to know more.
Marketing automation has a whole host of tools that can help you here. Even the most affordable programs will come with some sort of tracking. Again, it doesn’t need to feel creepy, remember that personalisation is key to building trust.
When they have visited 5 different blog pages, some for a long time, we have a much better idea of what they need than when they first came into the system.
We can do that by doing the following:
The timing of all of these actions will totally depend on your audience. In our database, this can take anything from three days to a year, or longer. This length of time will depend on many factors, including their experience level, their awareness level, their position within the company and their budget
This process is greatly improved, and the lead to sale time shortened by knowing your target audience as intimately as possible when you implement B2B marketing automation.
Being able to mould your content to your ideal audience from the outset positions your potential leads further down the awareness path. The more your leads are aware of their need, and the availability of a solution to that need, the shorter the journey from lead to sale is.
We have a good mix of basic and advanced content within our customer journey. If we can identify those people that are consuming more advanced content, we can reach out to them on a personal level knowing they already have a greater knowledge and need of our help than many colder leads.
As with the ‘attract’ section above, there is huge potential for engagement and follow up using marketing automation platforms. Here are a few more that we’ve used once people have already signed up, to drive engagement, build trust, and build a more accurate profile of our ideal customer.
Webinars are still working in the B2B environment. They are also a lot easier to do than they have ever been.
We started out as a B2B marketing automation company in 2014. By that time we’d already worked with hundreds of businesses, helping implement small doses of marketing automation. When we began our journey as a three person team, we had clients that knew us, and trusted us to deliver what they needed. – Help with implementing the marketing automation platform they already had.
We still have some of those clients after all these years.
They stay with us as the ROI of the software has been augmented by some well planned big shifts and constant small tweaks to make sure that we’re using every tool in the box that can be effectively and economically implemented to keep the KPI graphs pointing in the right direction.
Nowadays our remit has expanded to bring in and help businesses succeed through a well planned and well executed customer journey, using mountains of research in buyer psychology and years of marketing automation experience.
We no longer ‘just do implementation’. Our own marketing automation has grown with our business, and has indeed created a lot of that growth. We were very aware when we expanded into the consultancy space that a few companies were talking the talk without ever having walked the walk.
We never wanted to be one of those. Most of our clients have been advised to create great content, and where necessary we will create that content for them. We wouldn’t offer that service if our own content did not provide three quarters of our best leads.
Whilst a really shiny website with clever graphics looks welcoming and professional, the mark of a great B2B website is whether it keeps you reading, builds trust, proves that the company knows their subject intimately, and ultimately spurs you to take action and make contact right now.
The button below is your chance to bring marketing automation experts into your business, let us map out your existing customer journey, and help you design and build your perfect customer lifecycle using great content and marketing automation.