Marketing is a universe paved with many small repetitive actions: writing and sending emails, following up and qualifying prospects… Unfortunately, these tasks prevent you from focusing on your long-term strategy.
This is one of the reasons why the promise of “marketing automation” is attractive: entrusting these tasks to a tool and automating these marketing actions to free up valuable time.
But what exactly is marketing automation? How does it work, and how to use it? So we come back with you on the definition of marketing automation, how it works and how you can benefit from it.
On the agenda for this article:
What is marketing automation?
Marketing automation refers to automating a set of repetitive actions or email marketing campaigns to save time.
Thanks to a marketing automation solution, you ensure that these actions are triggered by a specific behavior of your users and reproduce a dialogue as naturally as possible.
Marketing automation does not stop at emails and allows you to automatically store your contacts or send them to your sales representatives.
In B2B marketing, the term “marketing automation” mainly applies to the automation of email marketing campaigns whose goal is to generate and then elevate qualified prospects (leads) for salespeople throughout their journey. Of purchase.
Many tools offer this automation, but some denominations need to be more accurate: distinguish a marketing automation tool from an emailing tool! If the former allows a 360° view of the entire behavior of your prospects, the latter only focuses, statically, on emails.
Why do marketing automation?
A marketing automation platform can do more than automate your email sends. Well integrated into your work processes, it can become the strong arm of your entire B2B marketing strategy.
- Better knowledge of your prospects
Marketing automation is the solution to get to know your prospects better, thanks to behavioral tracking, which analyzes in particular:
- their navigation on your website (and the time spent on each page):
- their reaction to your emailing campaigns.
- content downloaded or viewed.
- their presence at your events and webinars…
By linking all these elements, marketing automation tools allow you to naturally refine your prospects’ profiles and your marketing campaigns’ targeting.
To end long forms that scare away prospects, some marketing automation solutions allow you to create intelligent forms that progressively ask your prospects for information.
Thanks to this progressive profiling, your conversion rates are better than ever… And your data on your leads is always more relevant.
- Personalization of your campaigns at scale
The personalization of exchanges has become a priority issue for all good marketers. Consumers are becoming better educated, it has become necessary to make them feel unique and to answer their questions before they even have to ask you.
By refining lead segmentation and triggering content sending sequences based on profiles and behaviors, marketing automation responds perfectly to this challenge.
Let’s imagine: a visitor has just completed a form on your site. Bravo, you have generated a lead.
You have collected some information about him: socio-demographic data (position, type of company, age, gender) and behavioral data (analysis of navigation on your site, reaction to emailings).
But the road is still long because, at this stage, you have yet to determine that this lead will become an effective customer.
Thanks to the data collected, you can locate the position in which your lead is located in the purchasing process (discovery, interest, decision).
It now remains to nurture the relationship that will promote its commitment. To do this, you must send your leads the right message at the right time.
- A real time saver
Marketing automation fulfills its promise and allows you to focus on more strategic and high value-added tasks, such as content creation or the implementation of your digital marketing strategy.
At learnb2bmarketing, we particularly like the intelligent campaign, our flagship feature, because it allows us to increase this effect tenfold. No need to create workflows: depending on their reading, interests, and profile, the intelligent campaign will offer certain content to our prospects in a completely personalized and automated way.
You can also automate your posts on social networks to free up your time and have a simple overview of your performance by content.
- A higher ROI for your lead generation
By acting virtuously at all stages of the purchasing cycle, marketing automation is a natural ROI accelerator.
It allows you to increase traffic on your site, generate more leads, better qualify them and improve your commercial efficiency.
Regarding conversion, businesses that use marketing automation have 53% higher conversion rates of their visitors into marketing leads.
In addition, companies that practice lead nurturing (that is to say, that personalized feed content to their leads that are not yet mature) generate 50% more commercial leads for a 33% lower cost.
- Better efficiency for your sales team
Marketing automation allows you to determine when to send the hottest leads to your salespeople to optimize their conversion.
Thanks to the set of information collected during the visits of your prospects, detailing not only their interests but also their budgets and functions, the work of your sales team is facilitated.
Marketing automation also reduces your sales cycle: any lead exceeding a specific score (which you will have defined beforehand) goes directly into the CRM if you have implemented a lead scoring strategy. No more holes in the racket!
For leads from cold prospecting, marketing automation can help salespeople: by passing their cold prospects through the nurturing cycle of our brilliant campaign, our salespeople put their chances on their side for the next call.
How does marketing automation work?
Marketing automation software offers different automation components to save time on many missions. Here are some examples.
The scoring of your contacts to follow their interests and maturity
Lead scoring is a feature that allows you to assign points to your prospects based on their actions: visiting a page, opening an email, completing a form, etc. By setting your points by type of content, you will be able to reflect their progress in the marketing funnel (conversion funnel) excellently and visualize the maturity of each of your prospects.
Our goal: Gradually qualify contacts, and move them from MQL (marketing qualified leads, qualified prospects) to SQL (sales qualified leads, business opportunities).
From marketing automation software, we can assign several points to each of our content upstream. Each time our prospects consume content, they will be tracked, and the corresponding number of points will be added to their total.
Thanks to the connection between learnb2bmarketing and our CRM, our sales representatives have a complete view of the content consumed by prospects qualified by marketing and can personalize their approach accordingly.
The creation of scenarios to send emails automatically.
If you have already learned a little about marketing automation, you may have seen many articles associating marketing automation and email scenarios (or workflows).
Here are some concrete examples of using workflows in your BtoB marketing strategy.
Example 1: Maintaining contact following an event
Following our conference at E-Marketing american, we sent two emails containing additional content to allow participants to deepen the subject of the discussion.
Our goal: to keep in touch and maintain our relationship. The content sent allows us to feed the thinking of our prospects and guide them to our website, where we can learn more about them thanks to the tracking set up by our marketing automation solution.
- Sending the first content (article) to all conference participants
- Seven days later, send a second content (webinar) if they opened the first email. Otherwise, send the first email with a different subject. If they open it this time, send the second content (webinar). Otherwise, they go out of the script.
- Seven days later, if the webinar content has yet to be downloaded, send a reminder with a different email subject.
From a marketing automation tool like learnb2bmarketing, we can adjust the timing, steps, and options. Here is our complete workflow.
Example 2: Send a welcome email
Introducing ourselves, the team, and the content we offer is a natural way to start this conversation. This also allows us to warn our prospects that they will receive emails to prevent them from being surprised by our sending.
- Sending of a first email according to their point of arrival:
- If they are English, redirect to an English email chain,
- If they speak French and are subscribed to our newsletter, send a first thank you email with unique content as a gift;
- If they speak French and have downloaded content from our site, send a first introductory email and invitation to subscribe to the newsletter.
- Sending if they clicked on the first of a second email presenting learnb2bmarketing a week later.
learnb2bmarketing allows us to automate our sendings intelligently: if our prospects do not click on the emails, there is no risk of harassing them. Their behavior on our site and by email is analyzed, cross-referenced, and allows us to adjust our strategy accordingly.
While workflows are very useful in the short term, they are unsuitable for nurturing (or lead nurturing).
Indeed, they amount to saying: “If my prospect does X, it will trigger an action Y.” If this automation works very well in marketing, it quickly becomes much more complicated: each prospect is unique, and predicting their behavior can very quickly become complicated or even impossible.
Making scenarios for the entire purchase journey will ultimately save time: you will only be able to plan some things, and if you do, you’ll spend your days there. The height of a practical tool to save you time!
Our advice: keep these scenarios for particular situations to get your prospects from point A to point B. For these moments, the workflows are (almost) unbeatable!
Lead nurturing to move your prospects forward in the buying cycle
Marketing automation also helps you in the long term to educate your prospects and support them in their decision-making process, thanks to lead nurturing.
This marketing tactic consists of sending targeted and regular content to your options to increase their maturity gradually.
This is particularly interesting in B2B, where sales cycles are long. By automating lead nurturing, you ensure that each of your contacts receives the content best suited to their sector, interests, and stage in the buying journey.
Automatic measurement of your campaigns to analyze your performance
We’re not going to lie to each other: measuring campaign performance is one of the most daunting aspects of marketing. Time-consuming and laborious, we often skip the reporting of our past campaigns to move on to the next one immediately.
However, it is essential to understand what has been achieved and what can be improved. Marketing automation makes it possible to automate this part, leaving us to devote ourselves to strategic analysis.
Indeed, marketing automation software allows you to group the critical performance indicators of your different channels (SEO, advertising, email, social networks, etc.) in automated dashboards. So you have your results at your fingertips and can quickly conclude.
We can also mention much other marketing automation made possible by the tools:
- Planning and publishing your content on social networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
- Finding content topics relevant to your audience
- Trucking companies that visit your website
- Synchronization with your CRM and other marketing tools
The automation possibilities are numerous and then depend on the software you choose, which makes me a ready transition for the next part of this article on marketing automation tools!
How to choose your marketing automation software?
It is essential to carefully consider your options and take time when choosing your marketing automation tool.
The criteria to take into account
To choose the right tool, you will first need to define the automation needs of your business. You will be able to identify the essential features for you.
Beyond the functionalities, other criteria can be decisive when making your choices, such as possible integrations with your marketing tools, compliance with the GDPR or customer support, and ease of handling the device. Reading customer reviews on the different tools is also a good idea!
The different marketing automation tools
There are several types of marketing automation tools, such as:
- Complete tools, like learnb2bmarketing
- Social media automation tools, like Hootsuite
- Email automation tools, such as learnb2bmarketing One
- SMS automation tools, such as SMS mode
- Project management automation tools, like Asana
- Data analysis automation tools, such as Catcher
Who can benefit from marketing automation?
Whatever your maturity, marketing automation can become your best ally to achieve your goals.
You can use it to launch a real lead machine and optimize your existing processes, thanks to a better overview of the results of your marketing campaigns.
It is reserved for more than just companies with a super-developed marketing center and well-defined strategies, on the contrary: starting small and increasing gradually is the best way to develop a successful marketing strategy.
If you are already generating leads, setting up a marketing automation tool can also allow you to send your hot tips very quickly to your sales representatives: a simple way to reduce your sales cycles and start a more effective commercial center.
If the implementation and the return on investment may seem longer to you than other methods, an inbound marketing strategy can, nevertheless, be associated with a marketing automation tool and quickly generate direct and indirect results.
How to make your first automation marketing campaign a success?
As you will have understood, a successful marketing automation campaign is not just a question of tools but also of segmentation, storytelling, interactions, engagement, and conversion. Here are some tips for a successful first campaign.
- Revalidate your buyer personas
To create a successful marketing automation campaign, you must first precisely define your target customers’ profiles. The more you work on rich buyer persona profiles, the better you can segment your database, and this will optimize the impact of your marketing automation tool.
- Build a segmented editorial strategy
Once your buyer personas have been defined (or redefined), ensure that you have content in your content library that covers each persona. And since you are going to offer distinct conversion scenarios, also make sure that your content offer covers, for each persona, the successive stages of the purchase cycle.
- Organize your content into a persona/purchase cycle matrix
Before creating conversion scenarios, you must clearly represent your available content.
To do this, you can classify your content in a persona/purchase cycle matrix. This representation will make your job easier when you imagine the stages of your conversion funnels.
- Set campaign goals
Are you about to launch your first marketing automation campaign? What do you expect? Set SMART objectives and define the KPIs that will allow you to measure the performance of your campaign.
- Create your automated campaign
You have your goals and pre-classified content on the one hand. Shake it all up to create an automated campaign that meets your marketing goals.
In this case, the shaker here is the brains of your team. For a first campaign, go only some out, and focus on one segment.
Opt for a simple and agile campaign. This first automation marketing campaign will also be an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the features of your solution.
- Optimize your conversion tools
The stated objective of marketing is to advance your leads in a conversion tunnel that you have defined. This involves optimizing all the conversion tools that ensure the transitions between the successive stages of your scenarios.
From this point of view, calls to action are essential, and they must be visible, clear, and engaging enough to send the user to a landing page.
Your landing pages allow your interlocutors to cross a new level of commitment. And they will enable you to collect valuable data by enriching the profiles of your leads. Therefore, you need to optimize them to entice your leads to take the desired action.
- Create your email templates
All that remains is to create the email templates you will send to your leads. As you have understood, every detail counts. You will benefit from designing your emails according to current email marketing best practices: Sender, subject, message content, and call-to-action included.
- Test your campaign
Before launching your campaign, make sure it is working correctly. Test your drive on a sample of leads to see if the conversion rates meet your expectations.
Once the campaign is launched, pay attention to your KPIs. The reporting features of marketing tools give you valuable information to readjust your campaigns.
- Synchronize your marketing automation tool and your CRM
Finally, marketing automation aims to reduce the purchase cycle of your leads to turn them into customers. Or, in other words, speed up their transmission to the sales teams who will formulate a sales proposal.
Integrating your marketing automation solution and your CRM allows salespeople to be actors in your campaigns, thanks to shared data.
This gives them easy access to the enriched lead profiles generated during your movements. And ultimately, they have additional arguments to make the sale.
As you will understand, marketing automation is more than a buzzword, it allows you to automate some repetitive tasks and saves valuable time daily.
So you can focus your value on the tasks that matter and continuously improve your marketing strategy.
To conclude: marketing automation is summarized in 4 questions.
Why do marketing automation?
Marketing automation allows you to get to know your prospects better, save (really) a lot of time, personalize your campaigns on a large scale and increase the ROI of your marketing actions.
How does marketing automation work?
This technique makes it possible to automate many marketing tasks such as sending emails, tracking and scoring prospects, nurturing contacts, reporting, or planning social networks.
How to do marketing automation?
First, you must equip yourself with an adequate marketing automation solution. You can create an automated campaign to generate leads and turn them into customers.
Who uses marketing automation?
Whatever your maturity, marketing automation can become your best ally to achieve your goals. It is reserved for more than just companies with a super-developed marketing center and well-defined strategies!