10 Ways to Use B2B Marketing Automation in 2023 ⚙️
So, what the heck is B2B marketing automation, you ask? 🤔
For a B2B marketer, manually keeping tabs on all aspects of your B2B marketing strategy is a nightmare.
But marketing automation has changed the game.
And B2B marketers are embracing it.
After all, global marketing automation spending is predicted to cross $25 billion by 2023! 💰
So let’s find out what all the fuss is about and what processes you can automate with B2B marketing automation.
What is B2B Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation uses specially designed software to organize, manage and carry out marketing activities more efficiently.
The goal of automation in marketing is to create a marketing machine that gets things done with minimal direct effort from a human.
Think of it as owning a self-driving car; you input your destination, and it handles all the turns and stops you'd have to make to reach your goal.
B2B marketing automation is applying automation in a business-to-business marketing context.
This covers repetitive marketing tasks, including email outreach, lead nurturing, and other activities that form part of a B2B company's process for engaging, nurturing, and converting its target audience.
Smartly automating certain digital marketing operations has its upsides.
For one, it frees time to focus on more strategic marketing campaigns.
It's also great for delivering a better customer experience through:
- On-time and relevant messaging
- Seamless customer service
- Efficient processes, and more.
Marketing automation is beneficial in B2B and B2C contexts, and there are similar reasons for its application in both cases, such as the desire for efficiency and better customer engagement.
However, there are still slight variations in why and how you deploy it in both instances.
For example, B2B automation prioritizes content marketing efforts that educate prospects and position the company as an industry leader.
In contrast, B2C marketing automation prioritizes highly personalized content and data-driven messaging and recommendations.
How to Use B2B Marketing Automation
Here are some top ways to apply automation in your B2B marketing process.
1. Email Outreach
Email marketing is one of the most affordable and accessible ways to engage customers and prospects.
Email marketing is flexible and fosters direct communication with your audience with personalized B2B content marketing.
Think of email outreach in inbound and outbound marketing scenarios.
Inbound marketing establishes a communication line with customers or prospects who have engaged with you, e.g., signed up for your newsletter or downloaded a resource.
With automation, you can connect with these leads quickly, meaningfully, and easily by executing drip campaigns, sending feedback requests to selected accounts, and more.
With outbound marketing, your outreach is a cold email campaign where you reach out to targets that fit your ideal buyer persona.
You can carry out more effective campaigns by segmenting your targets and creating email workflows featuring follow-up messages, offers, other relevant content forms, etc.
2. Lead Nurturing
During the buying process, B2B buyers spend 17% of their time meeting with potential suppliers, with only 5%-6% going to any one sales rep.
In contrast, they devote 27% and 18% of their time to researching independently online and offline, respectively.
This implies a sales team needs more time to interact directly with a potential customer.
And may only get the chance to do so depending on the information prospects find during their research.
However, with lead nurturing, you get in front of this problem by giving prospects the information they need to move ahead with your business at each stage of their buyer’s journey.
It’s the perfect opportunity to:
- Use content to handle some of your leads’ objections
- Highlight your value propositions and offerings
- Build brand awareness and trust
- And meaningfully engage prospects who may still need to be ready to make a purchase.
B2B email marketing campaigns and website content recommendations based on user activity should be your go-to strategies to achieve these goals.
And that’s where automation comes in; it delivers relevant, targeted, and personalized content to leads based on predetermined rules.
3. Lead Scoring
Prioritization is one of the pillars of an intelligent digital marketing strategy, and that’s what lead scoring offers.
It involves assigning prospects' scores to determine their interest in your solution and their readiness to make a purchase.
The scoring system usually includes critical action points that signal a lead’s interest and warmth.
For example, you could assign scores based on visited web pages, downloaded resources, demo requests, free trial sign-ups, etc.
Each action could have its allotted points determined based on how indicative the action is of strong buyer interest and readiness.
With lead scoring, you can separate prospects most likely to convert now from others by monitoring their behavior across various touchpoints and reaching each group with targeted and relevant messaging.
Often, lead scoring capabilities come bundled with marketing automation software that offers complementary digital marketing features, including automated email marketing, segmentation, and multi-channel marketing.
4. Lead Tracking
Lead tracking is monitoring the sources of your leads, where they are in your sales and marketing funnel, and taking steps to move them to the next stage in the funnel.
When you pay attention to where your leads come from, you can identify channels or strategies best generate qualified leads.
Channels such as organic search powered by search engine optimization, blog content, and social media platforms may be inbound.
Or they could also be outbound through various ads, cold emails, and calls.
Lead tracking data can also help determine a prospect's likelihood to convert. The icing on the cake is the robust user profile leads tracking offers.
You can pass on the date to your sales reps to help them determine how best to approach each prospect to increase the chances of conversion.
5. Multi-channel Marketing
According to the marketing rule of 7, leads need to see an average of seven messages to spur them into taking action.
Interestingly, this principle was around before the information overload era, when people were flooded by thousands of messages daily.
The marketing rule of 7 has likely evolved into a double-figure principle.
With leads requiring multiple messages to remember and interact with businesses, multi-channel marketing has never been more critical to success.
It involves engaging leads with relevant content across different channels.
The easiest way to handle this process is by automating it. That way, you can effectively and cohesively combine various strategies, including retargeting, SMS messaging, email marketing, social media marketing campaigns, and more.
6. Segmentation and Profiling
Marketing segmentation allows you to segment your contacts based on their shared characteristics, ranging from their interactions with your business to the channel that led them into your sales funnel.
You can then deal with each audience segment based on the data that defines them.
Like several other automation use cases, segmentation creates order, clarifies the marketing approach, and fosters better target audience engagement.
Automating this marketing activity saves time and removes the friction associated with manual segmentation.
It could mean creating predetermined rules for segmenting leads using a CRM that includes this capability or a standalone system that integrates with your CRM.
You can follow this up by assigning attributes to user profiles through smart deductions and data analysis.
This feature is particularly handy for running account-based marketing campaigns.
🎯For a deeper dive into marketing segmentation, don't miss these epic guides!
- Ultimate Guide to Behavioral Segmentation (+ Examples)
- How to Use Geographic Segmentation to Reel in Pro$pect$ 🎣
- What Is Psychographic Segmentation (5 Variables + Examples)
- What Is Demographic Segmentation (+ Examples)
7. Trigger Marketing
Although identifiable actions make up a B2B customer journey, they only occur sometimes.
Instead, B2B buyers practice “looping,” which is revisiting critical actions in their purchase journey at least once.
This emphasizes an obvious fact: marketers can’t control what prospects do and the order in which they do it.
The only thing within their control is how they respond to prospects’ actions, and that’s where trigger marketing comes in.
Trigger marketing involves using marketing automation software to create plans that will kick in in response to specific actions taken by leads.
The triggering action or event could be anything from form conversions to email opens or page views.
Associated and automated responses that could kick in could be an email or email sequence, segmentation, customer profile update, prospect transfer to a sales rep, etc.
Trigger marketing makes it easier to respond faster to prospects’ behavior and seize opportunities quickly.
It can also improve customer experience since it signals that you’re paying attention and delivers only relevant messaging.
8. Welcoming and Onboarding
Marketers understand that the marketing game is all about making impressions and shaping perceptions.
One way to lock this down and create a solid foundation for a profitable relationship with leads and customers is by creating an excellent welcoming and onboarding workflow.
You want to help your audience familiarize themselves with your solution, deliver helpful walkthroughs on how to get the best out of your product or service, and give them an idea of what to expect from you going forward.
Most marketing automation solutions enable you to design simple drip campaigns activated by paid registrations, free trial sign-ups, resource downloads, and any other relevant action.
The most significant upside to automating this process is that it makes it more organized, saves time, and ensures round-the-clock operations since you don’t have to activate a marketing campaign for every new sign-up manually.
9. Upselling and Cross-selling
Upselling encourages customers to get more value by opting for an upgraded version of the primary product or package.
So, by offering marketing automation software via three-tiered plans, you could upsell a company that has purchased the least expensive plan by providing them with the next and slightly better plan.
Cross-selling, on the other hand, encourages customers to buy complementary packages or products.
For instance, you could offer your sales management system to a company that has purchased your product or service.
The goal of upselling and cross-selling is revenue growth.
And automation simplifies both processes since you can easily create follow-up emails, offers, and recommendations that will be triggered by customer purchases, activity, and other data points.
Chatbots are one of the handiest B2B marketing automation tools. And it’s no wonder that they are so ubiquitous nowadays.
Prospects and customers desire seamless and timely customer service, and chatbots can help you provide this.
By preloading answers to frequently asked questions, you can satisfactorily attend to customer and prospect inquiries promptly and round the clock, or at least offer temporary service without human interaction.
You can also program the chatbot to initiate conversations based on user activity.
That way, you can always seize the opportunity to pitch a solution or deliver relevant content quickly.
B2B Marketing Automation Best Practices
Tips to keep in mind to get the best out of your marketing efforts using automation.
- Understand your sales process and map out the customer journey of a typical lead. This helps you develop effective automation workflows.
- Craft relevant messaging for every step in your workflow.
- Define and track your marketing analytics, then tweak your automation process based on identified patterns.
- Stick to best email marketing practices like building your email list organically and leaving visible unsubscribe buttons in your emails.
- Clean your email list by removing defunct emails or inactive contacts to improve digital engagement and email deliverability.
- Develop a cohesive B2B marketing automation strategy.
- Ensure your automation software includes a CRM system.
- Stick to personalized lead nurturing campaigns.
- Explore B2B social media marketing.
Key Features of B2B Marketing Automation Software
This is your go-to marketing automation checklist with the features you should look out for when weighing your automation software options.
1. Email marketing
Ensure your marketing automation provider has extensive and flexible email marketing features.
You should be able to create simple and personalized email workflows for different campaigns and more.
2. A/B Testing
Your B2B marketing automation software should enable A/B testing in your messaging. This way, you can tinker with your content for optimal results.
3. Lead Nurturing
Sending tailored messages to leads based on their behavior and position in your sales funnel is critical to conversion.
Every marketing automation software should support this.
4. Campaign Management
You’ll likely need a mix of inbound and outbound marketing strategies to meet your goals.
Your chosen B2B marketing automation platform should support both options and seamlessly manage a multi-channel approach.
5. Lead Management and Scoring
To maximize resources, it’s best to qualify leads before sending them to the sales team.
If you opt for marketing automation software, it should have a system for scoring your leads.
Your B2B marketing automation tool should either come with its built-in CRM or should integrate with your existing CRM and other marketing tools you use.
This way, lead information sharing between sales and marketing teams will be faster and easier.
You should be able to create multiple customer segments based on relevant traits and data and deal with each customer segment separately.
Greater B2B Marketing Success
Adopting marketing technology such as B2B marketing automation software should begin with a clear understanding of your goals.
This way, you can identify what features and automation processes to prioritize as you may not need to focus on all from the jump.
Irrespective of your growth stage, chances are there are current marketing operations you can automate. Start small and scale as your business grows.
Dozie Anyaegbunam is a B2B content writer and strategist. A Cannes Lions certified storyteller, Dozie has crafted compelling content for brands such as Mirasee, SmartBlogger, Growth Mentor, and more. He's also Dodo and Ronan's dad, a proud flâneur, and a Felix Baumgartner wannabe. Don't miss his newsletter, Efikó, where he riffs about social and content strategy.