Arguably the most sophisticated (and misunderstood) development for B2B business sales and data management recently is the marketing automation tool. Marketo, Eloqua and Genius are three such tools. After integration with your CMS and CRM, marketing automation tools automate as much of your digital marketing as possible.
This level of automation is especially exciting for B2B businesses — since the value of a single B2B sale can equate to thousands or millions of dollars, marketing activities like lead generation, nurturing, qualifying and management are highly important. A marketing automation tool can provide insight into your lead quality, automate online lead nurturing in your CMS, and facilitate sales representatives’ follow-up actions by working within your existing CRM.
Do I need marketing automation tools?
That depends. At its core, marketing automation is a tool that can increase the operational efficiency of your business while also driving revenue. It helps automate the routine and repeatable tasks typically associated with leads: lead management, lead scoring (ranking your prospects), and the creation and maintenance of a marketing lead database.
Amazon.com is a great illustration of how marketing automation tools work and what they do on the front end of a website. When a visitor views the website, the website (using a marketing automation tool) presents individualized content for that particular viewer.
Marketing automation tools maximize a site visitors’ user experience with the brand, while allowing real-time evaluation of the effectiveness of marketing and site content.
5 insights for business owners who want to integrate marketing automation tools
Although B2B businesses vary widely — as will their specific marketing and sales needs — the benefits of marketing automation tools are considerable. They can help increase the speed, accuracy and execution of marketing campaigns, give you a higher quality of insight from your analytics, improve the quality of your leads and even reduce the labor you need to execute sales and marketing.
Before you jump in uninitiated, however, here are five key practical insights business owners should consider when integrating marketing automation tools:
- Start with as clean and clear a database as possible. Your CRM should incude valuable data only. Merge, purge and filter out duplicates, old dead leads and unproductive data before beginning, or else the system will be flooded with wasteful information.
- Establish a consistent lead scoring methodology to rank leads. You should define a method internally to rank prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value each lead represents to your company.
- Establish strong communication between the marketing department and sales department. In order to achieve best results, sales and marketing must communicate regularly so they can collaborate on key events and campaigns.
- Evaluate your current sales process flows. How many different sales process flows are there when a visitor views your company’s site? What are the steps of each sales process flow? Which steps make sense to automate and which steps do not? The who, what, where and when of the sale come into play in developing logical, usable, sensible sales flows.
- Map your content (or develop a plan to do so). How is/should content be mapped, or developed to be mapped? Does your site include content that leads the visitor to the action they would like to pursue that is appropriate to the stage of the sales cycle from which they come? Does the content inform? Does the content address a common question? Does the content invoke a reader to desire to act and make a contact or fill out a form? Sales process flows each need multiple kinds of content and each flow usually requires both unique and shared content relative to other flows.
The cost and integration time of marketing automation tools vary on a case by case basis. Tools are sold both as a software as a service and as a perpetual license; your company can choose to pay all up front, or make monthly payments.
Bottom line? What matters as much as the knowledge of your business and selecting a fitting marketing automation tool is taking the proper care to integrate in the absolute most customized way possible. Just as no business is the same, marketing automation is not a one-size-fits all proposition either.