In a way, marketing automation software is like magic for business-to-business (B2B) organizations. It directs messages to prospects and leads based on their stage of the buyer’s journey. The result? A higher level of engagement, which helps move them through the sales funnel.
Given its power, it is no mystery why 67% of marketing leaders currently use a marketing automation platform.
What is marketing automation? It is software designed to automate marketing tasks. Certain repetitive activities such as social media posting, email marketing and ad campaigns can be personalized through marketing automation.
However, the technology and strategy behind marketing automation can seem like a mystery to those who are unfamiliar with it. How in the world can it possibly work so well, especially for B2B companies? Fortunately, there are grounded principles that dictate, in a very logical way, how marketing automation does what it does.
Chances are, you have been the recipient of automated email marketing on many occasions. An automated email is any email automatically deployed by your email service provider in response to actions taken by a visitor to your website. This is particularly useful when your email campaigns are directed at a business audience who have packed schedules and little time to read emails that do not immediately resonate with them.
This marketing strategy gives you the opportunity to send targeted, user-specific emails in a responsive manner. The benefits of automated emails include heightened engagement, better customer retention, a stronger sense of customer loyalty, and of course giving them a nudge down the funnel. Organizations have seen the power of automated emails, with about 49% of businesses using some form of email automation.
The first step in executing an automated email campaign is setting up workflows. In simple terms, a workflow is a series of automatically triggered emails that work together to accomplish a goal. You have the option to trigger actions based on any information you have about your leads.
Personalization is essential when it comes to making sure the emails you send are effective. Recipients will trash a generic email in a heartbeat, assuming it is spam, but when it addresses them by name, the email stands a much better chance. You can automate the personalization of emails with tokens. These tools automatically place the recipient’s contact information into the email’s “to” and “from” fields, the subject line and the body.
The marketing automation software you use will pull information about your contacts from your CRM. You just need to set up the workflows and choose the information you want to use.
Active List Segmentation
List segmentation is the practice of dividing email contacts into groups based on certain characteristics, behaviors, demographics and/or interests. It goes beyond categorizing your audience according to factors such as company and title. The purpose of creating segmented lists is to speak intelligently with recipients rather than sending them a general message that may not resonate with them. It is an effective way to personalize your prospects’, leads’ and current customers’ experience.
Email list segmentation and email campaign individualization have proven the most effective personalization tactics for 51% and 50% of marketing influencers respectively.
List segmentation involves dividing your overall email list into segments based on the information you have about each user. It can include purchases made, buyer personas, page views, content downloaded, social media clicks, lifecycle stage, location and a ton of more things.
You have the power to determine the size of the segments you create. However, it is important to note that the smaller they are, the better the chances your emails will engage them and reach a goal. Going the extra mile to make your segments more focused is worth it, especially when you can automate this task. When list segmentation is done well, it results in emails that recipients truly want to read and take action on because the information within is relevant and valuable to them.
Well-designed email software will automatically update your active (or smart) segments for you when you set up the proper list filters and workflow triggers. It will also provide useful information about that segmented list of your B2B audience such as size, unsubscribes and performance.
As we mentioned earlier, a workflow is a series of emails that deploy when prospects and existing customers take certain actions. Not only do workflows serve to better engage subscribers, automating the process saves time you can devote to other tasks.
Triggered emails have a 70.5% higher open rate and 152% higher click-through rate than generic email newsletters, according to Epsilon Email Institute.
While the software does the heavy lifting for you, it is up to your marketing team to determine what potential customers are looking to get out of doing business with your organization and establishing a set of criteria on which to base each message. If you want your automated workflows to be successful, this step is essential. Think about what your business audience is seeking in terms of an effective solution and the ways in which your solution can meet all of their needs.
The primary goal of creating workflows is to convert qualified leads into paying customers. Workflows help you accomplish this goal by sending each contact the right message at the right time.
Applying the following strategies will ensure your workflows are successful:
- Update and review your database on a regular basis
- Set a goal for every single workflow
- Tailor the content of each message to the needs of your leads
- Use standardized templates to maintain a clear brand identity
Social Media Automation
With the majority of people using social media and depending on it for information, it has become one of the best ways to connect with your B2B audience. However, manually going through each tweet and comment is time-consuming, especially when you have a business to run. Fortunately, social media can take over these tasks for you.
Social media automation serves a few different purposes: it automates the process of posting on social media, helps your company schedule post regularly and allows you to share posts on multiple social channels simultaneously. Think about how the ability to target a larger number of audiences would elevate your presence and thought leadership with your B2B audience.
It is important to note that even with this form of automation, some human effort is required. A living, breathing person will still need to conduct meaningful conversations with your social communities, field customer complaints and questions and compose the posts.
However, there are quite a few tasks that social media automation can take off for you:
- Glean valuable insights from multiple networks by viewing insight reports
- Maximize engagement for posts by auto-scheduling them for the optimal time of day, each day of the week
- Curate content from relevant external sources like blogs
- Respond to common customer queries in a way with chatbots that sound human
If you execute social media automation well, your B2B business will get more results while expending less effort and less manpower.
You can humanize your text communications with website visitors by using chatbots. That may sound counterintuitive, but thanks to advances in technology, the modern version of the chatbot is able to process and respond to queries in a very human way. This offers your busy B2B audience a convenient way to obtain information about your solutions and saves your employees time.
Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities have enabled machine learning code to complete several very important functions:
- Understand queries
- Learn from every interaction
- Grow its skills to continuously improve its responses for future interactions
Text messaging is taking over as the most popular form of communication among people of all generations and especially Millennials. Messaging platforms are catering to this preference by integrating chatbots to carry on targeted communication with customers via a text messaging format on organizations’ websites.
Chatbots are ideal for a variety of tasks including customer service, payment services, targeted cross-selling and upselling, targeted lead generation and personalized media and news content distribution.
And they work. The average revenue from messaging apps is anticipated to be more than $15 per user by 2020. The main driver of this revenue? Chatbots.
Blog & Newsletter Automation
Blogging is an extremely important marketing strategy. It is no wonder that 55% of marketers cite blog content creation as their top inbound marketing priority.
Striking the balance between posting blogs often enough and maintaining high-quality content can be tricky for B2B organizations. Creating thoughtful, well written, valuable content in advance and scheduling blog posts can help you overcome this challenge.
How can blog scheduling accomplish this? It allows your team to write the content at the most opportune times and distribute it on a consistent schedule that ignites engagement with your prospects and bodes well for your ranking in search results.
Using the calendar tool to plan your blog’s editorial calendar in advance, you can schedule posts to publish at the most opportune times. And you can notify readers when you publish new content with customizable subscriber emails, which automatically notify subscribers of newly published content.
Automating the e-newsletters you send to subscribers ensures that you distribute blog content to the right leads at the right time. Once the template is set up, the software will automatically pull the latest blogs via an RSS feed. Subscribers indicate whether they want to receive e-newsletters on an instant, weekly or monthly basis. By doing so, they trigger the automated sends.
In order to achieve the best results, you need insight into how previous marketing campaigns have performed, what your competitors are doing well, which channels your target audience is spending their time and much more.
Auto-generated, real-time, visual reports give you this information in a way that can be easily digested while saving your team lots of time gathering all of this manually. Especially if you have all of your marketing, analytics and sales data under one hood like Hubspot offers.
You can keep goals and critical metrics top-of-mind by sending reports to your team via automated daily, weekly or monthly emails. The reports keep your team apprised of the progress they are making toward achieving set goals.
Making Sense Of Marketing Automation
A certain level of marketing expertise is critical for getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to marketing automation platforms. Tag Marketing has been executing successful, results-driven marketing campaigns for clients for about 20 years. We know our stuff and we leverage this knowledge to get the results you want.
We work with the industry’s top marketing automation platforms, wielding our vast knowledge and deep experience to fine-tune them to your organization’s advantage. Call us today to find out how we can ignite your marketing efforts.