How many B2B marketers out there are not using some kind of marketing automation?
Plenty, I would guess. Yet the reasons to automate are overtaking the reasons not to.
Today there are 20+ vendors providing automation products and services, with Marketo and Eloqua being the leaders. That competition brings a great range of pricing that makes automation more affordable for smaller B2B companies. In fact, the smaller a company’s marketing and sales team, the more it may need to automate some of its marketing processes.
Today, Neolane, one of today’s marketing automation players, sent out an email invitation to their Thursday, February 11 webinar entitled Keys to Marketing Automation and Where to Start. The message on the email invite includes a big warning message from IDC, a premier global provider of market intelligence. When they speak, people listen. Their warning is, “Not implementing a marketing automation solution may be the ultimate career-limiting move for today’s marketers.”
Of course we hear this warning about every new marketing channel or tool that comes along. So should a B2B marketer take that warning seriously and adopt some kind of marketing automation?
Here are three issues to understand and consider when making the decision:
1. Automate an essential process that is messy and time-consuming to do manually.
B2B marketers have checklists, white papers, Webinars, videos and product demos to offer their prospects. Getting the right content offer to the right prospect — based on that prospect’s stage in the buying cycle — is a very messy thing to attempt to do manually.
Generally, B2B marketing automation looks at the content a prospect has downloaded or the offer the prospect accepted, then automatically sends that prospect the appropriate next email in the series. The software tracks that prospect’s action and can even import the information into the company’s CRM or SFA system. All the B2B marketer needs to do is review reports on the activity and adjust the program as necessary.
2. Boost sales by achieving 100% follow-up on ALL leads generated.
45% of all leads generated make a purchase from someone in the industry product category within one year. Companies not paying attention to all the leads they generate will miss sales they could have won.
3. Commit the time and effort it takes to get the program set up and going.
Marketing automation requires buy-in from marketing, sales and management. It then requires time to build the series of content offers, emails, and companion landing pages. See my post on “4 Tactics for Getting B2B Marketing Programs Approved and Implemented Faster” to learn ways to speed up this process. The plan should be based on who should get what offer at each stage in the buying cycle. The visual, from Russell Kern’s guide “Direct Marketing’s Five Biggest Hurdles (And How to Get Over Them),” should help. It is a good starting point for determining what content to use and when to use it.
The launch is hard, but the payoff is a big one. Software Advice provides a nice list and description of all of today’s marketing automation providers. Once chosen, the vendors themselves are very willing to advise their customers on setting up their automation process and doing it right.
Consider the downside of not effectively nurturing every lead that comes your way. Then consider marketing automation.