Imagine, you work for a B2B organization, and your boss thinks you can get more potential from your digital channels and CRM software, that your sales team has been filling out for the past few years, in order to generate more leads for the business.
You have been researching Marketing Automation for some time, and now believe it’s the right next step to be taken to help you achieve this goal.
You prepare a presentation and are set to pitch it internally. You start the presentation by explaining what Marketing Automation is and why your organization should get started with it.
But you look at your boss and immediately see lots of questions building up because of his facial expressions.
You pause for a second and he starts by saying: “How are we going to find enough budget to invest in a Marketing Automation solution?”, “We don’t have enough marketing people to work on that.” And “What about the expertise for all of this?”, “We don’t have technical marketing people in house.”, “It has already taken so much effort to get other teams working on the CRM, “How will we now take on a Marketing Automation solution?"
If you can relate to this story on any level or think that these are the types of questions you would get if you brought up Marketing Automation in your organization, then this blog article is for you.
And believe it or not, this still happens quite often today, even at leading, global B2B organizations. This is why I think it’s a great topic to cover.
What does Marketing Automation do for the B2B sector?
By definition, Marketing Automation is the process of using software to automate marketing campaigns and activities throughout the entire buyer’s journey — from initial customer interactions through to post-sales support.
In the B2B sector, Marketing Automation helps organizations reach out, connect with, inform, and guide prospects and customers through digital journeys in an automated, effective and efficient way, as opposed to having dedicated account managers and sales representatives doing that job, manually.
This results in Marketing Automation being a great asset for helping Marketing and Sales teams bring in prospects, qualify and nurture them down the funnel, up to the point at which they become ready to buy.
When built correctly, a Marketing Automation strategy and journeys can make your teams more effective and productive, which in turn creates more opportunities for generating business.
The top 5 misconceptions about Marketing Automation in the B2B sector
1) Marketing Automation requires a lot of technical knowledge and is complex to set-up
Marketing Automation is not complex in itself. Marketing Automation becomes as complex and technical as you and your organization want or aim to make it based on the strategy and approach you follow. At least this is the case when we talk about starting off with Marketing Automation.
This process can be as simple as automating a series of e-mails on a weekly basis to a subset of our database who we consider prospects. So, at the start, Marketing automation does not have to be complex.
Tips to reduce the complexity of a Marketing Automation project
We recommend that organizations take an agile approach to Marketing Automation. Start with the most basic journeys and automation flows you can think of that would still be valuable for your organization, for example, an e-mail series to convince new dealers to sell your products after they have requested information through a landing page. Then, once you test this, learn from it and you can move forward by developing and scaling. And you can add more complex conditions, triggers, and ramifications to the journeys or build new ones to further cover the customer journeys. For example, journeys that dynamically adapt the e-mails communications sent towards each lead depending on the engagement and grade score they have.
Many organizations do the opposite and try to look at Marketing Automation projects with the goal of getting it all up and running in a go. This brings along many risks and prevents you from incorporating learnings along the way.
2) Marketing Automation is only for very digitally mature organizations
In the same line of thought as the previous myth, it is all a matter of the approach you take to it. Not only this, but I also really believe Marketing Automation is the perfect catalyzer for kickstarting digital maturity within an organization.
Why? Because it requires Marketing and Sales teams to start working with digital solutions and data while getting a return from them in the short term.
As soon as you launch a marketing automation journey or a campaign, you will see the system working for your team, reaching leads that otherwise would have had to be contacted manually. So, your team will see the value in having the system do the work for them.
Bringing value instead of talking about value is the first step to having people believe that they can become a digital organization.
3) Marketing Automation takes away the personal touch of B2B relationships
Marketing Automation is not aimed at replacing personal touchpoints, but aimed at incorporating digital, automated ones to support customers in their journey when there is not a person there.
According to research by CEB, a typical B2B buyer is already 57%1 through the purchase process before reaching out to sales. Meaning they are halfway through their research and information gathering before they are open to having that personal touch/one-to-one conversation.
Therefore, Marketing Automation can play a huge role in this part of the process, while still leaving room for the personal touches which come later and are integrated into the journey.
Also, it will be the responsibility of your content team to make the marketing materials and the communications as personal as possible. The goal is not to replace or automate the e-mails that your sales team would send, we don’t want robotic communications. The idea is to offer the right content and personalize your materials to make them speak to your customers based on what their needs are.
4) Marketing Automation is just for the marketing team
Marketing Automation can be systematically used for lead and prospect nurturing and qualification, among many other use cases. This, therefore, ensures that your sales teams receive higher quality leads. But also, it helps the sales team in converting those leads into customers faster and the with higher deal values. Nurturing your leads with Marketing Automation helps them better understand your products and company and get a clearer idea of how your company or products can meet their needs. This reduces the time sales have to invest in doing the same, thus making the entire process more efficient and effective.
For example, I want you to think of your own organization. Do sales and client account management teams complain of having too little time to reach out to all the leads and prospects in their pipelines because they need to focus on the bigger, hotter ones as much as possible?
This is officially called “the sales lead black hole”, and it describes the phenomenon that relates to up to “70%2 of leads generated by marketing departments that are not pursued by sales representatives as a result of competing demands on the sales reps’ time, including the need to nurture existing accounts, follow-up on self-generated leads, and administrative tasks.”
What is the outcome then? Many of the leads generated by marketing are never even reached out to. This is one of the challenges at organizations that Marketing Automation aims to solve, and this has a direct impact on the sales team.
In addition to this, the closer the collaboration and alignment between marketing and sales, the more successful marketing automation will become in the long run. Why? Because the sales teams are the ones closest to the clients and prospects and know the market well. Salespeople can provide very effective feedback to the marketing team on how to adapt e-marketing communications at the different stages of the customer lifecycle to make sure they are really helping them move forward.
5) Marketing Automation is the ultimate answer to your marketing success
Marketing Automation is just an approach, and it needs to be fed with the right strategy, content and expertise to drive marketing results. And it takes time and optimization to make it really successful; just adding a form to a landing page will not generate a mass of leads unless the content behind that landing page is really good or interesting for your audience.
I hope I have been successful in destroying the myths you believed to be true about Marketing Automation for the B2B world. If you are looking into how to leverage Marketing Automation in your organization and want some support into defining how that could look, reach out to our team of Marketing experts. We have worked with many B2B and B2C international organizations, implementing Marketing Automation strategies and solutions to drive greater business results.