Marketing automation platforms are available from many vendors — at a range of prices and feature sets — to fit the needs of all sorts of organizations. That said, to better understand what marketing automation can do in different industries and situations, we can sort all of the options into a few basic types: B2B, B2C, small business, and mobile marketing automation.

Let’s take a look at these four types of automation, and how each is suited to the specific marketing and sales needs of a given market segment.

The business-to-business (B2B) arena has traditionally been the home of marketing automation. That’s because B2B prospects and customers form a small, focused target market, which is usually:

  • Engaged in a multistage procurement process
  • Part of an ongoing relationship of repeat business

This makes B2B a relationship-driven environment where product education and awareness building are vital. It’s also an arena where purchases are not made by individuals on the spur of the moment; instead, buying decisions are considered and rational, and usually involve more than one person.

B2B purchasing also takes time, spanning weeks, months, or longer from the start of the process to its conclusion. Generally speaking, then, B2B lead nurturing is a longer process than business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing, and B2B prospects do a lot of research before they are ready to speak to a salesperson, let alone are ready to buy.

These characteristics — a long marketing-to-sales evolution, combined with customer research generating multiple data points that can be analyzed — make marketing automation software very well-suited to the B2B environment.

 
Learn how B2B marketing automation can help you increase leads, boost sales, be more productive — and transform your business.

If B2B marketing automation is all about long sales cycles, businesses marketing to consumers (B2C) is all about convincing potential buyers in a much shorter time frame. Tracking potential customer behavior to determine messaging strategies is a big part of B2C marketing automation, just as it is in B2B.

The big difference lies in the duration of campaigns. Consumer campaigns need to gain the customer’s interest right away, then keep the road to checkout short, simple, and enticing.

That’s not to say there’s no place in B2C for longer-term approaches to building a customer base. Garnering brand loyalty and trust is vital, as is market education. But the path from prospect to sale in B2C is different from the multi-touchpoint journey of B2B, with its emphasis on product knowledge.

When a B2C customer is passed from marketing to sales, they should ideally have:

  • Familiarity with the brand and product set
  • A compelling impulse to complete the purchase

In terms of marketing automation, this means a nurturing process that builds brand awareness, and a quick sales process that requires little-to-no involvement from a sales team.

 
Learn how B2C marketing automation can help you engage with more customers, and boost and shorten your sales cycles.

Marketing automation isn’t just for Fortune 500 companies with Fortune 500-size budgets. Automation can be a small business’ best friend, handling tasks and surfacing insights that smaller organizations just don’t have the human resources to tackle. A new breed of marketing automation software for small businesses offers key benefits, plus the ability to grow with your business, without blowing your budget.

A few great reasons to consider marketing automation for small businesses:

  1. Attract and nurture leads. Capturing leads online starts with developing a great online presence. Automation platforms help with everything from building optimized landing pages, forms, and other site pages, to measuring which of your content engages leads. A good platform can also dynamically guide leads through the right content journeys based on their interests and activity.
  2. Eliminate the guesswork. Let the data tell you which messaging drives the most engagement, and how often customers actually open and read your emails. By running your campaigns through an automation platform, this data is collected and reported automatically.
  3. Respond quickly. According to the Harvard Business Review, prospects are seven times more likely to buy from a company that responds to their inquiry within an hour. Why keep customers waiting when an automation platform can ensure that your brand is known for prompt replies?

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what automation can do for a small business. A well-implemented platform can help your small business marketing and sales teams perform like an enterprise business, but at a fraction of the cost.

 
An instructional toolkit for small business marketers.

For increasing numbers of people today, a mobile device functions as their main computer. Even office workers who rely on a laptop for creating and presenting documents turn to their phones for most everything else. Mobile marketing automation takes the capabilities of traditional marketing automation and applies them to the mobile era.

This can include a range of features, but generally centers around:

  • Personalized, real-time messaging
  • Analytics and A/B testing of content
  • Integration with apps and other data sources coming from the user’s mobile device

Connecting directly to customers’ mobile devices is a powerful way to build active, personalized relationships, in both B2B and B2C, regardless of the size of your business. Automated mobile marketing can help drive real-time communication and integrate your messaging with other apps and data on customers’ phones, once they have opted-in to your campaign.

The benefits of marketing automation for B2B, B2C, and small businesses are clear. But as we mentioned, automation platforms come in all shapes and sizes. Which software is right for your organization? Let’s take a look at what to look for in a marketing automation platform in the next section.