Marketing automation helps you to identify potential customers, automating the process of nurturing those leads to sales-readiness. It automates actions that bring prospects to the point where they can be directly approached by the sales team with the aim of closing a sale and starting an ongoing relationship, and the information it gathers can drive your choice of marketing tactics.
Marketing automation does this by massively improving the efficiency of your sales funnel, quickly turning a broad base of leads into happy customers using a combination of tactics.
For example, early in the lead-nurturing process education and awareness might be the key task. Marketing automation can supply useful content that develops trust in and respect for your brand, quickly and easily helping leads to understand what it is they’re getting. Further along, when prospects have narrowed down the types of products they’re interested in, you can reach out with targeted messaging, specifically tailored to the groups that could best help to grow your brand. Finally, as activity tracked via the marketing automation system indicates yet more focused interest, a qualified, comprehensive and well-understood lead is automatically handed to the sales team.
Lead generation is an extremely important step in any business’s growth. By automating many steps in the process from marketing to sales, your team has more time to focus on overall strategy and nurturing the leads that show real promise. That means more prospects, and more customers.
Marketing automation is also able to give you a richer, more detailed picture of the behaviour of potential customers. Using behavioural tracking methods such as following a user’s path through your website, marketing automation software can help your marketing team to understand a prospect’s interests and where they are in the purchasing lifecycle. They can then customise any follow-up based around those action points.
For instance, let’s say a particular customer is reading about a broad category of products. This might indicate that they are at the beginning of the purchasing process, researching and comparing while preparing a shortlist. If they later download white papers on a specific product, that could indicate a narrower focus and a readiness to be contacted by a salesperson.
Bringing together information from touchpoints including website visits and downloads, social media activity and direct marketing enables automatic scoring, qualifying and prioritising of leads. This in turn can then drive wider marketing campaigns, including:
Besides automating the lead-nurturing process, marketing automation software can also allow you to establish clear, objective measures of progress through the customer lifecycle. Whereas in the past a particular prospect’s readiness for sales approaches might be down to an individual marketer’s intuition, it can now be based on pre-defined and measured outcomes.
With such analytics at its heart, marketing automation can help prioritise sales staff time, measure the effectiveness of touch points with the prospect and establish overall campaign effectiveness.
Guesswork is also removed from the process: in particular when deciding the point at which an individual prospect is handed over from marketing to sales. Indeed, closed-loop reporting allows you to calculate accurately your cost per opportunity and the ROI of your marketing efforts.
The business-to-business arena has been the traditional home of marketing automation. That’s because B2B prospects and customers form a small, focused target market, which is usually:
For these reasons, B2B is a relationship-driven environment where product education and awareness building are vital. It’s also an arena where purchases are not made on the spur of the moment by individuals; instead, they are considered and rational, and usually involve more than one person.