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What to consider before investing in B2B marketing automation

b2b marketing automation
 
Claire Randall

According to Emailmonday “On average 56% of companies have deployed marketing automation. With 40% of B2B companies planning to adopt the technology.” That’s a lot of organisations making big investments in their marketing systems. Will they reap the rewards of that investment or will it become the not so small, costly elephant in the room?

Before we look at the 5 key questions any organisation should ask themselves before investing in a B2B marketing automation platform, let’s be sure we are on the same page and define what we mean by B2B marketing automation.

What is B2B Marketing Automation?

B2B marketing automation allows you to streamline marketing tasks and role responsibilities through workflows and triggers. B2B marketing automation is meant to help your team stay productive and efficient while nurturing your leads.

To name but a few of the B2B marketing automation tools available on the market, you have Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua and Act-On. Which one you choose to work with can depend on the size of your database, the number of users, features and functionality you require and the level of support you need – consider the level of internal skill you have. Ultimately most vendors offer a subscription-based model with a sliding scale depending on your needs. Some offer a free version so you can get acquainted with the software, with a limited view, before you buy.

Why use B2B Marketing Automation?

The tool synchronises the many moving parts a marketer must manage. Marketing automation is so much more than email marketing services and encompasses content marketing, social media, SEO, web creation as well as email. When used in earnest B2B marketing automation can provide a USP for a company, but investing in the tool alone is not going to provide immediate results. Picking the right platform for you is important and having a strategy in place to measure outcomes is vital.

According to Act-On’s State of Marketing Automation report conducted in partnership with London Research, 49% of marketers cite being unable to measure the ROI of marketing automation as a key barrier and 36% note that lack of internal knowledge is also a challenge. This indicates that not all marketers using B2B marketing automation are maximising their investment.

With that in mind, I would advise carrying out your due diligence ahead of time to ensure you don’t add to those statistics.

5 Questions to Ask Before Investing in a B2B Marketing Automation Platform:

1. Do you know what you want B2B marketing automation to achieve?

You need to understand what you want to achieve with the B2B marketing automation platform. Define your marketing strategy, be specific about what marketing process you want to improve and establish the metrics you need to track. By being very clear from the start it will enable you to deploy the tool effectively and allow the investment to help you reach your business targets, providing a clear and objective ROI.

2. Are your sales & marketing teams aligned?

To make the most of the core functionality B2B marketing automation platforms offer, your sales and marketing teams need to be aligned and have common objectives. Formal capture of these goals and agreed processes to achieve them are crucial. Understand the stages of the sales cycle and map them out. Marketing and sales engagement has moved away from the traditional baton handoff once a lead has been identified as an MQL. As such it is crucial that the two teams work together from identifying their target audience, qualifying them in and out, scoring the leads and routing them accordingly. Understanding where and why the sales team win will help marketing define strategy. What pain points resonate, what insights help them convert?

3. What content and assets do you have?

Content is king in marketing and that doesn’t change in the context of B2B marketing automation. Organisations can often fall short of capitalising on the B2B marketing automation platform investment simply by not having enough quality content to offer. Make sure you have a content strategy to support your campaigns. Allow your team the time and resources to stock the asset library as well as regularly creating new content. If internal resource is an issue, agencies can be a good option to bring in as required.

Personalisation of content is also key and a tailored experience will only serve to increase engagement with your prospects and customers.

Looking outside of the downloads and offers you have in place, your website is a pivotal tool, central to a marketing automation strategy. Do you have solid website foundations to build your marketing automation campaign on?

4. How healthy is your data?

Feeding the engine of the B2B marketing automation platform is a necessity. That means having a good amount of leads to get started, as well as a solid approach to creating more leads to continue to build out your opted-in audience. Consider also not just the number of leads you have but the creation of a set of cleaned, complete and organised data. This will then allow you to personalise your approach based on segmented data and personas, mapping the appropriate content that is going to grab their attention. You will need to understand how you collect data and its quality so you can effectively align your marketing automation and your CRM.

5. What is your internal knowledge base?

Do you have the skills in your marketing team to plan and set up your selected B2B marketing automation platform successfully? You might need to invest in skilling up the team to ensure they are in the best position to deliver. Marketing automation is complicated software and many have fallen foul of not resourcing correctly. Don’t forget also that providers offer support packages, so select the support package that reflects your true requirement.

When using B2B Marketing Automation Reaps Rewards

Implemented correctly marketing automation can have a huge impact on businesses, especially small to medium-sized companies. Streamlining the lead generation process and accelerating your marketing efforts will allow you to ensure a strong brand presence across different sales channels.

As with all areas of marketing, this is not a set and forget scenario, it’s an ongoing commitment to apply, review, adjust and repeat.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”– Bill Gates

Looking for guidance on B2B marketing automation, including creating content and assets that are crucial to a successful campaign? Contact Motion to learn how our team of marketing experts can help. Or, if your organisation isn’t ready for B2B marketing automation, view our full-service portfolio to discover other strategies and approaches for reaching your business and sales goals.

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