Marketing automation is considered a fundamental pillar of B2B marketing. Gone are the days of the traditional B2B buyer who works exclusively with the sales team and over the phone generating sales leads. In today’s digital world, B2B buyers are more self-sufficient and reliant on digital, instant access to research and answers to questions.
But the more interesting trend, I think, is one we’ve been seeing more recently—adoption on the B2B side of B2C technologies. The way I see it, B2B marketing has become so sophisticated they’re starting to embrace what B2C marketers do. It’s not just about lead management. It’s about the customer journey, and incorporating both outbound channels and inbound interactions.
My last post talked about mapping data to different stages in the customer journey from a B2C perspective. If anything, the customer journey is even more applicable in the world of B2B marketing automation.
So how does a B2B marketer do marketing automation right? The points below will send you on your way.
1. Embrace Digital
In a cross-channel world, embracing digital involves tying online digital to other tactics where marketers use marketing automation. For buyers in a B2B world, much of their research into a purchase happens before they’re known or authenticated. Marketers need to be able to tie in interactions from that aspect of the journey with what the buyer is doing in other channels. Buyers rely on those channels. They don’t want to talk to someone; they want to research on their own. Marketers need to leverage marketing automation and technology to enable a cohesive buyer experience—every time a buyer visits, the experience should be consistent on other channels.
2. Consolidate Marketing into One Platform
In most marketing organizations, there are different solutions for different channels. They might use one solution for email, another for mobile, another for site personalization and a separate solution for sales or CRM. This creates disparate data silos. It also means the different teams using those solutions don’t talk to each other. Consolidating as much as you can on one platform not only helps you provide a more seamless user experience, it also helps with consolidating data sources and teams.
3. Integrate, Integrate, Integrate
In many organizations, mobile is supported in a separate platform from the marketing automation platform. So, a marketer who wants to incorporate push notifications or SMS notifications has to rely on a disparate system. Solutions like Adobe Campaign enable cross-channel integration.
You want to integrate analytics too. The common use case here is leveraging insights gained from analytics for better decision making—checking out what’s working, what’s not, and so on—but also to be more cutting edge and forward thinking. For example, a marketer could leverage analytics to help predict who’s more likely to respond or engage to a campaign and take action based on those insights.
Integrating content and content management is another step. Marketers need centralized access to digital assets that are being used across different Web properties, in emails, and on landing pages. And they don’t only need access to these assets, they also need to be able to use them more consistently.
4. Manage Resources
Managing resources, tasks and calendars has more to do with managing the business of marketing—that is, making sure resources align so everyone has visibility under the same marketing calendar. This includes keeping track of campaign start and end dates but also managing the different tasks that need to be completed before a campaign goes out the door.
5. Combine Online and Offline
Combining online and offline data can help you obtain a single view of a customer. It involves taking any and all data points about a customer, whether it’s online behavior data, data provided via a preference center, or responses to campaigns and putting it together into a single view. Having a single view of your customer enables more intelligent, more focused and more engaged marketing.
6. Integrate with Sales and CRM
Seamless integration with sales and marketing is often a marketing automation requirement. It enables marketing and sales teams to be more in step. It means you can give sales a macro view of what’s going on in the world of marketing—what campaigns are coming up next month, in three months, and so on—but also a micro view.
For example, say we include a customer in a mass campaign to register for a webinar. Our customer opens the email, clicks to the landing page, fills out a form and registers for the webinar. This could alert sales: This is a lead. He responded to one of our marketing campaigns and registered for a webinar. Sales could then send a reminder or follow up email.
What Are Most Enterprises Doing Now?
Managing the customer journey is about more efficiently acquiring customers and nurturing them to create a relationship. The idea might be visionary, but marketers are talking about it.
Today, most marketers are familiar with the need to combine online and offline data, but it’s still difficult if the marketer uses disparate solutions. Likewise, marketers know the importance of mobile. They know they need to make sure mobile is prevalent in their marketing interactions and that emails are legible on mobile devices—which is where most searches happen.
However, brands are still struggling with integrating analytics, particularly the predictive piece. Getting a single view of the customer is still a challenge because new channels are always coming online. There are always new ways for customers to interact. The journey just never ends.