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B2B Marketing Automation Software: 3 Critical Factors for Success

Sean Parnell - Wednesday, January 27, 2016

B2B Marketing Automation Software: 3 Critical Factors for SuccessWhen successful, marketing automation software can take your business-to-business (B2B) marketing and lead generation to the next level. Marketing automation can also cost you at least $7,000 to $15,000 per year and not produce a single lead.

So, how do you avoid an epic fail?

Don't Believe the Hype

Remember Public Enemy? Before you fall for the hype, take a good look at your business to see if you're ready for marketing automation. Even the most amazing software tool can't help someone that without a written marketing plan, a compelling website and content that resonates with your target market.

I'm reminded of one of our clients that spent $10,000 on HubSpot and never used it because they had a dated WordPress website (actually blacklisted by Google because it got hacked and contained malware), and they had no one on staff that could write up a web page, blog post, email, or any piece of marketing collateral.

When working with clients, we recommend these three critical factors for success with marketing automation.

Strategic Marketing Plan

A powerful marketing strategy connects the dots between marketing deliverables and achieving your company's financial goals. From all of the things you could do, your marketing plan tells you what should you do.

Marketing automation software can be a very useful tool, but marketing execution without a plan can be aimless at best and foolish at worst, unless you get lucky and hope is not a strategy.

A Website that Performs (Inbound)

The most powerful B2B websites perform: their content and search engine optimization (SEO) gets them ranked for the most relevant keywords, which generates leads.

And they look great. However, while many award-winning websites are cool, they are light on substance, lack SEO and lose traffic-to-lead conversion opportunities because they're optimized for viewing on a tablet while 90% of B2B traffic is from a desktop.

The majority of prospects aren't ready to buy. Instead, they research their issue (often in multiple phases) and self-diagnose potential solutions before they reach out to salespeople, so you want to be found when they're searching. This requires quality content and SEO to leverage it for maximum visibility on the web.

Marketing automation is good at tracking when your prospects come to your website, what they look at and identifying who you should follow up with ASAP with lead scoring.

The gotcha: if not many are coming to your website and leave quickly when they do, marketing automation is not going to help you. And marketing automation is not going to increase your keyword rankings.

Proactive Campaigns (Outbound)

You don't want to just wait around for people to Google you, so you want to go to them.

Email campaigns are the most cost-effective and easiest option to manage for outbound marketing. They start with your building and/or acquiring a list of names and email addresses from your target market as identified in your marketing plan. The same list that you upload into your email management system (e.g. Constant Contact, iContact, Mail Chimp, Survey Monkey) is the same you upload into marketing automation software.

Marketing automation is great for tracking all webinar RSVPs, marketing collateral download registrations and even when they call you in some cases – and then for automatically following up or "nurturing" those prospects that do click on an email, RSVP or download over the next 2-6 weeks so your inside reps don't have to call everyone, every time.

The gotcha: marketing automation requires you to have or create a lot of valuable content. If you don't have existing content or a campaign strategy, editorial calendar and experienced writer to create new content, you've got nothing to "feed" your marketing automation software – and it's a hungry beast. Marketing automation doesn't mean content automation!

Marketing automation is also great for showing you all the touchpoints you generate for each prospect: email opens and click-throughs, website visits and even phone calls. It then "scores" each prospect with those showing more activity being scored higher so that you can reach out to them if you haven't heard from them. Any marketing automation software worth its salt also integrates with SalesForce and other commonly used CRM systems.

The gotcha: someone has to follow up with these prospects and just because they show a kernel of interest, doesn't mean their a qualified lead. Someone on your team needs to qualify "suspects" into "prospects" and you need to specify what makes someone qualified or not.

Next Steps

If you're considering marketing automation software, but aren't sure if you've mastered these three critical success factors for success, contact us to request a marketing audit. We can evaluate your marketing automation readiness and identify critical success factors that need attention. If you are ready, we can recommend the marketing automation software that best fits your needs, which could be HubSpot, Pardot, Act-On, SharpSpring, or perhaps one that is focused on your industry.

Contact us to learn more about marketing automation, strategy, and inbound/outbound marketing