Marketing automation is already big business – and it’s getting bigger. One recent study estimates that 49% of companies currently employ some form of marketing automation, whilst the same source indicates that there is more than 10 times the number of B2B companies using marketing automation as there were 6 years ago. The rapid adoption of marketing automation is being driven by two core objectives. On the one hand, businesses are seeking more cost-effective ways of scaling their marketing function to reach a wider audience and on the other, the most important one, marketing automation enhances the customer buying experience.
Gone are the days of prospective customers seeking out a salesperson for information. This has been replaced by self-serving, searching online for information, peer reviews and insight-driven content (a bit like what you are reading now). Marketing automation offers a way for companies to support this self-serving by continuously engaging buyers as they move through their buyer journey. Offering useful information in key items of content to nurture them and once the prospective customer has scored and shown sufficient interest hand a marketing qualified lead to sales.
A DemandGen Report showed that well-nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads.
Many vendors are still pitching marketing automation the way CRM was sold fifteen years ago. Roll up, Roll up, a set and forget way to improve relationships with customers straight out of the box. That easy to buy pitch has resulted in many businesses buying solutions prematurely, resulting in some marketing automation platforms sitting gathering dust rather than delivering marketing efficiencies they promised. And of those that have matured their use beyond simple ‘batch and blast’ tactical email are now forced to view the world not through the outbound lens of their business as before, but through the inbound experiences of their customers. Similar to the change in approach that the service industry had to adapt to years ago, marketing automation required business owners to really analyse and consider what they are trying to achieve and why.
Think of a classic customer service approach such as the process of checking in at a hotel. When you arrive you don’t want to queue, be presented with problems or have to explain yourself. You just want your key, a smile and pointed in the direction of the lifts. If a hotel gets this process wrong they quickly witness the customers frustration by their reactions and can begin work to eliminate it for the future.
In this instance, any frustrations with the process are easy to see. However, when a customer is self-serving these irritations or frustrations with the process may not be so obvious. So the answer is to look at the data footprint left by your customers are they engage with your business online. Data never lies and can reveal these elusive hindrances which, when removed, will provide a more pleasurable experience. The same data will also show you when the experience is efficient and smooth, allowing you to emulate these positives across other areas of your automation routines.
So, from a B2B automation point of view what data should you be looking for and applying to your customer journey?
Explicit data will be what you capture in forms and surveys, such as address, job function, size of the business, number of licenses, time to purchase etc. Once you have data such as this you can begin to segment buyers by these explicit data points to trigger them into more specific campaigns. For instance, if you know their contact details, company name, job role size of business and purchase timeframe you can more accurately predict their stage in the buyer journey.
Then, add to this the implicit data, the information you gather whilst they have been engaging with your business digitally, such as the products they have been focusing on, the items downloaded, the number of visits and length of time on your website, the videos they have watched, the emails opened and clicked, all build towards a picture of their needs.
This implicit and explicit data provides you with the killer insight to ensure you can really fine-tune the customer buyer journey for each prospect, removing the roboticness of a one size fits all messaging and making it seamless, smooth, informative and great experience.
With these data insights you have the ability to finesse the buyer journey, but beware, what is said, or not said and how it is said is the difference between a good customer experience and one that falls flat. So it’s out with the robotic, jargon-filled, sales fuelled speak, and in with humanistic, natural and kind (yes I said kind, being aggressive or even pushy is a real turn off, but you already know that) approach to speaking to buyers.
It’s all too easy to breathe a huge sigh of relief once you have overcome the monumental task of producing the content only to allow robotic messaging to link it all together. You need to look at every opportunity to personalise content because if you get personal with your buyers, at every opportunity, you can build valuable trust that will keep you on their radar.
We believe in simplicity. It’s proven to be beneficial. Especially in a complex world where new ideas need to be explained. That doesn’t mean we won’t work with clients who have complex offerings. We love the challenge of unpacking layers of complexity in order to communicate your offering in a memorable way. Like all these things, it starts with a conversation. So let’s talk.