Interested in learning about B2B marketing automation – and in putting it to use to supercharge your results?
You’re in the right spot. On this page, we’ll give an overview of what B2B marketing automation is, how it’s used, and how to get started with it.
Let’s dive in.
What is B2B marketing automation?
Marketing automation is a series of automatic marketing processes that are triggered by a specific action.
That’s the high-level definition.
At a more foundational level, any system that replaces manual labor can be termed “automation.” Adding the word “marketing” as a qualifier simply signals what realm the automation is happening in – just as saying “manufacturing automation” suggests the reduction of manual labor in manufacturing systems.
And adding the qualifier “B2B” signals that it’s happening in a business-to-business environment.
One caveat to all of this – some people also use the term “B2B marketing automation” to refer specifically to the software tools that enable automation. More on that in a bit.
For now, let’s get practical.
What are the most effective ways to use B2B marketing automation?
So, if B2B marketing automation is a series of automatic marketing processes that are triggered by a specific action – what processes should be automated, and what should trigger them?
The possibilities here are endless, but the following strategies are some of the most effective.
ABM (account-based marketing) campaigns can benefit greatly from marketing automation.
We’ve written about this approach in more detail here – but to recap quickly, ABM involves choosing ideal client accounts, then engaging them with multiple messaging points to make contact and drive sales.
Marketing automation can make these campaigns far more efficient.
For instance, let’s say you’ve identified the 10 contacts at an enterprise who you’d like to get in touch with, and you’ve identified LinkedIn and email as the channels you’ll be using to reach out.
Marketing automation could allow you to enter a contact into your process, then roll them through a personalized workflow that connects with them on LinkedIn, sends them a follow-up email, and follows up with a personal message – all with a few clicks.
And that’s only the baseline. Marketing automation’s true power is in the ability to segment different action paths based on different triggers. For example, if somebody clicks a link in your email, you can immediately have them sent a message corresponding to what they’ve clicked on.
Things can get complicated quickly, but the bottom line is that one effective use of marketing automation is to send more targeted messages far more easily.
Another great use of marketing automation is in lead nurture.
Lead nurture is the guidance of contacts through your marketing funnel so that they transition from lead to sale. Marketing automation is helpful because, with data, you can determine certain factors that make leads more receptive to certain messages or more open to certain touch points – then automatically deliver marketing that resonates.
As an example: Let’s say that someone downloads an ebook on your website and visits your service page. Marketing automation can score their level of interest and tag them based on the service they viewed. They could then be automatically entered into an email drip that delivers additional information on that service.
Maybe, two weeks later and after reading several of your emails, they’ll reply and ask to schedule a consultation with you.
Again, this is a very basic example. The possibilities are endless.
Anything that reduces manual labor.
All right, I’ve gone general here. But marketing automation is a general term, and I want to emphasize that you can use it for a lot of different things.
You can use it to automatically distribute content. For example, some companies set things up so that blogs posted on their websites are automatically distributed to social media or sent out via a newsletter.
You can use it to test and implement tactics. Let’s say you’re testing two variants of a landing page. Instead of having to manually pick and implement the winner, you can rely on marketing automation to select the best performer and set it live.
You can use it to send internal reminders. Do you keep forgetting to add conversations into your CRM? You can use marketing automation to create notifications that remind you what you need to do.
If you’re tired of performing manual tasks at scale, you can probably find a way to build marketing automation that reduces your workload – and performs more effectively.
What are the best B2B marketing automation tools?
As mentioned above, when some people use the term “B2B marketing automation”, they’re referring specifically to the software platforms that perform automation.
There are a lot – too many to list here, and the best fit will vary depending on what you’re trying to do, your business’s size, and your industry. But here are some of the best:
HubSpot is a great marketing automation option for mid-sized B2B businesses. They’ve got a full suite of tools, from email marketing, to landing page builders, to a CRM, and it all works cohesively. Plus, they literally coined the term “inbound marketing.”
Pardot by Salesforce is a great option for enterprises. It’s built, obviously, with the Salesforce CRM in mind, and it does a nice job at automating tasks at a large scale across a contact database.
Fun fact: Marketo is now owned by Adobe. The platform is built with a focus on B2B marketing automation (as opposed to B2C), and is great for managing complex customer journeys.
I’ll let these guys explain their platform in their own words: “Reply is a sales engagement platform that helps you automate and scale multichannel outreach, so you can generate more leads, acquire new customers and grow revenue faster.” We’ve used this often for ABM campaigns and it works well.
Active Campaign is probably best known for email automation, but they’ve expanded to provide site tracking, social ad controls, and a CRM. For mid-sized businesses, this is another solid option.
Again, the list above is just a sampling. For a fuller review of what’s out there, it’s worth checking out Capterra’s list of the best marketing automation software.
How can I get started with B2B marketing automation?
If you’ve read this far and you’re ready to start putting marketing automation into action, let’s talk.
At New North, we’ve worked with virtually all of the marketing automation platforms on the market. Most importantly, we understand how to use B2B marketing automation effectively so that it generates measurable results for your business – without the need for tedious manual input.