Published 27th April 2011 | Digital Marketing

What Is Marketing Automation?

A classic problem faced by many B2B marketers is that they generate prospects who are interested in purchasing – but just not right now.

Hungry business owners and sales people are mostly interested in qualified leads – where qualified equals ‘have budget and authority to purchase within a defined timeline’.

If only! Because of the necessary focus on short term sales, a great many ‘future prospects’ are contacted once, then allowed to leak away out of the pipeline.

This is to be expected, particularly in the scramble to hit month end targets.

But it’s also a great shame.

Research from Reed Business shows that 77% of sales come from long term leads. In other words, most window shoppers go on to make the purchase eventually – from someone.

Wouldn’t it be great if that someone was you?

Nurturing leads

Nurture leads so you stay on their radar

At C4B Media we talk a lot about lead nurturing – keeping your prospects and clients engaged so that you stay on their radar.

Marketing Automation gives marketers the means to stay in touch with their prospects via behaviour-based email campaigns until the time comes for them to buy.

It’s especially useful for B2B companies with long sale cycles where ROI is difficult to calculate. Here’s how it works:

Lead generation

Leads come in through a lead generation campaign.

Key point: Not every lead is ready to buy now.

Scoring

Leads are assessed using a quantitative approach based on type of response, visit to website, article downloads and other metrics and allocated a ‘score’.

Key point: Scores build with time, based on subsequent contacts with the prospect.

Nurturing

Leads can now be engaged and nursed through the buying decision process depending on the speed with which the prospect wants to move

Key point: Marketing Automation tracks the touch points and keeps the cycle progressing by ‘drip feeding’ relevant content to the prospect.

Closure

Instead of allowing those future prospects to ‘leak away’ from the pipeline because their buying decision appeared too far away, the nurturing campaign keeps them ‘warm’ until the time is right for them to buy.

Key point: There’s no such thing anymore as the ‘sales cycle’. Just a buying cycle, which is driven by the customer’s own buying decision process.

The benefit of Marketing Automation is that it’s a clear solution to a clear and known problem: the disconnect between the motivations of the buyer, the short term expectations of the seller, and the abilities of the B2B marketer to satisfy the requirements of both.

As with CRM and sales force automation systems, Marketing Automation technology is only ever as good as the strategy behind it. If you recognise the problems described here, don’t expect technology alone to solve the problem.

But do expect results in return for a commitment to changing the way you do your marketing.

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