There is a large push in marketing to automate as many tasks and workflows as possible. However, automating for its own sake isn’t the best strategy. Especially for B2B marketing, automation should only be implemented where it provides real value. Before we jump into the when and where, let’s take a step back and look at that what.
If you search for “marketing automation” on a search engine, you are served up a ton of ads by, no surprise, marketing automation software providers. The best explanation of marketing automation is from Wikipedia:
Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks.
Marketing departments, consultants, and part-time marketing employees benefit by specifying criteria and outcomes for tasks and processes which are then interpreted, stored and executed by software, which increases efficiency and reduces human error. Originally focused on email marketing automation, marketing automation refers to a broad range of automation and analytic tools for marketing especially inbound marketing.
The use of a marketing automation platform is to streamline sales and marketing organizations by replacing high-touch, repetitive manual processes with automated solutions
This is a great explanation of the purpose of marketing automation, particularly as it applies to B2B marketing. Now, let’s unpack this definition to discuss when and where implementation is appropriate.
Increase Efficiency Not Add Processes
As you examine the different marketing automation options and vendors, it’s important to not get distracted by all the capabilities. Many tools, like Marketo, Hubspot, and MailChimp, have extensive capabilities. The only issue is that your company may not use all the capabilities and will end up paying more for functionality that you and your team will never use.
The main purpose of marketing automation is to increase efficiency and save you and your team time. If setting up all the processes in your marketing automation tool ends up costing you more time, it doesn’t make sense. For example, using an email automation tool to track unsubscribes, send auto-responses, and automatically post to social media will reduce the amount of time your team needs to manage these tasks manually.
Reduce Human Error Not Replace Human Touch
Human error often happens when there isn’t enough time and tasks are rushed, or tasks are so repetitive, the person completing them loses focus. The right tool will reduce these types of errors. For example, a great time to implement marketing automation can be through defined lead nurturing campaigns that are crafted to drip content to the lead over a certain course of time. This typically works best to handle a larger volume of leads and to provide several touch points before passing the leads off to a salesperson.
For many B2B companies, based on the cost of the products or services, there isn’t a huge volume of leads coming in. If that is the case, it can make more sense to manually nurture these leads – particularly if products or services are customized to the end user. When customization is essential, it’s tough to build automation workflows to accommodate all the prospect variables.
Streamline Sales & Marketing to Grow Revenue
Software solutions should always make our lives easier, and in most cases, they do. Just think about sending a fax versus drafting a quick email. Automation solutions should help to streamline the sales and marketing process.
Lead scoring and lead management are two ways that automation can help to streamline the sales and marketing process. Rather than wasting time following up with leads that aren’t ready to close, sales can instead focus on leads that are qualified and ready to talk pricing and implementation.
What Is the Value?
A good rule to follow when evaluating whether to automate a process or campaign is to ask whether it provides value to you AND to the prospect. If both parties aren’t gaining value, then it’s likely not the time to automate. Automated lead nurturing isn’t appropriate if it sends the same content and information to all your prospects and it isn’t relevant to their needs. Similarly, if the implementation and upkeep are costing you and your team more time and headaches, then it likely isn’t the best fit for your B2B marketing strategy.
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