David Kirkpatrick

B2B Marketing: 7 tactics for implementing marketing automation from a fellow brand-side marketer

In the B2B marketer’s toolbox, marketing automation software is more like industrial equipment than a simple screwdriver. It’s a capital investment, and it does some serious heavy lifting.

There are many automation vendors out there with a wide range of price points and features to fit the needs of marketers of all size of prospect list and complexity of sale. One thing that remains the same across all these options is there are some key elements to fitting marketing automation into any sales cycle that every marketer should keep in mind.

Jason Striker, Digital Marketing Manager, ICM Document Solutions, presented “Marketing Automation for Misers – Strategies for implementing an effective automation program on a tight budget” to the audience at the recent MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011 in San Francisco, and he offered a solid blueprint for doing just that for marketers with any budget size .

Here are seven tactics Jason gave our Summit attendees that I’d like to share with you:

 

Tactic #1. Choose the marketing automation vendor

Jason says, “Know why you are actually going to use marketing automation. And you want to make sure you know who your stakeholders are inside of your company.”

He adds marketing automation’s purpose is to keep your marketing message in front of your customers for the long term, and you want to create an automation system that can seamlessly be operated by whoever is in charge of marketing.

When choosing your vendor, take a sober assessment of your assets – company size, revenue, budget, customer base, etc.

“Be real about it. If you want it to be the right fit, you have to find the right vendor,” Jason explains.

There are options for just about every sized marketing department, and there is no reason to over spend on a vendor that exceeds your needs in terms of computational power or budget.

“Marketo, Eloqua, ExactTarget, SilverPop, Genius – I’ve used all of them, and they were the right size for the right company,” states Jason.

 

Tactic #2. Understand your assets

This goes along with choosing the vendor. You should know:

  • Your content
  • Your creatives
  • Your team
  • Your marketing needs

Jason says, “Know who, when, where and what will be used to engage. Know yourself and your team and really know the plan.”

 

Tactic #3. Make sure your website is optimized for marketing automation

Optimizing your website for marketing automation means making sure your forms are connecting to the database properly, making sure tracking pixels are doing exactly what you want them to do, and making sure any scoring activities – such as website visits from an email – are correctly coded.

You should have a relationship with whoever is actually doing the website development, and take the time to test all of these elements to ensure all are working as intended.

 

Tactic #4. Reassure your sales team

The CRM was most likely a very unwelcome development (and shock to the system) for the sales team. Marketing automation might just be viewed as one of the fabled Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

“The biggest problem is that I’ve found that salespeople believe that marketing automation is going to eliminate their positions, and that is not the case,” says Jason.

He adds, “You have to assure your sales people that it is not going to eliminate them. It is going to enhance them.”

 

Tactic #5. Understand the CRM

Make sure all leads, contacts, online forms, etc. connect correctly to the CRM. It will be the engine that either powers your marketing automation engine, or it is the place where the entire effort starts bogging down.

The key here? Data hygiene.

“You need to audit your contact list and make sure that everything (fields) is there,” says Jason.

He adds, “Audit your data. If not, you are going to be sending out emails to people that are not real. It’s going to be a waste of your time and a waste of money.”

“I had one CRM system and it had 65,000 contacts, and that seems like a lot,” Jason explains. “The first time that I did a data audit down, [the database] went down to 16,000 live people. Do you know how disappointing that was to them (the client)?”

 

Tactic #6. Know your content strategy

Content is the heart of lead nurturing, and Jason says a real content strategy is having a “web of content.”

You want to know your products and silos, and every piece of content that corresponds with each element of your business.

He says you want to have an ideal outcome in mind and then create tactics that will lead to that ideal outcome. Jason adds that the process isn’t linear – A+B+C may not get to that ideal outcome, but if you know where your content fits, and how your content will be used, in the overall strategy your efforts will be effective.

You also want to have some content pieces that can be used across multiple silos almost effortlessly with correct framing and keeping the call-to-action of purchasing your product or service the same.

To determine what content would be effective for your efforts, there are questions you should be able to answer.

“The checklist is, you have to ask tons of questions inside of your organization,” states Jason.

Ask the “who” and “where” and “why.”

Jason offers “the basic stuff” to find out:

  • Why we are doing this?
  • Why are we selling it?
  • How much are we selling it for?
  • Who are we selling it to?
  • Why are we selling to them?
  • Why would they buy it?

 

Tactic #7 Plan and review your process

“When adopting a marketing automation platform, you are going to look out for six months just for the initial concept for adoption within the organization,” Jason says.

Once the adoption process is complete, think long-term in regard to recognizing ROI on the implementation.

“You are not going to get real hard numbers for return-on-investment until after probably a year’s worth of data to say, ‘This is where we’ve been putting people inside of the system, this is what it has been doing, these are the numbers, and this is how it is affecting these programs.’”

 

Related Resources:

Special Report: 8 Criteria for Choosing a Lead Scoring/Marketing Automation Vendor

MarketingSherpa’s Take on B2B in 2010: Part two — marketing automation and lead generation content

B2B Marketing: 5 privacy factors to consider when using marketing automation

Getting Sales and Marketing into the Same Room: Marketing automation implementation spurs successful integration process

Marketing Automation Case Study: One marketer’s 5 step process from vendor selection to a 178% increase in deals

Consumer Marketing: Implementing marketing automation at a B2C company

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B2B Marketing