David Kirkpatrick

Consumer Marketing: Implementing marketing automation at a B2C company

When you think of marketing automation software, you likely think about B2B companies with those long sales cycles, and extensive lead nurturing and scoring to help move prospects through the pipeline. Because at B2C companies the distance from prospective customer to paying customer can be so short, realistically, marketing automation isn’t a necessary tool for many consumer marketers.

And just because marketing automation isn’t a great fit for many B2Cs, it certainly deserves more attention at any company with a longer sales process.

Aspirational products create longer buying cycles

PerryGolf has been around for over 25 years putting together high-end golf trips, primarily to the British Isles. Its target market is the affluent, passionate golfer looking to spend several thousand dollars on up for a golfing excursion.

“The travel we sell has a high aspirational content to it,” explains Gordon Dalgeish, President, PerryGolf. “Scotland, and specifically St. Andrews, is regarded by many as the home of golf. It’s a place many golfers want to go at least once in their life. There is always a high level of interest, and in some respects, there are a lot of tire kickers out there.”

He adds, “We have a relatively high level of inquiry to conversion.”

A challenge was determining who among the tire-kickers was most likely to become a paying customer. PerryGolf was able to put together some consumer information based on telephone conversations and email exchanges.

Such as, someone looking to take their father or son on a PerryGolf trip was red-flagged as a promising lead because of the family element. On the other hand, a group of friends or several couples planning a potential trip were seen as much less likely to actually book the vacation.

Gordon says, “You could just spin your wheels chasing dead horses around the field.”

Enter marketing automation

At the end of 2007, PerryGolf decided to implement marketing automation software to help keep track of its potential customers.

Before this decision its entire process was very manual. Data was being captured on website forms, that information was manually entered into a database and turned into proposals for the potential customer.

“The process for sending out proposals was just extraordinarily messy and cumbersome,” states Gordon.

Now the process is much more streamlined:

  • Step 1. Leads are generated through email campaigns, pay-per-click advertising or social media ads.
  • Step 2. Each lead gen effort sends prospects to a unique landing page that feeds into the marketing automation database.
  • Step 3. The process becomes manual again at this stage where a proposal for the lead is created and a sales rep makes personal contact with the prospect.
  • Step 4. Because the proposal is tagged within the automation system, PerryGolf can see how much time the prospect spends looking at the proposal, what parts of the proposal were of most interest, and if the proposal was shared with others involved in the trip.
  • Step 5. Proposals are good for 30 days, so PerryGolf engages in lead nurturing by reaching out to the prospect at three, 10 and 20 days.

Gordon says the automated process, “allows us to score on a very objective basis their (prospects) intent and their interest.”

This streamlining of the data capture and lead nurturing allows PerryGolf to, as Gordon put it, “zero in on those people who are meaningfully involved and serious about buying a trip.”

Here’s an example of a PerryGolf lead generation email:

Click to enlarge

The power of analytics

Another advantage of marketing automation at PerryGolf is it easily allows the company to analyze how its marketing dollars are working.

“It’s allowed us to be far more analytical as to what works and what doesn’t work,” Gordon explains. “And then try to kind of refocus the resources.”

The travel business has a relatively low barrier to entry. Someone with a laptop at their kitchen table and decent website can become a PerryGolf competitor.

Gordon says he feels marketing automation software improves PerryGolf’s communications with its prospective customers and clients in terms of making sure they get routine touches with more precise messages, and this gives the company a leg up over some of the “mom and pop” operations.

Related Resources

Pardot – PerryGolf’s marketing automation vendor

Special Report: 8 Criteria for Choosing a Lead Scoring/Marketing Automation Vendor (Members library)

Marketing Strategy: Revenue-oriented approach leads to 700% two-year growth (Members library)

B2B Marketing: How a start-up doubled campaigns with a smaller department (Members library)

B2B Challenges: Marketing to a long sales cycle

Prospect Marketing: Nurturing leads lost to competitors

The Data Vs Creativity Debate: Is successful marketing driven by analytics or art?

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Consumer Marketing, Marketing



  1. August 4th, 2011 at 10:37 | #1

    Great article with a nice concise plan. I’m curious what marketing automation software was used?

  2. David Kirkpatrick
    David Kirkpatrick
    August 4th, 2011 at 10:58 | #2

    Hatef — Glad you liked the blog post. You can find a link to PerryGolf’s MA vendor, Pardot, in the “related resources” section.

  3. August 4th, 2011 at 11:21 | #3

    I’m fascinated by this idea. I also run a B2C business that is aspirational in nature with a long lead nurturing process. I sell vacation homes in a small mountain town and often am nurturing leads anywhere from 6 months to 3+ years before they make a purchase. I’d love to see other examples of marketing automation in the B2C context.

  4. April 3rd, 2014 at 05:31 | #4

    There are lot of B2C businesses where marketing automation will make sense, especially for businesses where ticket size is higher.

  1. December 15th, 2011 at 03:02 | #1
  2. January 31st, 2013 at 10:03 | #2