B-to-B Insights : Au-to-mate!
How B-to-B marketing automation came of ageSeptember 2013 By Bob Bly
Up until the dawn of the Internet, I thought I knew pretty much all there was to know about B-to-B marketing communications. Since the Web's advent, new B-to-B marketing methods have proliferated, some of which I know almost nothing about.
Marketing automation is at the top of the list. I knew it was a hot trend, had some vague notion of what it entailed, but my understanding was foggy at best. So I turned to my long-time colleague M.H. "Mac" McIntosh, president of sales lead agency AcquireB2B, to learn about marketing automation and its value.
"We define marketing automation as the use of technology to generate, nurture, score and qualify leads, and drive sales, using customized, multi-touch marketing communications tailored for each contact's profile, level of interest, behavior, or place in the buying process," says McIntosh.
Marketing automation software automatically delivers communications that you create—from email marketing messages to tweets—to prospects based on who they are and where they are in the buying process. Often, the communication is triggered by an action taken by the prospect, such as downloading a whitepaper, registering for a webinar or filling out a contact form. According to digital marketing publication ClickZ, 25 percent of Fortune 500 B-to-B companies have implemented a marketing automation platform. SiriusDecisions says that number will rise to 50 percent by 2015.
Marketing automation software that is either server-based or hosted in the cloud controls the delivery of these targeted marketing communications. According to Pardot's "Marketing Automation Success Kit" whitepaper, "Marketing automation makes processes more efficient by automating repetitive marketing and sales cycles. Marketers can manage all prospect interactions, as well as all online marketing campaigns. Leads can be tracked and nurtured from the first touchpoint to the close of the sale."
More Bang for the Marketing Buck
Once geared only toward large enterprises, marketing automation software is now affordable to small and medium-size businesses (SMBs). Many of these marketing automation systems can be integrated with popular customer relationship management (CRM) software packages, including Salesforce.com, Netsuite and Microsoft Dynamics.
"The primary benefits of marketing automation are 1) it allows marketers to accomplish more, usually at a lower cost, than they can get done manually, and 2) it facilitates continuous improvement by allowing marketers to track and measure the results of their campaigns, then make necessary adjustments in near real-time," says McIntosh.