B2C marketers seem to have such an easy time selling soft drinks, consumer electronics, or sneakers, but in B2B industries, purchase decisions are often a long time in the making.
In the past, B2B transactions happened in face-to-face meetings coupled with product demos and boardroom presentations to influence the customers and close the deals. Corporate structure, product complexity, and the large investment were the factors required for the purchase decision, as does customer experience.
B2B stakeholders, on the other hand, now conduct much of their product and service research online. In fact, 33% of buyers spent more time researching products after the pandemic in 2020 than they did before it. Forty-nine percent said they spent extra time researching products to meet their data security requirements.
Although most B2B companies may think of themselves as customer-centric, they are often account-focused. What should be a customer journey is still frequently treated merely as customer relationship management. B2B buyers largely expect relevant content, personalized messages, and an exceptional customer experience. Instead, they often receive impersonal content and experience inconsistent and conflicting interactions and bulk emails that do not meet them in the sales process.
Marketing automation can have enormous benefits for B2B companies, particularly because their sales cycles are long and complex decision-making. Converting leads into customers requires a lot of interactions and more lead nurturing than B2C marketing. Providing relevant content at strategic decision points during the research and consideration phase and analyzing the prospect’s engagement allows marketing to generate data that can be analyzed and used for strategic action.
Marketing automation helps B2B companies streamline processes and tasks within digital campaigns, such as email marketing, social media marketing, live chats, targeting website visitors, and prioritizing leads.
Marketing automation platforms measure campaign performance to improve personalization and drive efficiency across marketing programs. By leveraging customer data, automation platforms allow B2B companies to keep in touch with customers and prospects with relevant offers and announcements, send messages at the most appropriate times and on the channels audiences prefer, and track customer engagement and fatigue so you can determine the optimal frequency for outreach and ensure your message resonates.
How marketing automation provides B2B companies with a competitive advantage
When a user visits your website and spends several minutes watching a product video, it’s critical to understand who the visitor is and what they’re looking for. Is this visitor a market research intern from a college? A mid-level manager who’s heard about a competitor’s product’s features? Or a high-ranking executive about to make a major purchase?
Marketing automation platforms gather, analyze, and decipher various online clues to help you get a better picture of your customers and their intentions. Cookies, device IDs, and other digital tools are used to establish an online visitor’s identity. The information from other data sources, such as a job title, is used to create an accurate visitor profile.
A marketing automation platform can also provide insights based on a prospect’s behavior, such as how long they spent on a product landing page, which blog posts they read, or even if they started but didn’t finish a webinar registration form.
Marketing and sales can target prospects with context-appropriate, personalized messages and offers once the marketing automation platform has determined where they are in the sales journey. You’ll have a significant competitive advantage over your competitors if you use a marketing automation platform to crack these B2B customer codes. Some of the top reasons for using a marketing automation platform are to:
- Generate higher-quality leads
- Increase revenue
- Align sales and marketing
Companies that can decipher a B2B customer code correctly will see higher lead conversion rates, shorter sales cycles, and higher win rates.
Marketing automation is helping businesses succeed across all industries, and more companies are investing in it. According to the report The State of B2B Marketing 2021, marketing automation platforms are used by 78 percent of B2B marketers.
Eighty percent of marketing automation users report an increase in leads, and seventy-seven percent report an increase in conversions. Automation leads to a 14.2% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing costs.
According to Forrester, the following types of content are most effective for each stage of the B2B buying journey.
- Discovery and consideration stages: The buyer gathers information and understands their options for changing their current situation during the first two stages of the buying process. The goal of these two stages is to assist your buyer is considering various options for change before committing to one. Brochures, analyst reports, case studies, sales presentations, and conversations with sales reps are all examples of content that works well in this situation.
- Decision-making stage: The buyer and their committee select the vendor they will buy from in this last purchase stage. Here, you want to assist your buyer in comparing the value of your brand to that of your competitors and provide enough information for a champion to persuade other members of the buying committee. Analyst reports, articles, sales presentations, and conversations with partners are examples of content that works well here.
Even though, as the name implies, the goal of marketing automation is to automate your workflows, there’s more to it than that. However, if you simply do what you’re doing now but with the assistance of a fancy tool, the results won’t be significantly different. Marketing automation does not imply mass marketing, which entails sending the same content to all of your leads, regardless of their engagement history, stage in the sales process, or preferences, and hoping that some will respond.
Marketing automation’s secret sauce is that it allows you to track contacts’ engagement with your content (newsletter opens, link clicks, landing page visits, and so on) and use that information to create personalized customer journeys. A marketing automation tool will provide you with detailed information on the effectiveness of your content and journey. You can then use this information to improve your activities over time.