With marketing automation, you can serve the right content to the right person at the right time – at scale. You can also drive consistency and efficiency with internal processes. And not to mention, it just might be my favorite tool in our marketing tech stack.
So, how does marketing automation apply in the real world? Here are some of our top tried and true must-have B2B marketing automation examples.
What is B2B Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is technology that allows you to automate, streamline, and measure your marketing tasks and workflows.
However, its true power comes through sales and marketing alignment combined with a well-utilized B2B CRM.
Sales & Marketing Alignment in Automation
If it feels like your sales and marketing teams are on different planets, adding automation to the mix won’t solve that. Ensure your teams are aligned by outlining responsibilities, defining key terms like lead statuses and lifecycle stages and aligning your team goals.
Reaching total harmony among teams can be a process, but at a minimum, it should be an active joint effort.
Recommended Reading: Lake One’s Guide to Sales & Marketing Alignment
B2B Marketing Examples for Sales Collaboration and Internal Processes
Marketing automation helps to facilitate collaboration between sales and marketing in real-time. It’s the conduit between the two teams. These processes within B2B businesses are centered around sales collaboration and the facilitation of internal processes.
Automation for Sales Collaboration
Sales collaboration takes place in a variety of ways, but the most common are some of the marketing automation examples outlined below.
Not all leads are created equal and for that very reason, we leverage lead scoring. Lead scoring is ranking lead readiness to convert based on the lead’s behavior. The idea behind lead scoring is that a lead can take specific actions or engagements which speak to their sales-readiness. For example, a user who is highly engaged on the site, downloading multiple offers visiting key pages (like pricing), and signing up for the blog, etc. is in theory, more ready to purchase than a user who visited one or two pages on the site a couple of times.
Lead scoring allows a sales and marketing team to work together to develop criteria identifying leads likely to make a purchase so they can be followed up with by Sales. How to do this will be different for each CRM. In HubSpot, you set up your behaviors and scores and then create a workflow or a list to send all leads who meet your threshold over to sales automatically.
Setting Leads to Marketing Qualified & Assigning to Sales
This next section really applies to setting any lifecycle stage or lead status, but we’ll focus on Marketing Qualified Leads because that lifecycle stage is a must and a big factor in measuring marketing ROI.
Again each CRM will be different, but in HubSpot, our favorite way to achieve this is by creating what we call, a MQL List. The list includes all of our specific MQL criteria like the following:
- Role is (insert the desired role)
- Company name is known
- Phone number is known
- Industry is (insert the desired industry)
- And the lead source is none of offline
Note: MQL criteria setting is part of the sales & marketing alignment process and should be revisited at a minimum twice a year.
Once your list is built with your set criteria, you can create a workflow that notifies sales or creates a task for the MQL to be reviewed by sales.
Recommended Reading: 5 Ways Marketing Automation Can Boost Lead Volume
Automation for Internal Processes
B2B companies often have complex business processes. Marketing automation can drive efficiencies and allow for real-time routing, task creation, and follow-up across functions and channels.
Is your sales team divided into territories? Or divided by certain products, services, or areas of expertise? If so, lead routing is your ticket to removing the manual review of leads and automatically routing by key differentiators. You’ll most always start with a form submission of some type and follow with if/then branches or conditionals to route leads.
For example: If a contact fills out the “Demo Request” form and their country is set to the U.S., then assign Frank as the contact owner and create a task for Frank to review.
It’s also common that workflows be used to ensure your CRM stays up to date and with as many properties completed as possible. Workflows can be used to manage some of the following:
- Subscription Types: If contacts fill out forms such as a newsletter sign up, a webinar, product updates, etc… you can manage their subscriptions on the back end with workflows.
- Opt-Outs: If you want to keep a running master opt-out list, you can create a workflow that states if a contact opts out of communication, add them to a specific list.
- Contact Owners: Similar to the above lead routing scenario, you can use workflows to ensure all contacts have an owner. Or if they don’t, use a workflow to create a task for a sales leader to review.
- Copying Across Property Types: This might vary depending on your CRM, but you are likely using different types of properties or objects to store your data. For example, a company record or contact record. In some cases, the information should be the same in both places. Rather than duplicating efforts, use a workflow to copy the value from one property to another.
B2B Marketing Automation Examples for Lead Nurturing
Lead nurturing is the process of cultivating relationships with potential buyers at every stage of the sales process and through the buyer’s journey. It puts a focus on meeting buyers where they are at, listening, and providing helpful relevant information.
Marketing automation allows you to create lead nurturing campaigns, also known as email drip campaigns which are a series of emails spread out over time that help buyers move from awareness to consideration to decision.
When it comes to what emails to include and how many and what frequency, it really depends on your personas needs and your buying cycle and the action the contact took. Nurturing campaigns are definitely not ‘set it and forget it’. Email open rates and engagement all the way through to marketing attribution reporting, will be your workflow gut check and point you towards areas for optimization.
Lead to MQL Nurturing & Beyond
Lead to MQL nurturing is a common point in the buyer’s journey in which nurturing can start. It’s likely initiated by a contact downloading a piece of content. From there, you offer the lead relevant information that you think may help them solve the pain point that brought them to your site initially. Along the way, you give them plenty of opportunities to convert with additional content and CTAs.
The goal is to nurture the lead until they become a Marketing Qualified Lead and meet your set criteria. From there, queue sales!
Form Submission Follow-Up
Depending on the type of form a contact submits, you might not need a full-blown workflow, maybe a simple thank you will suffice? If so, workflows are your ticket. They can easily go from a 10 email sequence as mentioned above, to a one and done thank you for your submission email.
Pro Tip: Take your ‘Contact Us’ form submissions to the next level by sending a follow-up email post submission letting your contacts know when they can expect to hear from you in response to their inquiry.
Date Based Marketing Automations
If you have a CRM like HubSpot, workflows don’t have to be based solely on a contact property, they can be date-based too! This is perfect for webinars, trade shows, and other events. The following can be handled with date-based workflows:
- Leading up to an event
- During an event
- Post-event follow up
Marketing Automation Optimizations
Okay, you set up all of the marketing automations above, that means you’re done and can move on to the next initiative right?
In case the ‘how about no sloth’ didn’t give it away, the answer is ‘no’. The setup is only the beginning. Sales and marketing automation tools typically come with better reporting capabilities and you should totally use them. Whether it’s lead flows, MQLs, or subscriptions, reviewing and optimizing your marketing automation workflows are a must.
Also, it’s worth noting there’s a part of the story that can’t always be seen in the data. Take the time to talk to the teams and solicit feedback. Are the automations working? Are they missing the mark? Meeting on a regular cadence will help uncover those issues too.
So tell us, did you like the examples? Are we missing one of your favorites? Sales and marketing automation can save you time and help your B2B business scale. If you’re considering incorporating automation into your sales and marketing strategy, we’d love to chat.