With data & analytics taking control of the B2B Marketing world, Marketing Automation needs to be at the forefront to pave the way for success. As mentioned in an earlier post, Marketing Automation is the software that helps to streamline repetitive marketing tasks. Marketing Automation is slowly strengthening its roots in almost every sector of B2B. From making content more personalized to strengthening relationships with prospects & customers, Marketing Automation is definitely winning the hearts of many B2B Marketers as an essential marketing tool.
According to a survey by Ascend2, 46% of marketing influencers focus on Marketing Automation mainly with the objective of increasing their marketing ROI. Along with a higher budget ratio being set aside for marketing automation, marketing automation platform vendors are also responding to the increasing demand of this remarkable tool by expanding their facilities, providing pre-built programs & templates, developing user forums & knowledge bases etc.
All in all, B2B Marketers seemed to be involved in the race to achieve maximum results by utilizing all the features of marketing automation to enhance their campaign quality, retain customers & win sales like never before!
This article will give all the marketers out there an in-depth understanding of the major features of Marketing Automation so that they can leverage every opportunity to the best of its potential!
Marketing Automation Features You Can’t Ignore
Marketing automation needs to counter several challenges to be successful. The major marketing automation challenges include measuring performance, improving database quality, getting more marketing ROI, increasing customer base, marketing & sales alignment, & improving campaign efficiency. These looming challenges although threaten the success of marketing automation, but the constant growth in technological innovations can help overcome these obstacles pretty easily.
Most of the eminent Marketing Automation platforms provide certain basic features that include tools for the development & execution of email campaigns, lead capture, lead tracking, scoring, & nurturing. There are many platforms that also provide centralized databases for the storage of marketing data, analytical & reporting tools for tracking website traffic, visitor behavioral pattern & campaign effectiveness.
Let’s explore some of the sophisticated features of Marketing Automation that marketers need to focus on:
1.Dynamic Content Creation Across various Platforms
Although most marketing automation platforms aid in creating, personalizing, sending & analyzing email marketing campaigns, the point of distinction is the basis on which emails, landing page & website content is personalized i.e. static personalization with templates or dynamic content generation.
Progressive profiling is another marketing automation tactic that pre-populates forms with known data of prospective customers & aims at acquiring additional information at the time of each interaction thereby enabling better content personalization & targeting.
There are some Marketing automation platforms such as Marketo that help in micro-targeting web visitors based on geographical location, user experience & special offers by providing exceptional personalization to the customers.
Email content personalization can not only improve the open rate of your email campaigns but also boosts customer engagement. Other than Email content, other aspects of email marketing where marketing automation can tweak the success ratio include message deliverability, email previewing & mobile optimization etc.
Message deliverability is dependent upon a number of factors, many marketing automation platforms provide different features to enable better message deliverability ranging from dedicated IP addresses & link validation to opt-in management, bounce handling, unsubscribe processing etc.
Moreover, with marketing automation features like batch email marketing i.e. sending mails to a group of prospects & customers & measuring the results, can help effectively track the performance of email campaigns.
Landing page content optimization & inclusion of links in emails to landing pages can positively impact the number of visitors & boost engagement, thereby improving the conversion rate significantly.
2. Lead Generation, Nurturing & Management
Lead capture, lead scoring & nurturing to get qualified leads are the core processes constituting lead management.
Lead generation or lead capture can be from a number of sources that add to the marketing automation database such as website visitors, paid media ad campaigns, social media interactions, email marketing respondents, trade show attendees & other data sets obtained from third party data providers.
Once leads are generated there is an increased need to classify leads into sales ready & those that require lead nurturing to become sales ready.
Online Behavioral Tracking & Lead Scoring are distinctive features that spell the success of marketing automation in current times. These features are critical in providing a clear understanding of the customer or prospect’s interests, factors for better engagement & possible purchase decision.
Online behavioral tracking involves tracking email opens & clicks, social media behavior, keywords used, websites visited etc. to understand prospect’s purchase behavior & the stage of the buying process they correspond to.
Lead scoring or grading involves online behavioral tracking, understanding demographics & matching with BANT (Budget, Authority, and Need & Timeline) criteria to help decide if the lead or prospect in question is ready to be handed over to sales. Accurate lead scoring & grading helps in obtaining efficiently qualified leads that in turn assure sales & better ROI.
Marketing automation also enables the deployment of lead nurturing campaigns with a multiple touchpoint approach. Aided by marketing automation, better Lead Nurturing is possible with automated email marketing flows, social media responses etc. These combined with the drip marketing approach & 1:1 messaging with prospects can revolutionize the way seller-buyer relationships are formed & strengthened.
Effective lead nurturing not only saves the sales reps their valuable time but also extends a confidence in their sales approach towards the prospect, as nurtured leads have a greater probability of conversion.
Also Read: STRATEGIZED LEAD NURTURING TO CLOSE DEALS
3. Real Time Sales Alerts
Most sales reps spend a lot of time & energy trying to figure out when it is right to start negotiating sales with a lead. With the advanced marketing automation features that are now available, automated lead assignment has become a reality. This critical feature helps in assigning leads to sales reps at appropriate times based on certain set criteria such as lead score or grade etc.
Along with automated lead assignment, another marketing automation feature that has simplified the job for most sales reps is Real-time sales alerts. Real-time sales alerts help in better lead tracking & easier gauging of their sales readiness based on set parameters so that the sales reps save time & crack deals in the nick of time!
Marketing database is an important asset for a marketer. A marketing lead database is much more than just a contact database, it is an integrated record of all interactions between prospects/ clients & your company consisting of all email records, clicks, opens, website visits, social media interactions etc. To leverage all the opportunities that a marketing lead database can offer, integration with a CRM system is necessary.
Integrating with an efficient CRM system can help sales reps easily access relevant records & can also help in updating of status of the prospect in the sales process. Lead data enrichment is the most primary benefit of CRM integration with marketing automation.
5. Account Based Marketing
Account Based Marketing has taken the marketing & sales industry by storm. Every marketer intends to apply the ABM approach & win better sales. In the case of Account Based Marketing, lead nurturing & management have a whole new meaning as here the clients or leads are not individuals but an organization or a collection of departments whose interests need to be kept in mind & the marketing accordingly orchestrated.
With ABM becoming prime for marketers, marketing automation platforms offer exclusive ABM features such as account specific nurturing, scoring of accounts etc.
6.Lead Profile Integration
With social media playing a critical role in marketing, many marketing automation software offer features that enable posting on social media, sharing of posts etc. on prominent sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.
But the more advanced marketing automation systems work a step ahead & help in collecting social profile & interaction data to build lead profiles. This feature of marketing automation is a definite must-have since it helps in gauging the huge power of social media marketing & provides actionable insights for better decision making.
Mobile marketing is a multichannel digital marketing strategy that helps impact a large volume of the target audience by offering a number of touch points such as email, MMS, SMS, apps etc. There are several marketing automation platforms such as Litmus that allow users to preview email marketing messages across a number of mail clients & devices.
Along with these additional marketing automation features that have added an edge to mobile marketing include in-app marketing, social platform management from mobile devices, push notifications etc.
8.Predictive Analytics & Reporting
With the emergence of Artificial Intelligence & machine learning, marketers want information beforehand to be able to achieve the desired results. Predictive analytics thus has become a sought-after perk to add to marketing campaigns so as to render them successful.
Marketing automation platforms help in providing a variety of predictive analytics techniques & models, suggesting content based on the prospect’s online behavior, personalized recommendation of products or services etc.
9.Integration of Third party software
Several other third party software may be integrated with an efficient marketing automation system to boost marketing campaigns. Some examples of these include Sandbox, APIs, Secure partitions/Workspaces etc. These third party software aid in providing marketers with diverse advantages such as the ability to access lead profile & run campaigns within partitioned virtual spaces without interfering with other clients (as in Workspaces) or testing production systems (Sandbox).
If a marketer succeeds to utilize all these features effectively 100% marketing campaign success will soon be a reality! What’s More you can double your profits each time by tapping into the complete capabilities of marketing automation!