B2B Marketing: Marketing automation helps with lead nurturing and management

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What will your biggest B2B marketing challenges be in 2011? And how can you overcome them to (over) deliver on your numbers while staying on budget?

These are the kinds of questions our colleagues at MarketingSherpa, our sister company, obsess over. To help them zero in on some data-driven answers, they’ve just launched a survey to benchmark best practices, tactics, and results.

If you have about 15 minutes to share your expertise by participating in this year’s study, you can access the survey via this link. In return, MarketingSherpa will send you a free copy of the 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report’s Executive Summary, which will include highlights and key findings from the study, along with an invite to a webinar where study data is shared.

Senior Analyst Jen Doyle is already knee-deep in B2B marketing data to find insights to help marketers focus on key tools and tactics to fill pipeline in 2011, but was kind enough to answer a few questions about lead generation…

What are the most significant marketing challenges for B2B marketers today?

Jen Doyle: The greatest challenge for B2B marketers is generating high-quality leads to deliver to their sales teams. It is because of this challenge that marketing automation, lead nurturing and lead scoring have become critical for B2B organizations.

In order to optimize the efficiency of marketing and sales departments, walls are being broken down and these teams are working together to identify various stages of the buying cycle or the complex sale, and determining what marketing collateral or level of sales contact is appropriate for each stage.

Through this process, marketing’s role has changed from generating leads to generating and nurturing leads to the point that they are qualified and ready for sales involvement.

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What are the top challenges to managing a B2B site and how can marketers overcome those challenges?

JD: The greatest challenges for managing a B2B site include developing content, attracting the right traffic, and optimizing for conversions.

Developing marketing content is an expensive and time consuming tactic, but essential for attracting and converting traffic. Marketers can overcome this challenge by repurposing and reformatting existing content for website purposes.

Most B2B organizations have a library of marketing content that has been developed over time, including case studies, presentations, etc. Why not repurpose this content to drive traffic and conversions on the website? For example, case studies can be re-formatted into blog posts or reformatted into a whitepaper to be used as an offer for conversion.

Search engine optimization and social marketing are excellent tactics for achieving an increased level of targeted traffic to B2B websites. Organizations need to first understand the social behaviors of their audience, what terms their audience is using to describe their products or services, and which of these targeted terms generate high volume traffic.

This research can be conducted by monitoring the activity of their target audiences on social media sites and conducting keyword research utilizing various online tools like Google’s keyword tool or Wordtracker to identify search volume and competition levels.

In order to optimize a B2B site for conversions, organizations need to continually test the performance of their traffic funnel, landing pages and lead forms. In order to accomplish this, a solid analytics solution and dedicated website management and design team are required.

marchingHow can marketing automation help with lead nurturing and lead management?

JD: By implementing a marketing automation program, organizations are able to elevate the effectiveness of their lead nurturing and management programs.

Select marketing automation programs allow organizations to automate the delivery of lead nurturing content based on lead behavior, such as visiting the website or opening an email, and attributes such as budget amount and timeframe for purchase.

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Organizations that implement marketing automation programs are able to test the frequency and content of lead nurturing campaigns to improve performance. Marketing automation programs also enable marketers to automate the process of handing leads off to sales teams once they have met certain criteria or a certain lead score.

These are just a few of the benefits B2B organizations stand to receive from marketing automation programs.

Many lead scoring systems have become overly complex, often discouraging marketing and sales from using them diligently. Can marketing automation help here as well?

JD: Absolutely. Select marketing automation platforms simplify the lead scoring process by automating lead score calculations based on a predetermined set of rules. Rules can be based on lead attributes or behavior and are constantly changing based on activity.

Additionally, depending on the automation tool that is selected, updates made in CRM systems such as SalesForce can be used to calculate lead score. This allows for lead scores to automatically be adjusted if a sales person makes a certain indication on the lead in the CRM system. With automation features like these, lead scoring processes are simplified and streamlined.

If you would like to participate in MarketingSherpa’s 2010 B2B Marketing Benchmark Survey, you can gain access via this link.

Related Resources

B2B Success Stories: Four tests with gains of 21% to 254%

Social Media Marketing in Four Steps: A methodology to move from sporadic to strategic use based on research with 2,317 B2B and B2C marketers

Search Marketing: Tips on mastering the latest innovations in this mature category

Photo attribution: lumaxart

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9 Comments

  1. Carlos Hidalgo says

    Thanks for the post but am afraid there is to much credit given to Marketing Automation systems in that there does not seem to be any forethought here to a process first approach.

    Take the question of “How Can Marketing AutomationHelp With Lead Nurturing & Lead Management?” The response was as follows – “Organizations that implement marketing automation programs are able to test the frequency and content of lead nurturing campaigns to improve performance. Marketing automation programs also enable marketers to automate the process of handing leads off to sales teams once they have met certain criteria or a certain lead score.”
    The only way an organization will be able to accomplish this is by developing a nurturing and lead routing process first and then using the technology to enable the process.

    I don’t believe the intent was to equate automation with lead management in this post but for organizations looking at purchasing a solution, they will enhance the value tremendously by taking the time to define the process first. Those companies who don’t usually end up with a very robust email engine and not much else.

  2. Jen Doyle says

    Thank you for your comment, Carlos. Indeed the intent was not to equate automation with lead management but to highlight the benefits of implementing a marketing automation solution to facilitate and improve upon the lead management process.

    Once organizations have a lead management and nurturing process in place, marketing automation software enables them to test the efficiency of that process, and facilitate it’s operations by automating various activities.

  3. Geraldine Roy says

    I agree with Carlos, the lead nurturing and lead routing processes need to come first. I also think that you need to align your lead nurturing strategy to your firm’s revenue goals, because ultimately, that will help you secure the budget you need to get a lead nurturing initiative under way.

    Based on my experience, most companies really struggle with creating relevant content, not selecting the right marketing automation software. As you so rightly pointed out, Jen, companies need to determine which marketing collateral is appropriate for each stage of the buying cycle. As they do, most of them will realize that they tons of materials for people in the late stages of the buying cycle but almost none for the other stages. I agree that there is no need to reinvent the wheel and that you should try to leverage the marketing assets you already have, but from what I’ve seen, it is not so easy to repurpose content. Most of the content that exist is promotional (brochures, etc.) and not educational.

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