Integrating marketing automation into your B2B marketing strategy can be a daunting task. While many Software as a service (SaaS) providers are happy to help you get the technology up and running — and even provide some helpful thought leadership along the way — very few offer strategic insights into how marketing automation can help your business. Here are a few guidelines to consider if you’re thinking about implementing a marketing automation system for B2B demand generation and lead nurturing.
This is not easy stuff. It takes time, internal resources and a firm budget to pull off. Marketers need to be “all in” when it comes to implementing a marketing automation solution, and be ready to commit for the long haul.
There are several steps to take when building a lead nurturing strategy:
Evaluate your company’s content inventory
Build target audience personas
Develop a lead scoring methodology
Map out the communications touch points and related key messages
But all of this preliminary planning will only make your initial program less “wrong” when it launches. The value of marketing automation is that it enables marketers to build a knowledge center. Testing your content, communications cadence and lead-scoring algorithm will allow you to fine-tune your strategy, making your program more effective over time. You just need a little patience to let the learning happen.
Having a stockpile of quality thought leadership content is critical to the successful use of a marketing automation system. Demand generation and lead nurturing programs present marketers with an opportunity to build trust and maintain a consistent dialogue with prospects.
But if you don’t have a good inventory of white papers, case studies, eBooks, and articles (or the resources to start and continue creating them), you’re putting your marketing automation investment to waste. You need superior content to feed the engine.
Collaboration with sales is vital to building your demand generation and lead nurturing communications strategy. Work with your sales team to determine how to score new leads entering the system, when to contact them and what content to offer, and, perhaps, most important, collaborate to determine when it’s appropriate to hand a nurtured lead off to sales.
These “three Cs” are just a few tips to think about when making the decision to implement a marketing automation system within your company. There are many others to consider, but start with these and you’ll be better prepared to make this critical decision.
Erin Shampine is a senior strategic planner for Eric Mower + Associates. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.