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There’s a reason why so many B2B companies have implemented marketing automation software or are in the process of doing so: marketing automation helps measure results and create marketing strategies that are highly personalized and effective in transforming leads into sales.

If you are new to marketing automation or are struggling to find success, follow these fifteen tips to improve your B2B marketing automation efforts:

1. Start with a Strategy

Before you execute any marketing tactic, you first need a strategy. What are you hoping to accomplish with marketing automation? Which tools will you use, and how frequently will you use them? Where does it make sense to pull away from automating and add the human touch to the sales process?

2. Set Yourself Up to Save Time

Yes, it takes some initial setup time to get started with marketing automation, but if done correctly, you will set tasks in motion that you will never have to think about again. To benefit from the time-saving aspect of marketing automation, create templates for the types of campaigns you often launch. Once these templates are in place, you should be able to easily tweak the copy and images of, for example, your email series, so that they’re updated for a given campaign. Use personalization tokens in the content so that while it’s automated, it’s also personalized.

3. Use Reporting to Your Advantage

Reporting and analytics will be your metrics for understanding how successful your marketing automation efforts are. But don’t just look at, as an example, how many people opened your last email. Actually do something based on the data. If numbers aren’t where you’d like them to be, try out different copy or another stock photo and measure results again.

4. Focus on the Fundamentals

It is so easy to become overwhelmed with all the features of marketing automation, but keep your attention just on the fundamentals to begin with: lead stages, scoring, and nurturing. Only after you become confident in understanding these aspects should you look at implementing additional features.

5. Love Integrations

Today’s marketing automation software integrates with a ton of tools you already use, and connecting these platforms can mean not only less work for you but also smarter results. Connect your phone system with your CRM to create an online log form for incoming phone calls so that your customer service reps can log calls and view customer data. Tie your marketing automation tool to your SaaS platforms to track as much as you can about how your prospects interact with your product.

6. Develop and Use Personas

Buyer personas are a powerful, but often neglected tool that can help you tailor your campaigns to the right person with the right message. Within marketing automation, you can segment your messages to reach each persona type, increasing your conversion rate when you hit the mark in communicating what each one needs.

7. Test, Test, Test

Test your campaigns, your forms, your CTAs, and your process. But make only one tweak at a time so you can accurately measure what impact that small change had on your campaign. Take notes on which fonts, colors, images, and messages get best results so you can replicate them.

8. Use Customer Data to Better Understand Your Demographic

You learn a lot as people interact with your website, product, emails, and social media profiles. Don’t neglect those insights. By analyzing your customer data, B2B marketing teams can improve their results drastically.

9. Use Lead Nurturing to Create Sales

Getting a visitor on a website to convert to a lead is just the first step. Create engaging content that helps the prospect through the buyer’s journey to get them to take the action you want — call a sales rep, subscribe to emails, or purchase the product. By clearly mapping out your buyer’s journey and addressing the questions they need answered at each stage, you can deliver the content they need at just the right time to help them through the process, build trust, and close the sale.

10. Pay Attention to Your Lead Source

Where your leads come from is important, and it will change over time. Knowing where leads come from is immensely helpful in crafting automated marketing campaigns. This is also important to answer questions such as, which sources bring you the most leads and from which sources are your highest converting lead, etc.. Pay attention to:

  1. Lead source category (inbound versus outbound)
  2. Lead source (social media, email marketing, event)
  3. Lead source details (Facebook, Instagram, ABC event)

11. Integrate Platforms

It is common for there to be multiple databases with customer data within an organization, though this can make it challenging to a) keep the data updated across the board and b) get the full 360 view of the customer information. Integrate your systems as much as possible so that your marketing automation syncs with your sales (aka CRM) which syncs with your ERP or financials. Or, if you can’t do that, use a reporting platform that brings all the data in from the different systems so you can properly track metrics and KPIs across the customer lifecycle.

12. Focus on the Most Important Data to Capture

With so much data out there, it can be challenging to know what to pay attention to. Start simply and only gather the most pertinent data, like email, name, and maybe zip code. As you mature your marketing automation, use technology such as Smart Fields and Progressive Profiling to capture more data. Have a clear plan for what you want to capture and why (what will you do with it).

13. Clean Data is Critical

Develop processes to keep your customer data clean and updated. For example, how will you manage invalid, inactive, or unsubscribed email information? How will you handle duplicate accounts? How will you manage states (VA, Virginia)?

If possible, set up these processes and data pieces immediately at implementation and save yourself a headache down the road.

14. Set Up Revenue Stages

Naturally, you want to be assured that your marketing is actually creating revenue, so establish revenue stages in your lead process pipeline to measure marketing’s contribution to revenue.

15. Assess Your Lead Funnel

As your automation moves like a well-oiled machine, you may start to notice squeaky wheels. These are parts of your sales funnel that maybe aren’t delivering the results that you want. Work on oiling them so that they get back to contributing their part of the overall sales process.

Mastering marketing automation will take time. Ease into it, ignoring the fancy features in favor of the necessary ones, then add on as you grow in confidence.