B2B Marketing Automation Platforms: A Marketer’s Guide

Introduction

Marketing organizations of all sizes are being inundated by data from multiple digital marketing channels and an increasing number of consumer devices. Faced with challenging market dynamics and increasing ROI pressure, more B2B marketers are using marketing automation platforms to manage complex, multi-touch buyer ecosystems.

If you are a B2B marketer looking to adopt a marketing automation software platform, this report will help you through the decision-making process.

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from "B2B Marketing Automation Platforms: A Marketer’s Guide," published by our sister site Digital Marketing Depot. You can download the report here free.

B2B Marketing Automation Market Overview

Although email marketing continues to be a core capability for B2B marketing automation platforms, the market is rapidly evolving from an email marketing focus to integrated marketing functionality that provides multichannel data collection and storage, campaign development and execution, and ROI analysis and reporting. Ultimately, the goal is to provide marketers with the ability to build, track, and manage digital campaigns, and monitor the flow of leads.

Virtually every marketing automation platform provides three core capabilities: email marketing, website visitor tracking, and a central marketing database. From there, vendors begin to differentiate by providing additional tools – that may be included in the base price or premium priced – that offer advanced functionality.

The Pros and Cons of B2B Marketing Automation

Regardless of your company’s size and marketing sophistication, marketing automation tools can provide the following benefits to the organization:

  • Increased marketing efficiency.
  • Enhanced ability to generate more and better qualified leads.
  • A multichannel view of prospect behavior.
  • Better alignment of sales and marketing goals.
  • Improved lead conversion and ROI.

Some of the challenges to be aware of with marketing automation include:

  • Complicated and time-consuming implementation and onboarding.
  • Under-utilization of platform features that lead to it only being used for email marketing.
  • Sales and/or marketing resistance to changing marketing processes can impede platform adoption and efficiency.

The Benefits of using B2B Marketing Automation

The proliferation of digital channels has made it increasingly difficult for B2B marketers to accurately target prospects and customers with the right messages at the right times. Prospects are managing more of the buying process themselves, creating decision short lists by researching brand websites and social channels – without ever speaking to a sales rep. To be effective, marketers must be creative, targeted, and aligned with sales goals; they must also have greater visibility into buyer attributes and behaviors.

Faced with these challenging market dynamics and increasing ROI pressure, B2B marketers at companies of all sizes can gain these benefits from a marketing automation platform:

Increased marketing efficiency. Automating time-consuming, manual tasks around content creation, management and personalization, campaign scheduling and execution, data hygiene (i.e. duplicate or inconsistent data residing in various silos), communication with sales, and lead nurturing saves time and improves productivity.

Enhanced ability to generate more and better qualified leads. Marketing automation can combine multiple criteria, including demographic and behavioral data (pages visited, downloads, filled out forms), with a lead scoring system, to generate and identify sales- qualified leads.

A multichannel view of prospect behavior. Today’s marketing automation platforms are integrating multiple channels to create more comprehensive prospect profiles and more holistic views of prospect behavior.

Better alignment of sales and marketing goals. Marketing automation software can help to align sales and marketing efforts to ensure that sales reps are working with sales-ready leads. By working cooperatively to set scoring parameters and define qualified leads, sales and marketing become one team. Marketing works on building relationships with early- stage leads to enable sales to focus their efforts on the most highly qualified prospects.

Improved lead conversion and ROI. According to Forrester Research, B2B marketers that implement marketing automation experience a 10% increase in their sales-pipeline contribution.

Virtually all marketing automation platforms offer SaaS-based pricing, meaning software is licensed by the customer and hosted by the vendor. Several vendors targeting the enterprise market also offer on-site installation and implementation services. Pricing is often based on the number of contacts in the marketing database, the number of email marketing messages sent each month, and/or the number of users. Most vendors require annual contracts, and may offer discounts in exchange for the longer-term commitment.

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