B2B Marketing Automation Best Practices

Looking to tie all your inbound marketing programs together? A solid marketing automation system can make that happen quickly and painlessly. Before you rush out and commit to a system, make sure you take the time to put together a marketing automation plan. These 12 marketing automation best practices will get you off to the right start.

  1. Designate an internal employee as the owner of the marketing automation system. This person will own the day-to-day management and implementation of the marketing automation system. They will also be the internal champion of the system and must have an excellent rapport with the sales team. Managing this system will consume between 25% to 50% of their time depending upon the depth of the implementation. During the first month of the implementation phase it will consume 100% of their attention. They should also be willing to dedicate time to training provided by the automation vendor.

  2. Develop a customer segmentation model before you implement the marketing automation system. The model should define your market segments and the demographic attributes of your B2B customers and prospects. It should also take into account customer and prospect attributes from your CRM system.

  3. Develop personas for your prospects and customers. Initially you should have 5 to 10 personas that map to the profiles of your best customers and prospects. You should also have personas that map to the non-buyer. Having these clearly defined will help you during the implementation phase of the marketing automation tool.

  4. Clean up your CRM system before you implement the marketing automation tool. Remove duplicate contact data from the CRM system. Use an external data feed to append and update incomplete customer and prospect data. Performing this clean up will prevent numerous headaches when you integrate the marketing automation system with the CRM system.

  5. Identify the key triggering events that move leads, prospects, and customers through each stage of the marketing funnel. For example, a change in the number of employees could be a trigger that requires the purchase of your product or service.

  6. Design and develop a communications workflow that focuses on moving leads, prospects, and customers through each stage of the marketing funnel. Map and document this workflow in Visio or a similar diagramming tool. Maintain this as a living document and modify it as you collect real world data on customer behavior.

  7. Fully integrate the marketing automation system with your website. All pages, forms and document downloads should have tracking codes that link to the marketing automation tool.

  8. Seamlessly integrate the marketing automation system with your CRM system. All lead and prospect data should be fully synchronized between the two systems. Marketing automation vendor selection should take into account the ease of integration between the two systems.

  9. Leverage the marketing automation tool’s outbound email capabilities for lead nurturing. Use the list segmentation capabilities to build targeted lists that map to specific customer personas and funnel stages.

  10. Implement automated lead scoring with a point-based system. Develop criteria to score leads based on empirical behavioral and demographic data. As leads move through the marketing funnel the number of points they accrue should increase.

  11. Don’t turn over leads to sales that are “Not Ready for Sales.” Only leads that meet specific lead-scoring criteria based on BANT should be turned over to the sales team.

  12. Treat your customer’s email inbox with respect. Only send your prospects and customer information that has true value to them. Ask for permission to send emails. Remove people that opt out immediately. Don’t email the same prospect more than 1x per week. Don’t email less than 1x per month. Be very careful about doing blind email blasts – it’s a great way to increase your opt outs and get black listed.