Marketing automation is a software and a process that enables companies to automate marketing tasks and messages to improve efficiencies and grow revenue more quickly. Nucleus Research reports marketing automation drives a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead.
Sounds great, right? More revenue. Less overhead. Less time investment. Where do I sign up?
However, many B2B tech companies make the mistake of purchasing marketing automation software — such as HubSpot, Marketo, or Pardot — without an actual plan in place. And because each of these marketing automation software packages comes with a heavy price tag, you’ll want to be sure you make the most of your purchase.
Make sure you have a process planned out so you can hit the ground running.
To get started with marketing automation, follow these seven steps:
- Purchase Marketing Automation Software (If You Haven’t Already)
- Set a Goal
- Map Your Content
- Create a Game Plan
- Start Small
- Carve Out Time
- Analyze and Repeat
Now, let’s dive into each of those steps in a bit more detail.
1. Purchase Marketing Automation Software (If You Haven’t Already)
While we don’t recommend purchasing software without any hint of a plan, you will need to purchase software before you actually get started with marketing automation, so it is clear which tools you have available to you. The most popular marketing automation software options are HubSpot, Marketo, and Pardot — each with their pros and cons.
At Golden Spiral, we use HubSpot, and many of our clients working in B2B tech do, too. We like the ease of use of both the marketing automation software and sales CRM.
If you’re already Salesforce-savvy, you might prefer Pardot, which is Salesforce’s marketing automation software. The interface isn’t as user-friendly as HubSpot, but offers the same general functionality in addition to stronger Salesforce integration.
Marketo, which is often the most expensive of the three, is known as the “best-in-class” industry-leader, and we’ve heard rave reviews for it from other B2B tech companies.
There are others in the marketplace as well. We encourage you to register for demos with each marketing automation software company you’re considering and weigh the pros and cons of each one as it relates to your marketing team and process, including:
- Software functionality — Does it do what you need it to do?
- Software ease-of-use — Does it feel intuitive to you?
- Integrations with other products — Does it will work well with your other software packages?
- Support — Do you like the interactions you’re receiving?
- Educational content and thought leadership — Can you self-learn on the company’s site?
- Testimonials and case studies from similar clients — What are other people saying about the solution?
- Price — How does it stack up against the other options when you add in all features and compare “apples to apples?”
2. Set a Goal
No marketing plan is complete without a goal and some measurable KPIs. Set a few measurable goals for your marketing automation plan so that you have an idea of what success looks like.
Goals can be related to:
- Total number of leads, MQLs, or SQLs
- Email open rates and click-through ratesLifecycle changes
- Number of contacts enrolled in workflows
- Demo requests
- General conversion rate
That last goal of conversion rate is likely the easiest to measure and a great place to start using marketing automation software. For example, in HubSpot, each marketing automation workflow comes with the ability to “set a goal.” This goal can be anything from a lifecycle stage change to a form submission.
_The workflow tool automatically calculates the conversion rate based on the number of total contacts enrolled, and the number of those who met the select goal. For example, this workflow above for a B2B SaaS company is geared toward MQLs. A prospect is automatically enrolled when they are marked as an MQL. If the MQL fills out a demo form or becomes an opportunity based on lead-scoring, they “meet the goal” and the conversion rate is automatically calculated.
3. Map Your Content
When you purchase marketing automation software, there’s an urge to jump right in — but wait! There’s some homework you need to do first: content mapping.
Content mapping is the process of aligning your company’s content pieces with your personas, stages of the funnel, and/or consumer pain points/priorities. If you skip this important step, you’ll find marketing automation a bit more time-consuming and cumbersome because you’ll constantly be searching your own website for content relevant to your workflow.
This process also helps you prioritize which content you’ll work on next in order to fill in gaps in any planned email automation.
For example, let’s say that over the years you’ve written 100 blog posts. Hypothetically, let’s also say that 60 of those blogs are top-of-the-funnel content, 30 of those blogs are middle-of-the-funnel, and only 10 of those blogs are product-related. This might indicate you should ramp up your efforts on the product-front for those at the bottom-of-the-funnel.
Similarly, maybe 80 out of the 100 blog posts are written for marketers, and only 20 are written for C-level executives. If your goal is to get more C-level executives in your funnel, you may want to amp up your content production for that persona. The same methodology is true for mapping content to pain points and priorities.
Here’s an example of what a piece of our content map looks like here at Golden Spiral.
We have our content mapped by:
- Type of content
- Content title
- Buyer’s Journey
- Pain point/priority
This way, for example, if we wanted to create a workflow to nurture prospects from awareness to consideration for purchasing a website, we’d have a library of content to choose from that can be easily filtered.
You should plan to spend up to one week mapping your content, depending on how much content you have, and the amount of detail you’d like to include. B2B tech companies with less content will be able to finish this project in less time.
4. Create a Game Plan
Once you’ve set a goal and mapped your content, it’s time to create a game plan. Prioritize what processes you will automate.
It is easy to get excited (and just as easy to get overwhelmed) by all of the new opportunities available to you with marketing automation. So, create a game plan on which workflows are most important to your marketing and sales teams.
Ask your teams:
- Which processes would be easier if they were automated?
- Which types of workflows would you like to have?
- What’s the toughest part about email marketing for you?
For many companies, either nurturing leads into viable MQLs or converting MQLs to SQLs is a common place to start. Smaller companies, in particular, don’t have the bandwidth to manually reach out to every single person who downloaded an eBook, so automating a series of emails for those who did, can save the marketing and sales teams time, while hopefully creating more qualified leads.
Based on your overarching goals and your marketing and sales teams’ priorities , list out 3-5 workflows you’d like to create.
5. Start Small
Not every automated email sequence needs to be long and intricate. Sometimes the simplest workflows can be the most effective. While you are busy setting up more complex workflows, consider setting up some simple one-step emails, including:
- A simple follow-up for anyone who submits a “Request a Demo” or “Contact Us” form
- A one-step automation to follow up after a content download
- An “empty shopping cart” follow up for someone who visited a product page but didn’t request a demo (note — this only works if the individual is previously cookied.)
Setting up some of these simple processes can help you hit the ground running quickly and provide some immediate gratification (and ROI of your software).
6. Carve Out Time to Get It Done
This is likely the most important step. Because marketing automation is, well, automated, you’ll be doing a lot of work on the front end to save time in the long-run. So, be sure to carve out time in your days and weeks to:
- Map content (if you haven’t already)
- Write new content you need for your workflows
- Write email content for workflows
- Design emails (if necessary)
- Set up workflows
7. Analyze and Repeat
Once your workflows are set up, it is time to sit back and relax. (Kind of.) You’ll want to let your new automated workflows run for a few months to get plenty of data to analyze what’s working and what’s not, and strategize ways to improve. You will also want to use this information to create new workflows that make an impact.
Some key data points to analyze include:
- Email open rates
- Email click-through rates
- Workflow goal conversion rate
- Number of enrolled individuals
Marketing automation is about saving you time in the long run, but you need to invest time and resources from the get-go to make it worthwhile. If your B2B tech company is interested in getting started with marketing automation and you’d like a partner to help, we’d love to talk to you.