Email Automation and It’s Role In B2B Marketing

25401285_s.jpgWe recently spoke with an organization who comes in contact with thousands of prospects each year. They struggle with getting each prospect the right information at the right time in their buying cycle. Not every prospect is a qualified buyer (we all run into those “tire kickers”), so they really need a way to quickly and easily separate the serious buyers from the curious information seekers.

This B2B company considered inbound marketing as much for it’s ability to deliver new leads as for it’s ability to offer lead nurturing and lead scoring for their current prospects. While this all sounds exciting, jumping on the bandwagon of sending out an email automation campaign without first laying the proper ground work is a recipe for disaster.

For most companies who sell to other businesses, the sales cycle can be long. So having some automated touch points along the way can free up staff and provide additional information about what content interests your prospects. The key to making it work is avoiding the spam folder. Before you add automation to your B2B lead nurturing campaign, let’s look at the strategy and goals behind your work.

Step One: Who Do You Want To Attract

HubSpot (whose software we use) calls this your Buyer Persona. It’s the first question we discuss with a client. Who do you want to read this content? If you tell me everyone, I’m walking away. What are the pains, challenges, questions and goals of this one person? The key to a great lead nurturing program is to actually nurture the lead. You do this best by providing the prospect with the information they want not what you want them to know. Before you write anything–including a script for the fabulous video or the outline for your webinar–know who you want to attract.

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Step Two: Where Are They In The Buying Cycle

Although you may have come in contact with two prospects at the same time and during the same event, they may be in different places in their buying cycle. Some have the budget set aside and they are gathering information about which service they want to use. Others have just barely identified the problem and haven’t even decided how to solve it yet. Both need different types of messages based not only on who they are but where they are. Create separate messaging to help them make that decision.

Step Three: What’s Your Goal

You can send out fantastic information all day long, but unless you know what you want your prospect to do, you’ll be spinning your wheels. It’s basic marketing strategy. Know what you want your prospect to do and create a clear path to help get them there. Hold their hand a little and allow them to take baby steps if necessary. Your goal doesn’t have to always be “make a sale”. It may be “sign up for blog updates” or “attend a webinar”. Knowing your goal allows you to create a lead nurturing campaign that fits the goal.

Step Four: What Tools Are You Using

B2B email marketing is the obvious tool for lead nurturing campaigns. But can you use social media to nurture those leads as well? Where on social media are your prospects? Create a social media schedule of updates that coincides with the email messages you’re sending out. Double up and send similar messaging through snail mail or through a sales rep. When your lead receives the same information through multiple marketing channels, you have a better chance of making sure that lead takes the action you’d like him or her to take.

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Step Five: When Do You Hand Them Off To Sales

We’ve discussed the problems with sales and marketing alignment in other blogs. What information does the sales need about this prospect before you hand it off? What conversations need to be a part of the nurturing process so the lead is ready to speak to someone on the sales team? While you may want a prospect to sign up for a blog or a webinar as an initial goal, you also need to be in tune with the key actions that signal a prospect is ready to buy. Certain actions should signal notifications to sales or a specific workflow meant to move them from the marketing team into the sales team.

Your lead nurturing campaign may be two emails or it may be ten. It may span multiple media like social media, your blog, email and snail mail or it may just involved one. The key to a successful campaign is having a strategy that reaches your prospect when and how they want to be reached with the information they need. Keeping your preferences out of the mix will keep you focused on your prospect and providing the best service possible even before they commit to buy.


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