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B2B Marketing - Guide

What You Want in Your B2B Automation Software

The three pillars of modern digital marketing are as follows: search, social, and content. It’s now the commonly accepted wisdom that any successful marketing strategy is going to include a focus on search engine optimization, content, and social media marketing. Even B2B companies, who traditionally relied on outbound marketing and sales tactics to land big clients, are now facing the realities of how omnichannel is forcing B2B leaders to meet customer demands.

But whether your B2B company is focusing on new digital marketing initiatives or relying heavily on tried and true outbound tactics, it’s all for naught if your process isn’t streamlined. That’s why investing in a solid marketing automation platform is a necessity. A good software platform is going to make sure that you’re looking at the right data from your content, social, and email marketing initiatives. Moreover, it will tell you exactly who is interacting with your brand and how.

Below we list tips on the specific features you need to look at in an automation software to ensure your business gets the most out of it.

The basics

There are a number of features any B2B business will want in their marketing automation platform (MAP). Before getting into the more complex capabilities of modern automation platforms, let’s focus on the very basics. Here are the first things to look for:

  • Ease of use. Is the platform user-friendly, wieldy, and intuitive? The last thing you want is to waste excess training hours on a cumbersome system.
  • Capabilities. Is the platform built to perform one or two tasks effectively, or does it offer a broad set of features and tools? Because you’re going to want the latter.
  • Customization. A good platform is going to leave room for users to customize it according to their specifications and preferences.
  • Analytics and reporting. How well does the platform track activity? How deep do the insights go? Can it assess the performance of many different initiatives at one time?

Now that we’ve covered the basics, below we’ll get into some more advanced features to look for.

An enhanced lead scoring system

In the simplest of terms, lead scoring is a manner of ranking prospects on a scale that highlights the value every single lead represents a particular company. Essential features that are a direct extension of lead scoring include lead profiling as well as tracking and monitoring leads.

Now, any B2B sales or marketing guru worth his or her salt is aware of the innate importance of this, as it can tell a lot about which leads to pursue and which to leave alone. This is why it’s now all but common practice for B2Bs to design a comprehensive lead-qualification model. Statistics even show that 68% of B2B marketers are going so far as to factor in both behavioral and demographic scoring in these models.

But with so many different tactics, ideas, and strategies out there regarding how to build the best lead-scoring model, how do you really know which is right for your operation?

Well, you can take away a lot of the guesswork by selecting an automation platform with an enhanced lead-scoring system. A good system on a solid platform will do many things, including factoring in negative scoring and score degradation (i.e., reducing inflated scores and eliminating scoring bias), using separate lead-scoring models (ideal for companies with different product lines), setting qualification thresholds, identifying “high value” prospect actions (visiting a pricing page, the “contact us” page, etc.), scoring based on email conversions, etc.

Offers a multi-channel view of prospect behavior

Anyone working in digital marketing is well aware that multi-channel is a new reality. Today’s customers, be they in the B2B or B2C world, want a seamless experience where they can engage with brands via multiple channels at any time on any device. Moreover, they want the freedom to start shopping on one device and continue that process on another. Therefore, any platform that provides integrated channel marketing solutions is best positioned to help your brand stay in the forefront of the minds of your target audience.

Robust sales and marketing alignment features

If the goal is efficiency in your sales and marketing efforts, then you must eliminate departmental silos. And while there are certainly best practices out there for aligning your sales and marketing teams so that they’re working towards a common goal, a solid automation platform will only support and improve on these efforts. How does it do this? By integrating the various pieces of software each of these departments is using.

Think about it: often marketing is using one type of automation software while the sales department has different CRM and sales-operations solutions. And rather than improving business functions across the board, too often these bits of software are inhibiting communication with one another. So any B2B automation software you choose is going to need to operate cross-functionally between departments. In other words, CRM and marketing automation should integrate automatically under one platform.

A focus on the total sales funnel

Certainly, a good automation platform will increase efficiency, but the only way to really boost ROI is if all your initiatives are effective, too. Effectiveness today comes in the form of a total view of the sales funnel. So long as the top, middle, and bottom of the sales funnel are aligned, you’re in prime position to increase revenue.

A good platform is going to be able to monitor all your initiatives from the top of the funnel to the bottom. At each stage, you’ll be able to see what content is working, what needs to be tweaked, and what needs to be jettisoned altogether.

It will align all your activities so you can better manage the process and enhance your marketing and sales strategies. Consider also that a platform that aligns your efforts with a top-down approach is also going to be able to effectively measure word-of-mouth so you know what people are saying and will thus be in a better position to convert leads to customers and, ultimately, make them brand ambassadors.

Conclusion

If you follow this guide and select a versatile MAP, it will do many things, not the least of which is arm you with the right data. You can then harness this info and convert it into increased ROI down the line. And that is the ultimate goal.

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B2B Marketing - Social Media Marketing

How Social Media Marketers Are Getting Ready for AI-Driven Networking and Branding

 This article originally appeared on Martech Advisor 

Back in the day, social media platforms were a fun place where we would share photos or find an event or follow a friend. But connecting with brands or businesses required a proper phone call or to visit their respective website.

Fast-forward to the present date; the scenario has experienced a mega-shift, what with consumers now connecting with brands directly on social media platforms. Studies show that consumers are more inclined towards those brands who are taking the lead in resolving issues real-time and in a thorough manner. Infact, 42% of respondents in an Edison Research Study reported of expecting a reply from a brand within an hour.

sd-edison-data

Chatbots are stealing the limelight in this, by answering customer queries instantly using natural language. This is not just helping in keeping the interested lead in the loop and triggering a sense of priority but is also giving human marketers time to build a better content and social media marketing strategy.

The focus of social media marketing has shifted from mass engagement to personalized interaction. Today, brands have a massive amount of data about their customer base, thanks to big data. Their need of the hour is to engage each lead with relevant content or information. Thus, the primary challenge in social media marketing is to segment this large chunk of data to do targeted content marketing based on lead behaviour and engagement.

While an advanced marketing automation tool is enabling marketers to do dynamic segmentation, social media marketers are all set to leverage the potential of AI in social networking and business branding.

Why do marketers need to turn to AI for social media marketing?

One of my fellow marketers said, “It’s because the whos-who of digital industry is doing it“. Sadly, that reason is not good enough or does justice to the enormous potential AI has brought in for social media marketers. To get a clear idea, let’s start from the start!

You see, social media networks are dominating our lives. We spend almost 80% of our time on these networking sites. What with video-based social media marketing taking the cup this year in terms of consumer engagement on social platforms, marketers are exploring newer ways to connect with their ideal prospects. While all these read rosy, the problem is the huge amount of unstructured social data that marketers have, clubbed with a myriad of social influencers influencing consumers’ buying decisions. Marketers are not left with many choices but explore AI-based tools to leverage the full power of social networking.

Quoting Lux Narayan, the CEO of Unmetric, an AI-powered social media metrics company –

lux-Narayan-Quote

According to Narayan, there are six core areas where AI is leaving a strong impact on social media marketing; an impact that is hard to ignore in this customer-centric-marketing-era.

  1. Content creation
  2. Consumer intelligence
  3. Customer service
  4. Influencer marketing
  5. Content optimization
  6. Competitive intelligence

There is no doubt that Narayan has himself revealed the reasons why social media marketers are getting inclined heavily towards AI-based marketing and branding.

So, how are social media marketers are exploring the impact of AI on social networking and branding?

Doing data-driven social marketing merged with creative ideas will help you get the attention of your target prospects. And yes, Social media is where you can build your brand image. There are about 3.2 billions of people active on social media platforms. You don’t need to shout out to your target audience but let them find you and connect with you on-the-go. The more personalized your social strategy will be, the better will your ideal buyers connect with your brand. So, put your creative hats on and let’s get ready for the future.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are two ideas that marketers are breaking down into bits and pieces to make use. But the essential question is how it will come into use in social media marketing? The answer is social media networking and social ads.

Let’s be honest here. Despite various arguments, no other marketing channel has grasped AI better than social. AI defines the content you see, the ads you get, and monitors how you connect with your contacts. This is one primary reason why you should be cautious while building content for social platforms.

Social media giant, Facebook, is the living proof of this. It does not need to optimize the time of the day or do elaborate keyword research, but run an algorithm that is individual customer-specific. When you run an ad on Facebook, you must know that AI is at play in deciding who will see your ads and when and how. Infact, learning to sync your Facebook ads is very crucial for all marketers. Create Facebook ads with your ideal specifications and leave the rest to the algorithm.

I am asking you to believe me blindly. For one, you can test yourself and see. Otherwise, trust this update from Facebook’s business news portal where Facebook ad relevancy score is as high as 7 on an average.

What is Ad Relevance Score and why it should matter?

Relevancy score is calculated based on the reviews your brand receives, both positive and negative, to your ads. The more your ad receives positive feedback, the higher is the relevancy score. It is usually defined between 1-10, 10 being the highest.

Facebook-ad-relevancy-score
The sole reason why relevancy score is important is that it helps in reducing your cost of reaching your target audience.

This testifies the fact that Facebook ads, when set up properly, can give you more reach to your target audience and that too lot faster. However, negative reviews can bring down your relevancy scores drastically. Infact, social media is one place where things escalate real fast – be it good or bad. For instance, remember the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Scandal where the company had to recall all the Note 7 handsets after various reports of batteries exploding. The news spread like fire on the brand’s social media page, bringing a 30-point drop in its BrandIndex rating.

samsung-note-7-debacle

Such incidents like that of Samsung’s is accidental, but the whole point here is, your social brand image can get largely impacted by a single negative review, giving way to trolls and memes.

Brands can find themselves in sudden nightmares if product hoax stories or product disasters or trolls from competitors make way into social media. Luckily, AI is on its way to curating conversation flows and content to manage such fiascos. Using various filtering systems, AI systems are capable of monitoring millions of user comments across a large range of platforms and predict an emergency long before it occurs in real-time.

Lesson 101: Ethical companies do not usually vet comments that are offensive or inappropriate. When they get intimidation of an emergency spinning up, social media marketers can immediately work to release official statements addressing the impending issues and bringing forth transparency. This not just offers assurance to consumers but uplifts the brand’s image. Infact, social media marketers are using chatbots and machine learning to send personalized messages to consumers who raise a concern.

While many argue that AI will take away the human element from the conversation, the reality is a lot different. Bots are adding the much-needed personalization by replicating and automating repetitive functions, allowing human marketers to focus their energy on providing a more holistic and positive customer experience.

Effective social media marketing is a pointer to a brand’s strength, and social media followers and conversations are telling metrics of that brand’s success.

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Lead Management

10 Shocking Facts About Lead Management

lead-management-facts

Your leads want you to earn their attention. This simply means your lead management strategy will need a quick revamping to meet your leads’ evolving needs.

Thanks to inbound marketing, businesses are playing their best cards to garner their target leads’ attention before they decide to settle for some other brand. And sadly, this decision happens almost in a snap if you fail to capture their attention. Courtesy the wide range of options, your leads are already spoiled for choices. If you are not pacing up with the right lead management strategy, you are just going back few steps every day in the competition.

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Marketing Automation - Resources

The Real Marketing Automation Beyond 2019

marketing-automation

Marketing automation systems are continuing to make a breakthrough for B2B businesses. The market value of marketing automation systems has touched $3,300 (in US$ millions). According to reports, the annual growth is of 30%+ this year.

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Best Practices - Marketing Automation

21 Marketing Automation Questions to ask before Implementation

marketing-automation-questions

If you are a marketer, it is evident that you are already accustomed with the term ‘marketing automation‘. Despite the hype this term has, less than 10% of companies have actually implemented it. One of the major reasons for this low number is that most people forget to address the essential marketing automation questions. Hence their knowledge is incomplete and their success rates dwindle.

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Best Practices - Churn Rate

Advantages Of Using Emails To Reduce Customer Churn Rate

customer-churn-rate

Churn is your arch rival. Retaining existing customers is much more important (and cost-effective too!) than acquiring new ones. What is the point of spending all your resources, energy and time on the acquisition of new customers while ignoring the existing ones?

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Best Practices - Drip Email Campaigns

Multiply Your Customer Acquisition With Drip Email Campaigns

drip email campaigns

Email newsletters are a great way to communicate your team’s latest announcements. However,  a new user will see only those emails that edit out after they have signed up. It is not possible to send the new user all the emails from the start. Does that mean your new users will not get converted? Nope. That’s not how email campaigns work.

Enter drip email campaigns or automated email campaigns. These campaigns comprise of a set of emails that are sent out automatically on a schedule. One email is sent out the moment a new user signs up; the next email follows within maybe 3 days or as to. Many times, drip campaigns are triggered on the basis of user behavior, for which these campaigns often go by the name of behavioral emails as well.

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Best Practices - Customer Acquisition

Customer Acquisition: 7 actionable strategies to win more customers

Customer Acquisition Strategy

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Bill Gates’s words were profound and meant as simple as it could be. Customers who are happy will seldom raise a flag because somehow you have managed to attract and retain them. It is the unhappy lot that will lead you to improve your customer acquisition and retention techniques.

Often marketers complain that customers are being unreasonable in their demands. Well, that’s your challenge. Your customer acquisition methods are put to the test in such a scenario. In case you feel disheartened, follow Stew Leonard when he said-

Our Policy: Rule 1- Customer is always right! Rule 2- If the customer is ever wrong, reread rule 1.

Yep! That’s the golden rule.  

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Best Practices

9 Effective Ways to Improve Lead Nurturing with Automation

lead-nurturing

In an ideal world, your leads will maneuver themselves down the marketing funnel. But that’s not how things work. Lead nurturing is essential to urge your leads to go down the marketing funnel- from visitors to leads, buyers, and lastly, promoters. It’s not a one-day wonder. Rather, lead nurturing is a long process. According to Forrester Research, companies that implement lead nurturing practices have about 50% more conversions. Another study from eCommerce reveals that nurtured leads are 47% larger as compared to leads that are not nurtured. Despite the numbers, research shows that only 36% companies have adopted lead nurturing practices (Which is actually low).

What is Lead Nurturing?

Lead nurturing is an integral part of inbound marketing. By definition, lead nurturing refers to the various efforts of a marketer to successfully convert a lead to become a buyer and then promoter. It is not forced marketing. Rather, lead nurturing involves content that is relevant.

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