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A Comprehensive Marketing Automation Guide for B2B Tech Companies

Marketing automation refers to the processes and practices that a company can adopt to improve the efficiency of their marketing based on several online channels. The primary goal of marketing automation is to simplify repetitive tasks in an organization like social media, email marketing, and other website-related tasks. As such, to automate your marketing efforts effectively, you need to use the right combination of software and web-based services. If you are thinking of automating the marketing processes in your company, it is important you understand the expectations, and the primary benefits you can get in the end.

Fundamentally, marketing automation entails optimizing marketing activities. This could include optimizing the team’s time and the audience to put much emphasis on. As such, marketing automation is more than the simple approaches aimed at the automation of the repetitive tasks within the marketing department –it gives you the platform to manage leads up to the checkout.

 

Understanding Marketing Automation (MA)

A large number of B2B tech companies are either not using marketing automation, or they are not getting it right. According to David Raab, an expert in the industry more than 70% of marketers are not happy with the automation software they use since they are not getting their expected results. In spite of marketing automation’s benefits, many companies are experiencing a high level of dissatisfaction and fragmentation.

One of the important secrets to marketing, especially in automation is to time effectively. Usually, leads take some time before converting into customers. As such, make sure that you do not approach them too early lest you scare or overwhelm them. At the same time, do not take too long, as there are competitors in the market who can snatch them any time. Therefore, take time to study the marketing behaviors of your prospects and approach them based on their actions and interests.

The most important step in marketing is creating a plan that aligns with the sales goals. Initially, understanding the marketing and sales funnel gave you a better platform to succeed in any marketing activities. The sales funnel describes a visual presentation that entails the movement from following a lead to converting the lead into a customer –essentially, it is the buyer’s journey. In spite of the difference in how various people present the sales funnel, the primary goal is the same. However, today things have changed and it is not about the funnel anymore but about the flywheel, because the sales funnel considers customers as an afterthought. The flywheel puts the customer at the center of every activity that a company carries. When the customers are at the core of your sales, support and marketing efforts, it becomes easy to revolutionize your share in the market because the customers act as your business’ promoters.

Here is a diagram showing the sales funnel and flywheel.Sales Funnel and Flywheel Penguin Strategies

How to add value through marketing automation

Perhaps, you have heard of common hype that advocates for more transparency, better customer engagement, less cost, and more sales. However, without proper preparation and effective execution of strategies, it can be hard to achieve all these. As such, it is important to think of how certain automation practices will add value to your company. Automation can add value to your marketing in the following ways:

Nurturing leads

Averagely, you should focus on seven touch points of the customer before you can convince them to buy any of your services or products. The implication of this is that the customers’ buying process should match your marketing approaches. While achieving such a balance is hard and overly expensive, with the right automation platform, you can generate, follow, and nurture leads easily. With automations, you create drip campaigns that are aimed at increasing your leads dramatically. The right automation tool will allow you to give the prospective customers timely content to help them make the purchasing decision.

Increase sales conversion through lead scoring

If you adopt the ideal automation software, you will experience no challenges tracking your prospects’ behaviors and establishing their interest such that you can align your marketing and sales strategy based on such insights. For example, you are able to score high for prospects who view the pricing page or even the terms and conditions section. Such information makes it possible to narrow your marketing and sales focus based on the right information.

Ease of creating campaigns

Most automation platforms come with inbuilt templates that make it easy to customize and personalize. This ensures that you do not need to hire a designer to help you in creating new campaigns every other time. The implication of such applications is that you reduce the amount of time and money spent on creating and executing campaigns.

Customer retention

Most companies tend to overlook the role of marketing automation after getting customers. In fact, automation is necessary for keeping customers for a long time and enhancing cross and up-selling. The rationale for this assertion is the fact that every customer needs additional information about your products and services even after making the first sale.

Control over the marketing expenditure

Marketing automation is necessary for monitoring performance. The ideal platform should offer you key performance indicators to assist you in managing your expenditure in various marketing channels based on the expected ROI. Often, this is done through a simple and clear funnel that outlines the costs and returns based on real-time data.

An overview of top MA platforms

There is no denying the fact that marketing automation is something that every company needs, especially the BTB Tech ones. Over the past two years, the marketing automation industry has advanced from $500m to a $1.2bn industry. As such, it cannot be a surprise that you will find new automation software or new features in some of the already existing software. While such advancement makes the choice of the appropriate automation software quite a daunting task, with careful consideration, you can land a software that will help you automate your marketing activities greatly. The diagram below shows a comparison of various MA tools in terms of their market share.  

Market Shares as of July 2017 Penguin Strategies

Based on the diagram above, it is evident that HubSpot has a large market share (21.56%) in comparison to Salesforce Pardot (7%), Marketo (6.17%), and the other MA tools. On the other hand, Marketo and Pardot are stiffly competing with only a difference of 0.83% between their market shares.

HubSpot

HubSpot ranks high for a number of reasons, one of them being its diversity in terms of scope of action. Just like Volvo, which even after crashing on the wall will have the capacity to move, HubSpot, has such an accommodative capability. It is necessary for the preparation and optimization of content such that it aligns with the preferences of the users. In addition, it curves out a personalized path that you can follow when engaging and turning leads into loyal customers. It takes pride in its highly powerful and developed Search Engine Optimization tools, which do not necessitate any coding knowledge for you to use them. As such, with HubSpot, targeting the appropriate influencer as well as developing strong calls-to-actions is easy. With its contact forms, you can test all the marketing strategies you adopt, and rely on real-time reports to evaluate the viability and performance of your strategies.

HubSpot Contact Screenshot Penguin Strategies

This software can be used in various places including lead management, sales performance and email marketing.

HubSpot is ideal for SMBs with just marketers and since it is simple to use, it is not necessary for them to have technical skills. It offers great value for the small businesses especially the ones that have not implemented search engine optimization techniques and methods alongside any marketing automation approaches.

You can get HubSpot software at $2,400 per month for a 12 months contract, billed annually.

What are its other unique selling points?

  • Seamless working environment: The HubSpot platform offers a seamless and learning platform for anyone using marketing automation for the first time due to its hassle-free and intuitive interface. It allows for easy designing of a website without the need for codes or just any knowledge in IT. In addition, HubSpot makes designing of workflows, preparing, formatting and publishing content as well as engaging customers easy and effective through a personalized approach.
  • Compact marketing funnel: HubSpot allows effective customization and personalization of almost everything along the marketing process. All that you need to do is create an account, followed by the placement of contacts in the right areas of the sales and marketing funnel.
  • Marketing impact reporting: HubSpot has a tight CRM, which alongside the Salesforce connections give user ease of valuable statistics and traffic data. Hubspot source CRM Screenshot Penguin StrategiesWith such systems in place, you are confident on the reports that you get about leads hence, you can establish a better way of improving the performance of sales.
  • Delighted users: Every marketer focuses on gaining a better ROI and achieving customer satisfaction. Delighting users is a specialty of HubSpot –it offers key phrases and words to enhance optimization.
  • New features: The platform has introduced the service hub to add to the existing two –market and sales hubs. Although it was designed for the service teams, it is integrated with the marketing and sales hubs making it possible for users (service, sales and marketing teams) to share a common view of the customer hence uniting customer experience. The Sales Hub was inspired by the fact that customer behaviors are changing each day –they are now skeptical, lack patience, and have very high expectations. The Hub works toward turning every average customer to an active promoter.

Weakness:

It may not be the best option for companies using WordPress, as the support is not as effective as it is on other platforms.

Marketo

Marketo fits the description of the best system of its kind. It presents itself as the Volkswagen in all aspects of marketing automation for its reliability. This might be attributed to its diversity in terms of lead generation approaches. One of its outstanding characteristics is the fact that the platform meets the needs of any aspect of digital marketing. The Customer Marketing module of the platform aligns well with the software’s lead management and email marketing features and offers room for real-time customization.

Marketo Screenshot

Along with this, is a visual drag-and-drop interface that is not only easy to use but also requires no advanced IT skills.

Marketo is suitable for SMBs, which have a large marketing department, for two reasons –one, it is easy to use and secondly, it features a low and medium level functionality as needed by the small and medium businesses. It offers two package –one for $895 and the other at $3175, all per month but billed annually.

What are its unique selling points?

  • Ease of social media components’ installation on your emails: Marketo allows the inclusion of social media components in emails, as well as the “Forward to a Friend” function. Moreover, you can test any email prior to sending it, and make any changes in case of any need.
  • Creation outstanding landing pages: The interface of Marketo allows you to create extremely great landing pages that have engaging data capture forms. You do not have to strain with creating the pages since the platform comes with landing page templates that you can personalize and customize with ease. In addition, you can tweak all the landing pages into Facebook pages, as well as add data capture forms for aggressive profiling of your clients and leads conversion.
  • Seamless integration with most CRMs: Marketo is compatible with most of the leading CRMs and other productivity service providers in the market. You can integrate it with Riva, Unbounce, Zoho CRM, Sugar CRM, Microsoft Dynamics, and Salesforce among others.
  • All standard reporting and analytics:  Though Marketo does not offer new approaches to data analytics and reporting, it is great in giving you essential summaries, which add much sense to all the data you collect. Additionally, it has several customizable metrics such as lead performance, landing page, campaign and email performance, etc.

Weakness:

Marketo does not have a highly intuitive system. The platform’s system lacks a drag interface that you can use for organizing offer campaigns. It also calls for some knowledge in coding and programming if at all you are to enjoy its full potential. In addition, it does not have CMS, blogging, and social posting features, hence companies have to incorporate another system.

Eloqua

Eloqua passes for the oldest marketing automation tool –it was launched in 1999 before Oracle acquired it in 2012 for a value of $871m. Apart from its age, it stands out as the Bentley, or Jaguar in the marketing automation arena. It can also be likened to the Oxford degree, or Chanel no 5, or the Colombian slow roast. Now you understand why you will often hear most developers referring it to the marketing execution tool known for driving dynamic conversions.

It is much popular among B2B companies for its personalization features. It comes in different languages and is accessible in many parts of the world. In comparison to most MA platforms, Eloqua is much simpler and does not interfere with your other software’s functionality. Apart from helping you come up with effective strategies, Eloqua has a modern approach to marketing automation and can enhance whatever systems you have currently acting as a push on your sales department. Its drag-and-drag canvas interface is a killer feature that allows the transformation, normalization, and arrangement of data across different channels (earned, owned, and paid).

Eloqua Screenshot Penguin Strategies

Eloqua is ideal for companies that have a large marketing department. It has a package for $2,000 a month and it is billed monthly.

What are its unique selling points?

  • Next-gen marketing analytics: Eloqua offers a great platform for measuring success through the examination of the effects any campaign has on the bottom line, and ensuring that no revenue is lost or missed. As such, it is ideal for reporting closed loops and their impact on the ROI, comparing the rate of conversions based on engagement, as well as analyzing the performance of your website using the Oracle Business Intelligence.
  • Marketing and sales alignment: It is necessary for boosting the percentage of ROI as it unifies marketing and sales efforts. It does this by deploying detailed buyer information and unifying customers’ experience, identifying worth opportunities, and enhancing the engagement of customers based on their tracked behaviors.
  • Sophisticated lead management: You can score leads using Eloqua through diverse approaches, and simplifies the process of measuring the highest lead yield quality to enhance the aggregation of buyers’ behavioral data, and segmentation of contacts for further deals. As such, Eloqua makes it easy to have several scoring models running on one lead.
  • High probability of more conversions: The platform offers personalized experiences that guarantee more conversions. For instance, it makes it easy to set up complex campaigns. You will find this possible by using its drag-and-drop functionality in mapping audience flows for every channel that you have and does not require complex IT knowledge to handle the system.
  • Ease of customer segmentation: The platform has outstanding profiles, which combine different and disparate data from diverse sources in one place for segmentation purposes. As such, Eloqua is ideal for identifying audiences, which drive revenue in a business.

Weakness:

The MRM functionality does not have an extension for project management such as project plan management and resources scheduling. Eloqua has a revamped version of its platform –the Eloqua10 but it needs improvement since the software has challenges dealing with a large database and filtering capacity. In addition, it is overly complex hence, its setup and maintenance requires many resources –money and time.

Pardot

It would be a surprise if you have not yet heard of Pardot, by now. It is that Honda, which although has good looks like a Volkswagen, people still despise it. Nevertheless, it is presented as a product whose growth has been at a staggering rate in spite of its young age into the market. Much of its share of popularity comes from it Sales-force foundation. However, other features make Pardot a great MA tool for every B2B tech company. To start with, it features an end-to-end lead generation and management ability, a seamless email marketing, an effortless sales alignment, as well as several and detailed return on investment reports. In addition, Pardot is highly compatible with most of the software that numerous tech companies use, especially if you are using Sales-force. Its ability to blend seamlessly, while at the same time inquiring little to no IT changes makes Pardot a great marketing automation tool.

Pardot is great for enterprises that have a team of markers who have high technical skills. Its subscription packages include the professional edition, the enterprise edition, and the ultimate edition, which start from $1,000, $2000 and $3,000 per month respectively although at times it is free in the beginning, as an up-sell to customers who are subscribers of Sales-force. It is billed annually.

What are its unique selling points?

  • Sales-force powers it: As a Sales-force flagship MA tool, Pardot stands out for its usability and uptime. The implication of such features is that it can integrate well with any other Salesforce products you may have in your company, and adopts a unified mobile usability approach.
  • B2B marketing automation: You need this software if you are a B2B Tech company since it works alongside Sales-force to enhance the orientation of marketing efforts toward the appropriate direction. For instance, Pardot enhances the efficiency of CRM and marketing tools leading to a great customer experience and diversification of marketing approaches.
  • It gives ROI reporting insights: Pardot outshines most other MA tools in terms of offering insightful and reliable ROI reporting used in measuring and tracking the performance of any campaigns in the company and tying up indicators of marketing and sales comprehensively. It also offers a room for pulling out email reports, as well as connecting them to any BI tools you may have for advanced analysis.
  • Ease of aligning sales: the tool allows for seamless sales alignment. Such a feature makes it easy for your sales agents to uniquely distribute campaigns among customers, as well as make real-time sales. With Pardot, drop leadings direct into your CRM nurturing tracks is easy and fast, and allows for instant alerts on any Gmail interactions.
  • Helps B2B companies generate high-quality leads: The software has features that enhance the customization and sending of targeted emails, which make it possible for companies to gain high-quality leads. In addition, the tool has features for boosting your sales pipeline, calculating the marketing return on investment and tracking your customer’s behavior.

Weakness:

It does not have a free program and it is billed annually, which makes it hard to cancel should you decide otherwise about your options. Only the Pro subscribers have access to the A/B testing, a vital feature for landing and email campaigns. In addition, its social media support is considerably weak which forces companies to look for a separate social media management tool.

So which of these software is best for your company?

That is the question that every company out there is looking to answer but it is important to note that the term best is relative in the marketing automation software arena. The software that works best for your company may not work the same for the next-door company. As such, it is important to establish your company’s marketing automation pains and create a wish list of requirements, components, and features. Until then, it can be hard to choose and profile a tool as best for your marketing automation.

About Penguin Strategies

Challenge.Play.Solve

We work with each client from strategy storyboarding to campaign implementation to streamline your marketing and nurture efforts. Adopting marketing automation is a costly venture and should be properly mapped to support your business processes. The end result is more focused and concentrated engagement with your audience, driving traffic an accelerating a leads journey through the sales funnel.

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