It might be an unpopular opinion, but sometimes I do wish the robots would take some of my jobs. When it comes to tedious and repetitive tasks like creating targeted mailing lists, or personalising individual user journeys, actually, you know what? Take it away, robot friends.
Bill Gates is widely credited with saying that lazy people will find an easy way to do things. I think Mr. Gates has it slightly wrong here – sorry, Bill. It’s actually smart people that find an easy way to do things. That’s why we have the amazing tools that we have today – very smart people built incredibly complicated software and algorithms so that computers can automate tasks or analyse data so that we don’t have to. That’s brilliant, and I want to get in on it.
In this blog, I’m going to tell you how you can use B2B marketing automation effectively to make marketing jobs easier and our work a lot more impactful. There will also be insights from some other members of the team who use automation regularly in their work for our clients. Let’s start with that classic mainstay of digital marketing: the email.
Smart, responsive email marketing
Many businesses use email marketing to communicate with leads and existing customers. It’s one of the oldest, most established, tried and tested formats. Automated email marketing usually comes under one of the following categories:
- Event-based emails that are triggered by pre-defined events or user behaviour
- Drip-feed email content that’s scheduled to be deployed at specific times
Trigger events include when someone joins your email list, clicks a link in an email, fills out a form or visits a page on your website. When these things happen, you can pre-define an email to be sent out to them. This is a great way to follow up from previous points of contact and nudge a prospect along the path to a sale.
Drip-feed email content is a series of automated emails to subscribers sent out at pre-determined intervals, usually forming the bulk of your email campaign and taking prospects on your lead nurture journey. These emails are perfect opportunities to provide leads with content that will support your sales pitch – links to blog articles, eBooks and more.
Here at Fifty Five and Five, we often use Marketo and Mailchimp for our email marketing automation. As well as scheduling emails, today’s sophisticated B2B marketing automation tools often allow you to make use of your customer contact lists in clever ways, and they can also provide valuable data on how your email campaigns are performing.
I asked our marketing executive Maria about how she uses Mailchimp. Here’s what she said: “Mailchimp helps you to build an email campaign by sorting your audience based on some specific characteristics (such as where they’re based, what they signed up to before, etc.) and it pulls them into the campaign. Then, once you launch the campaign, it sends the email to who you choose to be part of the pool and it gives you useful insights, such as open rate, drop rate, etc. that help you to shape up your campaign.”
In summary, Maria also added: “Email automation is a great help in reaching out to leads and providing them with “richer” information on your product or services. And, when it comes to managing large amounts amount of data – thousands of emails or more – these tools can save a lot of time and reduce the chances of making mistakes.”
Optimised paid media advertising
B2B marketing automation can also be highly valuable in the world of pay-per-click advertising. Running successful paid media campaigns is a skill, and it requires an awful lot of time, in the prep and planning stages, through to creative design and execution. However, once the strategy and assets are agreed, it’s time to be smart in order to achieve the best results possible. That’s where automation and machine learning can help.
For example, if you’re running a Google Ads campaign and not using ‘Responsive Search ads’, you’re missing a trick. These ads use Google’s algorithms to serve potential customers with the most personalised combination of copy you have provided. That means the user sees something more relevant to them, and you can benefit from better results and performance.
Bidding algorithms are also hugely helpful in the paid media world, as our Head of Client Services Aidan Danaher explains: “Almost every platform provides this functionality, along with traditional methods like manual cost per clicks, or maximum CPC. What’s great about this approach is it will optimise based on the objectives you’ve set, improving that ever–important customer journey, and ultimately the conversions for your campaign.”
As Aidan says, functionality like Responsive Search ads and bidding algorithms are now a vital part of the paid media toolbox. Businesses today should definitely be harnessing them across their pay-per-click marketing.
Scheduling your social media campaigns
Social media marketing is another area where B2B marketing automation can offer serious benefits. Scheduling and automating your social media marketing means whoever’s managing your social media accounts doesn’t have to concern themselves with remembering to post this or that post at a particular time – which may be when they’re sitting down to eat lunch or getting settled for a night of TV.
Our writer and social media executive Megan explains the benefits: “Social media automation allows me to keep a clear view of all our upcoming content. It’s important to post consistently on social channels, and the tools we use allow me to plan ahead of time – so we never miss a day or an opportunity to engage our audience!”
Fifty Five and Five marketing executive Laura also had this to say on the subject: “To ensure the success of your campaigns in social media, timing is crucial. That means finding out at what time of the day your audience is going to be most receptive to your message. But we’re all human – and sometimes very busy ones – so it’s easy to forget to post. That’s where social automation becomes a game changer.”
Top tips for making the most of social media automation
> No more grappling with time–zones
This ability to schedule social media activity at any time of day or night is especially useful if your team want to post in different time-zones. They don’t have to be awake at 2am to post because it’s midday somewhere else in the world. With social media automation, they don’t have to be.
> Keep a healthy balance
This isn’t to say that all your social posts should be automated. Social media is, by its very nature, supposed to be dynamic and personal – there’s no substitute for posting in the moment. Ad-hoc social activity capitalising on recent events, news stories and trends ensures your followers stay engaged, and don’t feel like they’re just following a bot.
> Be careful with your responses
On a similar note, think carefully before using automated responses to social media interactions – this can easily come across as lazy and impersonal. We’ve all received an automated “Thanks for following!” DM and thought, “OK, great, but so what?” A good rule of thumb is to automate your campaigns and use real-time personal interaction for the rest.
> Choose the right tool for the job
Hootsuite is the social media automation tool of choice for organisations all around the globe, including our own. It’s simple to set up and use, with an intuitive dashboard interface and support for all the most important social networks including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
I asked Laura about the benefits of using Hootsuite for B2B marketing automation. Here’s her reply: “From my experience with Hootsuite, I can say that it helped me a lot in previous campaigns to get the right message across to the right audience while making sure that my campaign execution was following the strategy thoroughly”. She’s summed it up well.
Ready to get started with B2B marketing automation?
I hope this blog has been useful in illustrating some of the many marketing automation benefits. Automation is addictive: once you start using it, you’ll soon be finding new ways to apply it to your role and across your whole business, making life easier for everyone and achieving some pretty impressive marketing results. You’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.