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The role of email automation in the B2B customer acquisition process

Strategy

The proportion of organizations rating their automation campaigns as ‘very successful’ nearly doubled this year compared to 2014 (2015 Email Industry Census). Investment in it continues as organizations see it as their top focus for this year. With more relevant communications, increased customer engagement and better timing, it’s no wonder marketers want to channel their efforts into this medium.

In B2B in particular, marketing automation can be of great benefit in the acquisition process, optimizing the transition from a contact, to a lead and eventually, a customer.

Getting started can be daunting, so I’ve put together some tips and considerations to help you get the ball rolling.

Why use automation in the acquisition process?

Nowadays, prospects have the resources to do extensive research about your company before coming in contact with your sales reps for the first time. In fact, the average B2B buyer is 57% down the purchase funnel by that point. By using automation and content marketing, you can keep them nurtured until that moment comes, and after that, while they’re reviewing other companies in your sector.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Keeping your company front of mind until the first contact – lead nurturing can bring an average increase of 20% in sales opportunities
  • Saving costs – the lead nurturing process can be set up and left to run in the background, allowing leads to pass through to the next stage when they’re ready
  • Saving time – your sales reps don’t need to manually follow up with each individual, they can choose only the qualified ones that complete the lead nurturing program
  • Timing – the emails reach the right contact, at the right time
  • Relevant messaging – contacts get the messages they’re most interested in, which makes click-throughs sore

Key steps in a customer acquisition journey

Acquisition journeys will differ depending on the type of company, the sector, and the typical buying cycle. But some of the key steps where automation can help are:

  1. Need awareness – a need is identified and contacts will typically start searching the internet
  2. Consideration – while they review different companies, contacts might download whitepapers, reports, infographics or register for a webinar. It’s very important to get the permission to send them emails at this stage.
  3. Engagement – by downloading more content, or engaging with your company otherwise, a lead will eventually become a Marketing Qualified Lead, and be ready for contact from the Sales Team
  4. Sales qualification and discovery – The Sales Team make contact with the lead, and continue to the sales process, but you still want to keep the lead ‘warm’ with relevant content
  5. Customer – Success! The sales process has resulted in acquisition

Top tips for using email automation in the B2B customer acquisition process

  • Content marketing is paramount: think webinars, whitepapers and reports to entice email sign up. This is the start of the journey, so don’t worry about getting all the data in one go.
  • After you’ve obtained permission to email them, send an automated email (after a delay of, say, 2 days) offering either similar content on different topics, or different content on the same topic. For example, if they’ve downloaded a whitepaper about marketing automation, try an infographic on the same topic, or a whitepaper on segmentation.
  • While they keep downloading, you can use progressive profiling to build a lead profile.
  • Based on the data you gain, filter and use advanced segmentation to send them the most relevant content.
  • Implement a scoring system to help you identify the most engaged leads (Marketing Qualified Leads), which can be then passed to sales
  • After they become a customer, enrol them in a welcome program

While the idea of relinquishing control might seem risky to you, using automation in the B2B customer acquisition process could mean more qualified leads and a happier sales team.

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