The right adjustments to your Marketing Automation processes can drastically improve your B2B lead management. Understanding your audience enables you to focus on creating truly personalized and engaging content experiences. A recent survey by Evergage shows that 88% of marketers believe that their prospects “expect a personalized experience”, yet only 31% of marketers feel they are “getting personalization right”

When it comes to Marketing Automation, B2B marketers can make significant improvements by standardizing their data, incorporating key details about their leads into the personalization process, and designing a selection of email templates that are tailored to specific communication types and/or personas.

Let’s examine three ways you can improve your Marketing Automation initiatives:

1. Standardize and Enrich your Data

Data is the foundation of any strong campaign (or Marketing Automation initiative), and yet marketers are often confronted with the problem of “dirty” databases fed from multiple sources such as trade shows, lists, and website forms. As such, they may have a variety of inconsistencies or missing fields that can shorten the reach and impact of a marketing campaign. The simple misspelling of a location or variations in the abbreviation of a state name can result in thousands of missed opportunities. You can avoid sabotaging your B2B marketing campaigns by standardizing and enriching your data to make campaigns work effectively.

Standardization enables companies to maximize the utility of their data. Without taking this step, your marketers are going to have to build complex filters to locate the prospects and customers you are trying to reach or worse, risk missing them altogether. Put a stop to these inefficiencies by moving all the values to a standardized format. For example, develop a translation table that contains all the different ways any of the 50 US States can be spelled in one row with their standardized value in the second row (e.g. California, CA; Cali, CA; Cal, CA; CAL, CA). Going forward, standardize the collection of new data by improving your forms: use the same standardized list as drop-down menus so that variations in capitalization and abbreviations become nonexistent.

Strengthen your database further through enrichment, or making sure the data looks and reads the same across the board. Enrichment is a priority: according to a 2016 study, enriching contact data quality was listed as the “most significant barrier” to achieving email marketing success for 51% of marketers. Enrichment is the process of acquiring new data elements to bolster your marketing goals. In the context of B2B, it is essential that you enrich a prospect’s role within their organization so you can target those in a position to make purchasing decisions about your product/service. The title “Dir. Marketing” will not tell much to your marketing automation system. Your data team should standardize the title to “Director” and “Marketing” as Role and Function, respectively.

If you are working with a legacy database with lots of inconsistencies, your marketing team can gain huge payoffs by retrofitting the data. For example, you can logically deduce the geographical location of a company from a zip code when one has been given or you can easily acquire new data elements from a third party, such as D&B.

Enforcing standards on data already collected may require a substantial investment of your data team’s time and skill, but it will help everyone in your company to access the same depth and quality of data for their campaigns.

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2. Segment and Personalize

Buyers are overwhelmed by emails flooding their inboxes, putting the pressure on marketers to ensure their messaging is highly relevant and targeted. This is particularly significant in B2B, where email continues to be the most common tool of communication with 86% of professionals preferring email to communicate for business purposes (Hubspot 2017). Segmentation and personalization improve your marketing by aligning your email campaigns with the prospects most likely to engage.

Segmenting is a critical step to getting your message to stand out in the sea of emails your prospects receive daily. According to Mailchimp, segmented campaigns received 100.95% more clicks than non-segmented ones. In short, segmentation means separating an audience based on specific criteria or distinct groups. Blanket messaging may have much of your audience wondering why they are even subscribing to your emails in the first place. Segmenting positions B2B marketers to craft unique, personalized messages that give prospects the information and rationale needed to justify spending money or time.

Once your audience is segmented, personalization becomes essential to maximizing your marketing effort. Personalization has come a long way, and marketers now have the option of creating messages that are not only relevant to the buyer’s persona but selected based on their digital body language. Personalization is a strategy that is still widely underused by companies: only half of the companies surveyed by Evergage stated that they “personalize by tailoring messaging or promotions by audience segment (51%)”.

In our experience, this lack of personalization can be attributed to the challenges of working with bad data and finding the time to create distinct and targeted messages. This is unfortunate: with B2B emails having some of the weakest open rates, marketers should be focused on creating content that is specific to the buyer and provides the information they need to support a purchasing decision.For example, let’s say you are planning an event with a specific benefit for the executive layer of an organization and have a database containing 1 million people. Rather than “blasting” the entire database with the same email, it will be much more effective to target the segment of 10,000 people who actually have an executive role. Marketing could then position an event that might pique the interest of executives— such as golfing with other executives in their field— putting the client in a place where they could easily understand the value of attending such an event.

Personalization can also be a powerful tool for influencing purchasing decisions, especially in a world where buyers consume an average of  10.4 pieces of content before making a decision. Especially in B2B, where buyers are eager to reduce the risk of making a bad purchase, sending the right message can deeply influence a major spending decision. Marketers should not overlook the positive impact personalization can have on ROI.

3. Make Great Templates

Marketers can save themselves time, money, and energy by simply producing a set of brand-approved templates they can re-use. Let’s face it: most digital campaigns and nurture initiatives are going to require emails, landing pages and forms, and more often than not we see marketers in a cycle of creating new assets from scratch time and time again. Before sending out a new email, marketing departments typically create a campaign, and then  go to an agency to have brand new assets created. Why not curtail this process and save significant resources with a set of templates?

What kinds of templates should a company have on hand? Every type of email should have its own template: one for newsletters, events, announcements, and industry information. Templates should also be responsive, aesthetically pleasing, and contain static and dynamic elements. Most importantly, each template should have the layout that best conveys the information a marketer wants to present. Many marketers do this already through copying old emails— but using this method may entail doing a number of edits to the design and layout of the old one. Taking shortcuts might also lead to emails that display poorly, which results in a delete within 3 seconds more than 70% of the time.

There is a clear advantage to templatizing emails in that they will have the same consistent look and feel without going to an agency every time. Marketers will also have a quick, inexpensive, and easy way to respond to their audience. By making the communication process more efficient, marketers will have more time to invest into activities that make a larger impact on performance, such as segmenting, data clean-up, and A/B testing.

Standardizing and enriching your marketing database, segmenting and personalizing your messaging, and templatizing your emails are just a few ways we can help you improve your Marketing Automation initiatives. 

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