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Marketing automation used to be simple. Send an email with an offer. Track which prospects clicked on the link and filled out the form on the landing page. Pass the right leads along to the sales team.

Now that many marketers are asked to drive the customer experience, they are taking a more sophisticated approach to their campaigns. But not all of them.

SiriusDecisions discovered that 85% of B2B marketers using marketing automation platforms feel that they’re not using them to their full potential. Understanding and adopting the latest trends in marketing automation can help both the sophisticated marketers and the underachievers meet their goals.

  1. Dynamic Campaign Management

Modern marketing is organized around campaigns, and it is marketing automation that manages those campaigns. These include welcome campaigns, nurture campaigns, event reminders, and onboarding campaigns. Sometimes they are simple and follow a very linear course of action. But marketers are both artists and scientists, and sometimes they build out complex logic to handle multiple variations of results. When that happens, they can now design campaigns that have the ability to adapt and respond to real customer activities, and not some limited and prescribed customer journey.

Marketers design these campaigns with a simple drop and drag interface that is as intuitive as drawing on an office whiteboard. That makes marketing faster and easier. Marketing technology supports marketers in their jobs, and doesn’t make them feel like they need to go back to school to learn complex programming languages.

Some platforms have difficulties changing live campaigns, forcing marketers to create whole new campaigns to make those changes. The latest marketing automation tools can now change and update campaigns on the fly. Simply pause a campaign and then update a segment; add or change a decision step; insert a new email, landing page, or other content; and even trigger a new action. Restart with a click once the changes are done, and all the changes are live.

  1. Integrated Content Marketing

Marketing automation platforms make it easy to set actions as triggers and ensure prospects and customers get the right information at the right time. While most marketers know the importance of personalized messaging, many are unable to execute on this goal simply because they do not have the resources to create the volume of quality content necessary.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 54% of B2B marketers struggle to produce engaging content, while 50% struggle to produce content consistently. A lack of quality content will result in lost opportunities.

One of the most important keys to marketing automation success is an effective content marketing strategy. Nobody responds to the wrong content. Content has to be created according to personas and distributed in ways that track those personas. Without true integration with content marketing tools, it is challenging to send the right message.

Aligning content with personas is step one, but in a marketing technology stack where marketing automation and content marketing are tightly integrated means that is the only step. The right content automatically aligns with persona-based segments used in campaigns.

  1. Account-Based Marketing

 Account-based marketing (ABM) is the new way that marketers are thinking about how they communicate with their most important accounts. This allows them to better target, engage, and convert opportunities by effectively linking activities and data across a single account. ITSMA reported that 84% of B2B marketers say that ABM delivers a higher ROI than any other approach.

This is a big change in marketing automation, as the organizing structure changes from the individual profile to the account level. Contacts are mapped to parent accounts, which allows marketers to run specific campaigns targeting these parent accounts.  In fact, marketers can target the entire buyer committee from their most important accounts and deliver a consistent experience across the organization.

One of the most important aspect of marketing automation, the prospect lead score, also changes with ABM. There is now an account score, which shows the level of engagement at the account level, rather than just among individuals.

“ABM is the strategy that is finally bringing marketing and sales teams together to better compete in the market and win customers,” said Chris Golec, CEO of Demandbase.

Open Platform

Marketing technology tools need to work together, and marketing automation is no different. Many of the more robust tools connect with systems already in place. And many platforms promote an ecosystem of partners. These marketing platforms provide access to additional tools in their own marketing app store, modeled after Apple and their app store.

But all ecosystems are not created equal. In fact, eConsultancy found that 56% of marketers rate non-integrated tech platforms as a leading obstacle to integrating marketing activities. Some vendors just provide a list of partners, but the best ones provide pre-built integrations. This means marketers can get up and running, adding functionality, without extensive IT support.

Conclusion

Marketing automation can change the ways that marketers communicate with their prospects and customers, and whether that’s a small change or a big change depends on keeping up with the latest technology trends. The right marketing strategy coupled with the right marketing tools will drive more leads and more sales, along with improving the ROI. What more could a modern marketer want?

 

 

By Kevin Akeroyd, general manager & SVP for Oracle Marketing Cloud