Backward B2B: Firms Have To Improve Their Automation -- And Their Email

B2B marketers are lagging — only 2% are using marketing automation to its full potential. And there has been a decline in the percentage that rate themselves as good — i.e., those that use the majority of features but need to improve at them — from 2016 to the present, according to a study by CommuniGator and Smart Insights, published this week in Mar Tech Advisor.  

Moreover, many need to improve their email marketing. For instance, the study shows that 29% do not tailor their emails based on user activity.

These findings cover UK companies only, but they provide a snapshot into best practices. How does your email marketing compare?

The respondents deploy email for these purposes (in declining order):

  • Initial welcome sequence or autoresponders
  • Nurturing emails based on content browsed or downloaded
  • Up-sell or cross-sell emails to existing customers  
  • Triggered campaigns
  • Reactivation campaigns for inactive customers
  • Nurturing emails based on change in lead score
  • Progressive profiling to capture additional customer insight 

Except for nurturing based on lead scores, which increased from 4% in 2014 to 18% this year, every one of those activities has declined since 2016.

Here’s how they score leads:

  • Links clicked in email
  • Content types accessed on website 
  • Engagement based on length of time or frequency of use 
  • Staff assessment of lead quality when talking to prospects
  • Profile field fit with ideal target customers
  • Direct questions about buying status on form

How do brands get people to sign up for emails? The study reports that 56% use sign-up messages on key pages, and 44% offer free content in return for contact information. Less than 40% utilize a site-wide option to subscribe or lightboxes (pop-ups on website).

Meanwhile, the biggest barriers to using marketing automation are:

  • Integrating data from different sources and systems
  • Lack of resources to manage implementation of features
  • Limited staff knowledge or skills for setting up rules, lead scoring and sequences
  • Defining a strategy for marketing automation
  • Making the business case for investment/getting buy-in 
  • Technology platform doesn’t have the right capabilities

Here’s a positive finding: there also has been a decline in the number of those who are failing to use automation at all.


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