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Marketing Automation Best Practices: Advanced Level

  |  May 29, 2014   |  Comments

The last in a three-part series, this post details marketing automation best practices for those with an advanced knowledge of the subject area.

Disclaimer: This article is not for the beginner; it is specifically written for those who have already been using marketing automation for some time, and are very proficient. The techniques I will be going over will not work unless you have a solid foundation in your marketing acumen.

If you are at the advanced level, some of the main items you may struggle with are taking advantage of advanced marketing techniques, and combining them with your data from your marketing automation tool. These techniques include account-based marketing, retargeting, and social media interactions. Here are some of the best practices for marketing automation when working with advanced campaigns.

Marketing Automation Best Practices for Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing and marketing automation are a key combination for many businesses selling B2B. The key here is not to look at these solutions as separate tools, but as a combination approach. Consider these best practices for your account-based marketing programs using your marketing automation tool.

1. Better data: If you are using account-based marketing there are many places to get your lists from. Most of the time these will be static lists, lists being driven from a form on your website, or a list imported monthly from a CSV file. Instead, consider using an API call from your marketing automation tool to your ABM solution to give you real-time dynamic lists. You can set up special lists, which are populated dynamically and in real time, for your ABM tool to use. This would give your ABM strategy a real-time, account-focused, tactical execution.

2. Stage-based marketing to accounts: Once you have better data, consider moving your marketing to the next level by using stage-based marketing techniques with your ABM tool. If you are tracking the lead score of the account with your marketing automation tool, consider using an automation rule to put key accounts on an ABM program that serves up stage-based content. This can be very effective in getting your key accounts into a sales-ready state. Consider many different stages. A few good examples are:

  • Cold leads: Segment out any account whose score has stalled for more than 30 days. 
  • Research cycle: Serve up content to support the research cycle buyers are in.
  • Renewals: Most companies now operate on contracts. Keep note of when your accounts are out of their contract with their current vendor and use this as a hyper-focused ABM program. 
  • Rapport building: This is the most overlooked use of ABM. Remember with a prospect being two-thirds of the way through the buying cycle before they speak to a sales rep, rapport building from marketing is a must.

3. Consider this a part of your drip strategy: At this stage, you're likely a pro at lead nurturing. Consider moving your lead nurturing to more channels than just email. ABM can allow you to use digital media to accounts in the exact same way you are using it in email. So consider adding prospects on drip campaigns to ABM programs at the same time to reinforce the message. Once again, these can be set up using your API or a native integration from your marketing automation tool to your ABM tool.

Marketing Automation Best Practices for Retargeting

I'm a very big fan of retargeting. Rather than just spamming people with advertisements, retargeting allows for some very targeted communications. There are a few keys you must understand if you are going to combine marketing automation and retargeting.

1. Sync up your data: Just as in ABM, retargeting uses data to segment its prospects. The difference is that retargeting is used on an individual basis, where ABM is used on an account. To sync up your data, make sure you can dynamically add and remove a single person from a retargeting campaign based on the behavioral data you are tracking within your marketing automation tool. So if a prospect becomes sales-ready, you stop retargeting them instantly.

2. Nurture them with digital media: As I mentioned with ABM, the idea of nurturing needs to move past email eventually. You should consider using more advanced automation to add people to retargeting campaigns and reinforce your nurturing message. This is a great place for stage-based marketing content, or specific rapport-building content. Just make sure to not use the same content for both programs.

3. Score from all actions: Don't forget to tie your marketing automation tool to your online advertising. This will help you keep up with a person as they engage. This means all of your retargeting interactions should be scored in your automation tool. This is the only way to keep up with your prospects and their actual level of interest. The easiest way to do this is the basic URL trick I talked about in the first post of this series.

Marketing Automation Best Practices for Social Media

Social media is undergoing a brand-new renaissance. While most marketers are still focused on SEO, and growing their following through organic sharing, the advanced marketers have found out the power of paid placement on social channels. This is where marketing automation, retargeting, and social media converge. Here are some of the best practices you need to know to truly be an advanced social media marketer.

1. Become familiar with big data sets: Yes, I said it. When you begin to advertise on Facebook and other social media platforms, they have partnerships with big data providers. This can allow you to target your news feed posts to the correct people. This will take you having a very solid understanding of who you are trying to target. Here are some examples:

  • Get Press: If you want to get written about, then focus on people who write, blog, and maybe work for a publication. All of this data is accessible through these providers. You can also get even more specific by filtering by hobbies, interest, and other data provided by the social network. 
  • Support the buying cycle: Many people want to see how to use social networks to increase the velocity of their leads through their pipeline. To do this correctly, you'll need to leverage the concept of retargeting, paid social placement, and your marketing automation tool. Consider taking a segment of your lead funnel and retargeting to them. A few things to note:
    • This gets tricky because you'll need to have them cookied with the retargeting beacon first. So you'll likely need to have your retargeting campaign set up well in advance, so you can add this to the majority of your prospects. 
    • Once they are cookied, consider retargeting them with rapport- building content in their social sidebar, then keep up with their interactions in your marketing automation tool. This will help you know which ad to serve them next, and help you identify when to pass them to sales. 
  • Attract net new: Getting more leads is always important. If you are using a majority of these tools, you are ready to take things to the next level. Consider using paid social promotions with a big data overlay to hyper segment your ideal customers, then share great content with them. Combine retargeting on this campaign to be able to nurture them with retargeting as well. 

2. Learn to partner up for better engagement. Consider the follow advertisement: It was posted in my feed by Mashable, yet it was paid for by Intel. This is a great example of a partnership to drive serious engagement. Consider partnering up with media, other companies, or writers to create killer content which can be shared by someone else. Then use your paid amplification to then drive the engagement you desire to your content.

Remember these best practices are for people who have a very solid foundation in working with marketing automation. I DO NOT SUGGEST these techniques for anyone who is just starting out with marketing automation. If you have any questions or additions to this list, please comment below.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mathew Sweezey

Mathew is the head of thought leadership for B2B marketing at Pardot, a Salesforce.com Company. A consummate writer, he has been featured in numerous publications such as Marketing Automation Times, DemandGen Report, Marketing Sherpa, ZDNet, and is the author of Marketing Automation for Dummies (published by Wiley February 2014). As a speaker Mathew speaks around the world at events such as Conversion Conference, Dreamforce, SugarCon, and to companies including Microsoft, Investec, NetJets, and Restaurants.com, to name a few.

Follow @msweezey.

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