How to Use B2B Email Automation to Align Sales & Marketing
If you can crack the code for sales and marketing alignment, your company may see significant gains in revenue. B2B email automation is key in cracking that code.
Companies that report success with tight sales/marketing alignment have 38% higher sales win rates, according to a recent study by MarketingProfs. And they also experience 36% higher customer retention rates.
Unfortunately for most B2B companies, reaching that type of alignment between sales and marketing is an elusive goal.
Some of the biggest culprits of misalignment between sales and marketing included lack of communication (49%); broken or flawed processes (43%); lack of accountability (26%); and the need for better lead follow-up from sales reps (39%), according to a survey by Demand Gen Report,
Another factor that further complicates the sales process is the way prospects are now interacting with B2B brands during the buying process. Consumers complete most of their research online, leaving a small window for your teams to directly engage. You may feel most of the process is beyond your control.
By focusing your efforts on developing strong content marketing and a solid email automation strategy, you have the ingredients for successful customer acquisition. Plus, you have a powerful tool for aligning your sales and marketing teams.
Benefits of email automation include:
- Increased transparency: Marketing and sales teams can clearly see how campaigns are performing and why. They also have the ability to see which leads have been identified as sales-ready.
- Enhanced lead nurturing: Personalized experiences are critical for B2B conversions. Automation, which can deliver a behavior-triggered experience specific to each user, allows your team to deliver them at scale.
- Seamless customer experience: Through the integration of your CRM, your email automation platform gives you the ability to deliver a cohesive brand experience—from the moment of engagement to the handoff to sales reps. It also provides the sales team with the customer’s previous history with your brand, including the features they want.
- Ability to measure performance: Among the greatest benefits of email automation is the ability to analyze your campaign. By doing this, you can determine areas where you’re underperforming, plus areas where you’re seeing the most engagement. With this type of real-time feedback, you can quickly adjust campaigns to fill gaps.
Here’s how to use B2B email automation to align your sales and marketing teams—and, consequently, make better connections with your prospects, increase conversions and boost revenue.
Reach a consensus on B2B email automation as a solution
More than likely, your company has spent more than enough time dwelling on the problems between your sales and marketing teams.
Change the focus to email automation. This is one of the most critical ways to address the needs of prospects during phases of your buyer’s journey. Everyone needs to be committed to delivering a client-focused digital experience.
Based on the significant changes in the buyer’s journey over the past few years, email automation is a valuable, proven step in gaining sales.
Consider these statistics:
- 74% of business buyers said they conduct more than half of their research online before making a purchase offline.—Forrester
- 89% of companies reported that the top-performing vendors “provided content that made it easier to show ROI and/or build a business case for the purchase.”—DemandJump
- 81% of highly aligned companies (with marketing and sales) collaborate with sales on how to use content, compared to 25% of low aligned companies.—Content Marketing Institute (CMI)/LinkedIn
Moving forward, a client-focused mindset can set the foundation for enhanced sales and marketing alignment. B2B email automation and a robust content strategy are two important tools when focusing on clients. Use these tools to make a convincing case to your entire team, from CEO to marketing to sales.
As Robert Rose, CMI’s chief strategy advisor, puts it, “Moving forward, content marketing and sales alignment might just be what enables true marketing success and revenue growth.”
Collaborate on content development as a team
It’s undeniable that content needs to be at the core of your B2B email automation strategy. As such, content must be designed to answer important questions at different stages of the buyer journey.
Using the analytics provided by your previous email engagements, determine the best avenues for connecting with your audiences at different phases.
As a general rule, a combination of blogs, infographics, white papers, ebooks, and paid advertising can be used to reach prospects during the Awareness Phase.
However, you may discover nuances through automation analytics that are particular to your brand and the industries you’re serving. Let those factors help you create highly personalized experiences.
While the marketing team works on developing content and mapping the buyer’s journey, the sales team can provide critical input, too. Sales team members can explain gaps in the prospect’s understanding of your product.
Ask for their input. It may be that you can include some clearer differentiators about your solution before the customer reaches the Consideration and Purchasing phases.
By including your sales team in the development of your content, you can build a more robust content strategy. Create content to engage your prospects at all of the critical stages in the buyer’s journey.
Reach agreement on what constitutes sales-ready leads—and how to follow up with them
More than likely, this is one of the most significant points of contention among your marketing and sales teams: Just who constitutes as a sales-ready lead?
Maybe your marketing team is handing off leads too soon—maybe months before they’re really interested in making a buying decision. Or, it’s possible that some leads need to go through a more extensive nurturing campaign to encourage the next critical step.
Meanwhile, the sales team may face criticism for not following up with qualified sales leads quickly enough—one of the most critical factors to consider when trying to boost conversions.
On both ends, there may be too much focus on volume rather than quality.
With email automation analytics guiding the way through an effective lead scoring system, you can more accurately identify the ideal characteristics of a sales-ready lead. Based on past history, you may find that users who have engaged through a mix of white papers, video, and webinars in quick succession are stronger prospects than those who have read a few blogs and opened a few emails. While that may be fairly obvious, you can rely on a more in-depth analysis provided by automation to confidently identify sales-ready leads.
Since the formula likely will vary depending up your prospects, develop different lead scoring systems to reflect those differences. Your marketing automation also will provide deeper insights on the factors that should contribute to a more effective lead-scoring system.
The more you connect with your users through automation, the more data you will have during future strategies.
Through discussions that include both marketing and sales, try to reach some type of consensus on when and how sales reps will follow up. Also, lay out a plan for how sales reps will be notified when they need to reach out to a prospect. Your automation can be set up to ping the sales team when a certain number of points have been automatically assigned to a prospect, for example.
Ideally, any B2B email automation solution should be fully integrated with your CRM system, so the handoff is smooth. It should give a sales rep quick access to the prospect’s history with your brand, including any interactions and behaviors that may aid in a conversion.
During the period when a prospect is ready to communicate and when a sales rep actually makes contact, consider the use of automated messages that will engage the prospect. Once again, collaborate on how that messaging should be delivered and what it should say.
Invest resources in measuring ROI
Another major benefit of B2B email automation is its ability to quickly measure the performance of your marketing campaigns. Consider it an impartial third-party source. Automation lays out facts that can be reviewed by both sales and marketing teams.
With so many elements involved in an effective marketing campaign, it can be difficult to point to what’s working and what’s not. Through automation, those factors can be more easily identified through in-depth analysis.
Automation provides transparency—a way to eliminate some of the vagueness often associated with marketing campaigns. More profound analytical insights also allow marketing teams to adjust campaigns for effectiveness.
Regularly meet to discuss goals, metrics, and campaigns
Collaboration among sales and marketing must be an ongoing initiative for alignment to be successful. Quotas, campaigns, and revenue goals change regularly, as does the need to adapt to meet the changing needs of customers.
Make a commitment to bridge the divide between departments. Regularly meet to discuss updates with content and email marketing strategies, lead-nurturing campaigns, incentives, challenges, and metrics.
Through the real-time feedback you’re gaining from email automation, you can continuously improve your approach. Ensure you’re meeting consumer needs. Pave the way for increased brand awareness and revenues, as well as enhanced marketing and sales alignment.
Discover the power of B2B email automation today. Enhance sales and marketing alignment. Talk to Delivra about a demo, so you can easily reach your goals.