Why marketing automation matters for B2B marketers

Why marketing automation matters for B2B marketers

Marketing automation is a term that is on everyone’s mind these days as B2B healthcare companies continue to seek out ways to reach out prospects in a meaningful and personalized manner and be heard above all the noise in the market. We recently got a chance to catch up with Mathew Sweezey, manager, marketing research and education, Pardot an ExactTarget company, who specializes in B2B marketing research with an emphasis on demand generation. In this interview, he discusses how healthcare technology companies can use marketing automation to stay relevant and his thoughts on the changing marketing automation landscape for B2B companies.

Dodge: Can you give us your definition of marketing automation and tell us why it’s so important for B2B companies to get involved with it?

Sweezey: Marketing automation is the ability for a company to track prospects across all marketing channels, create a single prospect record for all interactions with email, web, online, social, and CRM data. Then create rules, and programs to use this behavioral data to create dynamic and personalized marketing campaigns automatically. It’s important for companies to understand the power of personalization, and its role to increasing engagement. Marketing is all about relevance, and marketing automation gives companies a way to be relevant which has never before existed, and helping companies increase engagement like never before as well.

Dodge: With all the noise in the market, how can healthcare technology companies use marketing automation to stay relevant to their prospects and avoid mass marketing?

Mathew SweezeySweezey: Once again, it is all about relevance. Once you stop thinking about your database as a single unit, and understand it is full of people, then you can start to understand the power of automation. Lead nurturing is a great example of this. Every lead in your database has a different need at a different time. Through tracking each and every lead across all of your marketing channels, you will begin to identify each leads personal timeline and interest. Through lead nurturing you will be able to execute a different campaign to every lead in your database. Each campaign will be timely and relevant based on each lead's interactions.

The easiest way to think about this is the following: mass marketing is a single message to many people. This is because it is too hard to manually create a different message for every person. Marketing automation allows for a single message to a single person through technology. So if you served all 5,700 hospitals it would be very hard to manually send a different marketing message to each person at every hospital. Marketing automation is the tool which makes 1:1 marketing possible at scale.

Dodge: You’ve done a lot of research around content marketing. How are B2B companies using content marketing as part of their lead nurturing strategy and what are some tips for success?

Sweezey: Content marketing has the highest adoption of any modern marketing best practice. NInety-eight percent of all companies practice some form of content marketing. With content marketing, as in all things, people are at different levels of experience within the technique. Here are a few tips for anyone doing content marketing, at any level:

  • Most people prefer content under five pages. A recent research study I did surveyed 400 B2B consumers, and found 78 percent of people prefer their content to be under five pages. So keep your content short, and you can increase your engagement rates.
  • One piece of content, many uses. A piece of content should be looked at as an asset. To get the most out of your asset you need to know how to leverage it. When leveraging content for paid search conversion use a longer form of the document. When using content for lead nurturing, break your content down into single pages, and send it out over a longer period of time. Long form content works best for PPC conversion, and short form content works best for lead nurturing.
  • You don’t have to create the thought to be a thought leader. This seems counterproductive, but think about Guy Kawasaki. He is a very famous B2B thought leader, however the majority of his tweets over the past few years are mostly recycling other information he has found on the Internet. The same with comedian Tosh.0. He finds great videos and adds commentary to them. Connecting people with great content is just as valuable as creating the great content.

Dodge: With recent acquisitions in the marketing automation space, such as Salesforce.com acquiring ExactTarget and Oracle acquiring Eloqua, what do you predict will be the advantages to companies looking to adopt a system in the next year or so?

Sweezey: This is very simple. The fewer people in a market using a technology, the larger advantage those few have over their peers. The closer the market gets to saturation, the lower the advantage of the software, and the advantage goes to the ones who use it best, not just the ones who use it. So for the next few years, people will see massive gains over their competition by just using marketing automation. This reward for being an early adopter will only last for a short while. So get it while the getting’s good!

Dodge: Any predictions on what we can expect in the marketing automation space in the next five years?

Sweezey: You are likely to see more consolidation in the market, and a much faster adoption rate of the technology. The purchase of Eloqua, and Pardot by Salesforce brought marketing automation to the forefront of business. Now that there is mainstream growth, the market will move very fast, and companies will jockey for positioning.

Adoption rates will likely soar during the next five years, and the real winners over the next few years will be the consumers/users of marketing automation. Tools will continue to become easier to use, while increasing their power in functionality. Other than that, it is hard to guess at functionality.

Mathew Sweezey currently speaks on marketing automation, lead nurturing, ROI reporting and advanced B2B marketing topics. He has spoken at Salesforce’s Dreamforce multiple years, been a keynote speaker at SugarCRM’s User Conference and is often featured on webinars. He is an avid writer and writes for ClickZ.com, ExactTarget’s Blog, and is often quoted in MarketingSherpa, Inspired Predictions, and other publications.