B2B marketing automation success usually comes down to three factors: leads, leads and leads.

CMSWire author Michael Rooney reported that according to research by Regalix, the top three objectives for marketing automation in the B2B sector are improving lead nurturing, improving lead quality and increasing lead generation. 

But attaining lead nirvana goes beyond investing in the right marketing automation (MA) platform, according to Cindy Nowicki, senior director of integrated marketing and content strategy for Baltimore, Md. digital agency R2i

“Companies invest in marketing automation thinking it will solve all their problems from demand generation to email automation, to lead scoring and conversion,” she told CMSWire. “In reality, the investment in a platform is only one piece of building a successful MA program, which requires the right processes, people, skills and strategy to execute and maintain it.”

Nowicki caught up with CMSWire and shared tips on marketing automation execution.

Know Your Leads

cindy nowicki

Marketers must know benchmarks of industry standards for pipeline development, lead scoring and marketing-qualified lead conversions. They should align campaigns to help the organization meet or exceed those standards. 

“The right strategy,” Nowicki said, “will depend on the goals of the organization and what they have identified as their key performance indicators for a successful campaign.”

Factor in quantity of leads needed and scoring metrics that will identify qualified leads to move through the funnel, she added. Map various audience segments and their unique personas against a content strategy and editorial calendar. This, Nowicki said, will allow the right content and levels of personalization at the right time to help drive conversion.

Hire Train Technicians

Marketing automation solutions allow for granular levels of nurturing, testing, scoring, analytics, attribution, personalization and closed-loop reporting. 

People — the right people — need to operate these engines.

“Having the right people could be tied to the hiring process and understanding their depth of knowledge in marketing technology, integrated campaigns, etc.,” Nowicki said. 

Organizations must realize in order to get the most of a marketing automation platform and its role in overall demand generation campaigns, you need more than just “the marketing automation guy.”

“There’s an entire team of people required which isn’t always the most cost-effective to staff internally,” Nowicki noted. “While things like strategy and best practices for campaign architecture, content mapping, scoring, etc. can be applied to any MA platform, there are nuances to each one that require a trained technical skill set.” 

Involve the technical team in product demos. A good MA investment includes training and support from the software provider, Nowicki said.

Make Incoming Data Valuable

Be prepared for bogus data in form fills, outdated contact information and inconsistencies across data fields. These data woes detract from deliverability and accurate tracking of engagement and attribution. 

“The value of integrated MA and CRM systems, as well as other marketing technologies, comes when the platforms are aligned to business rules and goals, operational processes and are configured for the appropriate stakeholders,” Nowicki said.

Organizations will have data from disparate sources: landing page forms, manual data entry, list buys, event lists, third-party sources.

“Any lack of consistency in how data is entered and maintained will skew the ability to properly segment, target, personalize and report on campaign activity,” he said. “A data strategy begins with understanding the end objectives so a consistent process for capturing, aggregating and maintaining data can be developed, and more importantly, followed.” 

Avoid Content Missteps

Not everyone looks to your content and uses it as an immediate “buy now” scenario. Most buyers, Nowicki said, conduct significant research around a particular pain or challenge, not a product or service. They will spend time gathering content from multiple sources before they take action. 

“Don’t assume that content development is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ exercise,” Nowicki said. “Influencers and decision-makers have very different priorities and needs when it comes to content so it’s important to understand everything from the type of content that will resonate with them to the frequency with which they need it.”

Align With Sales

Yes, we know you’ve heard that one before. In a marketing automation world, it’s an imperative.

The marriage between marketing and sales can be a big cultural change for some organizations, Nowicki said.

“A critical starting point,” Nowicki said, “is for leadership of the two teams to come together to build a joint strategy, identify where and how marketing programs will support demand generation and pipeline nurturing, and prioritize building reports that show attribution across sales and a marketing activity.”