It’s no surprise B2B buyer behavior is changing. With access to so much information, buyers are doing most of their own research before they even contact brands about a potential purchase.

With this shift in behavior, it’s now more important than ever to provide the kinds of content buyers will use to educate themselves at each step in the buying cycle.

But what if you could preempt buyers who are thinking of making a purchase, or current customers who might be in danger of attriting, with the most relevant information at the right moment?

This is where marketing automation comes in. As part of a clearly defined marketing strategy, marketing automation can help you provide value to clients and prospects before they make their next buying decisions.

Understand What Your Prospects Need

While educating prospects isn’t as straightforward as it used to be, two things remain the same: you need to create content your potential buyers want to consume when they’re considering your products and services and know how to get it in front of them. To do this, you need to understand what their needs are during each phase of the buying process.

During the early stages of the buying cycle, you can identify new markets by looking at patterns in your prospects’ data.

Lots of downloads on the whitepaper in New York? Market to that region with a customized promotional email to prospects located there, or use dynamic content to put a banner on your website that points visitors from that location to the related case study.

Need to improve subscriber numbers on your e-newsletter? The same principles apply — but this time, you can stratify your efforts to target individuals based on their job titles, industries, or activities on your website. So all of the prospects who watched your new product demo can be primed to receive your newsletter on new features.

Now what about prospects who are in the middle of the funnel — the ones who may be closing deals? Keeping them informed is just as important as educating new markets. As they move towards the bottom of the funnel, continuing to maintain contact and keeping your offerings top of mind are important for relationship development.  

Track Engagement, Segment Prospects

Marketing automation enables you to consistently identify prospects who are engaging with your content regularly. Maybe they always open emails about a particular product, or perhaps they’ve been to an event or have had a demo.

You can track their levels of engagement and segment them into groups so that they have all of the resources they need to make a final decision at their disposal.

At the bottom of the sales funnel, there are still opportunities to continue to build trust and encourage buyers to see your business as a trusted resource.

Build Lasting Relationships

Marketing automation can help you establish stronger connections with your buyers even after they’ve completed a purchase. This group can be easily organized into a list that lets you keep track of their success with your product, and sends out emails to remind them to have a look at your newest products.

Continuing the conversation at this stage allows you to drive buyers back to you as they navigate a new product, and as they consider other needs they may have in the near future.

For example, our customer Surf Air, an airline that offers unlimited flights for a monthly fee, needed help managing relationships with current and prospective members with the right mix of automation and personal touch. With marketing automation, Surf Air was able to deliver different campaigns and interactions to prospects based on their histories.

So, a new visitor to Surf Air’s website would have a different experience than a referral who’d just completed a flight. Surf Air was also able to keep customer information and important tasks top of mind, while still allowing plenty of room for personalized, premium member service.

At each stage of the buying cycle, identifying opportunities by tracking and communicating with your clients and prospects will give you the insights you need to tailor the path through the sales funnel to each individual.

Clients and prospects will continue to control when and how they consume your content, but by personalizing it to their needs, marketers can help guide them to a decision.

Title image "Ahead" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Alessio Jacona