B2B marketing platforms are all the rage these days.
These platforms often bill themselves as one-stop shops when it comes to marketing.
Lead generation? Lead scoring? Lead nurturing? The average B2B marketing platform can do all that, and more.
In this article, we discuss the numerous benefits of B2B marketing platforms, as well as how to choose the best B2B marketing platform for your company. Read on to find out more!
What Exactly Is A B2B Marketing Platform?
Before we talk about the merits of B2B marketing platforms, let’s take a second to define these platforms.
In a nutshell, a B2B marketing platform is one which allows businesses to automate marketing processes and convert leads to paying customers.
Most B2B marketing platforms come with features such as…
- Multichannel data collection (including website visitor tracking)
- Automated email campaigns
- Campaign development and execution, and
- ROI analysis and reporting
These platforms allow provide marketers to easily build, track, and manage their campaigns, as well as monitor how their leads are moving through their sales funnel.
Got it? Great.
Let’s move on to discussing the benefits of B2B marketing platforms.
Benefits of B2B Marketing Platforms
When used properly, B2B marketing tools can be exceptionally powerful. Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of the benefits that these platforms bring to the table:
1. Increased Productivity And Efficiency
We don’t know about you, but we’ve got a never-ending To Do list that we just can’t seem to get done.
Who else can relate?
Well, here’s the good news:
B2B marketing tools make it easy for both marketers and sales reps to increase their productivity, and do more with less.
How does it work?
You essentially automate all your time-consuming, tedious tasks including:
- Researching leads
- Scheduling appointments with leads
- Nurturing leads
- Following up with leads
- Social media scheduling
- Content personalization
- Campaign scheduling and execution
- Data cleaning
And spend your time on higher-level, revenue-generating activities.
For marketers, that might be fine-tuning and A/B testing campaigns. For sales reps, that might be attending sales meetings.
Now, how does this impact your bottom line?
All in all, automating your marketing efforts results in a 14.5% increase in sales productivity, and a 12.2% reduction in marketing costs at the same time.
Pretty amazing, huh?
2. Easier lead scoring and prospecting
You get a lead from your website, and you call them to share more about your company.
Nobody picks up, but you’re undeterred. You know that it takes 8 to 12 calls, on average, to reach a lead, so you try again the next day.
And the following day.
And the day after that.
Finally, you get in touch with your lead. They show interest in your company, and you have an hour-long conversation explaining the features of your product.
They request for you to drop by their office. It’s 2 hours away, but you’re glad to travel down, because you think you’ve got this in the bag.
After meeting their entire team and speaking to their CTO and CMO, you get the go-ahead.
You’re ecstatic, but as you pull out your pricing plans, you see your lead frowning…
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize your software was so expensive. I don’t think this is a feasible option for us after all.”
You’ve spent all this time talking to your lead, and they were never going to make a purchase in the first place.
In order to prevent this from happening, you’ll want to make sure that your leads are a good fit before investing your time on them.
Some folks call this lead scoring, but others may refer to it as lead grading, lead qualifying or lead prospecting.
So, how do you do qualify your leads?
One way is to ask your lead a series of qualifying questions when you first speak to them. Basically, you want to glean information that will tell you whether your lead is capable of making a purchase, and ready to do so.
If they lead isn’t ready, that’s fine - you can nurture them slowly.
But if they’re not capable of making a purchase (this normally boils down to budgeting issues), then it’s pretty much a no-go. Don’t waste your time on these guys.
Now, you might be wondering…
Wow, I have to ask every single lead a long list of qualifying questions? Isn’t there an easier way of going about this?
Of course there is. You can use a B2B marketing platform to automate the process!
Here’s how it works:
A B2B marketing platform will pool together all the data they have on a lead, and automatically score and grade them based on this data.
If they perform certain actions which demonstrate interest in your product, such as…
- Visiting your website multiple times
- Downloading an ebook from your website
- Subscribing to your newsletter
OR if they fit within the profile of your typical customer, then their score goes up.
Then there’s also negative lead scoring, which is basically the opposite of this.
Maybe someone visits your website, but spends most of their time on the “Careers” page. This person’s probably looking for a job, and they’re not an actual lead - so it makes sense to filter them out.
Again, this is all done automatically with the help of a B2B marketing platform. Every time a lead comes in, they’re assigned a score, and directed to the sales team.
Now that the sales team can identify which leads are the hottest ones, they’ll attend to these folks first, and prioritize them over other leads who are less likely to convert.
Sidenote: to learn more about the science behind lead scoring, read this article.
3. More Effective Lead Nurturing
Okay, we’ve just talked about how automated lead scoring can help your sales reps reach out to leads in a smarter, more effective manner.
But what about those leads whom you don’t want to call or email right off the bat?
While you’re not reaching out to these leads immediately, you do still want to remain at the forefront of their consciousness.
Basically, you’re nurturing these leads, and feeding them with more information in a non-salesy, non-aggressive manner.
They’re not ready to make a purchase as of yet, but that’s fine.
Assuming you do this right, they’ll return to you (instead of going to your competitor) to make a purchase further down the road.
Again, you can also do lead nurturing manually, but this will be crazy tedious.
I mean, can you imagine juggling 50 leads, and keeping track of what ebooks / whitepapers / other marketing materials you’ve sent each of them using an Excel Sheet?
It’s a recipe for disaster, if you ask us.
Here’s where your B2B marketing platform comes in.
First, your B2B tool will pool your leads into different segments, based on…
- Their job titles
- Their industry
- The size of their companies
- Their geographical location
- The products they’re interested in
- How they’ve interacted with your website
And so on.
Next, you’ll create drip campaigns to trigger automated emails to each of these segments.
For example, say you have a segment compromising of CEOs of companies making more than $5,000,000 in annual revenue.
In order to nurture them, you might set up a drip campaign that consists of:
- 1 x welcome email
- 3 x emails containing industry best practices
- 3 x emails talking about your product benefits
- 2 x emails showcasing customer testimonials
- 2 x sales emails
Now, you know that these guys are the key decision-makers of their companies, and that they have a large budget to play around with.
Bearing this in mind, you can highlight one of your premium plans or products in your sales emails. You know that they’ll be able to afford it.
In order to have your emails resonate with them, you should also link whatever benefits you’re talking about to profitability.
Most CEO owners are focused on the big picture (revenue!) instead of macro goals, so this is a great way to sell your product to them.
Okay, so that’s the drip campaign for successful CEOs sorted. But what if you want to set up a drip campaign for entrepreneurs who are running start-ups?
Money is likely to be a concern for these guys, so you should vary the structure and content of your campaign to address this concern.
Here are a few ideas:
- Insert an additional email into the campaign to talk about financing options
- Promote lower tier plans in the campaign as opposed to premium plans
- Focus on how much ROI your product/service brings (or talk about cost savings associated with your product)
Yes, it’s quite a bit of work setting up all these campaigns for your different segments.
But once these campaigns are up and running, they’ll trigger emails to all your newly-acquired leads without any extra effort on your part.
And while you might forget to follow up with your leads if you’re nurturing them manually, emails from drip campaigns go out like clockwork.
You can rest easy, knowing that not a single lead will fall through the cracks.
4. More Accurate Measuring And Tracking
Many businesses find it hard to accurately measure the success of their marketing campaigns.
On a higher level, this makes it hard for your management team to identify the company’s 20⁄80 (the 20% of activities that bring about 80% of results) and fine-tune strategies accordingly.
On an operational level, this also makes it difficult for your marketers and sales reps to prioritize their efforts.
Thankfully, B2B tools provide closed-loop reporting that help you identify the success and ROI of your campaigns.
CTRs, CACs, CPCs, conversion rates, win rates, opportunity close rates, lead response time - it’s easy to track these metrics using B2B tools.
With all these numbers at your fingertips, you get greater insight into which parts of your funnel you should optimize.
Do you need more leads?
Do you need to reach your leads more effectively?
Or do you need to work on your closing rate?
You’ll be able to pinpoint your bottleneck with zero sweat.
How To Choose The Best B2B Marketing Platform
Now that you’re up to speed on the benefits of marketing platforms, let’s take a look at how to choose the best platform for your company.
Things To Take Into Consideration
If you stumble upon what looks like a fantastic, all-inclusive B2B marketing platform, and the basic plan that you’re thinking of getting is suspiciously affordable, take a look at the fine print.
Does this plan limit you to only adding a certain number of leads to your platform per month?
Does the plan restrict you to only have 5 user accounts?
Is there an additional (and exorbitant) set up fee that you’ll have to pay?
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Now, regardless of which B2B marketing platform you get, your team will have to deal with some sort of learning curve.
That said, if you want to make this process as painless as possible, look for a platform that is user-friendly, instead of being overly complex or technical.
First up, look for customizable dashboards and admin panels which will allow your team to have easy access to their most frequently used features.
Also, opt for platforms and tools which are well-designed and intuitive to use.
Last but not least, make sure the vendor provides training sessions to get your team up to speed.
3. CRM Integration
Finally, your marketing platform should also integrate well with the other marketing software and tools you’re using.
Take it from us…
Having to log onto different platforms in order to keep an eye on your daily leads or sales figures simply isn’t efficient.
On top of that, extracting data from multiple sources may also result in marketers double counting leads or making mistakes when calculating campaign ROI.
To avoid all that hassle, look for a marketing platform that integrates with the other tools that you have in your arsenal.
Your 5-step Process To Choosing A B2B Marketing Platform
So you’ve decided to take the leap, and start using a B2B marketing platform.
Where do you start, and how do you determine the best fit for your company? In this section, we take you through the process.
Step 1: Identify Your Marketing Goals
The first step is to identify your marketing goals and the challenges you’re facing.
If you’ve been working closely with your sales team, and neglecting the marketing side of things, then maybe you need to work on your entire funnel (one thing at a time, though).
Under these circumstances, opt for an all-in-one platform that helps you prospect leads, nurture leads, and do all that good stuff.
But if you know that you need to step up your efforts in one specific area?
Then you should choose a platform that caters specifically to that.
Step 2: Decide What Features You Need
Based on the goals and challenges you’ve just identified, decide what features and functionality you need your platform to come with.
Here’s a list to get you started…
- Visitor tracking
- Sales alerts
- Lead scoring and grading
- Automated lead assignment
- Sales intelligence
- Lead nurturing
- Form and landing page builders
- Social media management
- Social listening and tracking
- Social analytics
- Progressive profiling
- Dynamic content
- Email marketing
- Campaign management
- Closed-loop reporting
- Multi-Touch Revenue Attribution
- Revenue Cycle Metrics
- CRM integration
Now, when it comes to your features, more is not more.
If you’re paying for a ton of advanced features that your team doesn’t use regularly, you’re just flushing money down the drain.
Step 3: Reach Out To Vendors
Now that you’ve got your goals and features sorted out, the next step is to reach out to vendors.
Some companies like to issue a Request For Proposal (RFP) at this stage. This sounds like a fancy term, but it’s basically just a document outlining the scope of your project that you send to your vendors.
Using this RFP, your vendors will tailor proposals for you, and you can compare each of these proposals to determine the best fit.
If you’d like to create an RFP, HubSpot’s RFP template for marketing automation software will help you get started.
Find it too much of a hassle? You can dispense with the actual document, but make sure you communicate your needs and project goals to your vendors.
Step 4: Shortlist Vendors
After you understand what the various vendors you’ve spoken to are offering, it’s time to narrow down the list.
First up, eliminate all the vendors who don’t meet your feature requirements.
Next, check your vendor’s references. Don’t just look at their success stories and testimonials - take the time to actually call their clients and ask them what their experience with the vendor has been like.
Last but not least, schedule a demo with your top 3 choices. Get your entire team to be present during this demo, so that they can give you feedback on how user-friendly the various platforms are.
You should now have a top candidate in mind.
Step 5: Negotiate Contract
The last step of the process is to negotiate a contract with your vendor.
One question that we hear all the time is: is it possible to push down the price, or is there zero wiggle room?
Well, it is possible to ask for a cheaper price, but you’ll probably get shot down unless you have some sort of bargaining power.
If you have a huge team, and you’re paying for over a hundred user accounts, then you might be able to get some sort of discount.
If you’re willing to sign up for a longer, multi-year contract, the same goes.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Marketing Platform
B2B marketing platforms don’t come cheap. To ensure you’re getting bang for the buck, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you achieve the most with your platform.
1. Work On Your Content Strategy
You already know that B2B marketing platforms help with lead nurturing, and we’ve talked about how much time you can save by creating drip campaigns.
Yes, marketing platforms can tell you which leads you should be communicating with. They can identify the optimal time to reach out to those leads. They can also deliver the message that you need to send.
But you’ve still got to plug in the necessary materials. We’re talking…
- Case studies
- Blog articles
Unfortunately, these things don’t write themselves.
Not sure where to get started? B2B marketers rank webinars, videos, and blog articles as the most effective content types.
Let’s run through these quickly.
Webinars take a bit more time to create (especially if you’re not familiar with recording videos).
That said, you don’t have to run live webinars every time you want to reach out to your leads. You can simply record your webinar, and send the same link to new leads who enter your sales funnel.
To get started, check out these free webinar services.
Next on the list… videos.
Now, there are tons of things you can do with video marketing, but let’s talk specifically about video email marketing.
Here’s why these are so great:
They allow you to get your message through to your audience without overwhelming them with long, rambly paragraphs.
They also allow you to build rapport with your audience more easily.
According to statistics, companies who use videos in their email marketing enjoy 96% higher Click Through Rates (CTR) on average.
Want to work on your video marketing strategy? Check out Neil Patel’s guide.
Last but not least, there’s your good ole blog articles.
Now, you’ve probably already heard that publishing blog articles can help you establish thought leadership and be seen as an expert as a field.
Basically, you’ll want to create a series of blog articles that cater to leads in the various stages of the Buyer’s Journey. You can then send these articles to your leads via your drip campaigns.
Say you own an SEO agency, for example.
For leads in the Awareness stage, the following articles might be useful:
- The Rookie Business Owner’s Guide To SEO
- The Importance Of SEO + 5 Tools To Audit Your Site’s SEO
- How To Optimize Your Site For SEO (No Technical Skills Needed)
With these articles, you’re trying to educate them about their problem. Don’t mention your product or service just yet.
Leads in the Consideration stage, on the other hand, might find the following articles useful:
- In-house SEO vs SEO Agencies: Pros And Cons
- Hiring An SEO Agency VS Doing SEO Yourself: A Cost Breakdown
- 9 Questions To Ask An SEO Agency Before Committing To Them
With these articles, you’re helping your leads choose a solution.
Lead nurturing aside, publishing blog articles can also help you rank higher in search engines, and generate more leads.
Talk about a win-win.
2. A/B Test (Properly)
With B2B marketing platforms, you have all the metrics you could possibly need at your fingertips.
CTRs. Open rates. Duration spent on your website. You name it, you have it.
Obviously, you’ll want to start A/B testing everything, so that you can fine-tune your efforts.
But before you jump right in, make sure you understand how to run an A/B test properly.
For instance, many inexperienced marketers will A/B test the copy on their landing page for ONE single day, and then change said copy based on the results.
Here’s the thing:
Unless you have thousands of visitors landing on your site everyday, simply running your test for one day isn’t sufficient.
So how long should you run those tests for, then?
As a general rule of thumb, try to hit at least 400 conversions per variant you’re testing.
Let’s assume you have 2 variants, and your conversion rate is 5%. Working backwards, you need at least 16,000 views on your website in total to be able to conclude that one variant is better than the other.
To check out the other A/B testing mistakes that marketers commonly make, read this article.
Finding The Ideal B2B Marketing Platform For Your Company
You’ve made it all the way to the end of this comprehensive guide on marketing platforms…
…and you’re now officially an expert on these platforms. Give yourself a pat on the back!
If you still want to do more research, and you’re not ready to sink money into a marketing platform as of yet, we recommend trying our free B2B tool, Albacross.
This tool tracks the visitors that land on your site, and tells you who they are + what actions they take on your site.
Using the contact information that Albacross provides you, your sales reps can reach out to these leads, and convert them into paying users.
Setting up an account on Albacross takes only 30 seconds, and again, it’s 100% free to use.
At the same time, check out Albacross’s Account Based Marketing (ABM) platform.
ABM is known to bring companies exceptionally high ROI, and if you want to scale your company and expand over the next few years, it’s definitely the way to go.
Want to learn more? Schedule a demo now!