Key takeaways at the bottom if you don’t like to read full blog posts!
Marketing Automation has been a big part of the marketing mix of successful companies for a few years now. They are hungry for automation skills and talent, and managers of those companies recognise the enormous wealth of possibilities that come with this technology. Whether in B2B, B2C or NGO’s, the impact is huge… for the ones using it the right way. Today I will write a bit about what I believe is the right approach to automation in B2B businesses operating in the SaaS model.
Now, the SaaS model requires a bit of a different approach to your leads and customers, which translates to a different approach to your marketing automation efforts. The debate is between focusing on churning out a lot smaller and less advanced campaigns, or conversely, getting stuck producing that one mega-program that takes months to deliver but “once this baby hits the ground it will change the game for us! (fingers crossed)”.
Let’s be more specific and use a hypothetical free one month trial as an example. It’s really pretty simple here – you can either build a quick program to support the trial onboarding, have it done within a matter of days or weeks, or you can spend months building something complex. The former program could consist of basic targeting and messaging, would be more or less similar across all leads, the latter could have personas and behavioral targeting.
Now, having those two basic options to choose from, think about this – if you offer a free trial and three months in your campaign is still not ready the opportunity that you had with all of those leads has already landed and been lost with the unassisted trial. You had one chance to get their attention and, once their trial is gone, that opportunity is gone with it. It’s really the classic strike the iron while it’s hot, not rocket science. Also, really easy to see on how many opportunities you’re missing out on – just see how many trialists have not converted to paying customers because there was no supporting messaging alongside the free trial.
Time is key so you got to get to market fast!
You can see where this is all going. In most scenarios, for a SaaS company that has little or no automation, it is a better strategy to deliver quickly with less complexity than to spend forever building that one “grand campaign”. Once you have your basic program up and running there’s nothing stopping you from iterating later on – A/B testing and changing comms to ones that perform better, incorporating behavioral and demographic targeting and predictive analytics plus all the other goodies. What makes the difference is that you already have something in market that touches your leads and helps them with your product’s features, convinces them to convert and keeps you top of their mind.
So now that you know where my head’s at, take a look at your sales funnel – at the different stages and the amount of contacts that are yearning to hear from you. Whether those are known pre-trial leads, trialists, your customers, people that have churned, not converted, etc. you should build campaigns to be able to contact all of them. Yes, all. Unless you have bought cold data, those people were interested enough in what you’re selling, to leave you their details fully knowing that emails will follow. So even if it’s something simple – you’d be surprised how much you can get out of even simple automated email campaigns – covering your sales funnel should be #1 priority right after sorting out all the basics in your data and once they hit the ground you can start adding more intelligence to your programs.
In most cases in SaaS world, contacts will get 1 free trial so you have one shot at being their chosen solution for whatever problem they have. After all, if you don’t, all that hard work that Lead/Demand Gen is doing is going to go to waste.
- Speed trumps complexity.
It is more important to put campaigns in market fast, capitalising on the attention Lead Gen was able to secure, rather than spending months building the one complex campaign to “rule them all”.
- Cover your Sales Funnel Stages.
Build and deploy campaigns that will cover as much of your sales funnel as possible. From freshly known leads to at-risk customers, you have a limited window of opportunity where you can deliver a campaign that will be relevant and in context. Make sure that unless there’s a reason for it (unsubscribes, suspended, etc.), you don’t have entries in your database just gathering dust.
- Start A/B testing.
As soon as you have your campaigns in market you can start testing to see what works and what doesn’t so that when #4 happens you’re ready.
- Iterate to add more intelligence to your programmes.
Once tests results are in, start changing those comms to better performing versions.