In our recently published B2B Digital Marketing Trends Briefing, we covered the highlights from 10 roundtables exclusively for B2B digital marketers.

Two related tables were on lead scoring and nurturing (moderated by Bob Apollo) and marketing automation (moderated by Jay Kerr).

The insights from both tables revealed that many B2B marketers did not know where to start with these disciplines, despite recognising their potential benefits.

At the event, we interviewed a few marketers about what they thought was important about marketing automation.

Whilst it is clear from the video that many people recognise the benefits of marketing automation, lead scoring and nurturing, few are putting best practice into place.

On the lead scoring and nurturing roundtable, it was found that many companies tried to overcomplicate processes to begin with, which increased the likelihood of failure. By contrast, those who approached the problem with a ‘keep it simple’ philosophy tended to do much better.

The success of such systems was also dependent on a positive relationship between sales and marketing. As has been covered in a previous post, internal cultural issues have been a stumbling block when it comes to making best use of digital technologies, tools and practices.

Bob Apollo, Managing Director at Inflexion Point, described the challenges as such:

Despite all the publicity and promotion associated with lead scoring and nurturing, it’s clear that these disciplines are still in their infancy for many B2B organisations.

My two abiding impressions from these roundtables were the need to develop real clarity about your purpose and your processes before investing in technology, and the critical importance of marketing working hand-in-hand with sales to agree, define and, where necessary, redefine lead scoring frameworks.

Also discussed was the importance of people. Despite some vendors positioning their lead generation products as easy-to-deploy and use with quick results, the reality was that managing such systems and extracting the most value from them was resource intensive, and required intelligent people with analytical mindsets.

Such comments mirror the findings of the digital marketing organisational structures report, which highlighted the need for ‘T-shaped people’.

At the higher levels of management, B2B marketers reported that challenges were also coming from senior management, who were on some occasions difficult to win over in terms of lead nurturing, scoring and market automation.

Jay Kerr, a consultant at 120 Feet, said:

While many B2B companies are becoming aware of the capabilities of marketing automation, only a few have committed to it wholeheartedly and are able to demonstrate positive impact on their business. Those that have committed are facing challenges in lack of resource to install and develop marketing automation programmes, along with senior management buy-in for the new ways of working. Some companies are also reporting lack of internal skills and co-operation between marketing and sale departments.

Marketing automation is undoubtedly a complex and multi-discipline strategy and those that see the value must persevere in the development of their processes and knowledge of what works for their business. Change will always face resistance and de-prioritisation in favour of the day-to-day workload but this must be tackled head-on and a clear timeline for business development laid down. You may not see the fruits of your labour for up to a year but senior stakeholders must communicate the benefits to operational users and give them the time to learn, adapt their ways of working and retool for more efficient ways of working.

What can B2B digital marketers to improve their lead scoring, nurturing and automation?

Just a few of the key takeaways from the free B2B Digital Marketing Trends Briefing are below:

  • Start simple – overcomplicating efforts can lead to failure.
  • Engage the sales team – without their support, the data and insight collected from lead scoring and nurturing will not pay dividends.
  • Technology is an enabler, not an answer – ensure that the right people are involved with lead nurturing, scoring and automation. The technology is of no use if the data collected cannot be acted upon.
  • Align content to the buyer’s journey – make sure you know your customers in depth. Use content and data to identify where people are in the purchasing cycle and target them accordingly.
  • Test regularly and constantly – everything you do should be a test, with a defined outcome and learning for the lifecycle/data.
  • Appoint an automation and lead nurturing champion – becoming an effective marketing automation orientated business takes time and lots of testing. The champion should drive it forward and have enough senior authority to prioritise these processes across the business.

What are your thoughts?

Have you faced challenges when implementing lead nurturing and scoring in your business? Has marketing automation been effective in generating leads? Have you had to deal with conflict between marketing and sales? Join the conversation and share your thoughts below.

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