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Does Marketing Automation Have a Place in the World of Anonymous Buyers?

Introduction

B2B marketing has embraced digital, leading to the adoption of marketing-automation tools that can save money on repetitive tasks. But they’re no panacea: they only reach the less than 5% of buyers who are known to you—not the thousands of anonymous buyers who are researching your offering right now. Savvy marketers have moved beyond this—to account-based advertising. They can reach their buyers all the time—at the right time—wherever they are in the world.

From paper to digital—and marketing automation

Until the late 1990s, B2B marketing was a sedate world. Companies often sourced locally, buyers sent away for brochures, sales reps traveled and called on accounts. But today’s B2B buyers are “hyper-aware.” They can—and do—assess masses of high-quality information about your product or service—and those of your competitors. Furthermore, B2B buying increasingly involves as many as 17 people assessing a new product or service. Many B2B marketers have been playing catch up. How can they engage with these hyper-aware buyers continually exposed to content and online advertising? Many companies turn to marketing automation. This has its strengths, but it has a key weakness too: it misses the 95% of buyers who remain anonymous…

How marketing automation alone misses 95% of your buyers

Take the case of a CMO who wants to fully embrace digital marketing and run a lean operation—after all, having a team is still a luxury. The result, some real efficiencies and the full automation of tasks once done manually. An automated emailer sends out details of new offers and posts it to multiple social media channels; when a prospect downloads a brochure from the company’s website—they get an instant thank you.

Job done? Not exactly. Marketing automation is about doing things right. But the real problem facing B2B marketing today is that many marketers just aren’t doing the right things.

It’s not hard to understand why. Take the traditional sales funnel: Marketing’s job is to generate engagement with potential customers. This information should get passed over to Sales so they better know how to address the accounts. But the cracks in this model are showing, almost all B2B buyers do their research upfront and online, yet 95% of them never leave a meaningful trace—they stay anonymous. Marketing automation tools will boost your efficiency—but only with the 5% of buyers who are known to you.

Account-based advertising: a targeted way to reach even anonymous buyers

But this digital-savvy CMO has realized that the real gains are to be made by engaging the 95% of anonymous buyers. By embracing account-based marketing, and its core element, account-based advertising, her company now does exactly this. They no longer think in terms of prospects and leads, but in terms of accounts they want to engage, win, and expand.

By adopting tools that use the latest developments in IP technologies, AI and cookie tracking, they are identifying—and engaging—buyers and influencers at their target accounts—most of whom are anonymous or may have never visited the company’s website. They then engage them with relevant, personalized, and attractive ads—that perfectly match their needs and the timing of their buying cycles.

Marketing automation and account-based advertising: partners in an integrated system

We are not saying that marketers should abandon marketing automation. In fact, the move to account-based advertising has led to synergies between email marketing automation and ABM strategies. The buying cycle is not linear and your B2B buyers, whether anonymous or not, will engage with many different channels before signing that deal. A carefully selected account-based marketing platform now provides meaningful, real-time information, leveraging existing marketing automation activities. It’s also fully integrated into the company’s existing systems, capturing data and syncing it across all digital contact points. This young company can now pursue its full potential by focusing on target accounts across multiple channels. The result?  More—and higher-value sales—and increasing revenue.