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Marketing Automation for B2B, SaaS and high growth start ups.

Mr Michael Tan
5 min readJan 30, 2016


Marketing Automation first gained popularity amongst the enterprise B2B marketing crowd, primarily because it it was designed for complex sales cycles with multiple touch points and integration with CRM packages such as Salesforce. Plus, it’s traditionally been expensive and required alot of resourcing to deploy and use effectively.

But marketing automation is actually really useful for start ups too. After all, it’s a technology that promises to make marketing and sales more effective and who wants that more than a resource constrained start up?

I think a big trend over the next year will be the adoption of marketing automation by start ups and consumer facing business. This will be driven by a few factors:

  • It’s getting cheaper. There’s Australian start ups such as Autopilot that are dramatically lowering costs. They offer packages starting from $4 per month and you can pay monthly. That’s huge. One of the biggest barriers to implementing one of the larger enterprise automation systems such as Hubspot or Marketo is that you need to sign up to yearly contracts, there’s a range of confusing bundles and it’s very expensive, especially for cash strapped start ups.
  • There’s a broader spectrum of options available. Traditional email providers such as Mailchimp are moving up the value chain and offering rudimental marketing automation features.
  • Marketing is getting more competitive. People understand that retaining existing customers is much easier than acquiring new ones, so being able to set up targeted email campaigns which automatically nurture customers is important.

So how should a start up actually get started?

There’s alot of material on setting up and planning marketing automation from the vendors, but far less from actual users. So for this guide, I’ll take you through how we use data analysis and marketing automation to serve our customers.

Note: At Expert360 we use Salesforce as our CRM, and Marketo as our Marketing Automation platform. This post is about the ideas, rather than the implementation so it should be useful regardless of your own marketing technology stack.

For most start ups, the business case for implementing a marketing automation system is built on:

  • Driving revenue by creating new leads.
  • Giving the sales team leverage — automatically nurturing clients through the buying cycle.
  • Giving the development team leverage — allowing marketing to build landing pages, emails and handle analytics.

For this article, I’ll focus on giving the sales team leverage. To do this, you’ll need to deeply understand the sales process, from high level customer personas to the intricate steps of the selling process and the specific objections or queries a customer may have.

As a marketer, we want to use technology to automate targeted emails (or personal communications) in response to triggered event. The end goal is to use marketing automation to listen and respond to customers on a scale that can’t be replicated personally.

A great way to start with this is to ask your sales team for input. Find quick wins by asking questions such as:

  • What emails, or customer interactions do you have to do repeatedly?
  • If you had unlimited time and energy, how would you treat your customers differently?
  • If you were to concentrate all your efforts on one particular customer, through out their whole relationship what would you do differently?

Here’s a few examples:

1. Onboarding

Customer onboarding is a classic use for Marketing Automation. All you need to do is craft a series of emails which get sent to new customers as they sign up or purchase from you. This might include slowly drip feeding more detailed information about how to use your product, or inspiring your customers with case studies and best practice content once they have become acclimatised to your product.

2. A second chance at lost sales

It takes a lot of effort to not only get someone’s attention, but to also convince them to hear your sales pitch and give you a shot. Unfortunately however, you’re not going to close all your sales. But rather than let them walk away, use marketing automation to try and re-engage them.

How you do it:

Your sales people are already using your CRM package to record when they lose an opportunity. Ideally, they are also recording the reason why that opportunity was lost. When setting this up, make the reason for losing the project is presented as a drop down list, with very specific options. Make the options general enough to account for a range of reasons. These might include “lost to competition”, “not within budget”, “not ready to buy” or whatever typical reasons a client might have to not purchase from you.

Now, for each of these reasons, come up with an rebuttal, or communications piece that addresses that concern. Then, set up your Marketing Automation system to trigger these follow up emails.

An example.

Your sales person notes that they lost a sale because the prospect found a cheaper / faster option. 4 weeks (or whatever timeframe is normally required for delivery) send an automated email saying “We wanted to check in and see how you were going with OTHER COMPANY. If there’s anything we can do, let us know”. Even if the conversion rate is low, and it probably will be, and you’d already “lost” that customer.

Rekindling old flames

Combining lead scoring and marketing automation with data from your CRM can be very powerful. A great example is using marketing automation to identify past customers that you may not have spoken to for a while, but who are engaging with you (ie, visiting your website, logging into their dashboard or opening your emails).

Think about this in four quadrants:

Your actions will be to either deploy your sales team if it’s a high value client who’s re-engaging and use marketing automation to nurture the rest.

How do you use Marketing Automation? Let me know in the comments, or enter your email to get the latest posts and updates.

Originally published at on January 30, 2016.



Mr Michael Tan

Growth Marketer for Start Ups. Sydney sider. Life long learner. Get in touch: