This blog post was updated on February 28, 2020.

Are you among the 51% of B2B companies currently using marketing automation? You should be. After all, marketing automation has been proven to deliver a 47% increase in sales revenue and a 29% increase in marketing productivity. But these results aren’t achieved by simply launching a campaign. It takes planning and strategy.

And even with access to marketing automation tools, whether through your CRM or other productivity apps, it can be tough to figure out how marketing automation can actually boost your B2B marketing and sales process.

Whether you’re just starting out with marketing automation or you’re looking for some serious growth hacking opportunities to skyrocket your small business past the competition, we have you covered. Here are our ten marketing automation hacks for small B2B businesses like yours.

1. Identify and Eliminate Before You Automate

You probably already know that marketing automation can be used to streamline email campaigns, but if that’s all you’re doing with it, you’re missing out. To unlock the full power of your platform, you should identify other tasks that are prime candidates for automation, such as routine, repetitive activities that are eating up time and hindering productivity. Things like lead follow-up, prospect nurturing and updating your CRM can all be automated, saving time and freeing you up to focus on more important things.

With that said, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of automating as many mundane tasks as possible. But it’s never worth it to automate a task that you don’t need to complete in the first place. To identify these “dead weight” tasks in your processes, make a list of each step in a process. Be as specific as possible. Then, identify steps that aren’t completely necessary — and get rid of them. The steps that remain are the best candidates for automation.

2. Don’t Post Anything Manual to Social Media

Manually managing social media is a huge time suck. You have to log in to any given platform, write (or paste, if it’s prewritten) your content, create or find images for your content, and post it at the best time of the day. You then have to repeat that process for every channel on which you’re active.

Instead, use a tool like Buffer, Hootsuite, or Sprout Social to manage all of your social accounts in one place. If you’re already using one of these, dive deeper. You can select preset times and numbers of posts per day, per platform, so your scheduled posts will fall into time slots that work best with your target audience’s time zone and media consumption habits.

Further, with a third-party connection app like Zapier, you can create and edit content in one place and have it automatically post to your social media automation tool without even needing to log in to that.

3. Capture Leads Like a Pro Automation Marketer

If you’re spending valuable time conducting web searches, sifting through LinkedIn profiles, gathering lead data, and putting this information into a spreadsheet, it’s time to offload these tasks to the robots. Set up a CRM or other tools designed for lead generation.

Hatchbuck CRM, for example, can help you automatically merge lead data from multiple sources (think CSVs, Google contacts, and LinkedIn connections lists) without duplicating contacts. From there, its automatic lead scoring capabilities do the heavy lifting so you can focus on following up with hot leads at the exact moment they’re ready to buy.

Scoring leads is a valuable practice in any business model, but in B2B it’s even more beneficial due to the lengthier sales process. With long sales cycles, understanding a prospect’s interest in your product or service is essential. Automatically assigning scores to your leads based on factors such as their behavior on your website, engagement level with your messaging and various touchpoints across your platforms can help you determine who to follow up with to achieve optimal results.

4. Rethink Lead Nurturing

Work with your salesperson or sales team to identify how sales is following up with leads. If you’re using email templates, set up an automation that sends follow-up emails at regular intervals based on where your leads are in the sales funnel

If you have a content marketing campaign designed for educating prospects, identify triggers that indicate a contact is ready for a specific piece of content. For example, if a known lead visits your “pricing” page, send an automatic email about your pricing (or a discount) straight to their inbox later that day.

Research indicates that segmented emails boast higher open rates, better engagement rates and ultimately result in closing more deals. By segmenting your campaigns based on the interests and engagement level of your contacts, you can tailor your messaging to better match their needs and preferences. When you address the specific needs of your prospects through segmented messages, they will be more likely to come to you when they’re ready to buy.

5. Automate Mundane Customer Service Tasks

Do you answer endless queries on Facebook Messenger about business hours and prices? Do away with these drab conversations by using a bot to answer FAQs for you. If you’re not sure chatbots are right for your business, the trick is to keep it simple. Customers don’t mind (and many prefer) interacting with a bot when they have basic questions about your products and services — as long as they have contact information for a human for when they need help with more complicated questions.

6. Create Quality Content

Your marketing automation tool may be able to do a lot of things, like determine which leads are hot as well as the best time to communicate with those leads. The one thing it cannot do is produce the message you’re trying to send. To get the most of your marketing automation, do not underestimate the importance of creating quality content. The right message can dramatically improve your chances of conversion.

7. Set Up Preset Drip Campaigns

You can create an email drip campaign for just about every marketing objective: nurturing leads, warming up your prospects, extending special offers to increase conversions, and even influencing post-purchase behavior. A drip campaign, if you’re unaware, is a preset flow of emails that get sent out at regular intervals to encourage customers to take a specific action.

In a post-purchase drip campaign, for example, your goal may be to ensure your customer understands how to use the product or solution you’ve provided. Your drip campaign, then, maybe a series of weekly follow-up emails providing tutorials and contact info for customer support.

8. Get Personal

One of the biggest mistakes B2B marketers make is forgetting that they are marketing to people, not just faceless brands. You will be far more successful with your marketing efforts if you remember to include the human element. Speak to your audience as if you were having a conversation rather than issuing a cold, robotic and impersonal message. For instance, rather than saying “Attached is the literature you requested,” say, “Here’s the information you asked for.” That human touch is what will ultimately win you new business.

When it comes to being successful in the B2B realm, marketing automation can be your ace in the hole. The tips above should help you maximize your efforts and gain consistent results.