Marketing Funnels and Automation For B2B

OK, guys.

Here’s the end of our guide on how to generate and nurture more B2B leads for your online business. Many people rush into automation without understanding what their clients actually need and what their RELEVANT added-value content could be.

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The goal of this chapter is to help you to start marketing automation for your online business so that you have more time to focus on your product and services and ultimately make your clients’ lives easier.

My goal is to help you to understand why and what you should automate. It is not an ultimate guide, however; there are smarter people out there doing automation.

Nevertheless, I’ll be focusing on businesses that deliver services and online products through doing B2B. This is not for ecommerce or B2C.

If I’ve missed anything, please feel free to let me know and I’ll add it to the guide if it’s relevant.

There are many articles online about this topic, but from what I can see, some of them are way too basic and others are overcomplicated. There are guides like Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Lead Scoring that are good, but the context of storytelling and nurturing is still missing.

I want to make sure that you understand B2B Marketing Automation based on frameworks and within our context of B2B lead generation and nurturing.

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I would recommend you take a look at the other 5 chapters in this guide before going into automation. It will make much more sense and you’ll understand it better.

The 3 Big Problems That Stop Marketing Automation From Working

In my view, [easy-tweet tweet=”These are the top 3 problems that can stop any marketing automation from working to its full potential.” user=”@romeoman” template=”qlite”]

3 Big Problems That Stops Marketing Automation From Working

  1. The Idea (product and service) – a good marketing automation expert or piece of software can’t fix a bad idea. Sorry.
  2. Relevance – if you haven’t studied and personalised your content to your audience yet, don’t start automation.
  3. Copywriting and presentation.

I’ll show you later on in this chapter how to fix the copywriting and presentation of your product and services.

Before we jump into the heavy automation methods, we need to make sure there is a framework in place.

From these 3 problems, we’ll be able to help you with relevance and your copywriting and presentation.

We talked a lot about the importance of delivering relevant content to your audience in Chapter 4 (How To Build And Convert Leads With Quality Content).

Why Do We Need Marketing Automation, Even For Small Businesses?

A simple way to explain this is to give the example of the greatest car salesman in the world  – Joe Girard. Joe employed two assistants to work on his secret weapon that helped him to sell over 13,000 vehicles over 15 years (between 1963–78).

What was Joe’s secret weapon? Greeting cards. Yes, he and his assistants sent over 13,000 greeting cards every month.

groundhog dog

Today, you don’t need to employ those two assistants anymore and pay for salaries, insurance, and benefits.

You can do it in an even more sophisticated way: by using marketing automation.

Regarding the boring job of Joe Girard’s “two assistants” in the 70s, here’s another reason “why” you need marketing automation.

personalised marketing automation

One of the big innovations that data and analytics will unlock is the ability to create more personalised products and services across all industries – including media and advertising

(McKinsey Study on Big Data)

McKinsey Study on Big Data

The same study shows that 45 percent of the activities individuals are paid to perform can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies.

More than 20 percent of a CEO’s working time could be automated using current technologies.

Here’s an interesting graph from the same study, comparing the percentage of time that can be automated and the hourly rate of jobs in the US.

png QWeb Automation and work ex2.ashx

The future is creativity and meaning.

Storytelling and sensing emotions are at the core of our human experience and are hard to automate.

Let’s focus on storytelling, creativity, and building meaning within our organisations and then let’s automate all the rest.

7 Hacks To Acquire, Nurture, And Grow More Customers

I don’t want to keep you waiting anymore to find out about possible hacks and how you can start automating your marketing, so, let’s jump right in.

Before we talk about tools and methods, I’d like to make sure we have a framework to work from.

We’ll use the Pirate Metrics, AARRR, developed by the head of 500 Startups, Dave McClure.

AARRR Growth Framework

The AARRR growth framework helps us to drive value and depth throughout the whole customer lifecycle.

It starts with acquiring customers, by attracting users to your site. From there, we go on to activation, where you will be delivering a first-time user experience that will engage and activate people to become ongoing users.

Retention will ensure that users come back to your site. The fourth metric is about revenue, converting free users into paying users in order to drive revenue.

And finally, the fifth metric is all about referral, inspiring your users to refer others and drive word-of-mouth acquisition of your product or service.

So, this is the AARRR growth framework, a traditional form of demand generation or inbound marketing, whose main focus is on attracting customers.

Now we’re starting to think about growth marketing and how to drive depth throughout the whole customer lifecycle, and how to drive key metrics during each step of the way.

Hack #1 Acquisition – Heads Up Approach


Engage customers on your pricing page.

There isn’t much debate here; your pricing/proposal page is your moneymaker. So why not make that experience more engaging and acquire and convert more users?

funnel leak


Think about it: 98% of people leave your site without converting into any kind of lead. Typically, only 1-2% of site visitors will convert into a lead or purchase order of some sort.

So, if you could get just 0.5% more people to convert, that would create 250 more leads if you get 50,000 monthly unique visitors. Assuming that the lifetime revenue of a customer is $465 and from those leads, you convert 15% into customers, you’d have over $17,000 net revenue that you could potentially convert, simply by improving the acquisition hack on your site.

acquisition hack

So how can we do this quickly and easily?

Let’s take a look at When you land onto their subscription base site to choose one of their two plans, they use a proactive heads up channel, which is an easy way for the user to get engaged with a friendly face that asks a simple question.

heads up channel

Something like: Need a plan to pick the plan that is right for you?

How to increase form subbmissons

In Chapter 3 we talked a lot about prospecting leads, this goes hand to hand with this hack.

Hack #2 Acquisition – On-Site Messaging

Acquisition On-Site Messaging

We build so much content as marketers, but 74% of online consumers still get frustrated with websites when content appears that has nothing to do with their interests (according to a Janrain Study).

HubSpot also found that CTAs targeted to the user had a 42% higher view-to-submission rate than calls to action that were the same for all visitors (HubSpot Study).

Targeted CTA

Start personalising your website ASAP. Use data about your audience from different sources like:

  • Geolocation (city or country)
  • The name of the prospect on the website (from CRM)
  • Cookies (to pre-fill email forms if they already did it in the past)
  • URL variables (add content from URL variables to on-site text)

Site Personalisation Using GeoLocation

We carried out a simple A/B test on the MAN Digital site, where we added the name of the country in the headline.

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This was the result:

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We increased engagement by 7.14% and CTA clicks by 801%.

Site Personalisation Based On Data From CRM

This is pure GOLD, as you can connect your CRM to you CRO software and start personalising.


Pre-fill Forms On Your Website With Your Prospect’s Email

If you already have your prospect’s email address because they already inserted it somewhere else on your site, or because you did some LinkedIn prospecting, make sure that you pre-fill all the forms with their email on your site.

If you subscribed to any of our content, or if you go and visit our blog, you’ll see that the forms are pre-filled with your email.

We do this by storing your email in our cookies.

storing your email in our cookies

Personalise On-site Content From URL Variables

You can use the same strategy as the pre-filled forms using URL variables, by adding the email of the prospect in the URL variable.


awesome marketing automation tip

How Can We Increase Form Submissions Of Our Cold Prospects?

  1. Do LinkedIn prospecting
  2. Upload your email list to an email outreach tool (Mailshake)
  3. Add your recipient’s (prospect’s) email address as replacement text. An email example:

Hey {{First}}, can we hop on a quick call at 10AM?



PS: thought you might find this article interesting{{email}}

{{email}} will be automatically replaced with the recipient’s email address that you uploaded into your email outreaching app.

  1. After a prospect visits your site, all forms should be automatically pre-filled from now on
  2. Increase lead generation conversions

 lead generation conversions

Hack #3 Activation – “Aha” Moments

Activation - “Aha” Moments

By incorporating usage data into your onboarding journey, we significantly increase the activation of your users to sign up, for example, for a trial or to use your service.

So, first of all, this starts with the idea that when a new user comes to our site or service, we want to create a fantastic onboarding experience.

onboarding experience

Not only does this guide the user through the application or service, helping them to understand the key facts about your app and service, but it also allows them to quickly receive the value and the benefit your solution is built to provide.

The most important thing here is to identify the “Aha” moments.

Here are some examples of “Aha” moments from the tech industry:

aha moments in marketing

In Zendesk’s example, their main goal is to help new users that signed up for a trial to create 5 support tickets.

Some people will never create a new ticket, but those who do will be segmented differently and given a special

Similarly, at Dropbox, they had an initial activation metric to ensure that the user created 1 file in 1 folder on 1 device.

Slack wants to see 2,000 messages sent to your team, and at Autopilot, they are focused on publishing your customer journey.

Now, make sure that you define very clearly what your “Aha” moment is going to be for your product or service. If you don’t have an app, think about the kind of engagement you are expecting from your prospects before reaching out to them with an offer promoting sales or from your customer service team, so that they can be converted into paying customers.

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First and foremost, it is important to drive more acquisition and activation through your trials, and by identifying your key “Aha” moments.

Secondly, being able to SYNC your data into a service is also important, such as by using an automation platform that will allow you to create proactive and automated messages to help prospects achieve “Aha moment” thresholds.

There are several ways to go about doing this:

SYNC your data into a service

Option 1: Time based, non-usage based

Day1 -> Day 2 -> Day 7 -> Day 14 -> Day 23 -> Day 30 ->

Option 2: Time and usage based

Sign-up -> event check after 2 days -> event check after 4 days -> etc.

Option 3: Usage-based only (e.g. Freemium)

Sign-up -> trigger on activity #1 -> triggered on threshold

Event-based Notifications

Let’s take a look at a few event-based notifications.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram are using these. When you are mentioned you get an email.

pasted image 0 52These are highly specialised, highly personalised notifications. They also directly drive behaviour as they have the “see comment” CTA.

Usage-based Notifications

Paperless Post sends out emails to all of their users that haven’t sent any cards yet. They track

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Another example here is Segment, the data sharing service. They like to have a few images as possible and use plain text, as they are focusing on a technical user base. This provides a compelling reason for users to take certain actions on their APP.

So this right here is providing a positive reinforcement for new users and encourages browser integration.

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Usage Review Notifications

Another key message during the course of onboarding throughout the activation journey would be to request a usage review half way through the trial.

Zendesk does this very nicely by sharing your usage metrics with you halfway through your trial. Or if you’re a customer, they do this halfway through your usage and show you how many hours you’ve spent this month replying to tickets, and how many hours you spent last month.

They also show you your initial response time, what your average completion time is, and what your overall customer satisfaction is.

zen desk

If you look closely, down at the bottom of the email, they also benchmark and show you 3rd party services and compare you to others like yourself.

This type of halfway-through trial or mid-trial check-in is highly effective and tends to drive really high engagement, because obviously, as a user, I think “oh, I need to cut my first response time in half”.

These types of emails drive behaviors immediately, as they are very focused, personalised, and data-driven.

Expiry Warnings Notifications

We are all familiar with these. And various companies have been successful in using them.

Dropbox uses cartoons and humor, together with trying to keep things as simple as possible in their emails to help convince you to continue with a Dropbox paid service.

If you look at the email below, they offered us some key benefits of what life could look like with a Dropbox paid service, as well as offering us a tour of the app.

dropbox expiring notofication

Hack #4 Activation – Nurturing Leads Using Facebook Ads

facebook ads remarketing

Multi-channel marketing is on the rise. We, therefore, need to make sure that we don’t rely on just one channel of communication.

In our previous hack, we only talked about email messages. But what if we could automate Facebook Ads based on our customers’ behavior?

All of the notifications that we send via email using our email marketing or marketing automation tools could be sent based on our Facebook Ads.

I don’t want to go into too much detail, but I just wanted to tell you that the two giants Facebook and Salesforce carried out a study that showed that people who received both an email and an advertisement were “22% more likely to purchase” than the ones who saw the email but not the ad.

If you do the maths, 250 initial leads (as given in the example in Hack #1 Acquisition – Heads Up Approach) with a 22% higher conversion rate would result in $25,000 net revenue per user if your customer lifetime value is $465.

OK, but how do we do this?

Firstly, you’ll need to sync your CRM data with your Custom Audiences on Facebook.

This way, you’ll be able to show ads based on the customer segmentation you did in your CRM and be more relevant.

Not only that, but the Facebook and Salesforce study also shows that the reach of Facebook Ads increased by 77% after combining the user data between your CRM and Facebook.

CRM and Facebook

facebook and salesforce

Image source:

Great, now how do we sync the data?

  1. Choose a CRM that syncs directly with Facebook (e.g. SALESmanago)
  2. Facebook Ad manager platforms like AdEspresso that have data sync
  3. 3rd party applications like Zapier or LeadBridge

Here are some cool resources about this topic, which teach you how to integrate the data between your CRM and Facebook.

How To Create Facebook Lead Ads And Sync Them With Your CRM!

Zapier – Automate Facebook Lead Ads

7 Unconventional Ways To Use Facebook Lead Ads To Improve Your Business

Hack #5 Retention – Catch And Retrieve Drop-offs Early

Retention funnel

We already know how to get our leads. Now we need to make sure that we can catch and retrieve the drop-offs in your user cycle.

Make sure that you don’t neglect your most valuable user.

When someone is activated and is using your product or service, it shows us they are interested and engaged.

Therefore, they are one of the most active participants within your user segments. They are the most qualified people you have to work with, and if you don’t focus on retaining them, you are neglecting the highest quality leads and the best users within your base.

Another aspect about focusing on retention is that you really need to nail it before you scale it. Here we have a leaky bucket, and the fact of the matter is, leaky buckets don’t need more water.

funnel leak

Instead, all of the ingenious growth hacks that you have applied will be rendered meaningless by churn.

All of your efforts to acquire new users may lead them to churn out and leave your product at the eleventh hour.

Well, leaky buckets can be plugged, right? That may be. But it is also a cheaper way to grow if you focus on retention first.

Think about it.

Would you rather focus on acquiring 20% more traffic to your new business or acquisition funnel, or would you prefer to work on retaining 20% of your existing users and have them continue to activate and monetise growth?

Retaining and increasing retention by 20% is, of course, a much easier, cheaper, and less resource-intensive way to grow.

Here are a few strategies you can use to make sure that you retrieve and address those drop-offs quickly.

Overcome Blockers With The Red Carpet Treatment

One way to overcome blockers is to provide them with the so-called “red carpet treatment”.

We want to catch people early and retrieve drop-offs.

Here is an example from Autopilot. If at some point along the way people stop using their applications, they stop logging in or stop creating reports, they segment these users into different buckets.

You’ll see later what we do with these users.

What many companies do, which is very successful, is to reward users who have achieved a very high level of usage, so that they become power users. At the same time, this works to prevent the prevalence of blockers who fail to reach this point, by encouraging them or nugging them to get to that usage level.

So, if your users don’t carry out a particular behaviour within a 7-day period, you can trigger some action.

Let’s say that someone was creating reports for 7 days. You are tracking this as a daily event, but then you see a delay of 7 days.

You can use that delay of 7 days (e.g. their last login date) to trigger an automated reach out journey that offers them links to video tips or how-to documentation or offers them a consultation call with your teams.

This is very effective in SaaS, but also in services if you have a blog, as you can track who is actively engaging with you and try to get them back to your content.

Another thing you can do is to create an activity event. Let’s say that not only did they reach the key usage level, but they also exceeded that threshold dramatically. You can then create an activity event that rewards that usage behaviour. This might be driving them towards a secret bundle of resources, sending them an invitation to a customer advisory board, or it might simply be sending them a new T-shirt.

This could be sent automatically based on reaching a certain usage event.

Here’s an example from Autopilot.

Send An SMS For Quick Results

Sending an SMS can be a very effective way to retrieve drop-offs.

Frankly, it is one of the most underexploited channels of engaging with customers, particularly if you want to get some quick results.

sms marketing

sms marketing metrics

Text messages tend to have a 98% open rate and a very high click-through rate.

This means that out of 10,000 messages, you can get about 1,800 clicks, which can drive into purchases (products) or sales meetings (services).

This is not just hypothetical, we have seen companies like Papa John’s sending text messages to their customers, which in one campaign increased sales by 33%. (Source: Tatango)

papa johns

Image source: Tatango


Image source: Tatango

Also, the e-commerce retailer, Julep, sent one SMS coupon for a $6.99 nail polish and got a 34.23% click-through rate, and a 17.44% purchase conversion rate based on subscribers that clicked the link.

Image source: Tatango

Here’s the SMS that they were sending:

Image source: Tatango

Solve Customers’ Problems With Proactive Emails

Another great example from Autopilot looks at combining support knowledge base sites with proactive email outreach to customers.

They created a smart segment for users who visited their Zendesk help center and searched it for some sort of result but then left the site.

They created a 30-minute delay and then sent out a reach out that comes from the product manager, simply to acknowledge that they had noticed that the user had searched the knowledge base, and to check in and find out if they had found what they were looking for.

marketing automation workflow

This is brilliant for learning more about your users’ needs if you have gaps in your own product or service, which you can then fix to improve their onboarding experience.

It can also help you to generate more leads or customers which you may not have initially expected to gain.

During a 2-week period, Autopilot sent this message out to 96 people who had searched Zendesk. 63% of them opened the email, of which 25% also replied to it.

marketing automation workflow metrics

This is a significant and high-performing journey that can drive high-value feedback.

This helped Autopilot to write more relevant knowledge base articles and to make them much clearer for users. It also enabled them to start conversations with leads and customers to gather product feedback that they may have otherwise missed.

relevant knowledge base

gather product feedback make articles clear

Hack #6 Revenue – Recover Lost Opportunities


Recover Lost Opportunities

Here we’ll be talking about how to recover lost opportunities with perfectly timed and highly personalised emails.

Incentivise Or Inspire Lost Users To Return Or Buy Again

One of the most popular forms of creating a nurturing journey is to reactivate past buyers and potentially recover lost revenue.

Let’s say a user buys once and doesn’t have a bad experience, they have a great experience even.

Typically, if a user reaches a certain purchasing level or has a certain amount of activity history and then stops using your services, they might need to be inspired by you to grow their skills, increase reach, or implement b2b lead generation best practices.

There are now a number of ways that you can reactivate these old users that were successful buyers. You could offer them discounts, free access, or send special invitations to events or for free consultations.

You could even inspire them to connect with peers who could help them to improve their services. See the example of LinkedIn, where they invited users to join 1 million thought leaders like us to publish on LinkedIn Pulse.

The objective of LinkedIn is to publish articles on LinkedIn Pulse and then boost this content via LinkedIn Ads.

Smart, right?

Case Study – A $30,000 Lead Nurturing Journey By Instapage

Image source: Autopilot Blog

Here’s an interesting case study from Instapage (I’ve been using them for 2 years now and I believe that they are one of the best landing page creators in the market) using Autopilot.

You don’t need Autopilot to do this, most marketing automation tools have the capabilities to do it. Some of them don’t need any coding, and some are more intensive where coding is needed.

So, let’s get down to the case study.

Instapage had 55,000 stale database contacts. But they believed that there was still a lot to unlock them to generate more revenue.

The results? Their nurturing journey drove $30,000 of annual recurring revenue in less than two months, and the leads converted 6 times faster than the company’s typical conversion rate.

lead nurturing journey

Here’s a sneak peek at their lead nurturing journey.

instapage ead nurturing journey

Image source: Autopilot Blog

Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it looks.

If you want to make sure that you unlock the full potential of your contacts, I urge you to read the full case study here.

The truth is that all of this is not easy. You’ll have to structure your journey, set up smart segments, re-purpose your existing content, and write great email copy. It’s not a quick win, but it can lead to a big one.

Hack #7 Referral – Automate NPS And Customer Reviews


Automate NPS And Customer Reviews

This brings us to the last hack of the day.

How do we drive referrals?

A very popular and great way to do this is to automate your Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey process and then request customer reviews from your promoters.

Ask your promoters to recommend you in an online automated form.

There’s just one setback here.

What is an NPS?

A Net Promoter Score measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s product or service to others.

It shows customers’ overall satisfaction and loyalty to the brand.

Here is how to identify these promoters.

Net Promoter Score measures

This is a universally used metric that got really popular in the early 2000s.

Study after study, together with companies that were growing successfully by monitoring their NPS, showed that in many cases this single metric can correlate highly with overall company revenue growth.

Awesome! So, we measure our NPS, but then what do we do with that information?

There’s a lot.

You can use it internally to drive initiative and to drive your product and to improve your customer experience. But from a hack perspective, we’ll show you an example that led to 100 customer reviews for LiveChat (our friends from Wrocław, Poland) on GetApp.

GetApp is a significant customer review source for LiveChat.

They currently have over 15,000 customers, and have over 180 reviews on GetApp, with a score of 4.8 out of 5.

live chat reviews on capterra

When the company received an NPS of 9 or 10, the team waited for about 10 minutes before triggering a follow-up email thanking the user for their positive review and then asking them to review LiveChat on GetApp (if you use them and you like their service, give them a review).

live chat automated email

Most customers will be happy to oblige on this front. If you spend time and energy on products that people love and you invest in your services, customer experience, and delivering the value that people want from you, you will be surprised by the lengths that some customers go to in order to spread the word to their friends and colleagues about your service.

In a matter of just a few weeks, this email review strategy generated a 61% open rate and a 13% click-through rate, and you can hardly tell that it is an automated email.

You can set this up too.

You can notify your users to respond to your NPS 3 months after they have purchased from you, and just send out a follow-up email for online reviews.

Use SatisMeter or Delighted and connect it to your marketing automation tool to send out automated notifications. If there is no direct integration, just use Zapier.

Conclusions For Chapter 6

conclusion chapter 6

To summarise and review our last chapter, we’ve learned:

  • Why we need marketing automation
  • What the 3 big problems are that stop marketing automation from working
  • How to use the AARRR Framework for your business and in marketing automation
  • How to engage customers on your pricing page
  • How to incorporate usage data into your onboarding journey
  • How to catch and retrieve drop-offs early
  • How to nurture and recover lost opportunities with perfectly timed and personalised emails
  • How to automate an NPS and receive customer reviews like LiveChat did
Together with NorthStar Consulting, (sales experts ) We put together a free 6 part video course on lead generation and digital marketing tools, which will help you get more leads and nurture them to be sales ready. All for free.  Check it out here.
What’s next?
Previous chapter on CRO Strategy
Jump to other chapters of the playbook :
Prospecting Leads For Your Business- Chapter 3
SaaS Content Marketing – Chapter 4
CRO Strategy for Tech Businesses – Chapter 5

Meet the Author

Romeo Man

Romeo Man is a Business Automation specialist and founder of MAN Digital. If you can get him on your side, you'll start attracting the right people and converting them to customers with a custom-built sales funnel built on data, not hunches. Find out how he does it at MAN.Digital, and follow him @RomeoMan. Follow @romeoman

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