Method to the Madness: Getting B2B Marketing Results Using Business Processes

B2B marketing leaders I talk to never have enough time to do everything. Setting priorities is a first step to accomplishing what’s most important. However, getting organized by creating and documenting your marketing business processes is equally important.

Read on to learn how marketing processes provide method to what feels like your daily marketing madness. Whether you have a large marketing team or only a few (even I have some documented processes for myself!), implementing marketing processes can help you accomplish more and deliver better results!

B2B marketing business process defined

A business process is simply a detailed list or diagram of repeatable tasks needed to deliver a product or service. Typically tasks are linked together or organized chronologically to indicate the sequence of activities and who is responsible. I was first introduced to the term “business process” back in 2000 when I was leading a CRM team. One of my first tasks was to understand and document the business processes for the organization front office teams such as sales, marketing, and customer service. For a B2B marketing team, business processes relate to tasks that happen repeatedly. For example, creating a content piece, trade shows, or handing off leads to sales.

B2B marketers who organize tasks and workflows are 541% more successful than those who don’t according to the study, State of B2B Marketing Strategy Report 2019 by CoSchedule.

If you’ve implemented CRM or marketing automation tools you had to set up some marketing processes just to configure the system. In fact, not having processes already in place can be a major stumbling block during implementation – remember it’s people and process first, then the technology!

5 symptoms of not having B2B marketing processes

Let’s discuss 5 symptoms you may be experiencing because you don’t have marketing processes in place.

  1. Inconsistency in quality and delivery times, and often missing deadlines.
  2. Difficulty onboarding new marketing team members or outside resources.
  3. Longer term projects never seem to get done because of daily marketing tasks and “putting out fires”.
  4. Can’t track leads from interest through to revenue.
  5. Data analysis is hard, if not impossible, because data quality and completeness are lacking.

No doubt, these lead to a lot of frustration and stress for you and your marketing team.

Won’t using documented marketing processes kill creativity?

So maybe you’re thinking, “implementing marketing processes will take too much time, and more importantly, it will kill creativity”. I would argue just the opposite! Having marketing processes in place will reduce chaos and frustration, which in turn will let creativity flourish.

More benefits of using marketing processes

Most of the five symptoms mentioned above will disappear. It’ll be easier to onboard new employees and use outside resources, for example. Cross training your marketing team is much easier when there’s a written process for the responsibility. Having documented marketing processes increases efficiency which means you can get more done. Plus, following a process results in higher quality work because steps aren’t forgotten and tasks aren’t rushed. It helps insure compliance with corporate policies such as data compliance, copyright laws, and brand standards.

Work smarter, not harder using marketing business processes

Of course it’s not always easy to document and implement processes. However, creating and documenting marketing processes helps you figure out where there are problems or delays from:

  • bottlenecksProcess Bottlenecks
  • duplication of effort
  • lack of communication

Working through this facilitates getting your marketing team in alignment. It also gets marketing in alignment with sales, customer service, and others your team interfaces with to better accomplish tasks and projects. In the end your B2B marketing team will work smarter, not harder, to deliver results.

Which marketing processes to focus on?

It can be overwhelming to get started, so it can be helpful to think about prioritizing which processes to work on first. Think in terms of the following two types of tasks to decide which processes to work on first:

  1. Occasional, but detailed tasks – tasks that don’t happen that often, say a quarterly website traffic report or newsletter, or a marketing brochure for example, but which require many different detailed steps and/or involve other teams.
  2. Projects your team spends the most time on – the most time consuming tasks or projects probably offer the highest efficiency improvement potential. For example, content creation, trade shows, and lead nurture email campaigns can be very time consuming. Focusing on these, you’ll make a more significant impact on deliverable deadlines and quality.

If you’ve never tried to map out a business process before, it may be best to start with a process that you know well and is not too complicated.

What does a documented marketing process look like?

Documenting your B2B marketing business processes can use different formats, from simple one-page documents to sophisticated marketing automation workflows. To start with, keep it simple by working with a Word document. Or use a flowchart diagramming software like Visio (a couple of free alternatives are DIA and yEd Graph Editor)  to map out your processes.

Most marketing business processes use one of the following formats:

  • Checklist or numbered list of tasks – Ideal for simple processes that one person performs. I use a checklist for blog post creation and promotion, for example. Tasks are in sequential order with the details I need to make posting and promoting efficient and effective. This helps me know the best image size for WordPress, Twitter, and LinkedIn which I can never recall!
  • Flowchart diagrams and workflows – Best for more complicated processes and/or those which involve multiple people or approvals. Creating or revising product literature often falls Business Process Flowchart Diagraminto this category because there’s at least a writer and designer involved, and usually a product manager, sales, legal, and others who need to review and approve.
  • Questionnaire or forms – Very similar to a checklist, a questionnaire or form can be used as a final quality check in a larger process. Or use it as a reminder of everything to do and consider during the process. This can be useful for processes which are difficult to put into a prescribed list of tasks. For example, I use a questionnaire form when clients ask me to create new marketing content. It’s similar to a checklist, but includes the client name, deadline, and the list of questions I need to ask to fully understand the content needs such as topic, audience, format, etc. This saves a lot of time and sets the client expectation.

Reducing the madness improves the marketing

As you document processes within your marketing team, you’ll likely find ways to improve. It’s beneficial to ask yourself and others why they do each step in the process. If you hear, “Because I’ve always done it that way”, that’s a sure sign for process improvement. This business process improvement, or “reengineering”, opportunity is a great reason to create marketing processes!

Get organized using documented business processes to reduce frustration and stress for you and your B2B marketing team, and accomplish more! 

Could your B2B marketing team could benefit from documented business processes? Using an outside, dedicated resource is an excellent way to do it quickly while minimizing disruption to your current marketing operations. Get in touch with me to discuss your needs.

Susan Mitchell is owner of B2B Marketing Source and a freelance B2B marketing consultant to domestic and international firms. She provides marketing strategy, content marketing, sales enablement tools, and lead generation as an extension of your B2B marketing team or to fill resource and capability gaps. Visit her blog “Musings on B2B Marketing” to read more.

5 Reasons You Should Build a Strong In-House List

B2B marketers continue to rely heavily on email for effective lead generation, content marketing and growing revenues. According to results from the B2B Content Marketing: 2019 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America report, email is the number one content distribution channel used by 87% of marketers. This means you need a “strong” in-house list, one with complete and accurate contact information.

Do you rely on purchased lists? Haven’t been properly maintaining your in-house list? If you answered “Yes” to either of these questions, you’re wasting time and money. Plus you’re increasing the risk of missing your revenue growth goals.

Let’s discuss 5 reasons why you should invest in your B2B in-house list 

Read more

Your B2B Marketing Content: Corporate Asset or Just Another Expense?

Way back in 2011, Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, posed the question, “Is content an asset or an expense?”. Most B2B marketers know content is the fuel for their lead generation and nurture. However, it seems many have forgotten or failed to answer Joe’s important question. So let’s revisit this topic now.

“Why now?”, you ask. You’ve likely set your budget for 2019. But ask yourself how hard it was to get the budget for your content development including writing, design, and management. If you had trouble justifying the budget or didn’t get the budget you needed, then read on. Read more

Is Your B2B Website Central to Online Lead Generation?  Answer These 3 Questions

My company website was a simple one I created myself back in 2012 to explain the B2B marketing consulting services I offer. It was looking a bit dated. In addition, I had a WordPress blog with a completely different look. So I bit the bullet and completely redesigned my company website and incorporated the blog. I hope you’ll take a look around while you’re here.

Naturally I’ve been thinking a lot about B2B websites in general. Too often B2B websites become nothing more than online brochures. Or sometimes, they fall short when it comes to moving prospects toward becoming qualified leads. Instead, a B2B website should be at the center of all your online lead generation.

To see whether your B2B website is functioning at the center of your online lead generation, answer these 3 questions.


  1. Do prospects find your website during online searches?

When your prospects have a problem or challenge they need to solve, the first thing they do is research online to find possible solutions. If your website doesn’t appear in their search results, then you’ve missed a lead generation opportunity right from the start!

Make sure your B2B website is search engine optimized (SEO) so that it is easy for Google and other search engines to crawl and that it ranks well. Your website needs to focus on improving the user experience and offer content that addresses each stage of your prospect’s buyer journey. For example, blogging can be a great way to provide educational and informative content and significantly improve SEO.

Google rarely states specifics about how it ranks websites, but did state that websites without security certificates will rank lower in search results.  You may have already noticed during your own internet searching that most browsers notify you whenever a site does not have a security certificate.


If you haven’t already done so, your B2B site needs to have a security certificate (URL starts with https://).


  1. How well does your online marketing drive website traffic?

Your social media posts, online ads and email campaigns should all be driving visitors to your website. It’s OK for some of your social posts to reference industry events or content on other sites. However, the majority of your posts should offer links to dedicated web landing pages designed to convert visitors. The same goes for online ads.

website online lead generation

Make sure your website uses responsive design so it renders properly on smartphones, tablets, and desktop computer browsers. This is especially important for social media posts because increasingly many of us view social media on tablets and smartphones, not our desktop computer. And if your website doesn’t render properly, you risk losing engagement with prospects and increasing page bounce rates. This will eventually result in lower search rankings.

For every online post, ad, or email campaign measure how much traffic each delivers to your website as well as web landing page bounce rates. This way you can learn what is most effective and efficient for driving engaged website traffic.


  1. How well is your website converting visitors to leads?

If your online marketing is driving traffic to your website, then make sure your web landing pages keep them engaged enough to get their email address. The best way to do this is to offer valuable educational content behind a form. These landing page forms are the best way to build your in-house list so you can further nurture prospects toward being a qualified lead. Don’t rely only on a “Contact Us” form.

Online lead generation Website funnelJust like your social media posts and online ads, make sure every email campaign has a call to action that takes the person to a landing page on your website. In addition to the information they expected from the email, offer them more content that helps them along their buyer journey.

Analyze how well your landing pages convert. Do visitors visit the page, but then quickly abandon the page? Maybe the content or offer is not valuable enough for the user to give up their contact information. Do they open the form, but don’t submit it? Maybe your form is asking for too much information given the offer. A/B testing and further analysis can help you improve conversion rates.

If your answers to these 3 questions weren’t as positive as you’d like, maybe it’s time to rethink your online lead generation and website strategy. Or maybe it’s simply time for a website update or redesign. Sometimes an outside perspective and dedicated resource is just what’s needed. Get in touch with me to discuss your needs.




Lead Tracking Leads B2B Marketers to Answers

How many leads did your marketing team generate last year? This simple question can be hard to answer for many B2B marketers because tracking leads is a complicated process, especially if you don’t have automated systems in place. However, being able to confidently answer this and other questions around marketing’s contribution to lead generation and revenue will:

  • insure company growth
  • justify increasing budget dollars for your marketing efforts
  • improve marketing’s lead generation effectiveness

B2B marketers need to utilize a system for lead tracking to answer these questions.

Let’s discuss what lead tracking is and how to get started, even if you’re a marketing “team” of one or two, or lack an automated lead tracking system.

What is lead tracking?

One of the most important responsibilities for a B2B marketer or marketing team is to generate leads. In its simplest form a lead is an individual who is interested in your product or service. And a simple lead management process is one where marketing generates a lead, then passes it over to the sales team who “close” the lead as either a won or lost sale.

Lead tracking is the ability to track each lead from initial inquiry via a marketing channel (online or offline) or campaign (digital ad, email, direct mail etc.) response through to a closed sale (won or lost).

This simple lead tracking and management business process can get complicated very quickly. For example, is the lead located in a geographic area your company sells into, which sales person gets which leads, how does marketing hand off the lead information, and how does sales notify marketing of closing the sale. These are just some of the lead tracking details you typically need to work through. Read my post about business processes to learn the why and how for lead tracking and other marketing processes. Read more

Looming EU Data Privacy Regs: Boom or Bust for US B2B Marketers?

If you’re a B2B marketer in the US you’re probably aware of the general trend toward more stringent data privacy regulations. But are you and your organization ready for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which goes into effect in May 2018 and applies to both B2C and B2B?

The GDPR applies to any B2B marketer who collects, stores, or uses identifying data (name, phone number, email address, IP address, etc.) about individuals in the EU. So if, like most B2B marketers, you have a database with EU prospects or customers, or use web forms, track web visitor behavior, send email campaigns, use third party lists, or exhibit at trade shows, then read on to learn more about the GDPR and why it could be a bust or boom for your marketing efforts.

GDPR Basics

The GDPR became law in 2016 and requires compliance as of May 25, 2018. The law applies to any entity, not just those based in the EU, so US firms need to understand the law now while there’s time to take the necessary actions. Some particular concerns for B2B marketers include: Read more

Sales and Marketing Alignment: 3 Ways B2B Marketers Can Get in Step with Sales

Anyone on a corporate marketing team can attest that alignment with the sales team can be challenging. For example, 48% of B2B marketers indicated sales and marketing alignment was a top priority for their organization’s lead generation efforts in 2017 according to The 2017 Demand Generation Benchmark Report.

Aligned B2B marketing and sales teams result in higher overall effectiveness for both teams and, most importantly, revenue growth. So how aligned is your marketing team with the sales team? Read on to learn three ways to align marketing and sales. Read more

B2B Referral Marketing: Driving Leads vs Closing the Sale

I’ve been thinking about referral marketing recently due to my own experience giving referrals to friends and family for Blue Apron, the meal kit delivery service. Clearly Blue Apron is using referral marketing to drive lead generation. But does this type of B2C referral marketing translate to B2B marketing?

The classic referral marketing program

Blue Apron’s is the classic referral marketing program where they encourage customers to get others to try the service via various incentives. Initially the incentive was the ability to give free meals worth $60 to my friends and family. More recently they upped the incentive to include savings for me if the person continued the service. Anyone connected to me on Facebook knows I’m a raving fan of the service, with or without the incentives, because I frequently post pictures of the awesome meals we make. So this got me thinking about how this type of program translates to the B2B world.

Referred leads are better leads

Of course for any referral program to work the company must be retaining customers and keeping them happy. So why bother at all with referral marketing? In the most recent Hubspot survey report, the State of Inbound 2017, respondents rated referrals as the highest quality leads. The report concluded this was likely because respondents thought these leads are more likely to convert. However, the report also acknowledged the challenge most organizations face scaling referral programs to get more leads into the sales funnel. Similarly, according to the Journal of Marketing, a referred customer has a 16% higher lifetime value than customers acquired through other methods. Intuitively this makes sense because we trust our professional peers who may recommend a company’s product or service via word of mouth, social media, or online review. The thing I wrestle with is how a B2B marketing team can make this a formal program for lead generation.

A lead generation referral program?

Read more

Picture It, The Right Photo When You Need It

Managing B2B marketing photo assets is more important than ever. Photos are an important element for B2B marketing such as content, social media, websites, and presentations. Photos and images add visual interest, understanding and engagement to everything from white papers and case studies to literature and blogs. For example, according to Buffer Social, adding a photo to a tweet boosts retweets by 150%. We are visual creatures. In fact it’s been shown that three days after hearing a piece of information a person can only recall 10%, but add a picture and their recall is 65%.

However, B2B marketing teams struggle to ensure photo assets reflect their brand and messaging, are visually engaging, and easy to retrieve and use. Why is this such a challenge and what’s the solution? Read more