Marketing in a disruptive industry requires a disruptive mindset and savvy brands in the cleantech space are doing just that by taking advantage of marketing automation solutions.
For the unfamiliar, clean technology, or cleantech, is an umbrella term that is used to define companies that are influencing positive change through clean energy, smart mobility, sustainable agriculture, waste technology and other environmentally protective business practices. The goals of cleantech companies are to provide exceptional products and services while reducing the ecological impact and promoting respect and the responsible use of natural resources.
While clean technology is good for the environment, it also brings tremendous benefits to those who are willing to invest in it. Cleantech solutions provide the opportunity for sustainable development and have the potential to be extremely profitable. The biggest challenge for the clean technology industry lies in convincing stakeholders of its economic viability.
Challenges in Cleantech Marketing
The cleantech industry faces some unique marketing challenges, something that’s even more true for startups. Generally speaking, there is a lack of educational content that expresses the long term benefits, such as the cost savings, of clean technology. The consequence of this is an audience that is under informed and often skeptical – not exactly the most fertile soil to plant a seed.
Additionally, cleantech companies are often underfunded, and as a result, marketing is frequently one of the first things to fall to the wayside. This produces a seemingly inescapable catch-22 – the low priority on marketing has made it difficult to capture the interest of qualified stakeholders, but the lack of resources coming in means energy needs to be directed elsewhere and so the cycle continues.
Marketing automation offers a solution, and it is one that more cleantech companies are beginning to take notice of. Still, it’s a relatively new concept to many cleantech operations and there are definite nuances in the industry that need to be understood to fully optimize automation in any marketing strategy. Resources like Antenna’s Cleantech Guide to Marketing Automation provides the type of high level overview of the tools and process of marketing automation specifically for clean technology companies.
How Marketing Automation Drives Sales Enablement
The common thread shared between almost all cleantech companies is that they are attempting to sell very large scale technology to municipalities, utility providers, transit agencies and large industrial companies. These types of organizations are notorious for being difficult to sell into.
The cleantech sales process is complex and often involves long sales cycles with multi-level buy-in required across the organization. You aren’t just pitching to one person or one department, and each stakeholder is equally important in the process. Since each stakeholder is looking at it from a different perspective of benefits to their own company, it’s important to present them with the type of informational content that will add fuel to their decision making process.
This is a time consuming process, of course, and circling back around to the challenge of limited funding that cleantech companies frequently face, it becomes hard to get this part right. Marketing automation solutions, however, have emerged to relieve many of the challenges within the existing sales process.
Marketing automation can enable companies to streamline and execute effective lead nurturing strategies. These systems can send tailored, targeted emails to keep your cleantech company on stakeholder’s minds and potentially even shorten the sales cycle.
Best Practices in Marketing Automation
One of the most important functions of marketing automation is to manage touchpoints between the company and its key audiences in an effective way. For example, marketing automation allows for improved communication by presenting the most relevant and timely content to important stakeholders at an appropriate frequency.
There are other benefits to marketing automation as well, such as audience segmentation, and the ability to reach each defined group at various stages of the buyer journey. Marketing automation also allows you to efficiently educate stakeholders and other market groups through continual lead nurturing.
Marketing automation is intended to streamline these processes for you, so that you’re able to focus your attention on the finer points of nurturing stakeholder relationships. Still, your stakeholders are savvy, critical and even a bit skeptical at times. This is why one of the most important trends in marketing automation points straight towards high quality, engaging content.
Quality content carries you through the different marketing strategies being leveraged in your campaigns, so it’s crucial to develop a content strategy and calendar to help you effectively reach each of your segmented groups. Content should be meaningful, filled with all the right information and aimed at very specific targets.
For example, if your target is an engineering stakeholder, you’ll want to provide them with more technical content that demonstrates how your product or service will improve the reliability of their service. Think along the lines of a high level, technical white paper.
On the other hand, another segmented group would require an entirely different content strategy. If marketing department stakeholders are the target, you’ll want to provide them with business focused content that really demonstrates cost savings and their potential return. In this case, a short, engaging video may be the most effective content delivery vehicle for this group.
It’s easy to see that even with marketing automation, putting the best content out in front of the right audience requires forethought and strategy. This is a good start, but if you really want to be successful in your content marketing efforts, follow up is crucial.
Once your strategy is implemented, you’ll want to make sure that you are gathering relevant data from these campaigns. It’s important to understand what’s working, what’s not, and why. The insights gained through the seamless A/B testing of your current campaign can help to shape an even more successful marketing strategy for the future. The goal here is to optimize content to connect and increase conversations with target groups at specific touchpoints and help lead them through your funnel. Quality content, continual testing and the ability to use analytics to further shape your campaign are key components to success.
Optimizing Marketing Automation for Your Cleantech Company
It’s easy to see the value of marketing automation for the clean technology industry. What many cleantech companies find is that while the value is obvious, implementation isn’t always easy., Marketing automation platforms, like Hubspot, Infusionsoft, Pardot and Marketo, are robust and complex. They require someone who can really focus in on the platform, but the learning curve can be steep.
Cleantech companies need to have an expert who really understands the platform, all while being creative and strategically minded in their approach to content development and strategy. Marketing automation can help your cleantech business become successful, but only when you have the right team fueling its direction.
Marketing automation can be a key to growth in the clean technology industry. Implement it, but don’t just invest in a platform; invest in the strategy, resources and team to help it be successful.