Note: This post was originally written by Danny Essner, who oversees Demand Generation and Marketing Operations at MediaMath This post is the first in a series dedicated to exploring how B2B marketers can use programmatic technology to effectively reach their target buyer personas, and move them down the path to purchase.

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For the past five years B2B marketers have been obsessed with marketing automation. More specifically, B2B marketers have relied heavily on email lead nurturing to help them address their key challenges, including an increasingly complex sales cycle, sophisticated buyers who complete 60% or more of their research and purchase decisions before reaching out to a sales person, and the need to deliver both a higher quantity as well as better quality of qualified leads to its sales team.

Marketing automation platforms are great, but the term “marketing automation” is a misnomer. Many of the so-called marketing automation platforms are, in reality, email automation platforms. Marketing automation implies a cross-channel solution that automates and optimizes across the multiple key channels marketers use to find and engage prospects and customers. And while email is important, it is not the only channel B2B marketers should use to engage new and existing customers through their buyers’ journeys.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of these automation platforms.   I believe in their power and have been using them for the past eight years. My concern is that marketers who have invested in these platforms have become overly reliant on email as the one channel they use to nurture leads and engage existing customers. According to eMarketer, B2B email performance is quite poor, averaging ~20% open rates and ~1.5% click through rates.

Research shows that B2B buyers use a wide variety of tools in product/solution research. They research online, scour social media channels, and consume videos. A true full-funnel lead nurture strategy goes beyond email to include your website, social channels and the web.

With this approach in mind, here are three recommendations B2B marketers can employ to expand beyond email:

1. Develop and Execute a Multi-Channel Lead Nurture Strategy
Complement your email lead nurture programs with display advertising, social and website campaigns. As with email nurturing, messages delivered through these channels must be properly sequenced and relevant to each customer based on where they are in the buyer’s journey.

2. Create Message Alignment Across all Channels
To realize the benefit of a multi-channel nurturing strategy, all channels must support one another in propelling the customer through their journey. Your messages must be aligned and consistent so that you’re always delivering the right message to the right customer at the right time. This means that the messaging for each channel must be specific to that channels, and all channels must be aware of where the customer is in their journey.

3. Build Out Your Marketing Stack Beyond Just Marketing Automation
To nurture customers across multiple channels concurrently, automatically and at scale, B2B marketers must build out a robust marketing stack. B2B marketers can do just that by leveraging tools that engage customers across all relevant channels. This does not mean that, as a B2B marketer, you must scrap you existing marketing automation solution. Rather, you can complement your email-centric automation platform with a holistic, extensible cross-channel component to create the technology stack you need to properly engage customers through all relevant channels – email, website, social, video, display and mobile – in a consistent, synchronized fashion.

It’s time to graduate beyond email alone. Let’s all adopt true marketing automation, where we automate the personalization of all messages across all channels.