If marketing automation (MA) isn’t a term you’re familiar with, don’t worry. Now’s the time to gen up and put yourself ahead of your competition. Put simply, MA is a mechanism that facilitates feedback on marketing data, which then prompts an adjustment to either a particular process or how a certain piece of data is used for the next point of contact. The primary feature of such a mechanism is that minimal or no human intervention is required.
So, for example, let’s say you define, segment, and execute an email campaign. A useful MA system will track what happens in response to each email sent out. It will then feedback the responses via analytics and scoring, and adapt the next campaign to suit different customer journeys.
A good technical MA solution will:
- Score prospects based on their demographic information AND their engagement
- Enable you to create alternative journeys depending on a prospect’s demographic and engagement
- Sync with your CRM system
- Enable you to define, and thus automate, many tasks
- Enhance your engagement on social media
- Provide regular and ad hoc reports
What is the key to successful MA?
The quick answer to this question is: Investing time and thought at the front end of a system, to plan the various journeys recipients will eventually go on to achieve the outcomes you’re looking for. Obviously, if your IT team doesn’t have the infrastructure needed to achieve what you want to achieve, you will need to invest in this first.
But you also need to ensure your data is both the best it can possibly be and that it’s managed by a team who understands it. That department can then ensure the ongoing customer experience for every prospect includes relevant content and messages that are provided at the right time to suit where they are in their buying journey.
What will you gain from using MA?
If you put the time in at the front end to define the various journeys open to your prospects, and understand how they will travel towards your desired outcome(s), you will:
- Enjoy a higher prospect conversion rate
- Increase your average order value
- Shorten your sales cycle
- Understand your pipeline better
- Be able to forecast sales more accurately
- Reduce your campaign costs
- Give your company the edge over your competition
The key, as with any worthwhile system/process change however, is to have realistic expectations of what will be achieved in the short term. It’s unlikely your sales will triple overnight; but take heart they will grow in real terms over time in a solid way.
You must also take both marketing and sales teams with you on this journey to understanding and implementing MA. It’s a well-known fact that these two departments don’t always work hand in hand with each other. When you introduce MA, you’re introducing a change in approach and ethos. This isn’t just about a new piece of technology or application. MA requires a change in thinking… on the part of both sales and marketing. Meaningful collaboration will take time, but it’s worth the wait.
A final word
At the end of the day, it makes sense to understand and respond to the nature of each individual prospect you hold. This will make their experience of your brand personal to them. So ask yourself:
- Do you know what each person wants?
- Do you know at what point each person is in their buying journey?
- What content is best for their current state?
- How can you keep them engaged until they are ready to buy?
MA is NOT actually about automating your marketing. It’s about tailoring programmes to fit where each prospect is in their particular buying journey. Not everyone needs the same information at the same moment in time… Judge and adjust correctly, and you’ll reap rewards in both sales, engagement, and customer loyalty.