Any marketer knows that a cohesive and well-thought of communication strategy is central to their efforts to increase revenue. These strategies, known generally as marketing campaigns, are created to achieve certain goals. They also can be long or short campaigns and can span multiple channels. The concept of a marketing campaign doesn’t change with the context of marketing automation, but it becomes the central idea. Therefore, all tactics and tasks that are then put into place are organized by the campaign.
Customer data organization and storage
We will touch upon this point in more detail later on, but for now, the importance of customer data in marketing automation must be firmly established. Wildly successful results achieved through the implementation of marketing automation owe their success to the adroit use of customer data. Customer data is often stored in different locations, as each customer-facing team develops its own means of organization. However, the power combining these disparate databases yields is tremendous. Marketing, sales, and support team databanks can generate informative profiles of customers, allowing a marketing automation software to create highly personalized and relevant campaigns for customers.
The nuts and bolts of a marketing automation software, a workflow defines the list of automated tasks and processes that are to be done to convert a lead into a customer. These tasks and processes, also known as actions, are generally trigger-based and thus lead to a contextual, relevant, and timely response to customer actions. Responses can be singular instances, like an onsite notification or exit overlay, or can be a set of predetermined actions that are set into motion.
A workflow is best described with an example. Let’s say a customer spends time browsing your website and fills up their cart with a few products. However, the customer doesn’t complete the checkout process. This is the classic case of cart abandonment. Now, there are several reasons why a customer would potentially leave a cart full of products behind, but from a marketing automation perspective, we aren’t trying to solve those issues. We would like the customer to purchase the products that they displayed a clear intention to buy.
In response to cart abandonment, an immediate email will probably not have a huge impact. Whatever issue was blocking the purchase, could still be applicable. However, waiting a couple of days to send a reminder email, saying that the products are still available could trigger a purchase. And industry statistics bear out the assumption, with positive reactions to these sorts of reminders. If the first email fails to convert the customer, then another email extolling the virtue of the products, and perhaps a few reviews thrown in would do the trick. Industry wisdom says that reviews, especially celebrity ones, go a long way to convince a person in their purchase decision. And so on. The workflow can be as simple or as complex as the case may demand, and should be reviewed and tweaked to suit each organization.
Customer journey and touchpoints
To grasp the power of marketing automation, it is vital to think like a customer. What would a customer like? How would they react to this? are questions that should be at the center of your strategy. The reason is simple: the customer is the target audience, and by understanding them, their needs, and their behavior, the strategy becomes more effective. Therefore, to understand customers, you need to see how they progress through your website, as they consume it. A purchase may be the pinnacle of achievement, but it rarely exists in isolation. There are many interactions with your brand which eventually lead up to the purchase. This progression is known as the customer journey, and every interaction they have with your brand – online or offline – is called a touchpoint. Using marketing automation, your goal would be to ensure the best possible interactions across these journeys, because one weak link in the touchpoint could be the difference between making or breaking a deal.
A customer’s lifecycle consists of the stages that a customer goes through from the time they are identified as a lead (known as acquisition) to the moment they become delighted ambassadors of your brand (known as advocacy). Companies should ideally nurture customers through various stages, using marketing and customer success strategies.
Marketing automation tools will chiefly be used by marketing, sales, and customer success teams within an organization. Most of the concepts we have outlined above are marketing-centric and will probably immediately strike a chord with people in those business areas. The idea is to take classical marketing knowledge and expertise and retrofit it to suit the burgeoning world of marketing automation.