Our Guide to the Top 10 Marketing Automation Functions you MUST Implement!

Danni Hunt | Head of Future Email

Congratulations! I’m throwing a party! You are one of the few who can claim they genuinely possess a three dimensional Single Customer View database.

Now you have a SCV, ask yourself these questions - how many channels do you really embrace? How are you segmenting all that rich data? How much of your marketing activity would you consider truly automated? Does your clever marketing strategy end realistically with perhaps an abandon basket email?

Sadly, using actionable SCV data is still often in its infancy for many organisations. According to Econsultancy, in their latest Quarterly Intelligence Briefing Report (with Adobe), only 20% of marketers have achieved an actionable SCV and only 8% claim to have a comprehensive strategy in place to better use data in their marketing programmes.

It’s 2016! Why is it taking so long for brands to catch up? Consumers possess the power in this digital era and appear way ahead of marketers. Is it lack of skill? Knowledge? Resource? Budget? Or is it an over-arching fear of just getting it all wrong? So we do nothing instead. 

With this in mind, here are 10 Marketing Automation functions you should be implementing across your SCV this year. Go on, I dare you… just pick one before Christmas…

1. Understand Your Customer's Behaviour

Imagine a pinball machine or table top football. Regardless of how hard you hit the buttons or spin the players, it takes several touchpoints of each before you can reach that open goal. Consumers have fully embraced online shopping in the last decade, but choices, preferences and accessibility has further evolved that purchasing behaviour. Immediate click to conversion is no longer commonplace.  Attributing the sale to one particular event or response is also much harder. Influences to purchase can be everywhere and via many channels.

Take Ms Average Customer 2016. If Ms AC sees something she likes she will research it immediately via her mobile phone. However, she still likes to try before she buys, so she will then browse her local store (with mobile in hand). Convinced she could get the best deal online she then returns to work and looks at comparison sites on her work laptop. In her coffee break she logs onto social media and sees the very same product on her wall (magic! How did that happen?). When she sits back at her desk, Ms AC has also received an abandon basket email with the same content. Only now, after five channel touchpoints will she convert.

“I love to shop, but I’m going to do it my way, in my own time, via the channel I prefer and when I want”

Ms Average Customer 2016.

This pre-transactional journey is unique to each individual you hold in your SCV database. Sounds like a mess. Sounds complicated. Sounds impossible. Not really – if you have understood the latest customer behaviour you are really halfway there.

2. Data - Start with GOOD Segmentation

You have your enviable SCV, so use it wisely.  Why are you still blanket messaging the entire database?

Let’s start over. You have your enviable SCV, so what you now require is a user friendly platform which contains the tools to help utilise your detailed data and create GREAT segmentation from the outset. This is what will immediately optimise your campaigns.

Respect your customers. The data you possess is your only and biggest asset. Think about the conversation you are conducting with these individuals. Think in terms of people rather than numbers.  Who are the key players? VIPs? New customers? Advocates? What about everyone else? Why send lapsed and disengaged customers the same message? Not practical? Or are you just being lazy?

Invest in a great platform that will easily segment your SCV frequently and automate all processes.

GREAT TOOL = GREAT SEGMENTATION

3. Preferences - If in Doubt, Ask!

What’s your preferred colour? No, these days this is not what we mean by preferences. These are the finite details the individual has disclosed to the brand. It’s fact, not an assumption so these details need implementing whenever and wherever relevant. When it comes to preferences, be creative and clever, but also understand why and what you are asking. If you’re never going to actively use the information, it’s as useful as a chocolate teapot.

The art of preference collection (a proper skill indeed) is most successful when it’s either quick and/or subtle. Self-segmentation is a great way to capture an individual’s actual interest. Showcase different options and track where they interact. Even better, collate these options via a microsite and automate a fully dynamic follow up message dedicated to their preference selections.

Lastly, get creative. Forms are boring, middle of the road, time consuming and often easy to regret starting. Make them interactive, fun, short and to the point. Do this and the volume of preference data will soar.

4. Follow-Ups - Grrr! Don't Get Me Started!

A whopping 54% of all campaign revenues are regularly achieved by follow up messages.

Less than 30% of marketers regularly put in place follow up messages.

There exists no emoji for this global marketing disappointment. I need say no more on the matter.

5. Content - Make it Personal

Personalised content does not mean ‘use a salutation’. Unique, individual content is key to truly relevant messaging. It can be as simple as changing imagery slightly depending on a male/female split or a highly complex offering of multiple upsell or cross sell items depending on behavioural and transactional history. A couple of words, or the entire creative. Either way, both will increase engagement, sales and revenue.

“Average 20% increase in sales opportunities from nurturing leads with personalised content!”

Demand Gen Report

Often though, marketers will avoid and potentially fear smart, adaptive, dynamic content due to constraints of resource, time, skill and a limited pot of cash. The reality though is that again, investing in the right tools will enable you to marry all that clever segmentation from your SCV. Enabling clever content without the need for a PHD in design, coding or creating those all-important algorithms while vacuuming up your entire digital budget.

RIGHT TOOL = RIGHT CONTENT

If you still fear the complexity, do yourself one simple favour and talk to your prospects and customers separately.

6. Content - Make it WOW!

A couple of years ago, some sceptics (definitely not me) may have thought agile or contextual content was merely a passing fad and would fade as quickly as the countdown clock itself. This, it seems is not the case. With a huge increase in agile suppliers in the market and many platforms taking this development directly in-house, agile seems set to stay.

As a digital generation, we’re on the move more and more. We are no longer ‘in work’, ‘at home’ or even ‘on holiday’. We multi-task in transit and our consumer expectations are huge. As marketers, pretty much everything we deliver is out of date as soon as it is deployed. With this in mind, real time content is vital in our marketing messages. Use this technology to your advantage and apply it to your automated behavioural campaigns, utilising the data stored in your SCV database. Let them take care of the hard work for you.

For example, on receipt of an email, I want it completely tailored to me. I also want it to be up to date whenever I open it, regardless of when the brand sent it to me. If it’s sunny in the morning I want to see products that reflect this. If I open the same email later in the day, in the middle of a thunderstorm, I want to see items that reflect this change of environment. I also want a map to show me where I can buy those wellies locally to me at 8pm at night wherever I may be.

Selfish? No. That’s what your customers expect these days.

7. Content - Feedback is Your New BFF

Feedback can make or break your marketing campaigns. Somehow, sometime, in the last couple of years, feedback has become a channel in its own right within the consumer purchase path.

“90% of customers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews” (Zendesk). Contrary to this, only 50% of online retailers use customer reviews, according to Forrester Research.

So how can feedback bring value to your SCV? Aside from some significant business insight, asking the individual their opinion can easily allow for further levels of segmentation, based on whether they are an advocate or potentially likely to say goodbye as quickly as they said hello. Put simply, that relationship knowledge equals power. By identifying an unhappy customer in time and addressing the issue in the right way, you can save that bond and plug up some of that leaky bucket. Regaining customer trust is a sure fire way to absolute loyalty and your best, longer term BFFs (Buying Friends Forever).

Likewise, identifying happy customers allows a natural and seamless push towards social media channels to spread that love and increase brand awareness. These days, people buy from people, not from pushy marketers. 

Either way, even with a highly detailed SCV, we can’t read our customers minds, freely offering a feedback portal will only strengthen the brand-consumer relationship.

8. Deliver - On a Silver Plate

Or rather, on a silver platform - making it as easy as possible for each and every recipient. It’s almost commonplace (although many still haven’t caught up) that once your SCV is in position on the correct platform, you can deliver the right message, to the right device, on the right channel and at the right time.  We’re so good at it, we’ve started to take it for granted at times.

Inboxes are now stuffed full of fantastic, slick, tailored, personalised messages, showcasing every product and service I could ever hope to own or encounter. And it doesn’t even stop there. SMS, push notifications, social media and direct mail. Shopping my way, via the channel I choose, with the stuff I want. Perfect.

There is one downside to all this perfectly personalised content though. I have no time to look at it! I’m super busy with lots to do, so I will have to remember to take another look later on when I am less busy…

Do not allow your customer base to make a ‘mental note’ to return later. You know they won’t. Your message has already been replaced by more up-to-date content by your competitors. Instead allow your customers to set up an actual reminder via the channel they prefer, at a time that’s more suited to them as an individual. Same message, same offer, right channel, right time (when they actually have time).

A hand delivered silver service platter. Now that really is perfect.

9. Think Mobile - That's the Device and the Action

We have already established that a large proportion of those in your SCV are massively digitally aware, consumer savvy, on the move, fast thinkers and even faster responders. Their expectations are high and all content ought to be clever, smart, expertly delivered and managed, but never at their expense.

48% of UK millennials said that a poor mobile experience would make it less likely for them to use a business’s other products.

Somo analysed the mobile capabilities of the top 50 high street retailers, finding that:

  • 40% don’t have a mobile optimised store locator

  • 20% don't have a transactional mobile site

  • 30% don't have an iOS app

  • 28% don't have an Android app

  • 44% don’t have a tablet optimised site

  • 46% don't support responsive web design

 (Econsultancy)

It’s not just badly executed mobile design that can be a turn off. The mobile phone has quickly become the number one tool for pre-purchase research, so the customer experience has to be seamless and slick across all channels, apps and website pages. Again, have your feedback armed and ready and above all make it easy as pie. This is the expectation now, not the future.

10. Don't Hesitate - Just do it

Baby steps, yes. Put a plan together and attempt to execute at least 50% of these recommendations. It’s a start. Try, test and then rollout. Automate as much as you can. Analyse your data and identify what’s working well and what’s not. Look at new channels and refreshed content. Invest in a great user-friendly tool which will unleash the real potential of your SCV. You have great data. It’s time to maximise this advantage, respect your customers and prospects and build proper lifetime brand relationships.

If you are lucky enough to have achieved a genuine Single Customer View, you’re already ahead of the game. Key to your success though, is to actually understand the data and utilise it properly and appropriately. A customer is not a record, a number, a cookie ID or part of a segment. A customer is a unique, valuable individual with preferences, tastes, limited time and is ever changeable. A customer will only be loyal to a brand that serves them exactly what they want, when and how they want it. For some of us, we are indeed finally on the road to achieving this marketing SCV dream.

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