AAAs often happens with an idea, ‘Marketing Automation’ began as a strikingly succinct description of a complex concept. Unfortunately, the notion has now begun to lose meaning through overuse. This is primarily due to the fact that true purveyors of Marketing Automation are in danger of being drowned out by those who provide Weapons of Mass Communication (WMCs), but no system of control. Add to this the fact that these WMCs aren’t truly automated and it’s not surprising that this once concise concept has been diluted somewhat.
How can you know if you’re dealing with true Marketing Automation or if you’re stuck with a mere WMC?
“We need [insert marketing goal here] - get me a campaign out!”
Whether your preferred channel is email, SMS, website personalisation, DM or outbound contact centre you’ll be all too familiar with this – the war cry of a someone who is too busy (or unwilling) to build a customer centric plan.
It’s clear that a Marketing Automation plan is needed, but before putting the time into this plan, you’ll need to assess your capabilities:
Most importantly, can all of your channels be driven by the same Customer Data Platform (CDP)?
Does this CDP tie up your customers behavioural & transactional data across multiple devices and drive true multi-channel campaigns?
Can it use this data to drive personalisation, even when your customers aren’t logged into your website?
If you’re struggling to tie up siloed data and are unable to push campaigns out to multiple channels from a single source, it may be time to look at the best way of integrating – converting those Weapons of Mass Communication into something a little more useful. However, if you’re operating in a business that utilises a true Marketing Automation tool to push personalised communications to all channels, this infrastructure should allow your campaigns (and marketing messages) to be complex, multi-layered and multifaceted.
Planning and Effective Execution
So you’ve upgraded from the one dimensional WMC(s) and now have your CDP in place. What next?
You’ve put together a world-beating business case, convinced Alan from procurement, Sarah from legal, and the Board Members to invest in the CDP you need. Now your company has a Platform that allows you to drive communications from all data sources to all channels (DM, Email, Web Personalisation, SMS, Social). And you have a huge point to prove.
It’s time to put your customer at the heart of everything you do, activate the data in your Customer Data Platform and automate as much of your activity as possible.
Whether focusing on acquisition, loyalty, retention or any other aspect of customer conversation, there are many dependencies to consider when planning how to use your CDP. Don’t despair or be put off by the seeming enormity of the task at hand – start with a solid and sensible foundation and build in additional complexity over time.
Use a familiar campaign/tactic as a way in and build from there – typically a welcome email. One-off email campaigns are useful but are most effective when used in conjunction with automated campaigns, across multiple channels. Again, begin simply - take your one-off email campaign and use your Marketing Automation tool to build in follow-ups based on customer engagement with the campaign. Build on the complexity of this automation at a pace that suits your business, in order to drive customer engagement levels.
Build up data layers that make your content more relevant – standard data needs to be augmented with behavioural data and communications personalised where relevant. Creating a recognition point is crucial – if an email has an image above the fold that references the last page or category viewed on your website, click rates increase exponentially.
In order to be the best in any discipline, you need a good team, as well as having the correct tools at your disposal. In modern marketing this means a Customer Data Platform that allows non-technical users to build multi-channel campaigns based on customer preferences and relevant data.
If your marketing team cannot build campaigns and action complex data from a front-end interface, if the data is not unified, you’re dealing with Weapons of Mass Communication rather than a true Marketing Automation tool.