Digital marketing has changed the way in which marketing teams work. While it has been around for a few decades now, it has matured only over last few years. The marketing automation in the early years was limited to email automation.
You worked with a huge database of customer emails and wrote small scripts for basic personalization of a mass generated email and send them one by one. That was the beginning of the marketing automation. While it seemed very helpful, the changing landscape and changing customer expectations, led to marketers managing huge email database and ever complex personalization. With the ease of communication, came the need to increase the frequency of communication and build fresh content every time. This required a fast-paced content creation and marketing team. You quickly needed to analyse the market, come up with exciting and relevant campaigns, create content and set the ball rolling with bulk emails.
With today’s marketing automation landscape, the scenario is much more complex. You collect potentially unstructured data from various sources such as Social Media, your own CRM systems and external events, analyse it, plan and create a campaign around it, test the campaign content that you will be communicating for maximum impact (such as A/B testing etc.) and start communicating with the customers. However, the story does not end there. After you have run your campaign, you need to analyse the results, measure the success of the campaign, do the funnel analysis, measure what worked, what didn’t and why it didn’t. Once you figure that out, you are just nearing to start another campaign, with your new learnings and hoping for higher conversion this time. You need to do all this, before the competition has done all of this, rolled out his campaign and taken away your market share. Not to mention that while the tools you work with, can automate this, they are getting ever so complex to use and program, with so many variables to play with that keeping up pace with automation, is a daunting task.
Implementing Marketing automation tool and leaving it there may achieve some effectiveness, but you must put in effort to work with them, to use them to their maximum potential and get the real benefit out of them. You must follow a few principles to achieve this.
Marketing Process efficiency. A basic rule of technology used for business is, an automation applied to an efficient process will magnify its efficiency while automation applied to an inefficient process will magnify its inefficiency. In simple terms, if you create a content with error, automation will send that content to a thousand potential customers. However, if you review the content and add a relevant information, automation will share the same with the same thousand customers. This is just one small process of reviewing the content that we are talking about. Imagine, what could a whole lot of process improvement do to your marketing impact?
Use scaling. Don’t jump into marketing automation with a big bang approach. Start with small scale deployment. Work with specialists in initial stages and see what works for you. Get the hang of automation systems and processes. Adjust your processes and learn your lessons in small scale deployments. Once you are comfortable, start scaling up. That way, your mistakes are limited to smaller base. Roll out the program on larger scale, once you are confident of getting things right.
Effective Data. Marketing Automation is all about working with data. To get business results from marketing automation, your data needs to be solid, clean and up to date. Data must be regularly revisited, cleansed for errors and old irrelevant data needs to be removed. Here too, scaling can work wonders. Start small, once you get that right, work with larger set.
Big Data. With the integration of all data sources, you will be generating and working with large amount of data. Hence, you need right strategy to handle and process all that data and you will need help from your IT team to manage the tools and databases to handle all this big data. When it comes to Big data, IT will be your strategic partner and not just a back-office team.
Content. Content is king and any marketeer worth his salt will readily tell you this, without a second thought. You need a constant and steady stream of content and you need it in various formats like newsletters, blogs, e-books and more. The content must be fresh and relevant to the customer to make it valuable for him. You need a well-defined strategy for content creation. In fact, if you can, you should have a dedicated team for content, who work like evangelist for your products. With marketing automation, the content can be more customized, personalized and timed for customers. Having a great content at hand can make your marketing automation journey a smooth, meaningful and profitable journey.
Pace your organization. What if all of this works or maybe even better than you expected? Is your sales ready to handle the large increase in potential opportunities? Is your organization ready to handle significant rise in demand for products? Is your event team capable to handle the large rise in registration for events? Always keep stakeholders in loop. Let them know what is expected of them, and what may be coming their way. There is nothing worse than losing the customers, because your organization wasn’t equipped to handle the load. Customer’s don’t forget, if you don’t get back to them, especially when you reached out to them, first.
Remember, after all it is marketing. Marketing automation can be used to achieve a lot of ground, quickly and efficiently. But it is not a quick, catch it all solution. Just like any effective marketing, you need plan it carefully and monitor every step to keep things on track. Being Conscious of the above points can help you cope well with the pace of marketing automation.