16 April 2019

Marketing automation: what is it really, and how should I use it?

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Marketing automation is a real game changer, but isn’t always well understood. I talked with consultant Tijs Renson to get his expert breakdown of what marketing automation exactly entails, and examples of how to do it well.

How would we describe marketing automation?

A tool to automate marketing actions such as mailing and social media messaging without human intervention. In order to fully understand the concept, some background is essential.

Not that long ago, companies targeted their clients with mass mailings, which is sending one mail to the entire client database without any customization. As a result, you had unsatisfied clients that rarely even opened the emails (low open rate) or were unlikely to follow through (high bounce rate) within that same mailing. Let’s not forget the effect this had on the reputation of the sender: the word spammer was created!

In order to avoid this hit and run strategy, companies started to think about how they could engage clients in a long term relationship where trust and professionalism were key. Customization would be key in this: sending personalized content, to the proper person, at the right time, via the most appropriate channel. Let’s have a look at a quick overview on how marketing automation evolves (which phase is your company in right now?)

  • Personalisation based upon name: addressing the receiver by his first or last name is the most basic form of marketing automation.
  • Send time optimization: gathering data on opening of previous mails in order to determine the ideal moment to send a mail to a specific person. Resulting in higher open and click rate.
  • Event triggered mailing: for instance, leaving your data on a website or downloading an e-book will result in a chain of automated emails referring to the previous call to action
  • Rule based: using data to personalise and segment audiences and mails, call to actions and other interaction moments

So, how could this work in real time?

Let’s have a look at the example below:

A well-known restaurant brand is sending you an email, addressing you by your first name, 2 weeks before your birthday with an offer for a discount if you eat at their place. Depending on parameters such as your age, components such as title, content, image and call to action can differ. For example, the older generation will be asked to print out a coupon, while younger generation will be asked to share their message on social media in order to retrieve an online code for that same discount. Once the discount is used, they’ll collect data on where, when and on what it was used so they can optimize future communication towards that same person.

What are the key assets for implementation?

Before implementing a marketing automation process, it’s important to keep the following things in mind:

  • Make sure you have established a detailed customer journey with defined touch points.
  • Have a good understanding of your buyer personas.
  • Do market analysis of current marketing automation providers based upon scale, type of system and budget. Potential suppliers could be:
    • Selligent, Hubspot, Marketo, Eloqua
    • IBM Watson and Adobe Experience (full stack solutions)
  • Establish a roadmap of implementation: do it step by step. Don’t forget that you’re dealing with current and potential customers.
  • Make sure you have internal resources to guide this process smoothly. You’ll need someone with analytical skills to do A/B testing, analyse and interpret results and constantly evaluate!

Thanks to Tijs Renson, Ariad consultant specialized in web management and marketing automation for collaborating and sharing his insight. Tijs started as webmaster at Colruyt Group but quickly took interest in email-marketing and marketing automation. He took on the technical and functional side of marketing automation for the Colruyt Group. And developed a taste for analytics.

Among other things, Tijs helps our clients implement optimal marketing automation to really connect with customers and encourage the right buyer behaviour at each point of the customer cycle. Care to have a chat regarding implementation of a marketing automation system, or simply in need of someone who can manage it? Feel free to reach out to me!