A common misconception about Marketing Automation is that you just hit autopilot and then sit back and watch the conversions roll in.

Anyone that’s seen the movie Airplane! will know that just hitting the autopilot button isn’t always a good idea!

Marketing automation is no different to any other internal process, service or action within your company. Its success is dependent on the competence of the people involved in the implementation.

If marketing automation is applied correctly, an organisation can expect to have engaged customers and a growth in revenue.

Therefore, it comes as little surprise to read that marketing automation has seen the fastest growth of any CRM-related segment in the last five years.

You’re all different…. “I’m not”

Despite the one man amongst the masses during Brian’s window top speech in The Life of Brian, everyone is individual and different. This is something that must be remembered when applying Marketing Automation.

Personalising content based on consumer profiles is a strategy that you should be adhering to with your marketing automation workflows.

For example, if an online retail company has a customer who in the past six months has purchased Britney Spears’s Greatest Hits CD (oh, the irony), a Miley Cyrus DVD and the book Despicable Me 3 by Katie Price, then they should not be targeted with content about the re-mastered version of The Stone Roses’ debut album or the release of the Director’s Cut of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

The message needs to be tailored to the profile.  

Broader segmentation is of course perfectly acceptable and it is encouraged to use it alongside individual messaging. You can group customers in many ways that will be different from business to business.

A popular technique is to look at how far down the sales funnel a customer is which will dictate what communication they receive and when they receive it.

The diagram below created from Kentico shows a classic example of how marketing automation can work prior to a sale. 

The speed of progressing a lead through this process is increased as a result of the speed at which a company can deliver messages by using Marketing Automation. Companies that invest in marketing automation solutions see 70% faster sales cycle times (Source: Bulldog Solutions). 

What do points make? ….Prizes!

Brucey knew what he was on about, points mean prizes, although I am unsure if he has much knowledge of lead scoring. 

You will have noticed that in the diagram above lead scoring plays a pivotal role. Lead Scoring is a system that helps you classify website visitors according to how likely they are to become customers using a points/scoring system effectively creating a league table consisting of leads and customers.

Points are allocated to certain tasks e.g. visiting the website = 10 points, subscribing to the newsletter = 30 points, purchasing a product = 1000 points. 

When a person reaches a certain score then specific marketing material can be targeted at them such as discount codes or invitations to special events.

However, there are likely to be people that you will not want to target event though they have reached a certain point threshold. For example, if someone buys a car by going straight into the showroom and taking advantage of a seasonal offer (that they were unaware of) and then subsequently visits the website and acquires lead scoring points, they do not need to be targeted with the seasonal offer.

It is easy to ensure that does not happen by simply applying a Condition Field such as “If site visitor has bought a new car in the last two months then do not email”. 

Lead scoring is a highly effective way of nurturing leads and subsequently maximising customer lifetime values.

Without marketing automation it would be very difficult to maintain meaningful nurturing for every potential lead and customer contact.

Marketing automation enables customer-segmented communication tracks to provide content and messaging based on prospect behaviour, interest levels, and demographics. Manual processes could never scale to meet the demands of such sophisticated and targeted lead nurturing. 

Surely Airplane! didn’t have it completely wrong?

That’s right, they didn’t, and don’t call me Shirley. They needed to react quickly and have ready-made response to a certain scenario. Unfortunately, Otto the autopilot did not have the skills or expertise to land the plane.

This is similar to Marketing automation. Anyone can run it but you can’t just rely on the technology. The quality of the content is imperative. 

While automation can improve multi-touch customer interactions, marketers must be smart about every step to avoid making costly mistakes that result in lost customers, lost opportunities, and lost revenue. 

Marketers must always remember that an overarching marketing strategy should direct the implementation of Marketing Automation platforms. The technology itself doesn’t engage and convert prospects – it’s the marketing plan in place that makes it all happen.

Relevant messages have a short life shelf life. If you set up marketing automation content and don’t revisit it regularly to judge whether it is still appropriate then your communications can quickly be regarded as spam.  

So, luckily for us marketers, we are not out of work just yet!

Robert Yardy

Published 25 September, 2014 by Robert Yardy

Robert Yardy is Marketing Manager at MMT Digital and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can connect with him on Facebook, Google Plus or Twitter

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Ted Richardson

This article has been poorly conceived. Robert Yardy is a pretender and doesn't know what he is talking about.

TR

over 3 years ago

Robert Yardy

Robert Yardy, Marketing Manager at MMT Digital

Hi Ted,

Thank you for your insightful and detailed feedback. Although you have presented well thought through and comprehensive opinions I can’t help but think you could possibly enlighten us even further. Perhaps some content about how you apply marketing automation, or better still, a blog post on this very subject!

Kind regards

Robert

over 3 years ago

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Ted Richardson

Firstly I'm not going to dignify the marketing manager whose sole job is to market his company in a digital capacity and has done such a poor job...

I took a sneak peak at the companies followers on Twitter/ FB (a Kazak farmer with a pager, typewriter and a fax machine probably has a stronger social media presence then MMT digital).

He uses a lot of analogies which are not great and emotionally upsetting... I bought a few of Hannah Montana's DVD's as well as the Twlight series for my daughters birthday as well as Britneys Greatest hits album (that was for myself it's not that shabby).

This does not mean an algorithm should act as a zealot and automatically assume I am not also a fan of the high end artistic films i.e Drive / Melancholia / fight club to name but a few...

MMT's slogan is "Make me think" and it did: the place must have a over representation of halfwit's.

TR

over 3 years ago

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Amy McCarthy

The entire point of the article was that assuming revenue will roll in just by segmenting customers and using automated email campaigns with no human element involved can potentially be faulty.

He even used bold font to emphasize the point: "...you can’t just rely on the technology. The quality of the content is imperative."

Regardless, you and your child enjoy a certain genre, if a business sends relevant offers based on your purchase history, the most likely scenario is that they will be interesting to you as a consumer. That's the point.

I'd prefer for an algorithm to determine and send more personalized campaigns for products I've previously showed interest in. If I want to purchase a product not included in those campaigns - I can easily use the search function on the site. Not a big deal.

over 3 years ago

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Ted Richardson

Hi Amy,

I agree there is a need for such tools if you have a large inventory of products I.e. Argos, Amazon etc...

However are we to rely upon a machine to understand our customers...

I ordered some boys toys as a gift for my friend kids and now I'm being served toys that would appeal only to little boys...

What I am saying is... Don't put your customers on a box :-) the successful retailer is the one who understands their customer is not a 2 dimensional character. We have the technology to be able to really understand our customers in much more sophisticated way then the half wit author suggested.

TR

over 3 years ago

Robert Yardy

Robert Yardy, Marketing Manager at MMT Digital

Hi Ted,

In terms of the company who are targeting you with gifts for boys following on from your purchase of presents, a single action (or transaction in this case) does not tell an organisation enough about that lead. This mistake is a common reason for marketing automation investment fails.

An efficient visitor profile will not have been created which can be achieved by tracking social media activity, website interaction over a period of time, search terms used prior to accessing the website, response (or lack of) to emails, newsletter subscription and form submission.

I would recommended setting up a different path for someone that only performs one transaction. For example, an organisation can create a trigger that says if that is the only thing they do within a certain time period the marketing automation process ends for them. This is very easily done.

This platform is for healthy discussion and debate as opposed to abusiveness and it is a shame that your rather aggressive and insulting comments mask any creditable points you are trying to make.

Robert

over 3 years ago

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Ted Richardson

Sorry Roby,

Old Tel, gets a bit passionate about his Britney Spears ;-( You are doing a splendid job young man. This post did manage to get me out of the read only zone to commenting. That is a skill in itself.

Best,

TR

over 3 years ago

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