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!