Automation, it’s not automatic

David Lepage – 24 September 2019

Your company does email campaigns. Then one day, your marketing coordinator approaches you to explain that there is a new platform or tool that allows you to automate your campaigns – you will suddenly double your conversion rate, the number of clicks will explode, and you will retire in the next year! Yippee!

Too good to be true? Yes…

Automation is growing rapidly. It allows you to create and maintain a better relationship with your customers and prospects, while optimizing the results you derive from your marketing efforts. But it’s the processes you automate; not the actual content!

Yes, but the automation platform says that…

The automation tool you are considering certainly looks promising. The website probably offers a compelling case for you to adapt to it. The platform is surely so simple, that it only takes one click to subscribe.

But wait a moment.

It is crucial to understand what automation is about. Don’t think your email campaigns are going to be created and sent “automagically” without human intervention.

Automating an email campaign allows you to specify actions to take based on specific criteria. For example, if someone clicks on a link, they will become “active” in your database and advance a step through your sales funnel so that, on your next mailing, they will receive a more suitable email. In contrast, the prospect who received your email but did not open it after a few days will receive a second email insisting on the urgency of clicking quickly or, offering an additional incentive.

Do you understand the principle? All these personalized emails will be sent automatically at the right time.

But… What exactly is the basis for determining the flow of these emails?

Your feeling is not marketing analysis

To automate your processes, you first need to analyze your subscribers’ current behaviors and campaign performance.

How many of your emails are opened and how often are your links clicked on? Do your emails get more engagement with senior executives or engineers? Does your database only include decision makers or other stakeholders involved in the buying cycle? You need to know who you’re talking to.

Based on your personas, campaign goals and business data, such an analysis will help you identify weaknesses in your communication process to improve them.

In addition, by talking to your sales force, you will also be able to determine when, during the decision-making process, it would be beneficial to intervene in an automated manner. By cross-referencing the results of your campaign with your website’s statistics and with what your vendors hear “around town,” you’ll be able to get a clearer picture of the behavior of prospects and customers.

In the end, you’ll get a much less linear and much more efficient process. Each email becomes, to a certain extent, tailor-made according to the qualifications of your lead or, according to the loyalty of your customer.

But you have to take the time to do this analysis! And that’s not all…

Empty barrels make the most noise

That’s all very good and well but, what do your personalized emails say?

You’re certainly not going to use generic messages to fill the templates of your beautiful email marketing platform. At least, I hope not…

While you’re deploying an automation solution, keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to strengthen the service you provide to your customers and make interventions more personalized with your prospects. It’s not about making as much noise as possible with empty emails sent in bursts, but about engaging in individual interactions as if a human were talking.

And for it to work, you need a human somewhere! It takes a team to build a content bank!

The robot’s pen

It’s not just about having a nice pen to write effective content. This is not the kind of task you should be ‘tasking’ your assistant with, but rather a fundamental exercise that should involve your sales and marketing team.

The content of each email, the message you want to deliver and the calls to action, should all be consistent with your efforts elsewhere. It is imperative to write with your brand’s overall strategy in mind and the content should become an extension of your other tactics.

This famous “robot” that will automate the sending of your emails is not a new breakthrough…. It’s really you, the human being, who will address each of your subscribers, customers and prospects; at least, that’s what they should feel when they open your emails.

Deploying an automation tool effectively requires a lot of creative, storytelling and scripting work. Just as you already devote time and effort to writing  texts for your website, brochures and maybe even your blog, you need to do the same with your email campaigns.

Yes, even if it’s automated!

The human behind technological miracles

So yes, automation offers many benefits. It helps to limit repetitive tasks and, it helps to ensure that each shipment is made on an ad hoc basis and to the right people. Automation can speed up the sales process (which is particularly long in B2B) by insisting on the right arguments at the right time.

But the work it requires is not limited to subscribe to a new platform, or to install a plugin. You need to analyze your current efforts, crunch your business data, and then build a library of punch phrases, calls to action, sales pitches and rebuttal to common objections. You must get your hands dirty to be successful.

Does that sound complex to you? Don’t hesitate to consult experts who can create tailored content for you, consistent with your marketing and well aligned with your sales. It’s this human touch that will ensure the success of your automation!

As a member of the NextBlue Alliance, a group of companies offering IBM Watson Artificial Intelligence-based solutions, ExoB2B is well positioned to assist your business in its digital shift and in automation of its processes.  Contact us!

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