Automation: It’s Not Automatic

Your company does email campaigns. Then one day, your marketing coordinator tells you about this new platform or that revolutionary tool that makes it possible 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? Sadly so…

Automation is growing rapidly. It lets you build and maintain a deeper relationship with your customers and prospects, while optimizing the results you obtain from your marketing efforts. But the whole automation thing is about the processes; not about the actual content!

Yes, but the automation platform claims this and that…

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

But hold on a second.

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

You get it? All these personalized emails will be sent automatically at the right time.

But… how do you determine the workflow of these emails?

Your gut feeling is not a marketing analysis

To automate your processes, you first need to analyze the current behaviours of your subscribers’ as well as the performances of your past campaigns.

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 with 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 intelligence, such an analysis will help you identify weaknesses in your communication process to improve them.

Furthermore, talking to your sales force will help you determine when’s the best time, during the decision-making process, 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 end up with a clearer picture of prospects and customers’ behavioural profile.

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…

The empty can rattles the most

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…

As you deploy your shiny new automation solution, keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to strengthen the service you provide to your customers and make customized interventions with your prospects. It’s not about making as much noise as possible with empty emails sent in mass, 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 repository!

The robot’s pen

It takes more than a trendy style to write effective content. This is not the kind of task you should be delegating to your assistant, but rather a fundamental exercise that should involve both your sales and marketing teams.

The content of each email, the message you want to deliver and the calls to action should all be consistent with your global marketing efforts. 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 limits repetitive tasks and it ensures that each email delivery is made on an ad hoc basis and to the right people. Automation can speed up the sales process (which is particularly lengthy in B2B) by insisting on the right arguments at the right time.

But it requires actual work. You can’t just subscribe to a new platform or install a plugin and call it a day. 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. This human touch is the secret behind a successful automation!

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


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