The right ingredients for an effective marketing automation

Collaboration – 23 February 2018

In the fantastic world of marketing, the heavy trend that has been imposed in recent years is undoubtedly marketing automation! Whether you’re talking about customer experience, digital marketing and many more, if you don’t consider it, you may encounter some issues. Gartner even predicts that by 2020, 85% of the customer relationship will be automated on a global scale.

So, here’s a little blog post, not on the recipe (it does not exist unfortunately!), but rather the ingredients to consider for effective automated marketing, which to me, seems quite relevant as my first blog for 2018! I consciously use kitchen reference, not by passion (definitely not!), but more to highlight that the success or failure of automated marketing relies on the art of integrating different elements together.

Among those, we find:

Clearly defined objectives

The starting point of any automated marketing process is the objectives, which must be clearly defined from not only a qualitative point of view, but also quantitative. These should be the result of the marketing strategy put in place and are to be considered during the various stages of the project progress.

The most complete data possible

Since data is the raw materials of automated marketing, it’s easy to understand their importance. We are talking about customer data in the broad sense, so it’s not just data extracted from your website. It’s necessary to ensure that the different data circulating in your company is adequately collected. This implies identifying them, which can be done by analyzing the different stages of the client’s life cycle.

It is then necessary to set up a process of collecting this data, via a CRM for example.  I have in mind, an example of a company unable to provide the list of bids sent in the last 6 months. This may sound absurd, but in B2B, bids involve processes that can be very complex due to the nature of the products sold and the degree of personalization requested. In this case, the collection of this type of data implies the revision of the submission process.

Once the data is identified and collected, you will need to make sure that certain processes are in place to determine their quality.  There’s nothing worse than inaccurate data to ruin the image of your company! In fact, here is a link to a blog post that talks about customer data and their characteristics! I would just add that in our case, it might be interesting to process this data in order to create more relevant ones with scoring, a subject that may be the topic of a future blog post.

Even though the customer’s data is crucial, it is important not to neglect the market information that may prove equally relevant and will impact automated marketing. We can, for example, think of the seasonality of a product, the legislative framework, the arrival of competing products, …

Successful scenarios

This is where the fantastic marketing aspect that I alluded in my introduction appears. Okay, the word “fantastic” is perhaps a little strong, we certainly won’t go so far as to film the elaborate scenarios but, the idea is actually to explain to you that to mount them, it is important to define them properly, in every detail. And what are they?

The purpose of the scenario
Of course, the objective of the scenario is one of those defined beforehand. It can be the goal of converting your leads, a goal of loyalty or a goal of reactivation.

The target
It’s a question of defining the segment, the sub-segment or even the persona on which the scenarios will be applied. You identify it with the data collected, which requires some analysis.

The trigger
This is the starting point for our scenario. This can be, for example, a visit to your kiosk at a trade show, the downloading of a document on your website, a request for samples, a request for a quote, the registration of an online product, …

The different actions
Together, all the actions and rules associated with them will give shape to your scenario. They must be defined by their nature (sending e-mails, calling a representative…), their sequence, their position in time, their triggering element, …

Scenario editing or scripting is done first visually with software like Visio or even directly in the marketing automation tool. This makes it possible to see how they fit into your sales cycle (previously drawn) and optimize them despite the complexity that may arise from them. You must be aware that your scenarios are going to evolve in time since your company, your market and the information you are going to draw will encourage you to see them again.

Each action must be reflected according to the information needs of the target over time. These can be filled by content and/or direct contact from a member of your sales team.

Content
The content that occurs in a scenario comes from the company content policy so, you need one! This content can be the source of a scenario (the trigger) but can also be used in conjunction with the defined actions. Keep in mind that generally in B2B, at the beginning of the sales funnel, contacts tend to view articles or download documents in order to educate themselves.  Your scenarios must therefore be considered by not inserting the call of a representative too early, for example.

A suitable marketing automation tool

Once your marketing automation project is established, you will need to select the tool that will help you achieve it. In this regard, there is some confusion with platforms for sending developed e-mails. Although they allow some actions to be automated, they are not real automation tools.

The main criteria to be taken into account for a marketing automation platform, in addition to reliability, are: price, integration with your existing systems to promote data flows, its ease of use, tracking and related data, access to your performance indicators or the support (technical or otherwise) offered by the supplier.

In conclusion, I would like to point out that the introduction of automated marketing is generally a large-scale project. It implies a transversal view of the company. The associated costs can also be important, especially since there are few solutions suitable for small and medium-sized B2B companies on the market.

This type of project should not be considered simply as an expense since the returns on investment are measurable. We’re talking about a possible increase of 20% to 30% of turnover, by retargetting abandoned carts for example.

Of course, the results are not necessarily acquired at first glance and require rigorous monitoring of key performance indicators. They will however, allow the necessary adjustments and optimization of the processes put in place.

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