Marketing automation tools are becoming an industry standard part of the marketer’s toolkit.
Although for most, marketing automation is synonymous with email marketing. It’s forgivable as that’s where the discipline really took root.
The technology now exists to automate almost every aspect of your communications strategy. This has two key benefits. The first is it saves time. The other is you can create high-value communications based on customer behaviour.
Full disclosure: marketing automation is incredibly manual at the start. It needs to be by design. This is because you need to decide what success looks like for your communications. You also need to understand what nudges your customers need to convert. And, specifically, what conversions do you want to include.
This is a necessary and important step. Rushing it will mean your marketing automation campaigns won’t be as effective as they could be.
Underperforming campaigns will mean a diminished return on your investment, lower conversions and dissatisfied customers.
The Manual Element of Marketing Automation
Few processes require no human intervention. Even robots on a production line need to be programmed to carry on their tasks.
While many marketing automation tools contain artificial intelligence or machine learning, there are varying levels of sophistication. R2D2 is not pulling the levels behind the scenes, unfortunately.
The success of your marketing automation takes planning. Not only what you want the campaign to accomplish but how the campaign should run.
You need to consider the channel or channels you want to use. You also need to decide how many messages you want to send for each stage of the campaign.
Specifically, you need to decide if you are sending a follow-up email if users don’t open it. Or if they open but don’t click. Then there are users who open, click but don’t buy.
Don’t forget the customers who buy but don’t sign up for your newsletter.
The type of campaign you want to deliver will determine how many stages, the number of communications in each stage and what you want the customer to do.
Long-term nurture sequences, for example, are relatively straightforward to build. You just need to remember to update them as you create new content. And have a process or workflow in place to add new signups to the start of the sequence.
Alternatively, you may want to send your customers regular updates about an event. In this case, you’ll need to think about event triggers and other components to ensure the information is as real-time as possible.
Whatever the purpose of the campaign or the channels you’re using to send it, planning is essential.
Even the timings of your communications should be considered and the delay between messages.
The more planning you put in at this early stage, the easier it will be to build the campaign.
Building a Marketing Automation Campaign
Setting up a marketing automation tool or campaign can certainly make the tool feel like it’s not worth the hassle. Building a campaign requires time and effort. There are no shortcuts or AI to do the thinking for you.
Mainly because no one knows your customers as you do.
The most user-friendly marketing automation tools have some form of drag-and-drop user interface. Within this journey planner, you can map out the entire campaign. Including each sub-step, triggers and delays.
The really good customer engagement tools allow you to utilise multiple channels in your campaigns.
Starting with an app push or web push, you can switch to an SMS or an email depending on how your customers respond.
Building the Campaign
The most important component of any campaign is the outcome. Have a clear idea of what you want your customers to do once they’ve received the text, email or push notification.
There is no right or wrong answer here providing you have an outcome and it’s something you can measure. Without this, it’s impossible to drive your customers to do anything at all.
Once you’ve established this outcome then you can build a campaign that works towards that desired outcome.
Campaigns can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. Just remember, the more personalisation, the greater the chance of engagement.
The more value you add the more willing your audience will be to listen to you.
The more times you nudge them towards that outcome (through delivering value) the greater the chances of success.
Consider whether or not your campaign needs event triggers and time delays. Both are possible with marketing automation. You can set the parameters so your customers only hear from you if they don’t complete a purchase.
Or if they reach a loyalty rewards threshold. Or if products they have an interest in go into flash sale.
Or all of the above.
An important thing to understand about marketing automation is you can have multiple campaigns all running concurrently.
Each campaign will have its own objectives and its own audience based on relevance and customer data. Some customers may receive all the communications, others one or two. It doesn’t really matter providing you’re delivering meaningful value and driving the customer towards the outcome.
One of the most crucial components of a successful marketing automation campaign is the quality of your data.
The more data points you have on each of your customers the more personalised you can make your communications.
This adds a layer of complexity to your campaigns, but one that generates results.
If you know what products or services your customers like, you can tailor your communications accordingly.
Rather than a generic newsletter, you can send highly personalised recommendations.
Equally, rather than a generic app push news flash, you can tailor the content to reflect your customers’ individual interests.
Having this data available is immensely powerful. It allows you to communicate with your customers in a way they prefer, about the things they care about.
This granularity will make your marketing automation campaigns far more effective compared to traditional methods.
However, your data also needs to be in good shape and in one place.
This can be a problem for some businesses as disparate systems usually don’t talk to each other. You need a customer data platform to unify your data into a Single Customer View.
From here you can start to cleanse and standardise your data. Similarly, you can pull your product data through so you can create a tag system that helps you easily identify objects.
This will allow you to create those personalised campaigns.
So does Marketing Automation Save Time?
The initial setup of any marketing automation tool is time-consuming. Whether it’s getting your data into good shape or building the campaigns.
However, once your campaigns are built and running they take little to no management at all.
Consider the level of complexity some communications campaigns can have. If a business is keeping customers up to date with sports scores or betting odds, it would be near impossible for that information to be shared manually.
At least not without a vast team working frantically whenever a game is on. Such an approach is fraught with risk as that level of pace inevitably means mistakes.
Assuming you can deliver all the campaigns in the first place.
Marketing automation takes all of that hard work off your hands. While it took time to build the campaign in the first place, those rules and triggers will continue to work for subsequent events as well.
There is also an element of ease with marketing automation that can’t be understated. The ability to create rules that pull through products based on purchase history saves a huge amount of time and effort.
Or any key piece of data for that matter.
Whether you’re a hotelier contacting your frequent guests with exclusive offers or an SBG provider updating customers on scores or odds.
Focussing your communications on what’s relevant is the most valuable thing you can do for your customers.
More to the point it allows you to do something that would otherwise be impossible if attempted manually. Don’t forget you’re not personalising an email for one customer, you’re doing it for all of your customers.
To offer your customers the level of personalisation they demand, manually, would take an eternity. Not to mention the huge cost to the business.
This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to efficiency. Some platforms have AI or machine learning baked in. This functionality can split test and adjust messaging without any involvement from you at all.
Technology that continually adjusts and improves to boost conversion rate without any intervention from you at all is game-changing.
Marketing Automation for All?
Far too many businesses consider marketing automation a luxury. Or something that they won’t really get any use out of.
This is simply not the case. The stumbling blocks are usually a lack of understanding, a lack of imagination and bad data.
All of these things can be overcome with varying degrees of effort. Regardless, the effort is worth it because it opens up an entirely new way of talking to your customers.
A way of communication that your customers are crying out for and the majority of your competitors have yet to wake up to.
To learn more about how customer data and engagement platforms can consolidate your data and build sophisticated automated campaigns, get in touch today and request a demo.
Xtremepush is the world’s leading customer data and engagement data platform. We work with various top brands within the eCommerce industry. Schedule a personalised demo of our platform to learn more about how we can help your brand drive repeat customers and increase revenue.