October 17, 2016

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Marketing Automation De-mystified

You ask for “Marketing Automation” and you will have 7.2 million ideas. You ask “What it is” and 45K individuals will be ready with their answers.

But the one I found most relevant is –

“Marketing automation is a powerful tool for brands as it allows them to create a rich profile of their audience and use targeted marketing messages to help drive conversions.” – Econsultancy.com

Of the many use cases, a popular and tangible one for Marketing Automation is – “The Abandoned Cart.”

Numerous online stores implement a real-time prospect follow-up when it is close to conversion

Marketing Automation has helped FnP to track each transaction, especially incomplete ones.

Does it have a commercial impact?
Yes, it does. In fact, it seems to be leading the pack of all of other activities a marketer is involved in – 

Source - http://cnw.newswire.ca/blog/Marketing-Trends-2016-Marketing-Automation.html

If marketing automation plays a decisive role in having a positive impact on conversions, its adoption across industry is a different story altogether. You ask Marketers about the level of adoption of Marketing Automation. 76% (see next) have experienced it in one form or other. The best (or worst) part is that only 15% seem to be maximizing it.

Source - www.smartinsights.com

What is the reason behind this apathy toward the most important piece in the entire marketing game? Having witnessed business requests and implementation of Marketing Automation pieces across industry, I would attribute it to 3 primary causes –

# 1 - Complex Technology Ecosystem – 250+ Products

There are several marketing automation systems in place. Deciding the most suitable one is in itself a challenging task.

Source - http://www.goinflow.com/

# 2 - Requires Business Process Change for Data Collection and Content Creation

Representatives from Sales, Floor Staff, IT, and Marketing – whoever interacts directly with the customer definitely needs to undergo a change. Data collection has to be enabled across channels – one can feel its complexity by consulting the “Car Insurance Purchase Journey” below -

Source - https://blog.gfk.com

# 3 - Missing Competent Teams

Marketing teams should have people with the right balance of skills for content management, data analysis, technology decisions and usage, besides managing marketing operations.

More than 50% of the marketing teams lack one or more skill.

Source: http://www.fathomdelivers.com/

No single remedy is available for the aforementioned challenges. For start-ups and business unit marketing, quick tactical solution for a given situation can be implemented. However, that may not solve the problem at large and, in fact, may give rise to silos in the long term and redundant (at times, conflicting) marketing ecosystem.

Here are some key factors that will increase the probability of success while implementing Marketing Automation project –

#1 - Selection and Implementation of Marketing Automation technology should be –

  1. Future-proof – Today, new marketing channels are materializing rapidly. Pokémon Go emerged swiftly and might fall out of fashion as rapidly, but till the time it is in market, its potential cannot be ignored. Scalability enabling integration with currently unfamiliar channels is a win-win for the future. Infrastructure scalable to the demand is the standard, and yes, I am referring to the cloud.  
  2. Carried out by the Digital Marketing Automation Implementers – Instead of marketing automation software product companies or marketing campaign agencies create a team comprising different implementers. This will ensure attention and expertise at a competitive price.

http://www.information-age.com/when-two-vendors-are-better-one-gartner-123458431/

Question – Can an association of all leading world car manufacturers build the best car in world?

The answer to above question is subjective. But answering the question in one’s mind can tell you if Marketing Automation is a hoax or success mantra. For me, the answer is Yes – as the best for mankind can only be done by the best of mankind. For example, remember the birth of Bluetooth (Intel, Nokia, and Ericsson at Lund, Switzerland, in Dec 1996).

Source - https://www.nordicsemi.com/eng/News/ULP-Wireless-Update/A-short-history-of-Bluetooth

#2 – Timeline of the marketing automation implementation should be –

  1. Milestone driven – Within the first three months, the project should be able to reduce the time to publish content to channels by 60%. In the next three months, the project should be able to segment promotions based on buying behavior, real-time notifications, etc.
  2. Supported and acceptable to stakeholders in the organization – Its implementation is not an option, but mandatory. The think tanks should be periodically fed with the right information so that they do not lose interest and consider marketing automation implementation as the first project to manage the bottom-line. The first year will always be the hardest.
  3. Including the change in business processes and involving people – After all, business rules, content, and data will be leveraged by people.

Marketing Automation is an imperative, but choice brands have to remain competitive in this “Digital” world. To put Marketing Automation to use – technology and time must be considered along with the other aspects like content, rules, data, etc. How difficult is it to put together the best of the brains in the company for a noble cause that impacts the top-line?