Marketing Automation… are you really ready for it?

Marketing AutomationMarketing Automation (MA) is hot. A lot of companies are engaging tools like Pardot, Marketo, Hubspot to send messages, share information, tweets, post and pretty much push out just about any utterance their marketing department can think up.

This is great! Set up a drip campaign, nurturing campaign, journey or any number of other euphemisms for a communication program and you’re ready to go.

Not really.

Often there is very little distinction between the messages to various segments, usually because the segments are not defined. Before you invest in MA you need to determine your resources and commitment to segmenting your customers / prospects, scoring and analytics while managing truly unique communication programs.

Segmenting

You know about segmenting, we talk about it all the time. Marketing automation works best when you have distinct buyer profiles, defined by objective data points, who require unique information to keep their interest.

When creating your segments or profiles, avoid using pure demographic data unless it truly impacts buying behavior or interests. In addition to behavior defining demographics (if any), look at behaviors and activities that indicate interests and possible future actions. What we really want to influence is consumer behavior, so focus your segments accordingly.

Don’t over complicate it. If you’re unsure, answer the questions: “How will I communicate differently based on this information?” and, “Will this communication differential impact the consumer’s behavior?

Scoring

For organizations that employ a direct sales teams or active direct sales communications, you have to be able to layer on a Score for each contact that fluctuates based on activity. This activity is focused on elements such as opening emails, click patterns, downloads, inbound calling and other actions that indicate a change in their level of interest in your particular product. In other words, where is the consumer in the buying cycle.

For each Scoring activity there are points assigned. As the points increase, so does the involvement of the direct sales team. Should a prospect download multiple whitepapers on your service, it might be time for a sales person to make a phone call.

Conversely, as they activity diminishes, so does the score. Phone calls made that go unanswered, periods of time since last website visit, etc. As the score decreases, the person moves away from direct sales activity to nurturing programs.

Profile Activity vs Scoring Activity

The differentiator between marketing automation Profile Activity and Scoring activity is identified by those activities that provide insight into “what” versus “when”.

Profile scores help identify two “Whats”. What is the person interested in and what kind of communication or information influences them. Some key areas to look at include subject of content viewed or downloaded. What are they looking at and is the activity frequent enough to form a segment element. If you have multiple lines of services or products, keeping your communication focused on those lines the person actively consumes may warrant a distinct segment element.

“When” activities refers to where the person is in the buying cycle, usually involves some level of frequency measure and impacts the scoring. If they downloaded three whitepapers, their score may increment 3 times by the score value assigned to whitepaper downloads. If the total score reaches a certain level, the contact becomes a warm prospect and may be worth a phone call, special offer of some other purchase encouraging action.

Communication

Drip programs, Journeys, campaigns, whatever you want to call them, they take time to plan, setup and manage. The messaging and creative executions need to be unique and purposeful, with an eye toward encouraging specific action on the part of the contact. This takes time, resources and commitment on the part of the organization. It’s more than simply writing a different piece for each Segment Profile or stage along the communication path. All these pieces have an objective and you have to measure the results.

Marketing Automation Analytics

Key to any marketing program, and especially digital marketing, is the ability to measure the results. Are you achieving what you set out to achieve?

Most marketing automation platforms are good at giving you specific data points. Did the email get sent, did it get open, did the person click, did they buy (for closed loop implementations)? The MA systems provide aggregate insight into macro activity, and nuanced information for a particular contact. But getting to the true aggregate behavior that allows you to assess what took place and provide insight into why (at least directionally) it worked or not, you need to tie MA communications into an overall analytics package such as Google Analytics.

Understanding the behavior on the website or with your app helps you understand what changes may improve your program. MA is about sending and receiving communication to achieve an outcome. Analytics is about understanding behavior. The two have to come together.

Are you ready for Marketing Automation?

I’ve seen whiteboards filled with possible elements for profiles, scoring models and subsequent follow up activity. Even simple programs require well thought out profiles, scoring and communication planning married to well thought out analytics and reporting.

The successful marketing automation programs are resource intensive. If you are going to spend the money on the MA system, also invest in the proper resources to run it.

If your are ready, here are some of Marketing Automation companies. Marketo, HubSpot, Pardot, AutopilotHQ.

Fanatically Digital can work with you to implement MA. Give us a call to see how we can help 800.516.7440.

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