Marketing automation automates repetitive tasks while providing the data analytics needed to know who to call, email, text, and follow and why. Customers who fill out forms on your website need timely and relevant replies. Think of online marketing as conversations. When customers share their information a two-way converstaion and a reltionship begins. As with any converstaion and nascent relationship, customers expect to get to know you, your company, brands, and products better as your knowledge of them increases.
The Internet's good and bad news is rapid adoption. Most online campaigns follow a drip, drip, flood model. As marketers we create campaigns, watch analytics, adjust, and watch analytics to adjust, and so on until adoption speeds, unsuccessful campaigns are abandoned, and successful marketing tuned so a flood begins.
Floods put stress on even the most advanced marketing automation and may lead to backlash. Backlash happens when customer expectations aren't met, when your response is slow, not relevant, or robotic. Not all customers are equal, so using marketing automation algorithms and software to feed the right response sot the right potential customer at the right time is art and science.
Think of marketing automation as having two components:
Frontend automation creates timely relevant responses to triggering events such as filling out a form, requesting more information, sharing your content, or following your social media.
Backend automation uses artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithms to invest in more robust engagement to prevent backlash and promote sales, engagement, and a deepening relationship.
Marketing Automation's Frontend
Let's expand our digital marketing is like a conversation idea with another analogy - your website is like a cocktail party. You've gathered friends, colleagues, and contacts together. You've hired a great catering company that ensures your guests' drinks are cold and customized and they are well fed.
You walk around welcoming friends you know, introducing yourself to people you don't know, answering questions about bathroom locations and where to put coats, and catch snippets of conversations you introduce friends who don't know each other. You're a convivial host. But, by the end of a long night, everything that just happened is a blur as exhausted you fall into bed.
Now imagine your catering company is noting, in real-time, how your guests arrived, what they eat and drink, wear, and discuss. The next day your catering company provides a report with everyone's name, the car they arrived and left in, who ate and drank what, and how much. They've recorded and organized every conversation by keywords and assigned a listening priority. What sounds intrusive and dystopian in a cocktail party happens as routine on every website."
Customers want your website to be personal and efficient, to know who they are and what they wish to do, because leading retailers such as Amazon, Apple, and Target create high expectations. Once high expectations happen, they aren't limited to the business-to-consumer space where personalization algorithms such as Amazon's "people who bought x also bought y" reviews or bestseller lists started. Instead, business-to-business customers carry their e-commerce expectations to your site's content, whitepapers, and webinars.
Let's not leave our cocktail party just yet. Remember the division of labor where you were the convivial hostess as your catering company gathered and reported information? Each job is demanding, but on the day after the party, with your hostess job over, you analyze what worked and how to tweak your next party, so everyone has more fun, feels rewarded, and engaged, and is sure to tell their friends why you have the best parties. Your backend analysis begins.
Marketing Automation's Backend
We design responsive websites with marketing automation in mind. As information begins to flood into a website, we've tagged and coded conversions to inform and trigger. We know 20% or less of web pages will earn 80% or more of clicks, reads, and downloads. So we don't spend time trying to raise the average response.
Instead, we focus on winners looking to tweak and optimize the most popular pages and calls to action because small increases in big numbers often return more than significant increases in smaller numbers. If 100 visitors requested a "Tell me more about marketing automation" whitepaper tweaking the offering landing page to create a 20% improvement produces 20 more requests. Spending the same time to improve a page and call to action with only two requests is a waste of time.
We can't make more time, so best to use analytics and algorithms to find your 80/20 Rules and focus time, energy, and optimization on the left side of the Pareto Principle - the 20% (or less) of causes contributing 80% (or more) of consequences. Trying to understand your 80/20 rule as digital marketing floods your website with responses is a non-starter.
Better to use Applications Program Interfaces (APIs) to incorporate popular Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software such as SalesForce, HubSpot, and Zendesk while automating "drip campaigns" with algorithms supplied by Pardot, Hubspot and Mailchimp." "Drip campaigns" share information over time intending to develop an increasingly personal relationship with potential and existing customers."
Drip campaigns aren't static but set up with additional triggers, communication, and personalization. For example, your CRM and marketing automation may include a business rule that states, "when a customer downloads two or more whitepapers, give them a call.". Each day will produce a list of contacts who've downloaded more two or more whitepapers so your sales team can give them a call.
Before calling a prospect, your sales team will first check your CRM to learn who they're calling. Good CRMs are like patient health records - interactions are captured, categorized, and easily reviewed. In addition, your CRM may trigger research into potential customers who've downloaded two or more whitepapers.
Social media such as LinkedIn or Facebook can help you learn about "hot prospects." Once your business rules define a prospect as "hot," learning as much as possible in a proactive CRM while using algorithms to analyze and tweak what works turns more prospects into customers.
Today, some automation is a requirement because the Internet can swamp even the smallest businesses. Every website carries an implied promise. Look at our pages, share your reactions, ideas, and comments, and we'll respond in increasingly personal ways. Every website, from your favorite plumber to Amazon, has this implied promise. Trying to manually manage floods of prospective customers is like trying to stop the tide. Designing websites with automation in mind is a must.