One of our teams at Alite International hosted a webinar on the subject of “Automating Cross-Channel Marketing” whose purpose was to give a deeper insight into the strategic approach of implementing cross-channel marketing automation at organizations.
The webinar covered a variety of topics such as customer data management, dynamic audience segmentation, real-time personalisation of messages, triggered campaigns, automated user journeys and much more.
During the session, the attendees asked a dozen of interesting questions, which the guest speaker Kristijan Arsov decided to document along with the answers he provided, so we share them with you in this article.
So, here we go with the Top 10 questions from the webinar:
1. When is the right time to implement marketing automation?
The right time to start thinking about implementing marketing automation is when your business reaches a phase where growth cannot be scaled anymore without exponentially scaling your human resources. This is the perfect time to start using the benefits of technology to augment your marketing & sales teams, and to empower them with the necessary data & tools needed to scale your business to a much greater extent than possible to do so manually.
2. What’s the process of choosing the right customer engagement platform for your business?
Choosing the right customer engagement platform for your business starts with an analysis of your current state and your business needs. Once you have defined the type of your business (B2B or B2C), the size of your business, the size of your customer base, your marketing channels preferences, the already employed marketing technologies you will need to integrate the new system with, and the budget you have allocated for this initiative – you will be able to select the right platform that will suit the needs of your business.
3. When you’re talking about “Engagement Platforms” are you talking about CRMs, CDPs, or another type of system?
You can think of Customer Engagement Platforms as sort of the next generation of CRMs. A CRM specializes in housing and tracking customer data and activity such as purchased products, signed agreements, and communication with sales and support teams. On the other hand, a Customer Engagement Platform offers additional functionality at the earlier stages of the customer journey, such as audience segmentation, tools for landing pages and email creation, cross-channel campaign management, set up of triggered and transactional messages, automating user journeys, marketing analytics and more. It’s also worth noting that a CRM might be more useful if you’re a B2B company that needs Account-Based Marketing, while a CEP would come in handy if you’re a B2C company that has thousands of users of your product or service.
4. I have an e-commerce website, so I was wondering if I can send automated messages to users that have added something to their cart but didn’t complete the purchase?
This is a perfect use case for cross-channel marketing automation! Once you’ve integrated your website with a Customer Data Platform such as Segment, or a Customer Engagement Platform like Braze (or both), you can start tracking customer events, like for example dropping an item in a shopping basket. Then, you can set up a triggered campaign to be delivered 2 hours after someone drops an item in their basket via push notification if they have your mobile app, via email if they don’t, or via SMS if you have their phone number for example. You can also use personalisation and dynamic content to feature the item in question in the campaign body itself. With platforms like the ones I mentioned, you can even set up rules to cancel the campaign if the customer in question has bought the product in the meantime!
5. Is it possible to send messages to my customers when they are near my store?
Yes, this is also a great use case for marketing automation! Some of the more advanced Customer Engagement Platforms have a feature called “geofencing”. This feature enables users to configure geographical perimeters which act as triggers for campaigns – meaning that you can set up a campaign (push, email or SMS) to be triggered whenever your customer enters a specific geographical area – for example a 1 km radius around your store. Use this feature to invite your customer to come inside, combine the campaign with available past activity data and offer them an exclusive discount to the item they browsed on your website 2 days ago ;).
6. How can I segment my customers if I don’t have any demographic data about them?
There might be a time in a business’s lifetime, usually at the beginning, where it won’t have a lot or any data about its customers or leads. In a situation like this, I would suggest performing a market & competition research in order to get a better grasp of what your potential customers want to receive from you. Then, send a single campaign to the whole audience, built around what you’ve learned from the research. Once engagement metrics come back from this campaign, you can use this data to segment your audience for future campaigns, such as separating them based on their response to the campaign.
If you’re an e-commerce business, you could, for example, include 2 different types of products in your campaign, and then create 2 segments based on the product they clicked on in the first campaign.
7. When is the right time to implement additional data sources? Like location or behavioural data providers?
The right time to start including 3rd party data is whenever you feel that the customer experience you are providing with the currently available data is not sufficient to deliver real value to your customers. Based on your business’s needs and available budget, you can start introducing more additional data sources and technologies to further enhance the digital experiences you’re creating for your audience.
8. What customer engagement tool do you suggest for this process and how to know if that one is applicable for my business? Also, how much does it cost to implement such a solution?
As we’ve discussed in question nr.2, the tool itself will depend highly on your business type and the current & future needs of your business. Once you’ve performed an analysis of your business’s needs, you can easily search the market and find the right platform for you.
As for the cost, most of the marketing technologies out there charge their licenses by usage – meaning that you will pay as much as you use the platform. This is mostly calculated via data points spend (customer actions & attributes tracked), monthly visitors of your website, monthly active users of your mobile app, the number of messages sent, etc. The least expensive tools, such as Mailchimp for example, start at less than 15 EUR per month – which is a sum that every business can afford.
9. Do you have any examples of how you can leverage the benefits if you are a B2B company with very long sales cycles?
At first glance, marketing automation seems more appropriate for B2C businesses. However, this is far from true, since many B2B businesses are utilizing the benefits of marketing automation.
Again, based on the size of your business and the budget you have at hand, you could build out an automated funnel for your lead generation activities. For example, you could integrate a website tracking tool (such as Google Analytics or Albacross) with a CRM (such as HubSpot) to track the businesses that visit your company’s website. Then, you could create an audience of your website visitors within the CRM’s dashboard and send it to LinkedIn or Facebook to be used as custom audiences for advertising. You could also use a CRM to automate email messages sequences for warming up your leads until they reach a phase where they’re ready to get on a call with your sales representatives.
That being said, marketing automation is not the answer to every challenge a company might have and should be seen as one of the strategies you can employ to grow your business.
10. How long does the process of implementing marketing automation last usually and what type of knowledge do I need to have in my team?
The length of the process can vary greatly depending on the size and complexity of your organization, as well as the available resources to commit to the project. We’ve seen startups and smaller, agile businesses to fully implement cross-channel marketing automation solutions in less than 4 weeks. Large enterprises might take up to 12 months to get fully on board with a new stack of marketing technologies.
As for the knowledge, businesses will need to have at least the following human talent available to successfully implement marketing automation:
- Data Analyst, with an ability to see data in a business context, meaning they will be able to understand how to use the data you have available (or help decide which data to be tracked) in a way that will help enhance the customer experience you’re delivering, and achieve a greater return on your investment.
- Developer, with knowledge of integrating different data sources and systems for a smooth stream of customer activity data, as well as the set up of API requests with the purpose of creating triggered, automated and transactional campaigns.
- Customer Engagement Specialist, with knowledge of cross-channel campaign management, that will be able to set up and configure cross-channel campaigns with the goal of increasing engagement metrics, conversion rates and driving more revenue.
- Some businesses decide to employ digital consultancies like Alite International, which specialize in the implementation of marketing technology, as well as developing marketing automation strategies to help companies converge data & technology in order to deliver truly human-centric experiences across all digital touchpoints.
Some businesses decide to employ digital consultancies like Alite International, which specialize in the implementation of marketing technology, as well as developing marketing automation strategies to help companies converge data & technology in order to deliver truly human-centric experiences across all digital touchpoints.
If you want to learn more about marketing automation and how you can benefit from it, feel free to write to firstname.lastname@example.org.