In the business world, moving quickly is a natural instinct for everyone. However, it can be difficult to handle everything that needs to be done at the same time. While making sure your marketing is hitting the right audience, at the right time, with the right message, you also need to take care of generating new business leads, closing new deals, managing customer data, and existing accounts. As most of these activities will fall upon the back of your Marketing & Sales teams, as the business grows, you’re sure to encounter bottlenecks that will affect the productivity & profitability of your company. In this situation, the smartest solution is to turn to marketing automation.
According to Brian Downard, founder of BD Ventures, and Ehsan Jahandaropour, a growth hacking influencer, 78% of the marketers claim automation increases revenue and 75% of the brands that are using automation see ROI in the 1st year.
In simple words, marketing automation has changed each and every sense in which you, as a marketer and as a business, interact with visitors, prospects, leads, and customers. When talking about marketing automation, most of the time people refer to software, system or platform that stands behind and supports many complex marketing activities such as audience segmentation, automation of messages, measuring of activities, executing workflows & testing strategies, and more – without the need for time-consuming manual effort.
Simply purchasing and implementing a marketing automation platform will not work wonders on its own. It is also crucial to organize your team and build processes that will support automation. Later in the text, we explain how we managed to prepare one of our clients for a smooth transition with AWS Cognito.
We have outlined a 3-step approach to deliver a successful marketing automation solution, releasing your marketing team some time to focus on the really important things.
1. Customer Data Management
The reason why this process is crucial for your business is to be able to deliver a consistent and relevant service to your customers with the goal of adding value with every interaction. But the plain fact is that the quality of your product’s or service’s user experience is closely related to the quality and context of your data, leading us to the main challenge – customer data management.
Customer data management is fundamentally aiming to obtain feedback from your customers by intelligently analyzing your database. Furthermore, the process of marketing automation, as every other process of the kind, requires completeness, accuracy, and validity of the customer data that the technology will run on.
The inaccuracy of your data will be a waste of time (and money) which could otherwise be used to nurture your leads and build stronger customer relationships. A study by DiscoverOrg shows that sales teams lose around 550 hours per year managing bad data.
What if your data is inaccurate?
If for some reason, your data is inaccurate, there are some gaps in the information, or the data is poorly integrated, the core objectives of your marketing automation software will be compromised. In addition to that, the ability to deliver relevant and timely communication will be hindered, undermining your efforts for loyalty and sales improvement. To make things worse, all the processes driven by inaccurate data can actually damage your relationship with the customers.
To avoid all that, you have to get the customer data cleansed and structured for importing into the marketing automation platform for reaching maximum efficiency. This phase also involves cross-channel standardization of the data before integrating it with the automation software (name, number, email, title, industry, company, etc).
One of the easiest ways for doing this, or at least what’s proven the best practice for us, was the usage of AWS Cognito as user directory for one of our clients in the sports industry. They had millions of web and app users and were facing e major email verification issues. In other words, their database was polluted.
So, we managed to integrate their database with AWS Cognito and provide a secure and scalable user directory. By doing this, we cleaned their database and reduced it to active users only, so they were all set for integrating with a marketing automation software.
Cross-channel standardization is absolutely essential in this phase. During the process of data standardization, avoid creating variations in formats. It would be ideal if the possible existing variations are resolved in the source database before integrating with the platform.
Along with the primary information, there are some other elements that contribute to the uniqueness of your customer data:
- Behavioral data – likes, dislikes, social and web interactions of the prospect.
- Historical data – requests, support issues, and past purchases.
- 360 view of the customer – interaction with your buyer across all the channels (web, app, store, direct sales, etc).
Having everything in place, you will have to map the right data points and govern the data synchronization process between your new automation platform and your own data management systems. Make sure all your relevant data is being captured and imported to your automation software. After all, this is up and running, you can start thinking about segmentation.
2. Audience Segmentation with a Marketing Automation Software
The data management process doesn’t end after the integration is complete. It is actually, ongoing. It means that the standards of data entering the automation system have to be continually maintained and that control processes are in place.
After the data points from your customers start pouring in, you will be well equipped to organize the data and deliver actionable and relevant messaging. This will lead to strengthening customer engagement and loyalty for your brand.
However, at this point, sending a bunch of emails to everyone just won’t cut it. Each day, 45% of the email sent globally are accounted as spam, which is almost 14.5 billion spam messages. Therefore, at this stage, you should turn to the process that will avoid spamming your audience, and that is audience segmentation.
Segmenting your audience
Segmentation, or audience segmentation, refers to approaching your grouped prospects for relevant delivery of communications and offers with the final goal of better response rates. It is basically the act of categorizing your users into groups that will be based on one or more filters. These filters you choose involve identifiable characteristics: customer attributes, past campaign interactions, different types of user activity & actions, etc.
The segments that will be created with your automation software can be used for an infinite number of campaigns or an infinite number of occasions, as you seem fit. Also, you can export them and then use them to target or retarget your audience outside your automation software, through channels such as social media, SMS, telephone, direct mail, and more.
Some examples of possible segmentation:
- Activate new users:
Since new users are not that familiar with your web or mobile app, for example, you can use channels like push notifications, email, or SMS to teach that segment how to use the product & motivate them to do so. For starters, you can send them a welcome offer to encourage them to make their first purchase.
- Re-engage Dormant Users:
Create a segment of users that used to be active, but haven’t shown up recently. Maybe a good interval is to include users who haven’t launched the app for longer than twice their usual interval. So, if your user usually launches the app once in a week, they will be added to this segment if they don’t open it for two weeks. You can send a notification to invite them to come back and see what’s new, offering them something in return such as a special discount.
- Turn Loyal Users into Advocates:
Create a segment of your power users that have high frequency and high session length, letting them know that you appreciate them. Acknowledging their contribution to your business will encourage them to share it more.
- Build User Habits:
After having created the “new user” segment, it’s time to keep them engaged in the long run. Encourage them to incorporate your app in their personal habits. So, let’s say, create a segment of users that launched the app recently, but not on a daily/regular basis. You can send them push notifications or in-app messages with relevant deep links to lead your segment to the page of interest.
Final step to complex audience segmentation
All of the existing automation systems will enable you to perform basic segmentation, but you will have to look for more advanced and contemporary solutions to be able to build out more complex audience segments.
3. Cross-Channel Engagement
The automation software you choose will provide you with a powerful solution for visualizing how your campaigns shape your customers’ journeys. It has the power to transform the onboarding, retention and conversion campaigns. You can use it to create a unified interface where you can set up multiple messaging paths, compare them and optimize the user experience through comprehensive analytics.
Taking advantage of your automation software, you can move beyond the one-off messages and create a collection of campaigns that reflects your users’ journey towards conversions. These campaigns will allow you to test the copies, the best time to send them, the most effective channels for sending them, how often should you send them, in which order, and more. It basically allows you to do multitasking.
Whether your goal is to onboard your users, highlight important features, make users perform ROI action or encourage lapsed users to log a session, you have to know what you are going for. Focus on one or two main goals and craft clear messages.
Deciding on your goals
After you’ve decided on your goals, you have to select one or more channels to execute the delivery process. You can also combine channels, creating a multichannel campaign. Each step of the campaigns in these automation tools is crucial, so make sure you know exactly which is the right moment to target your users.
Creating the steps in your campaigns, you can include different segments and filters, further defining which user receives each piece of the campaign. This means that the automation software lets you target a broad audience at the beginning, while additionally narrowing down the focus to the right people, pushing them to execute the right conversions.
By crafting these multiple steps, you can easily follow-up the prior messages that will drive users towards conversion even more quickly.
Ex. After setting up the first message, you can target the users who still haven’t converted, by adding a filter to your targeting. You can schedule a specific time delay and include an exception event by adding an additional filter. Or, you can target a specific segment of users that haven’t used a specific feature of your web or mobile app. In this case, your automation software will exclude the users that completed this exception event within those 3 days, not prior. To go along with this message, you can create an email that describes how to use the features of your app. The next step can include a push notification to all users that haven’t opened the email within 7 days. Make sure you create an attention-grabbing push notification to attract all those who haven’t taken any action.
The importance of branching for the customer journey
Customer journeys differ from one another. Sometimes, users convert after the first push, sometimes after the second or after a reminder email. This is when branching comes into the picture. It is the process that doesn’t let you lose all your users out of sight.
Branching will help you take into account every alternative path or turn, and will let users choose their own adventure. Each of the steps cannot flow linearly, so with this option, your steps will branch out. That way you can address and reward all of the users who performed the conversion event.
When you’ll start feeling good about branching, you can go a step further and create different variations. You can definitely create new from scratch but you can also clone the previous one and run a lot of tests on it. You can test your branches on copy, time, cadence, channels and more.
However, none of the previously mentioned steps would be effective if you don’t understand the importance of analyzing the outcome. You will have to review the results to see which of the strategies worked well, and which have room for improvement. The results you see are the ultimate feedback on the hypotheses you set before even starting with the whole process. Not only the results will help you understand which variant had the biggest impact on customer behavior but will help you, at the same time, to continuously learn more about your customers.
Since time is a hot commodity for all of us, everything that can save you time, money, and can provide value, is an absolute must. Investing in a marketing automation platform will enable your operations to move at a quicker pace, setting you apart from your competition.
So far, marketing automation is a little short of mainstream in the modern era of digitalization. The reasons why automation is inevitable for the successful growth of your business are: generating and nurturing leads, personalized customer journey, smarter decisions based on better data, 360-degree view of your customers and much more.
As it stands today, the competition in the business world has reached cutthroat levels, and the marketing landscape is not an exception. As all marketing experts strive to keep their brand names at the forefront of their customers’ minds, adopting a marketing automation software seems like the perfect solution.
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If you need support with preparing your company for marketing automation or selecting the right system for your needs, do not hesitate to contact Alite International. We can also assist you with getting familiar with AWS Cognito or any other AWS service that might take you the extra mile.
We have been working with multiple large organizations in supporting their move towards full marketing automation. Send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.