Making A Case for Marketing Automation
While marketing automation enables many wonderful things like multi-channel marketing, analytics and creating journey campaigns, it is a challenge to introduce this in an existing environment.
Here's what happened in the last 24 hrs. I had three meetings where
An ex-colleague currently at a fintech firm wanted to know how he could automate collections and up-selling
A founder of a consumer tech startup wanted to scale up the traffic and sales 5X in the next 3 months now that his company was delivering on the Product Market Fit
A director at a leading OEM wanted to scale up customer engagement across all the strategic apps by leveraging the massive consumer data his disposal
On delving deeper there were questions that needed answering. Basic stuff like:
Are you able to track, and engage individual customers? Are you able to segment users and send them personalised messages so that the conversion is better?
Have you automated social media posting, offers and email workflows?
Can you measure the campaign ROIs? And many more..
Marketers need to constantly work extremely hard to drive growth, grab those leads, bump up the page views, drive more conversions, improve retention and drive repeat orders. Driving scale efficiently requires companies to seriously look at Marketing Automation as an integral part of the marketing strategy.
Marketing Automation is technology that streamlines, automates, measures marketing tasks so that marketing becomes more scalable, cost effective & operationally efficient. It helps revenue grow faster and most importantly, leads to an enhanced customer experience
While marketing automation enables many wonderful things like multi-channel marketing, analytics, content planning and creating journey campaigns, it is a challenge to introduce this in an existing environment. Before we get into that, here's a ready reckoner of the top 6 things that it delivers on.
Many marketing tasks like lead nurturing, email marketing, PPC campaigns, analytics can be automated thus freeing up value time to focus on strategy, communication and creatives. At any point of time there are at least 5-10 email campaigns running. Automation, allows specialists to allocate budgets better and drive greater ROI. It also helps in guiding the user efficiently through the purchase journey.
2. Customer Experience
Automation of analytics and leveraging the CRM helps marketers to segment, target and communicate better with each user. With the right insights, marketers can leverage the right creative with a personalised message to communicate with 1000s of users simultaneously once the automation platform is in place. This also enables marketers to experiment with newer avenues like chatbots, offers, coupons, etc
Automation platforms collect & analyse data on leads, customers, sales, campaign success, and so on. It not only enables real time reporting of users in the purchase journey but also helps measure KPIs and visualise big picture data effectively. Marketers can also automate A/B testing to optimise campaigns rapidly. Many automation solutions can determine future campaign performance based on previous data using AI and machine learning (true story!).
Another key thing that marketing automation solves for is experimentation. You can keep trying 10 campaigns per week. Shut down those that don't work. Put the pedal on the others. In my earlier company we identified numerous cross sell opportunities based on multiple A/B tests which helped us get a big uplift in monthly revenues.
With timely analytical insights, automation of customer journeys and driving better customer experience, revenue sees a positive impact. Marketers are now expected to signoff on sales forecasts and revenues. Automation platforms help build predictability in revenues and can identify gaps which when closed can bring about a step change in growth.
As companies grow the marketing effort grows too. There are more customers in the funnel, much more content needs to get developed and the SEO & social game gets tougher. With an automation suite, this can me managed efficiently. Processes and workflows drawn around the platform can help the companies scale non linearly. At a previous company there were over 30 social campaigns, 50+ email and notification campaigns running simultaneously which was managed by 3 marketing executives on a daily basis. Scale such as this is only possible with a robust automation platform.
While the benefits seem awesome, a major challenge is to integrate the marketing automation platform with your martech stack. Marketers will also need to get a buy-in from the CEO, CIO, CFO while getting the sales folks on board.
Here is journey that I've used while implementing marketing automation at 4 different companies.
Step 1: Understand the Need & Goals. Map the Environment
Figure out what you are trying to achieve with a marketing automation platform. What are the most repetitive and time consuming tasks? Will an automation platform help you achieve your marketing goals (more traffic, engagement, transactions). Also map out the existing martech stack in your company. Being able to integrate existing critical components into the stack is important. Many vendors enable easy integration while for others there is a tech effort required hence increasing the overall cost. Also map out existing workflows, data lakes and assets so that you can still leverage them once the automation kicks in.
Step 2: Get the Stakeholder Buy-In
Besides getting the CEO on board, it is imperative to get the CTO & product teams on board as this will require effort from their teams. An automation platform acts as the central nervous system of the organisation, leverages different data sources & existing systems to drive scale & efficiency. The last is to get tech debt into the system. The implementation will need to be forward-looking depending on the company's scale and goals. A case would also be made to the CFO since this will be an additional cost item in the marketing budget.
Step 3: Identify the Marketing Automation Platform
Out of the 100s of platforms available figure the best for your industry. Also take into consideration the existing marketing stack, scale, budget and features. Check how it integrates with your existing marketing tools. Many platforms give a free trial period. Use that to do some initial tests and evaluate the best fit. You'll need to be really good friends with the tech and product teams to test multiple platforms.
Step 4: Plan the Implementation
Define how the new platform sits in the stack, retire existing systems if required, reorganise the team to work with new workflows, reporting and systems. Your team will need to have a good understanding on how their work stack changes. Give them enough time to test the system. Marketing automation is a key skill, emphasize this to build consensus and drive motivation. Training your team to leverage the system is imperative. Only then will newer playbooks emerge.
Step 5: Keep Optimising
Review the impact of the automation platform on key metrics. Analyse the data to find out what is working and what you can improve. Watch how the A/B tests are doing and constantly optimise. Drive efficiency and scale by constantly analysing the data. While the platform is automating the processes, it is still the marketer that drives the strategy and optimisation.
Any company can implement marketing automation and reap its benefits. Not only does a marketing automation platform pay for itself with the first 6 months, it also frees up marketing bandwidth to scale up the organisation faster. Hopefully this helps answer some of the initial questions about marketing automation.
Here are some helpful Links on marketing automation:
Have any questions about marketing automation? email me. Would love to help and share ideas.