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Want to know more about the power of marketing automation?


Data has a better idea. Marketing Automation.
Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash

Navigate this post about Marketing Automation

  1. Introduction to Marketing Automation
  2. Who is Marketing Automation for?
  3. How does data play a role in Marketing Automation?
  4. How does Marketing Automation work for businesses?
  5. How will Marketing Automation be used in future?
  6. What to expect from Marketing Automation
  7. Final word on Marketing Automation

This is an Introduction to Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation tools are not a replacement for your marketing team.

Chances are if you have been attending any virtual conferences or sitting in any virtual boardrooms with your marketing teams lately, you will have heard the phrase “Marketing Automation”. Here is the basic outline in case you have not heard the term yet.

You are likely to encounter an unhealthy amount of repetitive tasks when it comes to marketing. There is often a lot of data preparation tasks for reporting or audience segmentation. There is the tedious task of swapping out elements in an email template. Even creating and publishing campaigns can be tedious and repetitive. Often you will feel as though you cannot do anything meaningful as you are stuck in your cycle of repetitive tasks.

Here is where Marketing Automation comes in. Marketing Automation helps you complete your repetitive daily tasks programmatically. Freeing up your time so you can finally get through those more meaningful tasks you have never been able to start.

Go one step beyond your own time and think about how efficiency for large marketing departments can increase through Marketing Automation. It means more team members can make more meaningful contributions which could have more of an impact on the business as a whole.

Disclaimer:Marketing Automation tools are not a replacement for your marketing team. They are tools for marketing enablement. Something smart marketers can add to their existing arsenal of marketing weaponry for them to be more efficient.

This is who Marketing Automation is for

Marketing Automation can be used by any marketing-related entity who is struggling for time or is looking to increase efficiency for marketing-related activities.

Marketers with almost any level of experience can use Marketing Automation. Meaning it would be a beneficial tool for the most junior to the most senior marketers. Not because it could potentially do parts of their job better than they could, but because it can do more parts of their job more efficiently and in less time.

Marketing Automation also isn’t limited to large enterprises or wealthy corporates. It applies to anyone from the latest day one startups to some of the most established corporate enterprises. Any business can benefit from marketing automation with the right implementation for their specific needs. The keywords in that last sentence are “their specific needs” as marketing automation is not a one size fits all solution.

Businesses need to take careful consideration of the problems they are trying to solve using Marketing Automation. A business needs to consider their industry, their business environment, and where Marketing Automation would best fit into the organization to solve problems. It is not something you buy off the shelf, flip the switch, et voila you are making money.

Example: 

Corporate enterprises with longer sale cycles would not need the same implementation as a fast-paced eCommerce website. The climate in both businesses is entirely different.

Note: If you have dipped your toes into the marketing automation pool before without success, then consider whether the implementation was correct for your use case. Chances are the solution was not the most suited for your requirements.

This is how Data plays a role in Marketing Automation

Data is an essential element in a successful Marketing Automation implementation. As the adage goes, “good input means good output”. Which translates to “better data quality equals better quality results”.

Think of data as the heart of your Marketing Automation implementation. The heart does not function well when it is weak.

Data not only needs to be clean for it to be useful. It also needs to be correct. The variables you use needs to be precise and relative to the automation you are setting up.

Consider leads driven automation. The leads data is useless if the names of the contacts coming through are incorrect or if they do not come through in the correct format. This will cause issues if you’re running complex automations and relying on the leads data to feed lookalike audiences and run automated media campaigns using machine learning. The same is true for any other data point, and the example applies to any implementation.

It does not only apply to the ingested data or output data. It is also pertinent to the schema and structure of the databases, data warehouses, and data pipelines you set up to store and process the data from a backend perspective.

Again, data is of no use if it is stored or processed incorrectly. A Phone Number accidentally being processed and stored as First Name data is useless. It should be obvious, though you would be surprised at how often this error is left unattended.

Data is typically used in conditions as variables to trigger automation. Which is why the information needs to be precise. If the information is not accurate, then the criteria set up to trigger the automation may never be met. Which means the trigger would not fire and your automation would not work as intended.

Example: 

1. Setup

You have set up your data pipeline to ingest form data from a web page or an app. You accidentally misconfigure your automation to send form field data to the wrong columns in the database. You have set up an automation trigger based on data you would expect to see in one of the columns in the database (“1. DO THIS when Field Value is X” or “2. DO THIS when data is added to Column X”).

2. Errors
The data from the form is not only processed incorrectly (meaning the data may be formatted incorrectly) but is also inaccurately stored. 

Sometimes databases will not have any data stored. This can happen when the database schema does not allow for the storage of unspecified data types.

3. Problem

The automation trigger may do one of two things using the example triggers above. Trigger 1 may not fire at all because it never receives the information it expects. Trigger 2 may fire, but the processed data would be incorrect.

Meaning the data cannot be used as intended, and in some cases cannot be reformatted or re-processed to facilitate the intended use.

4. Conclusion

You can see how this could be a showstopper for both the Marketing Automation implementation and for the business as a whole. It is a frequent error amongst many, and you would be surprised at how often it is left unattended.

This is how Marketing Automation is working for businesses

Marketing Automation is currently being used in a myriad of ways thanks to the ongoing experimentation by marketing teams. Though the most popular implementations are to automate data processing or to automate daily tasks within marketing teams.

Implementations have ranged from automatically generating segmented customer lists, programmatically creating the content of a marketing email, dynamically swapping ad content based on user behaviour, or even automating bids in ad auctions. There are plenty of existing implementations to explore and test.

Teams have seen the most success recently with implementations for automated audience segmentation and remarketing campaigns in particular.

A favoured execution is Facebook Dynamic Ads for eCommerce — where marketing teams can automatically target and dynamically serve relevant content to users who fall within any stage of the purchase funnel.

The Facebook Ads implementation has had a significantly positive effect on revenues for eCommerce businesses.

How does this implementation work? 

Say we have three users visiting the eCommerce platform. USER A, USER B, and USER C.

USER A, USER B, and USER C visit the eCommerce platform. USER A is browsing without any purchase intent (Browse 4 Product pages). USER B is browsing with a weak purchase intent (Add 1 Product to Wishlist) and USER C is browsing with a strong purchase intent (Add 5 Products to Cart ad Initiate Checkout) but neither of them purchases.

We then build an algorithm to set criteria in our automation flow for segmentation. The criteria is based on the user’s behaviour on the eCommerce platform. Ads are then served based on their segment — with content tailored to each segment based on their relative interests and position within the conversion funnel.

  1. If a user visits a page and does nothing else, then segment them under “Awareness”. Serve ads related to brand/product education to help drive interest.
  2. If a user visits a page and adds something to their wishlist or cart then segment them under “Interest”. Serve ads with images and details of similar items to their wishlist or serve ads with images and details of their cart items.
  3. If a user initiates but fails to complete a checkout then segment them under “Intent”. Serve ads with coupons or discounts for their cart items to persuade them to complete their purchase immediately.

The algorithm and theory outlined above can be applied to almost any campaign type (App-Installs, Leads Generation, Newsletter Signups etc.) or ad platform and is one of the most popular implementations you will encounter today. A typical funnel will always have a top, middle, and bottom. You could layer on a bit more complexity based on your specific needs if required.

NOTE: This is a basic example of an algorithm used in Marketing Automation for eCommerce businesses. It relies on the ad platform to do the bulk of the automation work without much input or maintenance from the marketer.

More experienced Marketing Automation specialists will build bespoke solutions (using your platforms and databases, etc.) or run implementations which extend the existing automation capabilities of the ad platform. These will typically include integrations with SMS, Email, or Online Messenger Services in addition to the ad platform integrations.

I have used this basic and generic example to protect the sensitive intellectual property of the entities with whom I work. For more detailed examples or case studies, reach out to me — I will facilitate discussions with leading Marketing Automation experts.

How does this help the business?

The example above helps cut down the amount of time spent on audience segmentation and ad creation or ad maintenance. Marketers no longer need to spend as much time on optimization and can shift their focus towards more valuable tasks.

It also means marketers no longer need to spend as much time and brainpower on granular campaign optimizations. Tasks are programmatic with little input and maintenance. Especially in unsupervised machine learning executions. Which effectively allows the machine to learn how to be the most effective it can be without any human intervention (meaning it could potentially learn quicker than it could if restricted in terms of what it could do).

It leads to an increase in overall efficiency and meaningful output for the business. Which all results in a positive impact on business revenue.

This is how Marketing Automation will be used in future

Disclaimer: These are the new things I would personally like to see or the things I think we will see more frequently. Do not take these as predictions. I do not have a crystal ball to see into the future.

Note: Yes, I want machine learning and AI to do the bulk of the work. Machines can learn, optimize, and implement marketing-related solutions faster than I ever could — it is my own opinion that it would be silly not to let them try (with a helmet).

Segmentation

  1. Automated Audience Labeling — to automatically determine the bracket a user should fall under with no human intervention.
  2. Automating Content Interest Segments — to rank what type of content (and the content itself) with which a user is most likely to engage.

Integrations

  1. Integrations and applications for physical locations (Automatically segmenting “Brick & Mortar” visitors based on in-store behaviour).
  2. More natural AI integrations with Online Messenger based services.
  3. Better accessibility for businesses with smaller budgets (Minimum-click type solutions).

Media Planning, Buying & Reporting

  1. Automated Website Tagging Solutions (Minimum-click type solutions).
  2. Automated Reporting (With in-depth AI-generated Insights).
  3. Automated Media Planning (Allowing AI to leverage reporting data and audience segments to compile plans).
  4. Automating Ad Generation & Placement (Ties into Segmentation and Automated Media Planning).

Media

  1. Smarter DOOH placements and inventory.
  2. Smarter ride-hailing integrations, ad placements, and inventory.
  3. Leveraging Online Audiences for DOOH.

This is what to expect from Marketing Automation

As mentioned earlier, Marketing Automation is not a replacement for a good marketing team. It is a tool which can help increase efficiency and return on investment for marketing activities.

Marketing Automation is not a replacement for a good marketing team.

With the right implementation, you could expect to save time on daily tasks and money on wasted ad spend. You will see an increase in the quality of leads and customers, and you will see an increase in revenue for your business.

Your marketing efforts can only benefit from Marketing Automation when done right. Your marketing team will be even more useful and will be able to do a lot more of the fancy innovative stuff they could not get to previously. You will move your business into the ’20s and could put yourself into or further solidify an existing industry-leading position.

You will no longer be targeting your ads to users with blind faith. You will have a good idea of who you are targeting, what they are interested in and what content is likely to entice them to engage. It means you will be more relevant to your customers, and your marketing efforts will less invasive and less annoying than your competitors.

Simply put. You can expect better results.

This is the final word on Data and Marketing Automation

It is not necessarily a new topic, but it is one which is re-surging and growing rapidly. There are a lot of opportunities for Marketing Automation to help make life simpler for marketers and to help them free up their time for more of the fun stuff. 

Businesses can also see great benefits in the form of increased outputs and efficiencies from their marketing team — which, most importantly, should add positively to their bottom line.

I look forward to seeing new players in the market and the executions they roll out. It is always great to learn from the competition. In fact, it would be difficult to optimize these executions without different perspectives.

You’re welcome to get in touch with me via LinkedIn or Email if you need help with your digital marketing efforts.

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on Marketing Automation and Data. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts though. Have tried to implement Marketing Automation? Which executions have worked best for you and how did you implement them?

TL;DR (Much Time + Many Efficiency = Very ROI)

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Here’s what Google says about Marketing Automation

What is marketing automation?

Marketing Automation is a tool or service that helps marketers complete repetitive daily tasks programmatically.

Who needs marketing automation?

Marketers with almost any level of experience can use Marketing Automation.

What will marketing automation do for my business?

Marketing teams have seen the most success recently with implementations for automated audience segmentation and remarketing campaigns in particular.

How does data influence marketing automation?

Data is typically used in conditions as variables to trigger automation.

What should I expect from marketing automation?

With the right implementation, you could expect to save time on daily tasks and money on wasted ad spend. You will see an increase in the quality of leads and customers, and you will see an increase in revenue for your business.

What is the future of marketing automation?

Segmentation of audiences, integrations between marketing platforms, faster reporting and time to insights, smarter marketing campaigns.

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