Why marketing automation is the future of digital for brands

Marketing automation sits at the heart of digital communication. It integrates customer experience across all brand touchpoints.

In about 2012, Gartner predicted that CMOs would be spending more on technology as compared to CIOs by 2017. Well, 2017 has arrived! And it is time to prove that Gartner’s forecast was indeed correct.

Let me start by sharing a short story. I have a credit card and for the past 10 years, every month I receive an email asking whether I would like to avail EMIs. I have never availed it in all these years and I am not likely to in the next 10 years either. This communication from the brand seems like such a waste of a consumer engagement opportunity. As a credit card company they have access to information such as where do I travel, what is my preference of hotels, where do I shop and what food do I eat. This provides the brand rich data which should enable them to create conversation opportunities with me.

Or take the example of a retail store whose loyalty card I hold. Every season I get standard email communication (which probably goes to their entire database of a few million card holders). The retail chain has tonnes of information on my buying preferences. Why can’t I get a personalised emailer that displays products based on my past buying behaviour (or my website browsing behaviour)?

And this would be the story of most brands. This is where the power of marketing automation comes in. In this era of attention deficiency, it is incredibly important to be relevant to the consumer in the short window of opportunity that she gives us, in the form of seeing a brand message whether via email or SMS or a web banner.

Digital marketing has so far worked in silos. It has given rise to multiple consumer touchpoints (social networks, search engine, email, SMS, app notification, website). However, there are two key challenges that a brand encounters:

1. Unable to track a customer journey (at a single customer granularity) across various touchpoints to ensure the customer sees consistent brand communication.

2. True power of digital is the ability to talk to a customer as an individual rather than using the one-size-fits-all approach. How do I ensure that the communication that my customer sees is based on her past behaviour? And this past behaviour could be purchase behaviour or could be the customer behaviour when she is on my website (what pages has she seen, therefore what is it that she might be interested in) or engagement behaviour (which ad did she click on) and therefore, how a brand could continue the same conversation across other digital channels with that customer.

Marketing automation solutions help address this issue. Marketing automation enables a brand to track customer behaviour across multiple channels; create customer communication journeys based on customer persona and build digital assets (emails, SMS, etc). And then these digital assets get delivered to the customer based on certain triggers and get rendered on the customer’s browser (or app or SMS window) depending on her past behaviour. Thus every customer gets personalised and relevant communication, across all channels. And this happens in an automated rule-based manner. Marketing automation sits at the heart of digital communication. It integrates customer experience across all brand touchpoints right from websites to landing pages, email, SMS, app notifications and ads on social networking sites.

Once a marketing automation solution has been set up, it is plug-and-play for the digital marketing team to use this solution to create customer communication. A typical marketing automation team will comprise a campaign manager (a digital strategist), a technologist (who creates HTML or manages databases) and data analysts (who analyse the outcome of campaigns and recommend further optimisation).

It is also important to realise that a marketing automation solution is a long-term investment by the brand. Thus, it is very important to choose a solution provider who has the ability to scale up the solution and keep up with the fast pace of change, as social networks and digital marketing
evolve further.



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