Modern marketing in the digital age is not just about numbers and processes. Buyers, (even those empowered by easy access to information) are still humans – which means they make decisions based on emotional connections, stored memories, images and feelings more than rational evaluations.
This is about your brand in general, but there is also a strong connection to how you market your company. When a customer loves your marketing, they are more likely to love your brand – and when they love your brand, they are more likely to purchase your products and services.
To this end, I sometimes get asked, “How does marketing automation software help me to create marketing that my customers love?” Perhaps they are confused by the term automation. It has long been an imperfect term to describe what the technology does, since it brings up images of factories and machines more than lovable marketing. But in reality, I believe that marketing automation is the essential technology for creating marketing that people love.
It lets you align your marketing to the buyer’s journey. Marketing automation is aware of the buying cycle. This means you can map your marketing interactions to what is most appropriate to the buyer in each stage. Nurture relationships with prospects that are not yet ready to buy, interact with buyers who are engaged with sales, and deepen relationship with existing customers. Communications that are actually relevant based on where someone is in their personal buying journey – what’s not to love about that?
It lets you better segment customers for greater relevancy. Marketing automation can track what content a customer engages with, what keywords they use, what they do socially, and a variety of other digital behaviors. This information, when used responsibly, is a gold mine for understanding and catering to each customer’s specific pain points, needs, and desires. Put simply, it lets you see what content they like, and send them the content they actually want. More broadly, as Julie Hunt points out, “segmentation may yield multiple buyer journeys and maps, and possibly different customer experiences — this will serve to take marketing automation further away from an undesirable one-size-fits-all.”
It sends messages at the right time, when they are most relevant. Without marketing automation, campaigns are by necessity based on the company’s schedule, not the customer’s. Nobody loves that. But with the real-time capabilities of a marketing automation platform, you can send content at the right time, when the customer can use it. And better timeliness increases the lovability of your marketing. As Justin Hall wrote, “Relationships are based on human traits such as trust, humor, warmth, friendliness and likeability. It’s about creating a connection with someone. Part of that story is fantastic creative. Marketing automation gives you two other levers: timeliness and relevancy.”
It allows you to dynamically personalize content. With powerful marketing automation capabilities, you can customize each interaction (email, landing page, etc.) based on the specific customer who is receiving it. Since each interaction is personalized, it will be more relevant – and therefore more loveable.
It enables consistent communications across channels. Customers don’t want to receive disjointed messages as they interact with your company over different channels. But they’ll love it if you create a consistent, multi-channel dialogue with them. Marketing automation software enables this because at the core it is powered by a single cross-channel view of the customer. This goes double for systems that support direct mail and events, such as tradeshows and webinars.
It keeps unwanted sales calls away. Customers today want to engage with sales at the right time, on their own terms. They won’t love you if your sales team hounds them prematurely – but they will love it if you give space when they want it and then proactively contact them at just the right time. And they’ll love it even more if the sales team has the insights they need to understand their needs and know exactly what the right next step is.
With great power comes great responsibility
Of course, for marketing automation content to create lovable marketing, you need to use it sensibly. Follow the same rules that you would follow for effective content marketing: make your communications relevant and personal and avoid being overly promotional. Take advantage of the platform’s capabilities to send good marketing, don’t just automate bad marketing. Clearly, marketing automation is doomed if it just used as a mindless email-blasting machine… but why would you do that?
Based on all this, I cannot understand people (or vendors) who try to portray marketing automation as an evil way to send unwanted, irrelevant marketing. They must either not understand marketing automation, or be using an inferior system that doesn’t have the capabilities discussed above.
About the Author
Jon (@jonmiller) leads all aspects of Marketo’s thought leadership, communications, and content marketing programs. In 2010, The CMO Institute named Jon a Top 10 CMO for companies under $250 million revenue. Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.