I first used a marketing automation platform 10 years ago. We all loved the potential of those new systems back then: We’d build large databases of the names of potential customers and use marketing automation to nurture them along until they were ready to buy.Continue reading...
According to some estimates, worldwide spending on marketing automation software will hit $32 billion this year, and that number is expected to increase in the years to come as more companies begin embracing marketing automation and the tools become more sophisticated. Thanks to products from companies like Hubspot, MarketoContinue reading...
If you’re in marketing, there are days it feels like the most enviable occupation in the world and on others, the most accursed. This is a logical condition since, historically, marketers have been both praised and vilified (think of the series, Mad Men) for the work they do to manipulate their fellow humans and in trying to steer their buying decisions one way or another. Under the intense glare of fraud and privacy concerns in the Internet age, the applause and the brickbats are equally deserved. The vilification though is funny because while our societies have for the better part of a century complained and fretted about the manipulative nature of advertising and marketing, we’ve also emotionally invested in the stories that were told and the images that played out in front of our eyes. In many cases, we love what we see and we act on it. Does manipulation work, then? Yes, of course but we would prefer to call it something else. It sounds better, and more constructive, to call it influencing. Terry O’Reilly of the CBC has a rich source of material called, Under the Influence, which I highly recommend.
Influencing and influencers
By Influencer Marketing, I am not talking about celebrities selling stuff on social media. For the purpose of this blog, I want to talk instead about the countless technical possibilities that exist to help marketers understand, and influence, their customers’ wants and desires. The marketing automation product landscape seems to be as crowded as the beach on a hot summer day and the focus of much of that community of solutions is to try to influence buyers over social media, email, and websites. For marketers, it’s exciting, confusing, and terrifying all at once. However, is it possible that all of the solutions are missing something? This report by The Journal of Advertising Research purports to prove that the most effective advertising campaigns, in terms of stimulating an emotional connection, are actually a combination, and a coordination, of television and those other vehicles. It seems that the human brain while attracted to, and increasingly addicted to, participation in the online world, still fundamentally responds best to television imaging. Does that information upset any notions of how all old technology must always make way for new? It seems the world is too complicated to draw that conclusion and so too is the human brain. Marketers are going to need even more science to handle complications. And that’s another thing that’s funny. The more scientific we become with our marketing approaches, the more critical it is to understand the emotive power of the human brain.
Digging beneath the surface of any subject can sometimes reveal more than you want to know but it also typically reveals greater understanding. That’s why as we continue to evolve our marketing practices, it’s important to incorporate methods that accelerate our ability to do more but to also do it in a way that gets us closer to truths. Just as we conduct A/B testing to discover the best tactics for attracting buyers, it’s worth the effort to try and go even deeper in trying to understand the buyer’s preferences. Test the channels, test the combination of channels, monitor the buyer’s activities, look for patterns, connect the dots, make decisions based on associations. Ah, forget it. Marketers will not be able to do that at scale. That’s why AI holds such promise. It’s the only way marketers will be able to do their job more effectively. There’s a statistic making the rounds that by 2025 there will be 100 billion connected Internet devices, about 12 devices for every human. Not only will there be a lot of humans, there’ll be a lot of ways for those humans to communicate in some form or another. If you’re a data nerd, it will be more your time than ever before.
Open up and be introspective at the same time
To be successful in the future, marketers are going to have to develop methods for touching buyers and customers in ways that connect with them at an emotional level. It’s the same phenomenon we are witnessing now with a desire for longer-form content. Humans are desiring authenticity and messaging that connects with them at a personal level. That’s the trick and the challenge for marketers and if we are going to be successful in the exploding world of multi-channel messaging on new technologies and on old, we’re going to need to be open minded about how our processes work and how our technologies enable us to be nimble. If we can achieve that, then those will be days we’ll feel we’re in one of the more enviable occupations in the world.
If you would like some practical tips for bringing AI into your marketing, don’t miss:
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Artificial intelligence is all over the news these days, yet it can still be challenging to figure out how to make it work for your marketing team. This post outlines some practical tips for using the Oracle Marketing Cloud and AppCloud offerings like Motiva AI to bring new adaptive intelligence capabilities into the way you design, execute, and improve your marketing programs.
When you get beyond the term “artificial intelligence”, you’re really just talking about software that learns to do things. There are lots of AI subtopics, but suffice it to say the entire domain is exploding with activity and new ways to apply machine intelligence to solve important challenges. This will affect us — our work, our communities, and our societies — in profound and often unexpected ways.
However, it’s important to adjust expectations about what AI can and can’t do well when it comes to marketing. One of the more misleading ideas out there is that “predictive” AI will somehow magically run your marketing for you. It won’t. That’s a good thing.
And yet there are lots of opportunities where you can get started with AI today that will have a measurable impact on your marketing. Here are five tips on how to go about it:1. Start Simple
Don’t try to take too much on with AI out of the gate. Start small, and then build on your success. Start with simple proof-of-concept use cases that you can measure easily. A good candidate here is message testing — but going beyond simple A/B type testing. You can use a tool like Motiva AI to test and automatically find winning messages that lead directly to campaign response improvement.2. Match the Right Task with the Right Tool
There are some tasks that machines just do better than people. When you’re selecting machine learning applications to include in your marketing tech strategy, develop a list of areas where machines could make a difference. Here are some great candidates that you can take advantage of with the Oracle Marketing Cloud ecosystem right now:
- Audience segmentation and definition
- Message testing and optimization
- Content improvement
- Send time optimization
- Data cleaning
- Advanced analytics
A large national healthcare company recently decided to focus on message testing and optimization, and used the Motiva AI Cloud for Eloqua on a patient-facing audience and saw a 200% difference in click-through rate by simply trying lots of message variations in the population. Motiva adapted to the audience preferences it observed, which allowed the campaign to adapt naturally. A simple place to start, with big impact.3. Look for “10x” Opportunities
Many of these areas above are also huge time sinks for most teams, where humans have to sift through often large data sets and determine the best course of action. Ask yourself: where could we make the biggest impact in terms of customer response or savings? More often than not, machines can at least help the human marketers improve decision-making; in some cases, you can just outsource the entire workflow to intelligent helpers.4. Measure and Improve
It’s vital to think about what your definition of success is for a given use of machine learning and how you’ll measure progress towards your goals.
- Will it be in terms of time saved for your marketers? Then track their time — develop a baseline for the workflow you’re interested in and the difference over time.
- Will it be in terms of campaign performance? Again, make sure you’re collecting the data and reporting for the story you want to tell.
- Will it be in terms of effects downstream in the sales process? Ensure you can track your treatment effects all the way through your pipeline.
It’s not difficult, but you do have to do it. It’s just good modern marketing practice.5. Remember It’s about Your Audience, Not Just the Tech
This may sound a little surprising coming from a technologist, but it’s true. Your number one concern should be how to develop that communication channel with your end audiences. Technology can be super useful here, but not all technology and not all the time. In terms of AI-driven tools, ask yourself:
- Does this help me learn more about my customers and their needs?
- Does it help me serve my customers better?
- Does it strengthen the customer experience?
Make a connection between the tools you’re using and how they ultimately lead to positive customer impact.The Adaptive Future
These tips are a place to begin to think about how to bring adaptive intelligence into your marketing. We are just seeing the start of a marketing revolution in which human intelligence and machine intelligence combine with groundbreaking results. You'll definitely need to find the best-in-class products and applications that will keep you ahead of the game and delivering the best possible experience for customers.
Make sure that you have covered your marketing automation fundamentals before implementing these best-in-class products and applications. Download the Marketing Automation Fundamentals: Account-Based Marketing to get started!
Featured image source: Pixabay
When I was a younger one of my most favorite memories were centered on going for drives with my father; and yes gas prices back then weren’t what they are today. What always surprised me about the drives was that some-days they’d last for hours and others they’d be relatively short. As I gazed at the clouds and scenery around me my father would often end up at the same final destination. What took me a decade to understand was the difference between the days we’d be on a long journey verses the shorter journeys all while reaching the same end point. Do you have any guesses?
The days the journey was shorter my father knew where he was going.
I was recently fortunate enough to visit a remarkably fast paced, growing, and engaged airline company. The premise for our visit was centered on accountability, fulfilling on promises, and helping the organization demonstrate value from their technology investment. Sound familiar?
What brings us to this point? The dreaded “red zone” or however your organization classifies this. It’s when a misalignment of brand promise has occurred by either the people involved, the process, or the technology involved. I’ve been in this boardroom many times and as I observe, actively listen, and understand the people and businesses in front of me I challenge my customers and myself to ask these set of questions. I would encourage many of you to do the same. The smart ones tend to ask these even before they see red!
Do I have the right team in place?
Has turnover impacted my ability to be successful?
Are my vendor and partners true partners vested in our success?
Do we have a process for success?
Is this documented and at the heart of how we operate?
Have we instilled accountability at all levels of the process?
Can the technology meet our business requirements?
Will the technology be able to scale as we grow?
Does the technology vendor or identified partners deliver through services and support on the brand promise?
What I found remarkable about this organization was that they didn’t lack desire, internal alignment, executive level buy in or focus. They simply just didn’t know where their focus should lie.
If you’ve recently undergone a technology investment or if you’ve been on autopilot for years – challenge yourself with the questions above. The self-reflection could be painful, enlightening, or a reinforcement of the track you are on.
As a journey-man of marketing automation and email marketing, it still amazes me when I read surveys such as the 2017 Oracle & Econsultancy State of Marketing Automation in ANZ. Generally speaking, the low hanging fruit of marketing automation is often not being utilized to improve marketing KPIs, sales performance, and the customer experience.
- Only 38% of companies send an automated email following a newsletter sign-up
- Only 33% of companies send an automated email following a content download
- Only 12% of respondents send triggered messages based on subscription renewal dates
- Only 14% of companies send automated emails for date-based notifications
Shocking right? We're not talking about big strategic projects here, we're talking about a tactical capability that really should be baked into marketing programs.Activate Automated Emails
How is this happening? Check out the following example:
I've signed up to receive emails from a company and I just opted in but I have yet to receive a confirmation email. This is a great opportunity to introduce oneself as a brand — a key opportunity to engage — that has been surrendered!
You can fix this is to create automated emails to automatically respond to customers as soon as they opt-in to emails or a newsletter.Gather Data
Whenever customers take the opportunity to share their information with you, you need to gather their data. Yes, this is a bit elementary in marketing but only one-third of companies capture job titles, company names, product interests or other key bits of data that enable personalization. Whether this engagement exists through a newsletter sign-up, content views, or E-Guide downloads, the data that is shared with you needs to be treasured in order to give them the attention that they warrant as your customers.Send Emails Before Renewal Dates
Do you know that it costs 5-25 times as much to find a new customer as it does to keep existing ones? In case you have not heard this before, here’s the proof. With this in mind, why wouldn’t you try harder to retain an existing customer? The truth is surprising as only 12% of companies, just over 1 in 10, are automatically smoothing the road to renewals of a contract or subscription by automating email communication based off of that renewal date.Utilize Customer Celebrations
Dates captured from your contacts are the perfect elements to set your automation triggers on. A birthdate is a perfect excuse to deliver content to a customer that is personalised and makes them feel valued as your brand is willing to connect with them individually. The anniversary of a first purchase and sign-up date are both valid reasons to engage personally with your customers and make them feel special. If you know your customers well, then show it! By doing so, you’ll rise ahead of the 84% of company respondents that are currently not doing this!
How can these suggestions actually be implemented? Below is a plan that you can work through to add value to your customer relationships:
Investigate possible trigger points:
- Capture date fields and form submits.
- Track your website.
- Assess what technology is needed to capture behavioural triggers.
Determine what data points are already in your marketing database:
- Date stamps; including sign-up dates, contract start/end dates, birthdates, etc.; offer a great starting point!
- Behavioural insights can be collected from form submissions, downloads, progressive profiling, web visits, email interactions, and cart abandons.
Review your current marketing programs:
- Don't introduce loads of triggered messages that conflict with your overall marketing & weaken your brand & message.
- If you have an outbound calling renewal program, then start to 'warm up' your renewals 2-3 months before the renewal date with some content that helps your users realise the value of their subscription, and 'hey presto' your renewal rates may actually increase!
Build and Test:
- Keep track of and benchmark existing KPIs and performance stats.
- Measure those same KPIs against these new triggered campaigns.
- Identify what is working and look to roll those out, and identify poor performers and remove or update those triggers.
With today's marketing automation technology there's really no excuse not to include some of these behaviour triggers in the marketing mix. Even smaller providers should be offering out of the box capability to automate these since there are no additional technical skills required.
Start to identify where we can improve marketing today, implement those triggers tomorrow, and shift the needle on our triggered marketing next year with the Modern Marketing Guide to ABM!
Featured image source: pexels
Marketo is SaaS based marketing automation software built to help organizations automate and measure marketing engagement, tasks and workflows. Based in San Mateo, California the company sells marketing automation software to help B2B and B2C marketers target qualified leads, produce lead-to-revenue opportunities and execute automated, personalized marketing campaigns across multipleContinue reading...