There is something about the phrase “marketing automation” that could be considered alarming. For many of us, the connotations of automation are not positive; instead they represent a cold, clinical, robotic approach to business.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Marketing automation doesn’t have to be cold or inhuman; in fact, it can help you to achieve a light touch with your marketing endeavors and to connect with your customers on a more human level.
You can’t know your customers on an individual level. If this is possible within your organization, it could be an indication that you need more customers. However, you can get to know certain individuals like Clarissa the Content Manager or Alex the Architect. These are your buyer profiles and you’d better get used to them… you are going to be working very closely together.
The data provided by marketing automation enables the division of our customers into segments. From here, we can gather further information, fleshing out each profile and gaining a better understanding of who our customers are and what makes them tick.
Understanding is everything in marketing, and we need to know how to deliver the goods and services our customers need, when and where they need them. Marketing automation is our route to achieving this.
Automation is not about pressing a button and standing back… it’s about removing the complication, labor and cost from our processes, and reaping the rewards. However, this must be balanced; we must retain our human face or risk driving customers away.
To do this, everything has to be mapped. Automation systems can only work if they fit into the plans we initially create. If these plans are substandard or incomplete, then we’ll see a bad start to our automation process, which may require additional time and effort to put right later on.
How do you nurture leads and prospects through your acquisition funnel? How do you support customers across their entire journey? How can you position yourself in a way which serves the needs of the customer in every channel? Answer these questions and then map your response.
Next, integrate automated processes into your carefully considered, personally mapped out strategies. Apply automation lightly, complimenting the nuance and individual structure of your business. Remember that automation should not dictate your business practices; it should make life easier for you and your customers.
With marketing automation providing a handy safety net, you and your service teams are free to provide unparalleled levels of support and service to customers. In this sense, automation becomes an unseen force, providing its benefit behind the scenes, while your team provides the human touch at the front of house.
In essence, this is what good marketing automation should do. Customers don’t want to be greeted by a robot every time they interact with your support mechanisms, or marketed to by an automated content delivery system; they want to be treated like humans, by humans.
However, as businesses grow, this becomes increasingly difficult to achieve. Growing businesses need this additional level of automation to plug the gap, enabling them to keep up with the big-hitters in the market, despite lacking the time, money, and resources to compete on the traditional playing field.
Automation does not replace human-focused customer service, or any other traditional process for that matter, it simply provides the framework within which these services and processes can be provided. Customers may think that they don’t agree with automation and what it represents, but they are experiencing its benefits every day.
Focus on timing
Numbers, facts, figures; these things are indisputable, and therefore they are very important to business. We use them every day, demonstrating our position, providing proof, and constructing counterarguments.
We even deliver them directly to our customers, offering up rhetorical data which supports our claims about our services and products. However, this is where we should proceed with caution.
What would your response be if someone walked up to you on the street with a bunch of papers and started waving them in your face? Chances are you wouldn’t be very happy. However, if you were in a store, asking a question to a staff member, and they were able to reel off vital statistics there and then, your reaction would be somewhat different.
As you can see, it’s all about timing. This is one of the vital human elements – one of the soft touches that we can’t live without – when we approach market automation. Once we have mapped out the customer journey, we can focus on what the customer needs, when they need it, and where it can be delivered.
This makes all the difference. Don’t barrage your customers with facts and figures; work with them and get to know their problems first. Then you can hit them with the solution.
Use feedback resources
There is something of a theme appearing here. By now, we understand that providing a light touch via marketing automation means careful communication and an in depth consideration of the needs of our customers and clients.
So, what better way to achieve both of these aims than by combining them? Our customers provide us with vast data resources each and every day; often more data than we can handle. Conversely, our marketing automation systems provide architecture within which this data can be captured, stored, and wielded.
As we can see, the two resources go together hand in hand. So let’s use them to their full potential.
Creating feedback loops in which customers feed data directly back into the system – data which can be used either to further develop the buyer profile or to better hone the service or provision of service that your company offers – is a way in which both elements can work in tandem.
This is true automation; not cold, not clinical, not robotic – or at least, not very robotic – but useful. Useful not only to our businesses and to our team members but to our customers and clients too, delivering them what they need, with a touch so light they barely even feel it. Perfect.
What have you done to keep the humanity in your marketing automation? Tell us about it in the comments.