The quality and popularity of small shops is partly due to the fact that they know almost all customers personally, greet them by name and maybe even already know which product might be of interest to them at the moment. Such relationships work when the customer base is manageable and there is a high level of interaction between companies and customers. If you address a large number of people or if you have little or no personal contact, you can use digital services in order to establish individual communication with them. This is known as “Marketing Automation”.
What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is always used when parts of marketing activities are automated with the help of software. So it’s not a newsletter that goes to a list of recipients at the push of a button. But very much an automated e-mail, which recommends further articles to a customer based on a purchase that could be of interest to him.
If you spin these thoughts further, you soon come to the connection of different tools, which, based on things that happen to the user or in the other tools, perform different tasks in a row.
You can imagine it like this, applied to a specific example: A regularly retrieved weather report for a ski area predicts fresh snow for the night -> the tourism association automatically sends an e-mail to all registered newsletter recipients telling them to use the app of the ski area and get a discounted day ticket for the beautiful day tomorrow with a voucher code -> The user follows the request, installs the app, buys the reduced-price ticket and drives to the ski area -> As soon as he sits in the gondola, the tourism association sends him a Have a nice day skiing.
In other words, you can imagine that the entire support along the digital customer journey can be automated and you can send each customer individually highly relevant messages. Always at the right time and on the right channel.
That sounds great, of course, and at least makes all marketers look bright, but there are some major challenges:
Utopia vs. reality
There are few areas where the gap between what is possible and what is actually implemented is as great as in marketing automation. As soon as you think beyond relatively simple things like an email campaign tool, it quickly becomes very complex. Either a tool is needed that can do EVERYTHING (and therefore does not yet exist) or one has to laboriously and individually link the various tools. Automation projects are therefore often very tedious and involve a lot of effort. This means that many people can quickly become enthusiastic about marketing automation, but concrete projects are rarely implemented.
The limits of the imagination
In addition to the technical complexity, there is another challenge. In conversations about marketing automation, statements such as “Whatever you come up with, we can build it – there are no limits to the imagination” are often found. In reality, it turns out that, for historical reasons, the fantasy itself often quickly becomes the limit, as one suddenly has to think in completely new directions that were not possible before.
Marketing for Marketing Automation
Many software vendors who are in any way close to marketing in terms of content are now committed to “Marketing Automation”.
At one end of this spectrum are small single-use case providers of e-mail campaigns, for example, who already refer to the sending of messages with dynamic text and an automated follow-up as “marketing automation”, although they are relatively far from it. Because an additional tool has to be used for all additional services.
At the other end are large companies such as Adobe, Salesforce or SAP. They have been investing billions in the purchase of single-use case marketing software for several years and then offer it – completely heterogeneously – apparently under one roof. We worked with some of these tools ourselves, and the experiences were sobering: in the end, you notice in every step that there are different tools that are not really related, and you are with the same effort at sometimes exorbitant prices faced.
Marketing automation is extremely exciting and can offer great added value in the areas of customer acquisition, customer loyalty and customer services. Therefore, in marketing today, you should definitely try to keep this technology in mind. But it’s just as important not to set unrealistic goals. Even smaller automations, such as campaigns that lead to landing pages and in which a few personalized e-mails are automatically sent after filling out a form, can bring very nice results and automatically make you want more. And if you have your own app, great customer journeys can be realized, as the example with the tourism association shows.
This article is published by the Digital Gravity which one of the top notch digital marketing solution provider in Dubai