Marketing, as we know it, has changed dramatically since it emerged as a business discipline. Most of us remember the famous quote from Henry Ford about the Model T cars, ‘Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants, so long as it is black.’
Yes, until quite recently, consumers were offered limited range of products and they didn’t have too many options to choose from, offered by different brands. Therefore, marketing communications were usually in a one-way direction, from the brand to the consumers, to communicate what is new with the brands.
However, all these have changed dramatically in the recent years. First, the emergence of online channels in the late 90s has started to change the consumer behavior. On top of that, the ‘Mobile Revolution’ which happened in the last 15 years, accelerated this change worldwide.
As today’s consumers, we don’t go online, in fact, we live online. From web and social media channels to messaging platforms, from email channel to app push notifications, the information we are looking for is on our fingertips.
According to a Google Research, “Thanks to smartphones, consumers now search, learn about brands, and are able to make a purchase anywhere, anytime; and they usually do this at ‘micro-moments’ while they are engaged with other tasks.”
Furthermore, today’s consumers would like the brands to understand their ever-changing needs and receive personalized messages, offers, etc. from these brands. Long gone the days of bulk emails sent to the general audience with a standard content.
Indeed, 67% of respondents to a recent Adobe survey said it’s important for brands to automatically adjust content based on their current context. And when they don’t? A whopping 42% of respondents said they get annoyed when their content isn’t personalized. That’s followed by 33% who get annoyed when content is poorly designed, and 29% when content isn’t optimized for their devices. What’s more, an alarming 66% of consumers said encountering any of these situations would stop them from making a purchase.
However, despite this clear demand, only 15% of consumers expect brands to deliver personalized interactions based on their tastes and preferences, according to a new study conducted by Oracle.
This means that the brands face a big challenge to fill this gap in the consumers’ perception. They should get engaged with their consumers through the channels chosen by the consumers, track and understand their behavior through these engagements and try to understand when these ‘micro-moments’ occur, so that they will be able to be there at the right time, with the right message, on the right channel to reach out to the right audience.
So, what are the key factors to meet the needs of the consumers? These can be summarized as follows:
In fact, these are easier to be said than to execute.
To start with, usually the consumer data, whether it is the profile or engagement/behavior data, is stored in several data silos throughout the organization. Getting this fragmented data together under one single identifier is a task which needs significant IT involvement, and this is something hard to be found by the Marketers.
Also, the vast amount of data that the Marketers can end up with makes it sometimes impossible to analyze and segment manually. Marketers need an automated way to complete these tasks.
On top of that, outbound channels like email, SMS, social media, push, etc. are also managed by different teams within the organization; therefore, brands cannot offer a single unified experience to their consumers.
Right at this point, ‘Marketing Automation’ platforms enter the stage as a lifesaver for the Marketers!
According to Techopedia, “Marketing automation is the use of software and Web-based services to execute, manage and automate marketing tasks and processes. It replaces manual and repetitive marketing processes with purpose-built software and applications geared toward performance.”
Marketing Automation platforms can offer a complete solution to unify and create segments with the customer data, create customer journeys, nurture leads, and analyze the performance of the marketing activities.
With the help of the Marketing Automation platforms, Marketers can,
Journeys designed and tailored for the specific customer segments can easily be executed automatically through the marketing automation platforms.
Outbound channel synchronization can easily be achieved through these journeys, like if a consumer is not opening an email for a certain period of time, an SMS can be sent to increase the reach.
In summary, marketing automation platforms are both the single source of truth for the marketing data and the ideal execution layers for the customer communication. Enabling the marketers to intelligently target their customers, nurture the potential leads and qualify them as ‘Marketing Qualified Leads’ will improve the conversion rates of the sales teams and increase the customer loyalty.
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