The implementation of a system is a long-term process, so it is important to focus on quick benefits at the beginning and then follow with optimization. One of the serious mistakes from our perspective is the lack of a well thought-out Marketing Automation strategy, replaced by ad hoc thinking about solving emerging problems and patching holes. We shouldn’t forget that contact with the customer is a kind of dialogue, during which the needs of the company must be verified against the expectations of customers, and vice versa.
In this article we describe the first part of the most popular mistakes made while implementing Marketing Automation tools. We hope that our material will help you avoid taking the wrong decisions.
Wrong implementation priorities
The decision on implementation has already been made, the tool has been chosen – the next step is to determine the scope of implementation. Very often its direction is based on the feelings or ideas of individual people, while it should be defined by the analysis of data regarding customers and subscribers. This will allow to identify communication channels and programs that should be implemented in the first place. Let’s start by establishing the priority of the communication channel to be implemented.
Let’s take the example of an Internet bookstore and a database of people who have an account registered in it. A person registering in our bookstore, when creating an account, must provide his e-mail address. In his panel he also has the option of adding a mobile phone number, however, this is not required. This means that our database consists of many more e-mail addresses than phone numbers. Therefore, the suggested priority of the implementation should definitely be the e-mail channel.
We can analyze the potential programs that we want to implement in the same way.
Each of the communication paths we want to build is based on the actions of the customer who agreed to receive marketing communication. Examples of such triggering actions and paths for an e-commerce store can be for instance:
- Account registration – welcome path
- Placing an order – a path of acknowledgement for placing an order
- Adding products to the cart – a reminder path regarding the products left in the cart
The implementation should be primarily focused on the programs, which are most often triggered by the customers’ actions. Considering one day as the time range of our analysis, we can quickly verify which programs we should focus on and implement them in the first place.
Incorrect prioritization of communication
One of the topics discussed during the implementation of the Marketing Automation tool is limiting the amount of communication sent to the customer so as not to spam him with messages. In many cases, the approach to this problem and suggested solutions are relatively simple and boil down to the statement “We do not send the customer more than X e-mails a week”.
Very often, however, this is a wrong decision, which in fact leads to a reduction in the overall conversion rate achieved through the Marketing Automation activities carried out. Prioritization of communication should first of all be based on actions maximizing our conversion so as to receive a return on investment in the shortest possible time. Of course, providing quality communication is also important, but it should be a secondary objective.
- Monday – the customer receives an e-mail newsletter with information about discounted books, e.g. those that are in stock.
- Tuesday – the customer makes a purchase in the shop. He is qualified to the shopping path and receives an e-mail with thanks and a suggestion of complementary products.
- Thursday – the customer adds the product to the shopping cart but does not make a purchase. He is qualified to the abandoned cart path and receives an e-mail with information about products in the cart and a discount coupon.
- Saturday – the customer receives a message inviting him to the opening of a new outlet in his city of residence.
Taking the above example into consideration, is it a good idea to limit the number of e-mails sent to customers to 2 per week? If we decided to adopt this approach, our imaginary customer would only receive Monday and Tuesday’s message.
This oversimplification of communication rules, unfortunately, leads to an overall reduction in conversion.
This is due to the difference between automatic actions (triggered by the customer’s actions – Marketing Automation programs in other words) and ad-hoc actions (triggered by the company’s needs, e.g. newsletter referring to outstanding stock, an invitation to an opening of a new facility). The main differences between the two forms are:
- Marketing Automation programs are characterized by a much higher conversion rate than ad-hoc actions. Comparing the newsletter results to the example of the welcome Marketing Automation program, you can see that the Open Rate is about 2 times higher and the Click Through Rate is 3-4 times higher. More information is available in the GetResponse report (newsletter and triggered).
- Marketing Automation programs have a much narrower audience over a given period of time than ad-hoc actions. This means that it is much easier to exclude people who have received automatic communication from the ad-hoc communication group than to do it the other way round.
- Customers expect contact within a short period of time after carrying out some brand actions (e.g. after opening an account or placing an order), and they are more susceptible to marketing content included in this contact.
- Marketing Automation programs are much easier to personalize for a specific person because we have the context of the actions that they have performed. By sending communication after a purchase, we can suggest complementary products to those already purchased, which allows us to build a stronger relationship than through a general message in the newsletter.
- It is impossible to predict the customer’s actions leading to the launch of Marketing Automation programs, even in a short period of time. We are not able to say with 100% certainty that the customer will make a purchase or create an account in a given week. Analogically, ad-hoc actions can be easily planned and adjusted if necessary.
Taking into account the above points, the following hierarchy is a suggested solution to limit the sending of communication and at the same time maximize the conversion:
- Marketing Automation programs should always be sent, regardless of the number of messages received by a given customer.
- The customers who have received an e-mail from the Marketing Automation program in a given period should be excluded from other ad-hoc activities in the same period.
Such a solution is optimal and leads to a reduction in communication, with a focus on increasing overall conversion and ROI.
Basing Marketing Automation programs on ambiguous customer actions
Should a Marketing Automation program be triggered by a short visit to an e-commerce website and a review of a single product card? When defining triggering actions, it is worth considering whether the rule we have chosen really reflects the customer’s interest in our products or services, as well as determine whether this interest is consciously expressed.
A conscious expression of interest is e.g. subscribing to a newsletter or placing an order. The customer completes the data, selects the products – performs a number of actions in order to achieve a specific result. Such a triggering action allows us to collect good quality marketing data, is not accidental, and requires a few steps. Additionally, it builds certain expectations and prepares the customer for potential contact from our company. Some people may expect contact even after such actions.
Actions that express interest in an unconscious manner are soft actions of various kinds, which do not require a lot of effort from the customer. These can be different types of behavioral actions, such as browsing products on a website, clicking on links in an e-mail message, which can be done accidentally or with little or no intention.
In the case of unconscious actions, the program should not be triggered on the basis of one customer action. However, it is worth looking at them in some time perspective, for example, one day, and build the logic that operates on their set. An example can be the launch of the Marketing Automation program when the customer has been regularly browsing through products from a specific category in an e-commerce store for 3 days now.
Sending of all Marketing Automation communication
When we talk about sending Marketing Automation communication, we can distinguish two main approaches in terms of the speed at which it is sent. We can send messages:
- In real-time or near real-time – in relation to when the customer has made a triggering action, e.g. immediately after placing an order, one hour after placing an order, etc.
- At a time chosen by us, grouping all actions from the previous period – e.g. every day at 7:00 for all orders placed from 7:00 a.m. the previous day.
- The first approach is preferred by a significant number of marketers. This is due to the general conviction that the faster the better. In the context of conducting Marketing Automation activities, it is not so obvious.
Imagine a situation when a customer of our online bookstore orders late in the evening, after 1:00 a.m. at night. In such a context, should non-purchase marketing communication with complementary products also be sent to him at this time?
From the image point of view, it is much better to send such communication at the same time, e.g. at 7:00 the next day. This approach brings additional benefits, such as the ease of monitoring specific shipments and delivering messages at times when customers actually read them, e.g. in the morning, lunch or afternoon.
How fast we should communicate with the customer does not depend on the triggering action, but on the conversion goal we want to achieve. The goals we want to achieve may require a high or low level of commitment from our customers.
Making a purchase is an example of a goal usually associated with high customer involvement. A purchase decision requires rethinking, the customer may not currently have the resources to make an additional purchase, may not have time to complete the order, or this may not be his preferred purchase channel. In addition, the more expensive or complex the product or service, the greater the customer’s commitment is required.
In this case, much better conversion results will be achieved when we delay the communication in time, and also when the Marketing Automation program itself will be relatively long (e.g. 30 days) and made of several messages sent in a certain period of time.
Asking for an order evaluation is a goal with a low level of commitment on the part of the customer. It can even be simplified e.g. by the so-called clickable NPS, i.e. order evaluation by clicking on one of the rating levels. All the customer has to do is click on the appropriate icon. The engagement required here is incomparably lower than that during a purchasing process. In this case, it is much better to send a single real-time communication.
Proper setting of strategy, goals, and priorities for the implementation of a Marketing Automation tool is the key to success. It is worth learning from the mistakes of others. We will describe the next frequent mistakes in the next article in order to help your company achieve high benefits from the implementation of marketing automation.