In this expert interview we ask specialist consultant, Philip Storey, how businesses can get started with marketing automation.
The founder of marketing automation consultancy, Enchant, Philip Storey is a leading email marketing and CRM strategist with over 12 years experience.
How do you define marketing automation?
Simply put, to me, marketing automation is the practice of looking at campaigns and customer interactions as engagement opportunities – and automating those experiences. I think everyone has a different definition of marketing automation and that’s OK too. I think that most of us in digital marketing can sometimes feel uncertain about buzzwords and trends. They can be difficult to define. They can be even more difficult to digest and put into practice within our own companies.
I think that great marketing automation is where it significantly improves the customer experience, leading to a higher satisfaction of desire. Basically, if you get it right, your customers feel something different and they act upon that in a positive way. For example, you send a cart abandonment email – it’s not too pushy and it feels personal. More customers check out. This is good your customers and it’s definitely good for your business. That’s a simple example, but the principles can be applied to any interaction.
What are the biggest challenges for organisations seeking to automate?
For enterprise companies, it’s usually the question of “where on earth do we start?”. For small to medium size companies, I think it can often be “how?”. There is a misconception that it is difficult and/or expensive. Neither of these are true. Most of our clients at Enchant have been through this same process and they all have sophisticated automated marketing strategies that have been explored and extended over many months and years.
A less-common, but still widely seen barrier to automation, is the fear that it won’t feel authentic. This is something that you really need to consider, but don’t let it stop you from leaping into the world of automation. Test, get things right and roll it out – it helps your customers and it will definitely help your company too.
Join Philip for our live discussion and Q&A, Marketing Automation on a Shoestring, on 17th November.
What are the key steps towards setting up effective automation?
Start by looking at the customer lifecycle and the most common behaviours where you can add value. For example, if someone is on your website looking at a specific category of products, set up an automation that retargets those individuals that engage deeply but do not convert. Follow up with a series of soft-touch emails. You could take it one step further by following up with paid social ads and display.
Can marketing automation be done cheaply?
One of the most common barriers to brands exploring automation, is that they think it will either be very expensive or it will require another complex platform to learn. Whilst I don’t know your individual technology situations, most email service providers offer automated marketing right out of the box, If they don’t, there are plenty of automation platforms that you can bolt on platforms to your email service provider and they aren’t expensive.
When assessing the cost of an automation platform, I strongly advise you not to look at the cost as a flat fee investment. Look at the worst case and best case scenarios for return on investment from how you will use the platform. This isn’t that tricky to achieve, and I certainly prefer to measure investment opportunities on possible impact, rather than cost.
What’s your top tip for implementing successful marketing automation?
The key is starting with something, and being comfortable with it not being perfect. You may have grand plans or extensive ideas about how you want things to be in 12 months. This can be a real barrier to starting, just somewhere. Look at the key areas of the customer lifecycle and automate those with single messages. Extend them to series’ of messages once you’ve proven they are effective. When they’re extended into series’, you can integrate them with other channels for consistent value propositions across all customer touch points. Start somewhere and start soon. That’s my advice.
Join our online discussion with Philip on 17th November.