Marketing automation rose sharply last year. And yet it seems that it is not easy to find a clear definition. So we went directly to an expert, Tamara Gielen: “Marketing automation is simply software that helps marketing people to automate certain tasks: from marketing campaigns to following up services provided to customers, via various channels. For example, if you buy a printer at Coolblue, the following day the software automatically sends an e-mail with attractive offers for paper or ink.” So it’s a time-saving tool. Or is there more to it than that?
According to a recent report, 67% of marketing managers use automation. According to Tamara, however, we should take that figure with a pinch of salt: “In fact many companies just segment the contents of a newsletter on the basis of the reader’s click behavior in the previous newsletter.” Smart, data-driven marketing automation offers far more possibilities than pure e-mail marketing. “For instance, you can use the software to track the behavior of your users on certain web pages. Or you can link it to your CRM package to manage your event better. That means you can prepare all your e-mails months before the event takes place. Everything is automatically sent to the right person at the right time.”
This total automation does demand a lot of preparatory work, Tamara warns: “You have to determine beforehand what the software should do when a prospect carries out a particular action. On the basis of your click behavior on a webpage, for instance, you are automatically guided by a customized marketing strategy: personalized e-mails, a different home page, etc. But you can’t just say: ok, let’s go and buy the software, press start and our marketing will suddenly start to run far better. That would be too easy. First of all, you have to define and introduce paths yourself. Of course, you can also see this preparatory phase as an investment. After all, it forces you to think about your strategy.”
“Analyzing the big data afterwards provides insight. Then you can really improve your customer database and predict future behavior. Marketing automation only really becomes attractive when you can draw leads from the data and qualify them (see inset). After all, the real goal is to keep your leads warm with ever better targeted, automatically activated marketing until they are ready to buy.”
Give your leads a score
Who is ready to buy? Give all the leads in your software a clear score. For instance, a prospect who requests a quote is already in a decision-making phase and deserves a higher score than a prospect who shares an amusing Facebook post.
Do not forget the negative score
You can also monitor when someone unsubscribes from a newsletter or has not visited your website for a long time, etc. Allocate negative scores here, so that you can reactivate these prospects.
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