Many things might come to mind when you think of marketing automation.
Of course, it involves using technology to follow-up with customers automatically. Experts say it takes at least 7 exposures for someone to consider your offer (not buy, but merely consider) and only relying on the very small percentage of folks (~1%) who are ready to buy right now is a dire mistake.
Marketing automation also implies a system that integrates multiple channels like e-mail, direct mail, phone, and others. When I first got started in 2000, although non-existent to most business owners, automated e-mail follow-up would become a pretty big deal for me (and we’re talking basic follow-up with no ability to track and respond to behavior and activity like we do today).
Now, we’ve got the ability to tie in other channels. Coordinating direct mail and even sms text messages to drive people back to their e-mail boxes or to an online order form is an example of the type of automation now available to everyone.
I also think of a system that completes redundant tasks for you, freeing you up to work “on” your business and not only “in” it. Automating the sending of quotes, appointment requests, thank you letters/gifts, collecting more information, et al., are all things a good automation platform can handle for you in a single click.
But my favorite way to look at marketing automation is “The Process Of Scaling Personal Attention.”
I think so many people are afraid of automation in their marketing because they think it will eradicate the human touch. When done correctly, this belief couldn’t be further from the truth. Automation actually scales personal attention.
For example, there would be no way I could automatically keep up with which clients should get a birthday card today and have that card automatically queued up and sent out by another service that my automation system talks to. Done for me. 300 cards a day. Can you say “scaling personal attention?”
Or on Easter when I sent out over 2000 “Happy Easter” text messages to my christian music mobile subscribers. Not only did my automation system segment who should get the text message and who shouldn’t but it talked directly to the service that sent out those messages. Done for me. 2000 text messages. Can you say “scaling personal attention?”
What about those customers who haven’t bought from me for 9 months to a year? I could never keep up with tens of thousands of customers, let alone the segment of them who are falling off. Queuing up a letter for my fulfillment house to send out exactly when a customer crosses a certain inactivity threshold puts “customer reactivation” on autopilot. Customer doesn’t reply to the first letter? How about an e-mail a week later. Then a second letter. Then a $50 bill coupon promotion to them. All managed by my automation machine. I could never – I repeat – never keep up with all of this on my own.
In essence, automation allows you to actually strengthen the personal attention, if done right. It is the process of collecting lots of data (either inputted by customer or tracked from their behavior/activity), but not stopping there. It’s USING the data that becomes incredibly powerful and creates personal experiences in leveragable forms of media that your conscious brain could never remember and keep up with for all your clients.
That’s what marketing automation really is… to me, at least.
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