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April 29, 2016
Marketing  |  6 min read

How Automation Benefits You and Your Customers

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Peter Reinhardt

Much of day-to-day marketing is maddeningly manual and repetitive. It can take the fun out of the business we love. My heavy involvement with marketing as co-founder of a company has shown me just how arduous it can be. But as an engineer, I also know that many of the repetitive tasks can be automated and streamlined with new cloud services.

For example, suppose you want to email a Net Promoter Score survey to a subset of your customer base. You might have to ask an analyst to manually craft an SQL query and, after he gets the list of emails back to you, to import it into an email survey tool. Then, you wait again for it to load your list, and run deduplication from previous Net Promoter Score campaigns.

Wait a bit more, then finally hit send.

Don’t forget: The data from the Net Promoter Score survey will be siloed in the NPS tool, so you’ll need to get some engineering help to move that data into your warehouse so the analyst can make it useful to you.

I’m exhausted just describing it.

Of course, marketers shouldn’t automate just any task. Automation takes time, so in order for it to prove worthwhile, the current manual task should be common enough or complex enough that automation brings a significant return on investment through both saved time and accelerated marketing experiments.

In many cases, automation is worth the investment, and it often brings more than just efficiency. It can also help you build better relationships with customers, improve your bottom line, and allow you to return to the more enjoyable parts of your job.

Why automate?

Automation can look different depending on what a business hopes to achieve. Mention.com, for example, uses Net Promoter Score automation and personalization to learn more about its customers’ happiness. The automated system forks customers’ experiences on the basis of their scores and puts some customers in touch with sales, some with support, and others with helpful content. As a result, churn has decreased by 50 percent. This highly targeted messaging is more powerful than getting the “one perfectly crafted message.”

Regardless of a business’s ultimate goals, automation can net achievements that all businesses strive for. It can:

  • Lower the total cost of acquisition. When marketing teams have highly personalized email marketing automation in place, the sales team doesn’t need to manually nudge customers in the right direction as often. This lowers the cost of baseline acquisition, which opens a major opportunity for competitive advantage: You can offer faster and better support at the same customer acquisition cost.
  • Create a higher lifetime value. Automation allows for fast, precise outreach at crisis points, such as low Net Promoter Scores or account deactivations. An automated message can save an account that could otherwise be overlooked.
  • Lead to a better customer experience. Customers will feel that their needs are not only met, but also anticipated. The content they receive will be personalized, which will help build relationships with them.

How to automate

Remember: Automation doesn’t work unless you have the right data inputs. Marketers must build strong data foundations and put the right marketing automation tools in place to build great customer experiences.

Each touchpoint a customer has with your company is an opportunity to collect data that could potentially drive automated workflows. For example, some high-signal customer touchpoints ripe for layering in automation include:

  • When a customer selects a new paid plan but doesn’t complete the process.
  • When a customer views some feature of a higher plan many times.
  • When a customer invites many colleagues or friends.
  • When a customer unsubscribes from all notifications.

After these inputs are mapped out, they can be used to send targeted and timely messages to the customers through many different channels.

5 marketing processes to consider automating

Countless processes could be automated, of course—but not all of them would be worth the time or effort. Below are some specific processes that might be perfect for automation at your company.

1. Email outreach

Batch and blast emails don’t offer much value to a customer. Instead, use behavior-based triggers to send targeted messages. An appropriately timed and contextually relevant email from a sales rep can close deals.

2. Social listening

Automated social listening means using technology to monitor and analyze what people say about the company. It can be used to identify opportunities to help customers in distress, to watch the competition, and even to find new opportunities.

3. Congratulatory messages

Customers aren’t interested in receiving communication from you only when you’re selling something. They also want encouragement to reach a milestone and recognition once they have. Creating a feedback loop for customers is an essential step in manufacturing desire.

4. Cart abandonment and recovery

When customers put products in their shopping carts without actually buying them, fire off an automated message. It should remind users of how much they’ll love what they buy. If your product is complicated, then consider including support articles or personal assistance to get users over the barrier to entry.

5. Net Promoter Score

Word of mouth is probably the most effective kind of marketing. Automating the collection of Net Promoter Scores sheds light on your brand’s reputation. Customers who score you highly have positive impressions and may provide opportunities to ask for referrals. A customer with a low score is at risk of leaving, and automation can be the magnet that pulls the customer to a support representative or salesperson at the appropriate time.

Ultimately, automation means marketers and salespeople will have to do less manual work to keep up with the majority of customer interactions. It can help you build more personal relationships, save you time and money, and make the experience better for customers, too. 

This article was written by Peter Reinhardt from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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