5 Myths about Digital Marketing you need to avoid right-away

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Myths about Digital Marketing

Being one of the fastest growing and ever-changing fields of study, Digital Marketing has become a house of many misconceptions and disbelief. Many clients and even digital marketers believe in some myths about digital marketing. These either once existed before or became prominent due to irrelevant information on the internet. To get the most from your online marketing efforts you need to stop believing in myths and start with a practical approach to digital marketing.

In order to get success in your work, you not only need to know what to do but also what not to. Let us get down to the most harmful myths about digital marketing that might impact your returns from online marketing.

SEO is Dead

With so many regulations and penalties associated with SEO people believe that SEO is out of the market. It is though true that black hat SEO is almost gone but a lot can be done to get to the top results of search pages. Publishing relevant content, building quality backlinks and working on other technical factors can help you achieve massive success.

More Tools = More Performance

It is true that some purchased tools can help you get great results from your digital marketing team. But remember that it the human talent and skills that matter more than any tool in online marketing. Tools are great for optimization of strategies but try to focus on core content and technical skills of your human resources and help them with some tools. Also, each tool has a learning curve and changing your base toolkit too often can lead to negative growth as well.

Digital marketing is a one-time activity

In our conversations with CMOs of different companies, this is the most common myth about digital marketing. The key to growth in digital marketing is experimentation backed by proper analytics. Once you get a working strategy you need constantly improvise and experiment to enhance it. If you stop with a one-time approach to your marketing it will soon become outdated and one day you will wake up to a disaster in your digital marketing. Keep a record of the analytics to stay updated with user behaviors and acquisition from online channels.

Social Media is on the top of the conversion funnel

This is one myth which has faded with improvements in social media acquisition systems. Earlier social media couldn’t directly lead to acquisition but now with improvised acquisition based ads, you can get direct customers from social media. Linkedin and twitter work exceptionally well for B2B business while Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are great for B2C customers.

Mobile is not good in lead-acquisition

It is true that the attention span is much lower on mobile as compared to desktop. Nobody wants to fill long complicated forms on their phone. But you can optimize pages for mobile, generate targeted ads, and make mobile-friendly web pages. In the end, maybe it is not the mobile but your approach that’s not working. Mobile optimized pages is also a ranking factor for SEO so you should give it due consideration.

Digital Marketing is a very dynamic way of marketing. You can growth hack your business with a correct approach towards marketing. If you avoid these common myths about digital marketing and start working the right way you get great outcomes from your budget. It is a continuous activity and keeps working on its improvisation to get the maximum output from your efforts.

How Small Businesses can benefit from Marketing Automation

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Starting a business and keeping it alive is a very challenging task. Down the road of entrepreneurship, you face a lot of challenges. Think of your major problems for a minute, are you facing these problems in your marketing:

  • Lack of resources (Money, Human, Time)
  • Generating quality leads
  • Increasing visibility
  • Customer acquisition and retention
  • Keeping up with trends and technology

This is the story of most of the business today. The solution is pretty simple, automate your marketing.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is the automation of routine marketing activities like email marketing, social media optimization, shares, lead nurturing etc. Marketing automation provides great benefits to both SMBs and large business. It boosts sales and organizes marketing activities while maintaining a personal touch with the leads. If you are a small business looking to optimize your marketing through clear market approach then marketing automation is a must. Let us clarify the concept of marketing automation for you:

  • It is not just e-mail marketing. It involves automation of all tasks from social shares, targeting, emails, blog shares etc.
  • It is not robotic. Marketing automation increases personalization and helps in lead nurturing.
  • It is not just for MNCs and large organization but relevant for all businesses.
  • Bulk email and spamming are a big NO if you want to optimize your marketing activities.

Why choose marketing automation for small businesses?

Marketing automation can be very useful for small and medium scale businesses. As a small business, early adoption of automated marketing can give you a competitive advantage. The benefits offered by such marketing models are great as it helps you focus on core sales by leaving digital marketing to experts. Here are some statistics to consider:

  • 78% CMO’s think that marketing automation is the future of digital marketing
  • 63% of companies outgrowing their competition use automated marketing.
  • 78% of companiesusing marketing automation see their revenue increase by more than $6 million annually.
  • Lead nurturing emails get 4 -10 times more response than normal emails.

Small business gets an extra edge with marketing automation. These are some benefits which marketing automation can promise to small business:

Easy Implementation & Budget Control

It is easy to implement these models in the initial stages as the amount of data is comparatively less. Due to less amount of data you can use a lot of free tools to cut your marketing spend while dealing with automation. In the initial stages, you will need a lesser amount of staff to deal with marketing with automation and your sales team will also be aided with more leads.

Customer Retention

As the business grows it becomes impossible to maintain a 1:1 connection with all your clients. Marketing automation comes at handy in providing customized messages to your clients according to their needs. It increases personalization and humanizes marketing. Moreover, it increases click through rates and helps in generating more leads. With marketing automation, it becomes easy to retain your customers and generate business from your existing clients.

Full Use of CRM

If your CRM suite integrated well with your automated marketing then it can lead to great results. Marketing automation takes customer relationship management to another level. You can optimize your messaging and record client’s responses for your products simultaneously. Make sure that your CRM is easy to integrate with online marketing activities. It is proven that marketing automation speeds lead closing. In some of the industries, up to 72% increase was noticed in lead conversion.

Ease in Generating Quality Leads

Automated marketing helps in generating quality leads and provides higher conversion rates. It improves the quality of leads by delivering the right content to the right audience. With the proper lead acquisition by delivering value to your customers you get an increase in the number and quality of leads. This is done by automated monitoring of customer’s behavior online and choosing the right social signals to benefit your business.

ROI Optimization

Small businesses get high-level ROI from marketing automation quickly. Marketing automation generates a high return on investment in a very short time. To keep track of your ROI make sure that you have clear marketing goals and use proper analytics to measure your success in marketing. Automated marketing also reduces the load on the sales team and they can focus more on selling.

Marketing Automation

What is Marketing Automation?

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In layman words, marketing automation is a platform which ensures that you deliver the right marketing message, to the right customers, at the right time. For this, a marketing automation system uses various online channels like email, social media, and websites. It streamlines, measures and automates routine marketing activities so as to bring efficiency in online marketing methods.

Marketing Automation provides a control channel to effectively market on multiple online channels from one place. With marketing automation software you can automate your marketing initiatives in accordance with the preferences and requirements of individual leads.

Features of Marketing Automation Software

Breaking it down to individual components a marketing automation software provides the following core features:

  • Email Marketing
  • Landing Pages
  • Campaign Management
  • Lead Scoring
  • Social Media Automation
  • Marketing Analytics

ROI of Marketing Automation Software?

Marketing automation is proven to provide a number of benefits to the marketers. According to a report by Marketo, a marketing automation system offered the following benefits to the marketers:

  • 14% more pipeline from marketing
  • 11% decrease in time spent in sales
  • 17% direct increase in revenues

According to emarketer, 62% of senior marketers surveyed were using marketing automation to better understand their customers and prospects. Interestingly nearly 40% of them were using it to stay relevant against their competitors.

According to Nuclear research, 95% of companies reported some benefit from using marketing automation. It is expected to increase marketing staff productivity by 1.5% to 6.9% and increase in sales productivity by approximately 4%.

What Marketing Automation Does?

Marketing automation personalizes your marketing message according to the requirements of individual leads. It groups your leads based on information provided, personalizes and schedules emails, automates social media messages and records new leads generated via online channels to repeat and maintain the process.

A basic example of automated marketing for a web design company can be as follows:

  • Collect leads from the website using landing page/contact form.
  • Send a thank you mail with some blog content regarding good web design.
  • Ask for requirements using reply option in mail
  • Provide link to company portfolio and details about company
  • Schedule a call (human interaction)
  • Provide quotation
  • Thank you mail for purchase.

This is a very basic example of working with a marketing automation software. With more advancement this can include lead grouping, social media posts, call scheduling, CRM integration and a lot more. Sophisticated automation software is also able to prioritize leads on the basis of behavior patterns on internet and information provided during signups.

Such automated techniques help in scoring leads and personalizing marketing message to give the best value to your customers. Automated marketing brings relevancy in your messages to your prospective customers which increase signups, lead engagement and final conversion to paying customers. It even helps in increasing customer loyalty and advocacy for the brand by providing greater satisfaction to the clients.

What you can’t learn from books about Marketing Automation

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Ric signed up for a newsletter with his email address. As a result, he got the download link or the first newsletter and a greeting note. A few days later, he receives a link to a related e-book. Sooner, he gets a call from the sales team about purchasing the product!

Impressive, Isn’t it?

It must be so tiring for the marketing team to analyze thousands of people who signed up and call the potential leads. In reality, it was done without anyone of the marketing team lifting a finger. This is what marketing automation does.

There are many unconventional facts about automatic automation that you won’t be finding in the books.

The not so general facts!

  • It gives an amazing client experience!

    If an individual buys a product or service from your company, how will you engage that person to move forward?

    The companies that make marketing and sales their priority knows how important it is to track people and maintain a relationship. Using automation may make these tasks easier.

    According to a survey performed by CMO.com, thirty percent of the buyers had a good experience with the retargeted advertisements. Here, retargeted ads are the ones customized to offer related content or product based on the leads actions. By allowing your marketing automation to engage, the offerings can be customized in a way that customers want.

  • Search for loopholes in your marketing and sales

    Data collection and automation goes side by side and it also gives you better insight about your relation with your customer. If there is no automation, then you might doubt that your sales team is not opting for the right leads, or that the marketing team is not going through them before passing them on.

    But with automation, you will be able to find where you are losing interest so that you can increase your B2B sales with that knowledge.

  • You can segment your customer base and personalize them!

    If you are willing to increase the B2B sales through personalized marketing without any rigorous effort then marketing segmentation is a nice idea.

    By using the data given by the marketing automation, you can find segments and options that you never hope it existed.

    Why should you stick to demographics if you can segment your customer base according to the way they use their site, the offers they accept and the article they cling on to?

  • Handle data in a better way!

    A company named Venture boat noticed that the brands typically see a 20 to 50 % rise in the revenue after using the marketing automation.

    This increase is due to the reason that the marketing automation doesn’t get tired and start committing mistakes when they start handling data of 10 campaigns instead of 4.

    You can develop your approach as complicated and data-driven as you want by using marketing automation.

  • What do you really get in return?

    Most of the marketing automation technologies can provide you a close loop reporting which means that you can observe the fruitfulness of your marketing.

    You will have clarity about the lead’s lifecycle and you will be able to make appropriate decisions about where to invest in future campaigns.

    Using minimum effort, you can launch a number of campaigns, then study them in a detailed manner to learn the ways these campaigns succeed or failed. It lets your marketing team to focus on the innovative ways to enhance the B2B sales instead of wasting their time here.

    In a nutshell, marketing automation is worth the time and money and resources for the long-term growth of your business.

Does live chat generate leads in B2B?

Does live chat generate leads in B2B?

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Can you communicate with the buyers and the vendors in real time using live chat?

So, the answer is, YES!

According to a study conducted by Kissmetrics, 44% of the online users say assert that having their queries answered by a live person during the online purchase is one of the most necessary features a website can offer. Moreover, 63% of them said that they would most likely to return to a website of that kind.

For your business, live chat can give you more leads, more conversions, and customer support. How?

We would be covering that one by one.

Want to attract your buyers?

Buyers in today’s day learn things through the web and go to your website for the desired content.

If you don’t reach out to them in a proper way, they are never going to come back. Maybe some will come later after they have searched the competition but till then you have lost the option to step early into the buying cycle.

You may also lose the opportunity of influencing their judgment process and you may have missed the boat.

Things to keep in mind while adding the live chat

You can’t add live chat as such to your website. The more you make it adaptable to your customers and your requirements. the more benefit you will derive from it.

Broadly, there is three factor that you should customize to make the live chat as efficient as possible.

  • Behavior of your potential customer

    Just by pushing a live chat session to everyone who comes to your website may cause more harm than good. By using complicated rules of engagement, the live chats will grade your potential customers, and they will invite only those to chat who are showing the desired digital body language.

    For example, if they are staying on the page for a definite time period or going to a certain page. For better results, you can also tune your engine by studying the finished chats and feeding the inferences back to the rules.

    Although the subtleness of the digital things is necessary, but you also have to think about the volume. The traffic is never constant on the website and that’s why you have to adjust the chat capacity at a moment’s notice.

    If it goes wrong then you will either miss out on the opportunities or you will waste on the opportunities that could have been easier to achieve.

  • Adjust according to the geography

    Set up the live chat function to suit your customer location. Speak their language and adjust according to their time zones, so that you can have the desired type of service ready.

  • Try to see the bigger picture

    If you want to boost the conversion rates then you can add live chat to your website. It can help you provide the insight into the current trend in the market by analyzing:

    • Chat transcripts
    • Exit surveys
    • Agent exit questionnaire.

The live chat dilemma

Some of the marketers believe that they are facing a dilemma.

They want to automate inbound inquiries for the fear of including sales too early and wasting their resources on poor quality leads. But they have a risk of getting too late to the party.

By providing live chats to the proper prospects we can have an upper hand over others.

Hence, for lead generation in B2B live chat can be used to reach out to anyone who resembles your preference, who is engaged with the content of the company or with whom you are connected. You can participate in an indefinite number of chats as long as both the parties are mutually interested.

Can Web Personalization act as a revenue generator?

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John wants to increase the customer base via his website, but he is worried that it might cost him huge money. He wants to increase the revenue without spending much. What should he do to attract more customers and make them feel that the website is tailor made just for them? Web personalisation is all about it.

How is it good for john? The more customers use the web personalized website, the more data his company will get. Also, increased emotional responses towards the web page shoot up the sales.

Usually, companies think that machine learning comes with huge money. Ironically, it’s much more efficient and charges quite low.

How Content personalisation works?

Content personalisation increases the user’s attention by making them feel that its customized just for them. The consumers get the idea that they are more than just a line on an excel sheet and that they are treated as separate entities.

Also, it shows that the company cares about their customers.

The most important factor for the owners is to provide a personalized experience to the customers which will lead to increased revenue.

Due to growing investment in digital marketing and predictive analytics, the majority of institutions conclude that they are personalizing content in web pages, social media, emails and e-commerce channels.

Many of them are working to enable personalization in media, marketing, and sales touch points. It ranges from mobile gadgets to partner web pages to sales enablement.

It’s all about web personalisation!

Web personalization drives revenues. It can be seen that the marketer that deliver personalized web experience are having double-digit returns than others in response and sales.

Due to the boom in personalized content websites, getting the right information at the right time to the right person has never been better. Content requirements are exploding as we are moving to a world of 24/7 engagement.

The basic challenge that is faced during the delivery of personalized web content is to place a content operating model to scale the volume and the cost of content for increasing the sales and revenue.

This is because the social media, digital marketing, and sales enablement program need more personalized content elements and campaigns related to content marketing.

Why is it so important?

If there is a lack of effective content and resources in then the revenue can fall down. And the issue may get only worse. It can:

  • drain the time and attention of senior management.
  • slow down the process of getting the relevant messages to the market.
  • limit the effect of investments in targeting, digital transformation and Customer relationship management technology.

At the end of the day, there is a need for well organized, good quality content that is required to support web personalization.

Hence, the companies can’t skip this problem. They have to change.

They need to find a sustainable and economical way to produce and manage personalized and appropriate content at the scale required for the growth in sales.

What can we do to make it more personal?

There are many things that the companies can do for real-time personalisation.

  • They can appoint an executive in charge of the content supply chain and operating model.
  • The content targeting can be streamlined by using a tagging taxonomies.
  • For proper content utilization, the customer’s profile database can be used to make the execution of Advanced web personalization strategies easier.
  • Nowadays, Modular content is also developed to meet the web personalization needs of digital marketing assets upstream-solving the problem at its source.
  • The content is planned and structured to be modular in order to easily assemble them into the content presentation templates.

The future of real-time personalisation

The scope of real-time personalisation is truly endless.

Unless the competitors who stick to the outdated technologies, the companies that have the right resources will gain a competitive advantage over the others.

Since they can greet the new opportunities with speed and agility and meet customer demands properly. So, it’s better late than never.

How a Triangle can explain any Successful Business

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A few days ago, I was teaching Geometry to my seven-year-old and the usual discussion on shapes came-up – squares, rectangles, circles, triangles, etc. and their respective properties.

Suddenly my son asked me “What is your favourite shape?”

I was dumbfounded and surprised and could not immediately justify a particular favourite shape. This got me thinking about different shapes and how they value in the business world. Venn diagrams (Circle), Flowcharts and organisation charts (rectangles), quadrants (squares) immediately came to mind and then finally it struck me – Triangles!!

The more I thought about triangles, the more I felt that Triangle is the one and only shape that can define successful businesses (or business concepts) in the simplest manner. At its core, a Triangle is a shape with three edges and three vertices. Though we can classify triangles based on sides (Equilateral, isosceles, scalene) or angles (right, obtuse, acute) – the three sides property is common across them all. From a business perspective, the three sides of a triangle can represent three primary or dominant factors that are related to or interact with each other in multiple ways to make any business successful. Thus a simple ubiquitous Triangle can fit and help explain (almost) any successful business.

Here are top 10 cases that (I believe) exemplify the “Triangles” in a successful Business:

1. B2B Marketing & Sales Funnel:

A typical B2B Funnel can be broken into three main stages – Lead and Demand Gen activities driving prospects and opportunities towards becoming repeat customers. Successful B2B models focus on increasing the inflow of quality leads into the pipeline and higher conversion to customers over time.

2. B2C Funnel (Online):

A B2C funnel for an online business focuses all energy on improving conversions from more visitors aware about products & services, getting them interested and finally purchasing products from their platform. This is in addition to other factors like repeat customers, avg transaction, frequency, etc.

3. Account Based Marketing (ABM):

A precursor to ABM is “Marketing Automation” that necessitates the alignment of Marketing/Mops/DG and Sales/Sops systems with people and processes to drive revenue increases. ABM – as Engagio’s Jon Miller says – is fishing with spears unlike fishing with a Net. Here in ABM, there are three broad steps – Target Accounts & contacts are identified, then using data, insights, and content, engaged & measured and finally conversion and customer advocacy that leads to higher average ARR.

4. Banks

This is probably an over-simplified explanation of primary functions of a bank. Basically, banks hold deposits, issue credit and manage Risk. There may be different instruments and channels via which deposits, credit and risk can be stored, managed, traded, etc. over periods of time. The above maybe bordering on being incorrect but I guess my friends and ex-colleagues from Chase or PayPal can correct me.

5. Card card networks:

Again realistically card networks (Visa, Master, Amex, etc.) have multiple parties involved in a given transaction and the respective fees charged by each – but the three main parties are the issuer bank, acquirer bank, and payment network.

6. Payment system (online):

All online payment systems (like PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, Alipay, etc) enable e-commerce or mobile app commerce using traditional card networks. But for widespread global adoption, profits and high transaction volume, they need consumers and merchants to select them for payment and developers to integrate them into websites and apps.Some of these online payment systems have also moved into offline/retail transactions either with dongles or NFC.

7. New Age “Digital Disruptor”:

Most of the new age “Digital Disruptor” companies (like Uber, Airbnb, FB, Alibaba, etc.) have become successful in the last 2 decades using technological innovation – but they do not own any assets (inventory), to provide the app / UI / Platform for a fee and link millions of global users.

8. Smartphone OEM:

Smartphone OEMs (that are profitable) tend to be the ones that have a high level of vertical integration or ownership of the hardware and software OS. (Think Apple, Google/HTC and to a smaller extent Samsung). The entire smartphone business model is based on the trifecta of hardware/software integration, mobile network /distribution (that effects pricing due to subsidies) and Apps. The successful ones are those that are able to exert control on all three.

9. Media (All):

All Media companies – from old to new media – function primarily using content, distribution, and monetization. In some cases (think Google), they don’t own content but rely on UGC (user generated content) while controlling distribution and ads/subscription. Others like Comcast or Time Warner control all three. When I look at the last 2 triangles, I wonder whether ATT’s motivation to buy TWX is improving 2018 margins by starting to integrate premium Content (HBO, DC universe, NFL, etc.), distribution (DirecTV, mobile), premium advertising (higher rates), & paid apps to consumers who want to bundle everything and save. This would allow them control over 5 of 6 sides from two Triangles!Finally, this last one is likely true across ALL companies in ALL industries…

10. Corporate Success:

Corporate success depends on a balanced mix of Strategy, Execution, and Culture (of the people involved). There are many good articles on HBR, Wharton and Medium extolling the virtue of whether Strategy with execution or Strategy with culture brings success, but IMHO with people involved in every facet of business, all three are equally critical for any successful business – Strategy, Execution and Culture. Read more…

About the Author

Ankush Garg is an accomplished Marketing professional with 16+ years of experience in Digital space – in B2B & B2C marketing and product management roles in USA and India. He is currently leading a cross-functional 20+ member team managing Marketing Operations, Sales Operations, Demand Gen, Accounting, and Dev-Ops – for Marketo. He is also a member of NASSCOM Sales & Marketing SIG & Speaker at events.

Call To Action (CTA)

5 Ways To Put Your Email Call To Action (CTA)

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In today’s day and age, emails are being sent out all the time. Whether it is a mail to browse through insurance quotes, or apply for a job or connect with a customer or friend, we do this task without stressing much on its importance.

Imagine being the recipient of those emails now, and think of the number of times you have actually,

  • Paused to check who it is from
  • Stopped to read the subject line
  • We’re interested enough to click and open it
  • Read through the messaging
  • Pursued a course of action, either by clicking a link to the site or signing up for an event or filling up a form

As you may observe in the above, your actions get more and more strong (depending on whether you were enticed enough) or decidedly weaker (where your interest couldn’t be held for very long).

There are several factors for the above, but the most compelling of these is the ‘Call To Action’ or CTA.

An email marketing campaign and its success are defined by its CTA. A Call to Action grabs a subscriber’s attention and compels him to act. This may be going half way through the desired action or all the way. Imagine this process as a funnel, where the customer is pulled through a series of steps which ends up by him taking a certain course of action.

If the right call to action has such power, then it needs to be given much importance. Here are 5 ways to put together your email CTA.

1- Make the Call To Action short

A customer’s attention span lasts for less than a minute. In this time, they have to read, assess and perform an action. A long winded CTA can make them switch off altogether. Essentials are the only things that they will absorb. A CTA should not be more than 5 words.

When it comes to putting together one, remember KISS – Keep It Short & Sweet

2- Tell People Which Action to Proceed With

Call to actions are so very important, then why would you add inanity or state the obvious while writing them. This is not the time to make redundant sentences. You must tell people what to do and how to go about it.

To emphasize the point, imagine you walk on the road with a message and people are running through you on their way to work. You want them to read the message but they just don’t have enough time. What can you say to grab their attention, make them stop and process it? THIS then is your Call To Action.

CTA is usually a verb, asking the person to do something, ‘Make This Call Now!’, ‘Call That Number!’ Some marketers suggest making these CTA’s instructional, concise and direct.

Amazon product pages display some of the most effective and crisp CTA’s. These are;

  • Look Inside Now
  • Shop Now
  • Share
  • Add to Wishlist

If you’re a consumer, aren’t you getting your instructions subtly and without a hassle?

3- Compel People to Respond Immediately

Gone are the times, when people indulged in time to their heart’s content. Those were also the days when people were given at least a day’s heads-up to perform an action. ‘Mail the letter today’, ‘Send the fax today’, etc.

With shorter timeframes, the trending word is NOW. People have to respond immediately and this word makes them perform some action. It is also short, goes with any verb and is immediately understood. Even toddlers understand this word. 4 out of 10 in Amazon’s CTA’s use the word now.

4- Make the CTA Stand Out

It’s difficult to make a customer look for something that he doesn’t even know there is. CTA’s need to be visible even more so than the main focus – an advert, product image or report. They need to be in the first or second line. Highlighting the CTA button in a bright, pop-up color makes it more noticeable.

In the below image, Mailchimp’s CTA buttons are in a color that is different from the site color and easily located. The messaging is also very clear.

CTA buttons can be made to stand out by,

  • Putting them in catchy colors
  • Making the buttons bigger, especially true in people using mobiles. Button size of 50X75 pixels in best, wider.

5- Test Everything

Putting together a perfect CTA that checks on all the above parameters is of absolutely no use, if it isn’t linked to the right page, goes elsewhere or is not reaching its target audience. Testing the email is very important and can be done by A/B split testing, something that every email service provider provides.

It is also important to make sure that this shows up even if the subscriber has his images turned off by default. They must respond to your email irrespective of this. A simple CSS or HTML code button works equally well.

Call to Actions, are the single most effective aspect of email marketing campaigns. When done right, they increase response rates, make your strategy more effective and get you more converts.

Top Myths around Marketing Automation

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Marketing Automation (MA) has been receiving increasing attention lately, and apparently for good reason. There lie opportunities in this space, as also myths and caveats. But before going there, some definitional preliminaries first. The latin root of ‘auto’ means ‘own’ or ‘on its own’. Thus, an automobile is something that moves or is mobile on its own. In this vein, automation refers to ‘automatic control’ and represents the use of various control systems for operating processes in a variety of application areas with minimal or reduced human intervention. Clearly, processes with a lot of repetitive tasks, and/or which can be written out in algorithmic form (saying if input A then does action B etc.) would be the easiest and hence the first to be automated.

The term MA nowadays simultaneously refers to (i) software that automates repetitive sales and marketing tasks, (ii) a platform for collaboration both within and across organizational boundaries, and (iii) a dashboard of metrics aimed ultimately at assessing marketing ROI.

Some parts of sales and marketing organizations deal with tasks that are repetitive in nature (especially if inbound marketing is involved). Some examples usually involve data collecting and cleaning, running standard analyses (provided metrics are pre-defined, imputation formulae for missing or incomplete data are known ex-ante etc.), matching resources to opportunity (e.g., call center operator with domain expertise with inbound caller in that domain), campaign planning (drawing up lists of prospects or customers to target with particular messages etc.) and campaign execution (actually running an email or call campaign), performing documentation and compliance related tasks etc.

MA originally focused on automating email marketing but has since extended to a broad range of automation and analytic tools for marketing. These include:

  • marketing intelligence functions such as tracking codes and multiple link analysis to track buyer behavior,
  • lead scoring functions such as tracking prospect status, executing targeted messages, updating status by matching with customer response and activities and mapping prospect movement through the sales funnel as part of structured sales process, and
  • advanced workflow automation such as managing internal collaborations, budgeting and planning functions etc.

An example of MA in the B2C world is the complete domination of machines and automation in the media planning and buying department in the digital space. Algorithms bid and trade for digital media purchases where previously people would the same. Programmatic media planning is now starting to make a mark in non-digital domains. MA platforms nowadays offer functionalities such a content management system, hosted web forms, landing pages, analytics, an email platform, etc. However, not all these pieces of functionality need be relevant or useful to all organizations.

In what follows, I detail 10 major myths surrounding MA. These are drawn from the keynote session talk by Sumit Virmani, VP Marketing at Infosys, at the NASSCOM SIG event in Bengaluru in August 2016.

10 Myths around Marketing Automation

1. “Set it. Forget it.”

A persistent myth around MA is that it is a plug-and-play (or as the military calls it, a fire-and-forget) system. In practice, this is not so. Regardless of whether we are looking at A/B testing, email marketing or campaign management, real-time systems need hands-on management by people. What MA does help do is automate large parts of the grunt work, act as a decision aid, provide options and summaries where needed, etc.

2. “MA is just a fancy name for email marketing.”

Not true. As has been mentioned above, MA nowadays covers much more than that. Even with the email marketing domain, doing post send response analysis is just one part of email marketing. Meanwhile, elsewhere the march of the machines is threatening to intrude into that most human of marketing actions – persuasion and manipulation. Persado, a “cognitive computing” system now leverages machine learning, natural language, and emotional language capabilities to come out with creative email header and content copy. The firm claims greater click-through and conversion rates than offered by even the best human systems.

3. “MA is a lead generation genie.”

Not true. In fact, using MA initially leads to a *fall* in the number of qualified leads coming out of Marketing to sales. In any case, the research says the proportion of qualifiable leads is small (~27% on average). MA helps by strengthening the qualification process whereby the quality of leads goes up. This, in turn, drops costs (sometimes by as much as a third) because false leads are not pursued.

4. “MA is a left-brain thing”.

The left-hemisphere of the brain is the logical, quantitative part of the brain (or so the common belief goes). So does this mean that MA precludes any role for creative thinking? Not true at all, it turns out. The classic economic argument would be that by automating non-creative, routine tasks, MA actually releases more time and resources to us for engaging in more creative and managerial pursuits.

5. “MA mean robot like same-ness in reach?”

Again, not necessarily. It is not as if sans MA firms are avoiding sameness in reach. Some research reports state that only about 44% of Marketers use segmentation, and less that a third configure emails across platforms. In such a milieu, MA contributing to better management of customer heterogeneity via broad level customization and configuration is a good thing.

6. “MA is a big boys’ toy”.

Currently, this indeed seems to be the case. However, this isn’t a necessary condition. In terms of sheer impact on the bottom line (and on top lines), SMEs can gain as much if not more than big firms from MA. In some cases, MA helps better measure ROI itself and thereby underscores the need to have a measurement system, preferably automated, in place for doing so. A parallel trend that is helping bring MA into the reach of SMEs is the megatrend of ‘democratization of technology and tools’. The rise of a vast open source movement with configurable, interchangeable and customizable components has made many previously unaffordable functionalities within reach of even startups and resource-constrained organizations.

7. “But I have CRM!”

And that would be a good thing. However, the point here is that CRM is *not* a substitute for MA. Rather, it is a complement to MA. MA is about the active digital engagement of prospective customers whereas CRM is more about relationship management with an acquired set of accounts or customers. CRM thus manages the firm’s internal processes and starts off only after a lead has entered the sales funnel. MA operates prior to this stage.

8. “MA needs tech whizzes.”

Not true anymore. The simpler forms of MA are today widely available in a number of relatively easily configurable forms. As ever more firms gain access, experience or at least exposure to MA, the costs of using it (as well as the opportunity costs of not doing so) can only rise for the rest of the firms in the business ecosystem.

9. “MA is only for Marketing.”

Not true. Sales should be involved too, otherwise, ROI objectives would be hard to meet.

10. “MA is the bridge between the sales and marketing chasm.”

Not necessarily. While the potential to be such a bridge exists, MA can’t achieve a meeting of minds between these two functions all by itself. This needs prior collaboration between these functions that can then be taken to the next level by MA. The involvement and enthusiasm of organization leadership in driving this is also important.

About the Author

Sudhir Voleti is an Assistant professor in the Marketing Area at the Indian School of Business (ISB). Previously, he worked in the industry in different capacities as a management consultant and a software analyst. Professor Voleti’s research focuses on combining data with econometric and statistical methods to explain phenomena of marketing interest such as evolution in the equity of brands across time, valuation of brands using secondary sales data, the sales impact of geographic and abstract distances between products and markets and the performance, productivity and benchmarking of salesforce organizations. His work has been published in leading academic research journals such as the Journal of Marketing, the International Journal of Research in Marketing, the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society (Series A), Management Science and Quantitative Marketing and Economics.

Source : Nasscom