How to flirt with your cus­tomers

Mar­ket­ing au­to­ma­tion is more than just a buzz­word – it’s a way businesses can flirt with their cus­tomers writes Mel­lis­sah Smith.

Business First - - CONTENTS - By Mel­lis­sah Smith

You walk into your favourite restau­rant and at a glance lock eyes with some­thing beau­ti­ful. You muster up all your courage and risk stum­bling over your words as you be­gin the con­ver­sa­tion with your breath­tak­ing prospect. I know what you’re think­ing, but I’m not speak­ing of a po­ten­tial re­la­tion­ship be­tween a man or woman. In fact, the prospect in your sights is pos­si­bly your next new cus­tomer. There is no deny­ing that in busi­ness your ap­proach is ev­ery­thing. Sim­i­lar to the lives of all sin­gle people, we must flirt with our cus­tomers, be­gin the con­ver­sa­tion, main­tain friendly com­mu­ni­ca­tion and close the deal. So, just how do we flirt?

Mar­ket­ing au­to­ma­tion is the new woo­ing ma­chine, with ev­ery sin­gle el­e­ment of the mar­ket­ing mix taken into ac­count. It al­lows you to cre­ate chem­istry with your po­ten­tial cus­tomer by en­tic­ing in­ter­ac­tion.

Presently, mar­ket­ing au­to­ma­tion soft­ware isn’t the eas­i­est tool to nav­i­gate, but its fea­tures and ca­pa­bil­i­ties are de­signed to sim­plify the lives of mar­keters, re­duce head­count in your mar­ket­ing depart­ment and in­crease your re­turn on in­vest­ment. It is com­mon­place in busi­ness to weigh heav­ily on ROI and with new ad­vance­ments each day, lead-to-rev­enue man­age­ment is piv­otal in the mod­ern busi­ness.

The busi­ness case for lead-to-rev­enue man­age­ment de­liv­ers cred­i­ble im­prove­ments in mar­ket­ing work­flow pro­cesses and not only af­fects rev­enue but, also deep­ens cus­tomer re­la­tion­ships with the brands they buy from.

Mar­ket­ing au­to­ma­tion is es­sen­tial to stan­dar­d­is­ing, au­tomat­ing and scal­ing prac­tices needed to en­gage with cus­tomers across their life­cy­cle.

One of the key fac­tors that is chal­leng­ing CMOs with mar­ket­ing au­to­ma­tion is jug­gling cus­tomer data man­age­ment, or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­ture, con­tent pro­duc­tion, and tac­tics that speak di­rectly to buy­ers across all touch points in a way that res­onates with them.

The sin­gle big­gest fac­tor that is driv­ing mar­ket­ing au­to­ma­tion is a pro­found change in the way buy­ers be­have in ad­di­tion to a change in the way mar­keters need to en­gage with them.

We have moved from a world of in­for­ma­tion scarcity to abun­dance.

“Not long ago, if you wanted to buy a new car, the main way you were go­ing to get the de­tailed spec­i­fi­ca­tions of that car to eval­u­ate a pur­chase is to talk to the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the car com­pany. A lot of mar­keters grew up in that the world,” says Mar­keto chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer Jon Miller.

With mar­ket­ing au­to­ma­tion soft­ware, businesses have the abil­ity to ad­just their sales over the course of a sales cam­paign. With an­a­lyt­ics, we can dis­cover the op­ti­mal time to send cer­tain mes­sages to a spe­cific de­mo­graphic in­creas­ing the like­li­hood of con­vert­ing the prospect into a qual­i­fied lead. We can now get any pur­chas­ing ques­tion we want an­swered: on­line – any­time.

It is proven that con­sumers are re­spond­ing to mar­ket­ing au­to­ma­tion. Buy­ers are tak­ing ad­van­tage of the in­for­ma­tion ac­ces­si­ble to them. Now, they are do­ing re­search on their own, search­ing the cy­ber world for in­for­ma­tion, re­views and price com­pet­i­tive­ness – all with a click of a but­ton and with­out hav­ing to speak a word to a sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

Buy­ers are now well in­formed and al­ready have all the in­for­ma­tion they re­quire prior to speak­ing to a sales per­son or mak­ing an or­der. From a busi­ness per­spec­tive, this cre­ates con­stant op­por­tu­ni­ties to cap­ture data and main­tain con­tact with new and prospec­tive cus­tomers.

“Big data has rev­o­lu­tionised the mar­ket­ing in­dus­try, and mar­ket­ing au­to­ma­tion is not far be­hind,” says Mar­ket­ing Eye US pres­i­dent Maikayla Des­jardins.

“Through the in­tel­li­gence pro­vided by mar­ket­ing au­to­ma­tion, com­pa­nies are be­com­ing less re­liant on sales per­son­nel and plac­ing more im­por­tance on mar­ket­ing an­a­lyt­ics.”

Buy­ers are pur­chas­ing much later in the sales process than ever be­fore. What does that mean for mar­keters? It means that mar­ket­ing needs to step up and not just gen­er­ate the lead – but also own it.

Sales have al­ways been re­la­tion­ship-driven, but now our fo­cus must be on build­ing the re­la­tion­ship; help­ing the buyer through the jour­ney, ed­u­cat­ing them and lis­ten­ing to what they are say­ing.

“It’s like flirt­ing and mak­ing sure that you are be­ing rel­e­vant. That’s what brings us to mar­ket­ing au­to­ma­tion,” Des­jardins says.

Mar­keters now have the ca­pa­bil­ity of analysing both on­line and off­line cus­tomer be­hav­iours, build­ing link­ages be­tween the two to give a com­plete pic­ture of the cus­tomer, while gath­er­ing an abun­dance of us­able data to help build the re­la­tion­ship and drive sales.

Through the ad­vanced an­a­lyt­ics that mar­ket­ing au­to­ma­tion pro­vides,

‘ With an­a­lyt­ics, we can dis­cover

the op­ti­mal time to send cer­tain mes­sages to a spe­cific de­mo­graphic in­creas­ing the like­li­hood of con­vert­ing the prospect into a qual­i­fied lead.’

com­pa­nies are able to utilise this in­for­ma­tion to bet­ter trans­late in­sight into profit gen­er­at­ing cam­paigns – ul­ti­mately boost­ing prof­its and loy­alty through more strate­gic mar­ket­ing.

“Mar­keters are tired of be­ing seen as cost cen­tres. They want to have an equal share of bonuses as part of the rev­enue team and to do that they need to show how tac­ti­cal mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties are af­fect­ing rev­enue,” Miller says.

“The abil­ity to map a buyer’s jour­ney and ex­pe­ri­ence is seam­less from mar­ket­ing au­to­ma­tion through to CRM.

“The func­tion­al­ity of mar­ket­ing au­to­ma­tion pro­vides the core build­ing blocks cen­tral­is­ing the mar­ket­ing data­base and serv­ing as a record for the mar­ket­ing depart­ment and the cus­tomer’s dig­i­tal be­hav­iours.

“Ev­ery web page a cus­tomer vis­its, tweet, link that they share, email that is opened and mar­ket­ing event that they par­tic­i­pate in, is recorded.”

It’s proven that multi-level mar­ket­ing cam­paigns deliver the best pos­si­ble cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ences and the high­est re­turn on in­vest­ment is the goal for the mod­ern mar­keter.

“Im­prov­ing tar­get­ing, en­gage­ment, con­ver­sions and anal­y­sis by cap­tur­ing their cus­tomers dig­i­tal body lan­guage,” says Des­jardins.

CMOs need to pre­pare for mar­ket­ing au­to­ma­tion by hav­ing: 1. A lead-to-rev­enue process model to au­to­mate. 2. Con­tent to sup­port the mes­sage and re­sponses. 3. A mar­ket­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion that is ready to sup­port the tech­nol­ogy; and. 4. Achiev­ing com­pany-wide buy-in to the use of mar­ket­ing au­to­ma­tion in the busi­ness.

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