The world of marketing automation is growing, and its capabilities are becoming stronger and more advanced than ever imagined. More and more organizations are prioritizing automation in their overall marketing strategy with 63% of marketers already planning to increase their marketing automation budget this year. New technologies are emerging in the space which brings on new opportunities to engage with your customers and prospects in a way that can be very different from your competition.
Staying in front your competition by implementing these top three marketing automation tends of 2019 can be the difference of closing a successful opportunity or losing one.
1. Personalized Content
Although the idea of personalized content is nothing new, its existence in today’s marketing strategies has evolved into a true 1:1 marketing movement that allows organizations to speak to audience members in an individualized manner. If properly executed, your end users can be felt as if each piece of communication they receive is designed and created just for them. Organizations that can execute extremely well on this have one thing in common, data integrity. Your ability to create personalized journeys relies heavily on your ability to maintain accurate data within your tech stack. Marketing automation solutions use this data to know what content it should serve and when—ultimately creating a unique experience for each customer.
Imagine you are the owner of a local pet shop that sells everything from pet food, supplies, and vitamins. You’ve also built a beautiful website that showcases everything you offer at great low prices and provides great customer service. As every business owner knows, return customers equal success, so you develop a form on your website to get to know your customers and their pets. These questions include basic contact information of the owners as well as the name, breed, age/birthdate, and sex of their pets. You then start to classify your product catalog by providing attributes to each product you offer. For instance, an 8”–14” dog collar is best fit for small dogs and a pink bedazzled one is perfect for females with an extra sass in personality. You also know what foods and treats pair well with certain types of breeds and age ranges.
Your form is now live and customer John Smith returns to your website to create an account and fill out the form. He provides his name and email address as well as information about his three-month old male goldendoodle, Blue. You start to develop a personalized customer journey for John by sending emails welcoming John and Blue to the pet shop family. You’re then able to tailor your offerings to John by providing information specific to his pet like puppy foods that keep that unique goldendoodle hair healthy and shiny. Because you know goldendoodles are typically high-energy breeds, you might also send information on great training products.
John appreciates this great information and purchases the products you have suggested through his account. You know the serving size of the food he has purchased and can calculate roughly how long it will be before John needs a reorder. In John’s customer journey you add a reorder reminder email for the bag of dog food he purchased making it easy and simple for a reorder. When the dog food manufacturer sends the pet shop new and exciting flavors for customers’ pets to try, you send an email letting him know you just received exciting new flavors for Blue. Approaching Blue’s first birthday, you know he is ready to transition into adult food, so you send John and Blue a birthday gift of 20% off a bag of adult food.
For the next few years you continue to send John emails about new offers and new products for them to try. Blue is now getting ready to turn seven years old. You know the right balance of nutrients and supplements will help extend the life of pets, so you start to communicate options to John on what you have to offer. You send him an email letting him know what senior brands of food you have as well as supplements that help with arthritis and overall bone structure. You then realize sending personalized emails isn’t personal enough, you feel there can be so much more done with the data you have. With seven years of purchasing and demographic data on John and Blue you start to personalize his web experience. Using the data you already have, you are able to place products in front of John that fit his needs the best based on purchasing history as well has Blue’s age, breed, and sex. John can find the items he needs quicker and more efficiently which increases the overall conversion rate of the site.
2. Artificial Intelligence
For those looking to take personalized content to the next level, artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning machines will be the next endeavor you will want to explore. With 75% of executives saying they will actively implement AI in their businesses within the next three years, it’s important to understand all the benefits and capabilities.
As AI evolves over time, marketers will gain the ability to translate data into lightning-speed decisions quicker than any human has been able to before. Traditionally, marketers are taught to wait and analyze programs before optimizing for future campaigns. This takes an extensive amount of time and resources, and some marketers believe it takes so much time that it could already be considered outdated after an optimal change has been made. With the power of AI and deep learning you will be able to predict the right programs to the right people, send personalized content with confidence, and create millions of unique customer experiences at scale.
Let’s keep the same example above of John and his three-month old goldendoodle, Blue. You have already captured John’s completed form and he is now in the database. Once in the database, AI immediately goes to work formulating possible customer journeys for John based on the information it has.
AI starts to formulate product recommendations that could possibly be a great fit for John and Blue with key points of information such as age, breed, sex, and location. These key data points are sent through an algorithm that matches up with the thousands of customers in the database and knows what sells the best when these data points match. AI then immediately kicks off a nurture series with retargeting campaigns showing dynamic products from its product recommendation list.
John then shows interest in a product on one of those ads by clicking on it, but ultimately doesn’t buy. This action then triggers a personalized email with information on the product John clicked on. John returns to the website from that email and begins to browse different products within that category. Meanwhile AI is ingesting all this information with every action John takes and updates the product recommendation list it has for John. With every action John makes, the better the product recommendations become for him. He then makes a purchase and immediately AI becomes aware and starts to formulate cross-sell options with the products he purchased. The more channels you can implement into your nurture strategy, the more options you have to test and find out what converts the best.
3. Intent Data Scoring
Intent data scoring is essentially the idea of marketing to individuals within a data group that has shown a strong interest for a product or service your organization offers. The stronger the intent, the higher the score. The higher the score, the more urgent they are in the buying process. Intent data is the combination of topic and context data. Topic data is broken up into four different categories:
- Anonymous 1st Party Behavioral: People who visit your website and can only be identified by their IP address.
- Known 1st Party Behavioral: People who visit your website and fill out an online form, providing their contact information.
- Anonymous 3rd Party Behavioral: People who visit other websites you don’t own whose IP addresses are then collected by 3rd party vendors.
- Known 3rd Party Behavioral: People who visit other websites who have also provided their contact information by filling out a form on those websites where it can then be collected by 3rd party vendors.
Although this data by itself may seem insightful, it’s not all that actionable without combining context data around the individuals. Context data focuses on who the individuals are that are scoring high within a certain topic. Degrees of context can range anywhere from the company name an individual works for and their job title, to specific detailed information like background and years of expertise within the industry. Without this context you could be wasting time, money, and resources marketing to prospects who will never become customers. When combining both topic and intent data, marketers will be able to:
- Identify which targeted accounts are actively shopping across the web
- Prioritize high-scoring accounts who have a higher chance of purchasing now
- Pass urgent accounts to sales teams for immediate outreach
- Optimize paid media budgets by retargeting accounts that are expressing interest
- Optimize nurture programs with personalized content topics specific to accounts that are most interested
- Identify dead accounts who have re-entered into an active buying cycle
- Create better alignment between sales and marketing teams
You work for a leading software company that sells state of the art point of sale (POS) technology for restaurants. The overall goal for sales and marketing is to drive growth in sales and the total number of targeted accounts. You are in an industry where prospective accounts are either tied to existing contracts with competing companies or in the building phase of the restaurant. You know your sales cycle can be long, but it’s important to get your messaging out early in the buying cycle to establish a relationship with prospects in the beginning of their buying process.
You ask yourself, how do I know when a prospective account is beginning to research solutions when they don’t pick up the phone to call my sales team or they never come to my website to fill out a form or read any of my content? The answer, intent data.
After implementing intent data into your tech stack, you begin to receive valuable information of prospective accounts searching for targeted POS topics. The algorithms go to work by scoring these accounts based on the level of intent of the types of content they are consuming as well as knowing whom within the organization is consuming them. It knows what important job roles influence the buying process versus those who may just be completing basic research with no intention of buying.
The accounts that exceed a high threshold score are immediately passed to sales as a marketing qualified lead for outreach. The other accounts who have shown some level of intent are then sent through a personalized nurture path that begins by adding to highly efficient retargeting campaigns served with personalized ads, in tandem with automated emails displaying content that speaks specifically to their searched topics. When evaluating your weekly intent buyer report you notice one of the accounts listed is a current customer with a contract expiring soon. Fearful of losing a current customer you immediately notify the account owner on your sales team to begin renewal discussions with attractive money-saving offers.
In conclusion, these top marketing automation trends for 2019 will make significant impacts to your marketing strategy. Whether it be on a small simple scale to start, or a more advanced strategy with integrated complexities in every channel, the overall goal in mind should be providing your customers a unique personalized buying experience, with the right content, at the right time.