Of the solutions available, marketing automation is currently the best one for developing and improving business in terms of customer experience and brand loyalty. It’s already a routine for some marketers, though most are still wondering what it means and what opportunities it offers for their business.
Marketing automation does not necessarily mean increasing the amount of communications, but the intelligence and quality, to improve the overall customer experience with personalized communications. At best, the customer percieves company’s marketing communications as a service, not advertising.
What is marketing automation in practise?
The way automation works is that a database-based communications system receives an impulse which triggers a personalised message to the customer: the right content at exactly the right time.
For example, a customer buys a sofa and next day a recommendation is sent to her for a rug or a coffee table that goes with the sofa, taking the customer’s taste in style and colours into account. A company selling household appliances can send their customers who bought a dishwasher three months ago a reminder for it’s need of maintenance and instructions on how to do it. It would also be smart to ask if the customer has been satisfied with the purchase. The marketing automation system works also as a feedback channel making the dialogue with the customer truly possible.
Looking into the future instead of the past
An impulse can be created also through a prediction by utilising customer’s purchase history, profile information, web activities, other customers’ behaviour and available external data from different sources (the Population Information System, weather forecast, etc.). With this information it is possible to predict the need or desire the customer may have next. Currently predictive models are mainly used for product recommendations, but I believe that in the close future predictive models will to a large extent be used to improve the customer experience with non-commercial messages.
Channels for automated communications
Email, company websites, text messages or even traditional mail can act as channels for automated marketing communications. If the goal is to produce customer driven and timely communications, the only solution in practice is marketing automation through digital communication channels. Digital channels also have the advantage of real-time measurability.
The system makes it possible to send an almost limitless amount of various automated messages, but it makes sense to only send messages that will enhance the customer experience and strengthen the relationship. In my experience, this will also create considerable additional sales and increase the value of customer relationship.