An Automation Pathway, Part 1: Determine Goals & Strategy Tutorial

4.2 Introduction

This is Matt Bailey presenting Marketing Automation: An Automation Pathway. In this module we're going to covering different ways that different types of businesses can use marketing automation. From business to business lead generation, all the way through to e-commerce location-based businesses. We're going to look at different ways you can find Automation points throughout the relationship with a customer or a lead, that enables you to get to the next stage of the relationship.

4.3 Marketing Automation Obstacles

Now, the biggest problem that companies have when they attempt to get into marketing automation is, they realize that they lack an effective, formalized marketing strategy. This is an even bigger problem than the budget to do marketing automation. You see, what happens when companies get into marketing automation and start trying to plan the customer pathway, they run into the first obstacle, which is identifying the customer pathway. And then finding the resources and identifying the methods of how that lead or that customer will be handled at certain touch points throughout the process. That is at its core the major issue and the major obstacle with companies getting into marketing automation. It's like I like to say, you can't automate what you don't have. And so if you don't have the content, if you don't have the defined touch points established and how they will be addressed, if you don't have clear segmentation in mind and how you are going to move people through each process of that segment, then you're not ready for marketing automation. It requires effective strategy first, not second, because if you don't have the strategy, then you cannot define the rules and procedures of a marketing automation system. As we can see, the other things that people are lacking are a lack of training or knowledge, or an inability to prove return on investment. And then, of course, useless metrics. Of course that's going to happen when you're not measuring things of value. You see, in another survey, when people were asked, can you describe your company's overall marketing campaigns and the development process. And only 30% of companies could identify that they followed a well-established marketing communications process. 70% of companies said that they did not have a consistent process, or that it wasn't followed, or that they weren't even clear, or didn't even know, if it was an established marketing process. You see, this is critical to marketing automation, because if not everyone in the organization knows or understands the established marketing principles for the company to the customer then, again, that is a huge obstacle to marketing automation. Because when you start implementing marketing automation, it relies on content that needs to be put together, usually with input from sales and marketing, maybe legal, depending upon the size of your company. You need to have a grasp of all of these areas, and how they will work together and how you are going to approach the customer at every stage of the game. If you don't have that well-established process, then your first step in marketing automation is going to be defining a strategy and defining a communications process.

4.4 Long-Term Goals

The last factor in an obstacle to a marketing automation strategy, or implementing marketing automation, is useless metrics or the inability to prove return on investment. Well that's obvious, because the majority of companies when asked, what do you measure as far as goals for your marketing? The top two things that people measure are website visits and social sharing. Those are good actions, but those aren't actions that people are tracing any level of return on investment. They're looking at website visits and social sharing as some sort of goal, but there's no end goal to it because they're not tracking things that immediately lead to revenue. We can see that the other things that people are tracking are time on site or their rankings. The two things that are most critical to the growth and establishment of a business. Subscriber growth, sales leads, those are the last things people are measuring. And unfortunately, those are the most important things. Subscriber growth, sales leads, those are the two measurements that are critical in seeing the growth of your organization and being able to track a true return on investment to your marketing efforts. Not to mention, even your marketing automation efforts. You need to have clear, long term goals and those goals must contribute directly to revenue targets. Or at least specific actions that lead to revenue. Ideally, if it were up to me, I'd love to see this chart switched, where people know that measuring subscriber growth and sales leads has a direct impact on revenue. Website visits, social sharing, time on site, SEO rankings, they do not have a direct impact on your bottom line business revenue. It's an indirect impact, and so it needs to be measured as such.

4.5 Identify Scenarios

Now part of establishing a long-term goal-based strategy for your marketing automation is understanding the scenarios. What touch points are in the customer process? At what points do people need to know specific information? This is one area where you can talk to your sales team and learn from them the types of information that people are looking for early in the process. Then what types of information are people looking for midway through the process? Do you have a product that needs to be looked at and evaluated by an IT team, by human resources, by finance? How many decision makers are in the process and what do they need at every stage? And then, at the final stage, what's required to get the contract? What's required to move someone from a lead to a customer? Or in an e-commerce situation, at what point do you award someone loyalty promotions? When do you institute promotions for not just everybody, but how do identify a high-level buyer? So every business needs to create scenarios at which you are going to not only attract new customers, grow those customers, and then when you're growing those customers or growing those leads and then at what point do you ask them to take additional steps or ask for more information. That is the importance of creating scenarios that allow you to imagine the customer interaction and the right message at the right time for each individual scenario that will allow you to move forward in the relationship. As your identifying those scenarios, you are also identifying specific conversations that happen. Again, this is where talking to your sales team about issues that are important to their buyers. Maybe someone is looking for a solution, but that solution is only the entry level. Maybe there are many things beyond that. Also, conversations are important to understanding underlying motivations, that maybe people are looking for a specific product, but what the product does is not the immediate answer. There are other factors driving this thing. Is it a company that wants to be seen more for their innovation, or for bringing in more data-centric information? Or even with e-commerce, what interactions do people have with social media as they are looking to make decisions? Where do those conversations takes place? And so identifying maybe the demographics of people, the regions, the interests that they have, that helps you enable as you identify those conversations how you can guide them, measure them, or even implement them it to your automated processes.

4.6 Know Your Audience and Goals

And as you consider the audience that you are trying to reach, it's always good to try and figure out the multiple reasons or the multiple ways that people find you and want to do business with you. Not all customers are the same and so I like to challenge companies to name at least five different types of customers. What drives them to you? Why are they there? How loyal are they? What different types of customers do you have? And then the second question is, how do people interact with you? Maybe not just on your website. How about the mobile device? Do you have an app? Do you have a loyalty program? What are the ways that people come to you and what do they want to accomplish? Besides just the initial goal that you might have for them, or that conversion. What are the things that people are looking for? And so, name at least five reasons. And this is how you begin to develop your strategy of who you're going to talk to in different segments, and how you're going to talk to them about their particular situation, and how you can walk them through to find a solution. But it all comes down to understanding the objectives. Number one, as a company what are your outcomes and goals? What do you want to drive? Do you want to drive more subscribers? Do you want to drive more sales? Do you want to drive leads to become sales? What are the ultimate goals and outcomes that you have? Where the conversations that surround each of those and then the business rules. The business rules are going to become a critical conversation as you start implementing all of the scenarios. When we look at the types of scenarios it's at what point in the conversation do we offer a specific automation task? And so, for a business to business, if we have an email and we've gotten that email lead, well what we're going to do is drip information to them. And hopefully that drip campaign drives them back and gives us more information and they become a lead, a full-fledged lead. At that point, we can implement an automated process to nurture them. Once they become a customer then we can automate a welcome series and then beyond that, automate triggered messages, or, from an e-commerce standpoint, can you trigger promotional messages to segmented audiences? Can we also, if you have a monthly program, a subscription program, how do you recover people that may show signs of not re-upping their membership? How do you reward loyalty? These are all the different scenarios that you can figure out through each stage of the process what makes sense. For B2B lead generation, drip campaigns, nurturing campaigns, those are wonderful. For ecommerce they might be a little more difficult to implement, but maybe you'll find a way to create a campaign that is specific to your audience. And so at each point for each scenario you can automate a certain set of communications with a specific goal in mind.

4.7 Rules and Strategy

Now the rules come in as far as what will be sent when. And what happens if in the same week you have a customer who is on schedule to receive three different automated messages? Do you allow them to receive all three, or do you prioritize communications so that they only receive one communication that week? For example, if I have a customer that's about to receive a reminder to subscribe because it's going to be expiring. They're also set to receive an annual thank you for being a member message. And they're also set to receive a triggered communication. Let's say, though, that they visited the website that week. They evaluated something and put it in their cart. Well, then, they're also going to maybe get an automated cart recovery email to prompt them to finish the transition. Which email should they receive? You see, a set of rules enables you to prioritize which email a customer will receive. While all those other emails are ready to go and applicable, they're not part of the conversation. You see, if someone comes to your website and they browse a product, maybe they add it to their cart, but they did not complete the process, or maybe they did complete the process. That should supersede all of their conversations because that's the immediate conversation that the customer's having with you. And so, rules enable you to have a clear priority of which messages will be sent, if there are multiple messages or maybe a conflict. That way it enables you to defer to the immediate conversation that is most important for the situation. So identifying rules is a critical part of information. And knowing which message will be sent, and that you won't be sending messages that maybe aren't relevant or too many messages that are overwhelming to the customer. You see, when we talk about automating conversations and automating all these things, with the customer. Really, the more I get into marketing automation and the more I develop campaigns and understand the principles of business rules and how you can deal with customers. The more I've realized it's a chess match. It is a chess match between the company and the lead, or a company and their customer. You see, part of what makes chess such a fascinating game, is that you are constantly reevaluating your strategy based on what your opponent does. And while you can plan a strategy, you always have to come back to reaction. Reacting to what your opponent does, because it may change your strategy. You see, the more I learn about chess, the more I realize how similar it is to marketing automation. And just a couple of things about chess that are fascinating, because when we talk about automating processes and automating scenarios, you may think that there are too many scenarios. For example, did you know that there are more than 1000 opening moves available? That's just the first move. In chess there are more than 1,000 but the thing is that with every move that's made, there are more possibilities. For example after each player has moved twice, there are 72,000 possible positions then for the next round. After the first six moves there are over 9 million positions available on the chessboard. In fact, this statement blew me away that the number of possible unique chess games is greater than the number of electrons in the universe. They've estimated the number of unique chess games is 10 to the 120th power. It's 120 zeros, that's amazing. And when I think about business, I think about all the communications, the questions, the customers, yes, there's a lot of unique situations. And marketing automation is not trying to address all the thousands of combinations that could happen. You see, what marketing automation is doing is guiding people along but with a large view of groups of people. Rather than trying to handle every single isolated conversation, it looks for the common conversations. And the more you can segment, that helps you guide specific conversations, but ultimately, you don't want to go crazy with so many segments that you can't manage them. If you tried to play chess and tried to open up the game by considering all the options that could happen, you would never move, because you'd never reach the end of trying to function through all the combinations that are available. You have to start with a single move, and you have to start with a strategy.

4.8 Anticipate and React

And so chess is all about anticipation, it's anticipating what I'm going to do and anticipating what my opponent will do. And then, it's about strategically reacting to what the opponent does in maintaining my strategy. In the same way, with marketing automation I'm anticipating the moves that my leads and customers will make, and I am reacting strategically. And so what I want to do is try and define what are the typical moves? What are the typical conversations and scenarios that my customers have? And those I want to identify and then develop a strategic reaction to. You see, if you tried to handle everything, you're going to go crazy, the number of possible ways of playing the first 4 moves of a chess game is over 318 billion possible ways. You see, you can't think of everything, you can only focus on specific objectives, now starting the chess game is called the opening. And the white chess pieces have the opening, white moves first in chess, black moves second. When the white player starts the game, it's called the opening, when the black chess pieces react to that, it's called the defense. And so chess players when they start to learn the game, what they learn are traditional opening strategies, and they also study traditional defense strategies. Now, what's interesting about all of this is when we consider there are millions and billions of possibilities on the chessboard, what I've realized is that when players start chess, they only study about seven to ten openings and seven to ten defenses. They don't try and handle all of the possibilities that are out there, they just look at classic openings and classic defenses and they start by looking at something small. They study seven, or ten, or even just three to start, because these are the most traditional, and that's what we have to look at when we look at marketing automation. We want to create a plan that looks at the opening that is created by our marketing, whether it's through content marketing, whether it's through social media, whether it's through search marketing or email. We're making an opening and then the user, they come in and then they make the opening of giving us information, then we strategically react to the information they've given us and where we want them to go. And that's how we draw up our plan of what information is given to the person when. Throughout their relationship with us so that we can maintain a relationship, so that we can provide incentives. So that we can have the right conversation at the right time with the right people about the right things.

4.9 Determine the End Game

Now continuing talking about chess, what I've learned is one of the most important things in chess is not just studying an opening or a defense, it's also the end of the game. Of course that's called the endgame. Now in over 50% of professional chess matches, they end in a draw. And also what I learned is a stalemate is if the match doesn't end in a draw, chances are it will end in a stalemate. A chess match ending in checkmate is very rare. It doesn't happen as much as you think it may. In the movies, it seems to happen all the time whenever there's a chess battle or masters going at it. Typically it's a draw or a stalemate. And what's interesting is a stalemate is considered a draw and a victory for the player who could have lost. It's considered a victory for the player who could have lost, because they avoided the checkmate. I want you to think, especially in terms of B2B lead generation, when people come to your site and you're using content marketing to drive people to your site, and they come and they download a white paper, or they view a webinar. And what's happening here is they're getting information, but if they don't want to move forward in the process you will never make them move forward in the process. Sometimes, as the sales person, or sometimes in our marketing, we just have to realize that a lot of times, it's going to end in a draw. They got what they wanted from our production of marketing and of content. It gave them what they needed, and we may never hear from them again. We have to agree that it was a draw. Sometimes we'll get people who come in, they get more information, they give us their information, and maybe we have a conversation. Maybe they take the steps of signing up, but they never do. And so that becomes a stalemate. We're going back and forth. They know they want the product, or they're a customer and they're just not taking that next step. Then we have to agree it's a draw. In order to get a checkmate, you have to have a plan. You have to have a strategy about how you are going to end the game.

  • Disclaimer
  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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