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4 Things To Look For In A Marketing Automation Platform

Shashi Seth
Senior Vice President, Oracle CX Marketing

I've spent a lot of time lately with CEOs, CMOs, and other marketing professionals. During those conversations, it became clear that a marketer’s role in the company has shifted in the last few years. For the first time, marketers are being held accountable for revenue targets as their top most priority. And that is different. Two years ago, if you asked CMOs, they would have said brand building was the number one target, and revenue was somewhere in the middle.

This is a pretty big shift. Today, you’re responsible for acquiring customers, engaging those customers, increasing lifetime value, and decreasing churn. This shift is due to a couple of changes. First, all of our customers are facing increased competition from companies where marketing is at the core of the company. These companies often have “growth hackers” whose job is to help with acquisition, activation, retention. To compete with these new age companies requires a different mindset, different tools, people, and investment. Secondly, the customers are changing, and they are expecting you to know them better and provide more relevant and contextual interactions.

To meet those expectations, we have to change, too. In 2008, there was a sea change for ad:tech. For the first time, ad spending was measured on performance – the increase in top and bottom line – not some vague estimated brand exposure. I think 2018 is going to be that year for martech. Those of us in marketing are going to be held more and more responsible for measurable goals.

To adapt to this change, there are four key components you should ensure your marketing automation platform provides:

A Laser Focus on Data

According to a recent CMO Council study, just 51 percent of marketers said a single customer view was both realistic and attainable for their organization – but not without new tools and talent. Are you in the 51 percent who are looking to up their game?

In 2018, we have to live and breathe data. Why? Because it is the fabric of modern marketing. By employing the right data sources (e.g. demographics, web behavior, purchase or billing data, interests, etc.), you can better understand your customers and build more precise targeting capabilities. You’ll be able to apply the insights for 1:1 marketing – creating and deploying highly personalized conversations with your customers in real time.

This sounds hard doesn’t it? It’s not. You don’t have to learn science. You don't need to do math. You don't have to learn statistical methodologies. Today’s intuitive tools allow you to merge your propriety customer data with second- and third-party data for orchestrated campaigns in real time – without a PhD in rocket science.

Here’s an example of what you can do: Imagine that I'm a marketer at an insurance company. I’m looking for the best target audience for a new insurance product we're about to offer. In the past, I might have written some crazy sequel queries. But I don't have to do that anymore. Today’s tools provide a beautiful graphical interface that anyone can use to create those segments on the fly.

Access to Rich Customer Insights

Having the data isn’t enough. To succeed in this new continuum, you need a marketing automation platform that helps you distill information about your customers to understand their buying journey.

Most marketers still can’t see and act on incremental steps in the customer journey (i.e. from interaction with display ads to clicking through an email offer to web page engagement) in real time. In fact, according to CMO Council research, only 7 percent of marketers can deliver real-time, data-driven customer experiences all of the time.

data-driven marketing

Source: Empowering the Data-Driven Customer Strategy Report. CMO Council 2017

But you can.

Look for a solution that tracks 100 percent of your customers and prospects across 100 percent of events in real time. This will help you understand your customer and prospect’s intent based on their activities across channels.

Here’s an example of what this should look like: Imagine that the same insurance company I talked about before is creating a highly targeted, personalized email to speak to the needs of new restaurant owners. Jill, one of the new restaurant owners in our targeted list, receives that offer. She clicks on the call-to-action link, and it directs her to a personalized landing page. The link is tagged with Jill's profile ID, so that we can track her activity.

As is sometimes the case, Jill isn’t interested right away in making a purchase or speaking to an agent. She needs more research to understand the best insurance for her business. Up until now, marketing automation solutions only had visibility into what happens between the initial email click and that final form submission.

This is where the new capabilities come into play. With integrated next-generation solutions, you can capture and act on behavior as its happening. You can do more than look at aggregate behavior (i.e. as in how many visitors came to the page). Now, you can analyze the behaviors of each and every customer or prospect, including all activities pre-sale (i.e. correct size, wrong color) to send browse recovery messaging when the item is back in stock or promote complementary items. You can see and act on all post-sale activity, all cart activities (i.e. add, remove, view and purchase), and all rich media activity (i.e. play, pause, fast-forward). In. Real. Time.

Artificial Intelligence to Fuel Real Omnichannel Experiences

For a long time, we’ve had channels in a silo. SMS, push notifications, email, social media, display ads – they were all managed by point solutions. It’s a pain point we can all agree on. But that can’t continue in the omnichannel world your customers and prospects operate in. You have to be able to orchestrate an omnichannel experience that motivates the consumer in the channel that is most comfortable for them.

Advanced marketing automation solutions, powered by artificial intelligence, will even identify the most relevant channel for you.

Here’s an example of what this should look like: A marketing campaign is set up for cold-brew coffee line by one of our famous customers running a national coffee chain. They want to be able to reach customers via any channel that optimizes the chance for the customer to see, open, and interact with the content. That campaign is set up to allow Responsys to determine whether the user should be reached via email or push notification to customers that have installed the App on their mobile phones. Responsys determines that it should sent out emails to 102 Million customers on their contact list, and use interactive push notification through the App for 44 Million users. Also the customer let Responsys’ Send Time Optimizer algorithm determine what time to send the emails and push notifications for each customer. The results are stunning, driving 37% higher ROI.

Integration, Extensions & Partnerships = Extensibility

The fourth element you should look for in a marketing automation platform is integration. Are all products in the portfolio tightly integrated? Or is it a hodgepodge of acquisitions and add-on features?

Why? The reason is simple: There is no one-size-fits-all platform. No matter how many resources the vendor has, they can’t build a quality solution that fits every need, is fully supported, and grows quickly to meet future needs.

Look for a solution provider that boasts a deep partner bench and has an open and flexible API to allow for integrations with their products. This will allow you to extend the capabilities of the platform without having to wait on us to add new capabilities.

The Sum of All the Parts

You have marketing goals. To meet those goals, you need a modern marketing automation platform from a provider that is solution focused not product focused. You need an integrated, extensible solution that helps break down your own silos and provide a seamless, personalized experience for your customers and prospects. You can do more with less – and get more bang for your buck!

Want to move your organization toward modern marketing? Convincing company leaders about the value of marketing automation can prove tricky. Which is why we have a guide to help you persuade your C-level about the power of opting in. Download our guide: How to Sell Marketing Automation to Executives


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