Bradley University  

Implementing an Automated Marketing System

Understand your customers
Mapping your customer lifecycle should be your first priority. In general, there are five stages of a customer lifecycle. These are: acquisition, conversion, growth, retention and re-activation. Within each stage, there are multiple ways to connect to a customer as well as multiple channels for the customer to interact with your business.

A clear and concise strategy should be well defined for each channel. Once the marketer understands this, he can then map out how he wants to market to his customers and prospects across the customer lifecycle.

From here, you can then define the programs that you want to run. For instance, a marketer may define a new customer welcome program that automatically runs for all customers who have made their first purchase with your company. This may include a series of four messages to the consumer and a brief survey to help you gain more information about the customer. This program can run automatically and continuously within your environment with little effort from the marketing team. The marketing group needs only to monitor the program to ensure it remains effective.

Another program may be centered around customers who have visited your site but have not converted. For retailers, this is a familiar shopping cart abandonment program. For lenders, this may mean an abandoned application program. For travel and hospitality companies, it may be for someone who has searched for a vacation, but has not booked.

The point being is that this approach can be generic to the vertical marketing that you work in. You need only to define the customer lifecycle and determine points of automation. When you are complete, your map may look something like the following:

Each stage is based upon a certain and specific behavior that can trigger a message to your customer. These automated programs can consist of one or more contacts across multiple channels all designed to further the customer along in the cycle. These campaigns should be highly dynamic in nature and utilize dynamic content in email or dynamic print capability.

Putting the plan into action
This approach creates a continuous and automated selling environment that marketers need not constantly prune. Referring back to the three direct marketing levels (list, offer and creative); the list is completely self determined by the transaction the customer is making; creative, similarly, is largely defined by the channel, but should also remain somewhat static in nature. Large scale changes in creative should only be made on a period basis after plenty of analysis.

The marketer, then, is left to test the offer. This can be done via automation and analysis. Instead of spending time building the campaigns to send out on a weekly basis, marketing instead spends time analyzing results and tweaking offer tests to optimize the program.

The same automation can be applied to your regular batch campaigns. The core components of any marketing campaign can run on an automated basis. The timing, audience, reporting and analysis should rarely change for a marketer. What does change is the offer and creative that is applied.

Breaking this down, the lists can be easily segmented using a multitude of tools available to the marketer. Even better, the use of statistical models can automatically determine the audience that should receive each offer. There are a multitude of tools available today to help marketers automate this process.

On the creative side, we need not recreate the wheel every time we send a new demand-generation message. Most companies understand the basics of a solid creative template. Marketers can push the creative pieces off onto their agencies and other members of the organization. Again, the marketer is left to focus more on managing the offer to the consumer, as well as testing and analysis, rather than on the mundane efforts of message assembly and execution.

Marketing organizations will only come under more pressure to produce results across multiple channels, customers will continue to adopt new channels at a pace that we have previously not seen and will demand a consistent experience across those channels. Marketing executives can address these challenges by either adding a multitude of siloed resources or automating more of their marketing programs. The only way to adapt to this changing environment is to find productivity in automation of your marketing eco-system. Marketers must create a culture of innovation through analytics to harness the power of the technology revolution that is occurring.