On May 1, 1978, Gary Thuerk made history when he sent the first-ever unsolicited mass email to more than 400 Digital Equipment Corp. customers, attempting to sell them on a new T-series of VAX-based operating systems.
This historical email blast may have occurred over 40 years ago, but if you look at how some businesses integrate email into their customer experience strategies, you would think little has changed in the world of email marketing.
Marketing technologies have become far more sophisticated than they were in the 70s, but many businesses are still using a decades-old approach of using email marketing for messaging at mass scale (i.e., I have a piece of content I want to share with specific users, so I will segment my recipients and push them my message), transactional messaging (i.e., my customer bought something, so I am sending them a receipt for that transaction), or confirmation messaging (i.e., my customer filled in a form, so now I am responding to them).
Nearly 60 percent of marketers use mass email blasts to stay in touch with customers, but less than 15 percent of that same group use software to help with operational efficiencies such as personalization, scheduling and lead nurturing. This "push" style of communication is both time-consuming for marketing teams and oftentimes viewed as irrelevant by customers. The result is roughly 80 percent of marketers reporting their lead generation tactics are less effective than they should be.
Considering how long email marketing has been around, it’s understandable that it has the perception of being ineffective and antiquated. But is that reputation fair?
Not necessarily. And when companies use marketing automation effectively, this perception can be flat out wrong.
Studies have found that marketers aren't effectively using marketing automation – or even using it at all. The lack of adoption is due to a variety of factors, ranging from lack of expertise or resources, to not having a proper strategy in place.
Marketing automation is a term many people use solely to describe automating repetitive tasks completed by the marketing team. This isn't wholly incorrect, but it’s an oversimplification of what marketing automation can do for your business.
When used effectively, marketing automation can help you with the following:
- Improve targeting and communication of messaging to get in front of the right user, on the right screen, at the right time
- Help drive life-time value (LTV) through an improved customer experience
- Develop higher quality leads
- Improve brand messaging through consistent voice and tone across multiple channels
- Re-engage users close to converting via automated messages based on how users interacted with the email, on your website, in your store or via other touchpoints
- Create operational efficiencies via automation to reduce time spent on repetitive tasks, such as mass-blasting emails
- Increase intra-team communication and collaboration
- Shorten sales cycles
These benefits all create operational efficiencies that boil down to one thing: increasing ROI of marketing efforts.
All successful road trips begin with a map – so while all of these improvements to your business are nice to talk about theoretically, it is paramount to first develop a plan before beginning your marketing automation efforts.
Within this plan, you should consider the following points:
First, consider what you hope to achieve with marketing automation, and align the technology with your business goals or objectives. Understanding how marketing automation can help your conversion funnel will better allow your business to understand email's role within the marketing mix.
Second, try to remember that when it comes to marketing automation, it’s better to start with a “crawl” to understand everything that is happening; move to “walk” when you have an effective strategy in place; and finally, “run” with what you find to be working. Make sure to define and articulate the important measures of success, implement the necessary tracking measures in the relevant systems, and create the necessary reporting to understand what is working and what scenarios need to be updated.
Finally, keep in mind that marketing automation requires know-how and strategic forethought. The technology generally won't be the sole reason for successful or unsuccessful campaigns. You as the user need to learn how to use the system, try a few campaigns to determine what works and then adapt your strategies to further optimize your efforts.
The final piece of the puzzle is making sure that you have the right software to enact your strategic vision. If you are considering a new marketing automation tool to incorporate into your martech stack and are on the Episerver CMS, then Episerver Campaign could be a great solution for you. Campaign allows you to have a truly omnichannel presence, as you can reach prospective customers via digital advertisements, emails, social, content marketing, in your brick-and-motor store (if relevant) and more places your customers spend time.
Successful marketing automation will take some dedicated thought, effort and know-how, but ultimately marketing automation should provide your team – and your business – with a better ROI.
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