Going from an email marketing database to marketing automation

So we’ve got the real-time email marketing database in place, but don’t be fooled to think that’s the whole answer; it’s what you do with the data that sets your marketing automation efforts apart from what others will be doing.

Once you know what level of marketing automation you want, it is much easier to choose the right ESP.

The most predictive data type of them all

By integrating web analytics, email and offline data sources you will be collecting a large amount of transactional, preference and behavioural data. Of these types of data, behavioural is normally the most predictive. Behavioural data is typically the most recent and often the most relevant, and allows you to make use of true behavioural email marketing.  It’s like someone walking into your store and shouting “I like these” – you couldn’t ignore this information.

The role of customer engagement

Customer engagement data will also be a key element of your marketing automation database. Some people will have a different name for what I call marketing automation, but ultimately it’s all about a process that uses insight devised through data collection. You can in turn use this customer insight to nurture customers via the set-up of automated campaigns.

Effective nurturing is as much about relevancy of timing as it is about the relevancy of content. So look at their level of email marketing engagement as well as engagement in other channels. By segmenting data by how engaged a user is you can control the frequency of communications the user receives

Too little communication may result in you losing a sale; too much communication may result in you losing a customer for good. Marketing automation will not only allow you to accurately assess how engaged your users are, but also help you set up rules to ensure any communication you send is received at the most opportune time.

Segment based on customer insight and engagement

The better you understand your customer journeys the better you can lead or pull your users through your site rather than trying to push them. The fact is, if you have a database of over 100,000 users there is no way you can communicate with each of them individually. Not manually anyway.

However, by producing segments based on online user activity, you can predict how likely someone is to buy and what it is they are likely to buy and set up automated communications to support this.

The difference between email marketing database and marketing automation

The big difference of going from an email marketing database to a proper (email) marketing automation set-up is the addition of web analytics (behavioural) data. With this level of data you will be able to recognise when the consumer first visited the website, which web content interests him and even what search terms brought the consumer originally to your website. Imagine splitting out your customers based on those using value terms like cheap versus clear brand or service led terms.

Marketing automation allows your email programmes to grow

Once you are clear about your user journeys you can effectively plan out what email marketing campaigns will be relevant to your users based on where the user is in the buying cycle.

Whilst most direct marketers and CRM experts can build you a simple to follow customer lifecycle model to map out what types of programmes you need to be creating based on your customer journeys, these will be just the beginning and won’t use your marketing automation database. It’s only as you truly start to expand the options within your campaign that the true power of marketing automation comes alive.

Fig. 1 shows how programmes can evolve when using a marketing automation system. Just think, how would this be possible in an old school world where the data was not available in one place and you couldn’t automate these different programmes?

It is hard to predict exactly how your marketing automation processes will develop. So it is best to have a good idea of what processes will yield the greatest return rather than try to get everything going all at once. Start with the low hanging fruit such as basket abandonment emails for quick returns that can justify future investment.

Valuable extras of email marketing automation

There are a number of different extras that become possible or easier in a marketing automation led world, for example dynamic content. This is something that email marketers have been using for some time, but now the depth of information that can be included (in real time) takes this to a new level.

Fig. 2 shows a very simple example of what I mean.

One other critical long term benefit of marketing automation will be testing and specifically targeting users based on their activity and the segment they fall into, rather than the simpler (although still effective) subject line test. Marketing automation helps by making it easier to test the things that are more likely to make a difference.

Email marketing automation brings the future

The future of digital marketing is relevant communications. Right offer, right person, right time and right channel. Relevance is achieved by better segmentation and targeting, plus personalisation using behavioural data. All this can be achieved through marketing automation.

Many elements of marketing automation are already implemented by online marketers, however unless a true marketing automation platform is being used, the immense amount of data in different data siloes will cause marketers difficulties.

It not the size of your marketing automation, it is how you use it

How you analyse, segment and use this data to produce highly targeted, automated communications is what will double your revenue and grow your business. Any supplier you work with should be able to help with not just training to be able to use their software but also give solid advice on how to use marketing automation to maximise your email marketing  ROI. It’s also a good idea to take up references from users of your potential ESP and check their speed of deployment which can vary quite dramatically. Remember in marketing automation time is money.

Digital marketing is evolving at a great speed. With ISPs like Gmail now filtering emails based on customer engagement, theories surrounding the importance relevancy and engagement are no longer ‘good advice’ but fact.

Marketing automation is all about nurturing your customers, based on their own wants and needs. While it is not a magic bullet solution to all marketing problems, if implemented well with the right technology partner or email service provider, it should at least double the revenues you see from your traditional email marketing.

Image via Flickr

About Garry Lee

Garry has worked in online marketing and optimisation for over 18 years and has a strong history of data-driven innovations: He produced the first UK results from data-driven behavioural emails, led industry-setting analysis of tracking technologies and launched a leading media attribution system.
In addition to being the overall ‘profit and loss guardian’, Garry manages day-to-day operations within RedEye, as well as strategic roadmaps and product R&D. He was previously responsible for account management, product and technical divisions but cut his teeth as an analyst wielding early web analytics tools.
You can follow garry here on Twitter.

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