In school geography we learned how smaller streams formed tributaries which in turn formed a wider river many of which flowed into the same sea or ocean. To imagine that single drop of water sliding down a leaf onto the ground has an effect on the small trickle of water running downhill to the stream will help you acquaint yourself with the flow of diverse and detailed data from every part of the market to the company’s database, the ocean being that database.
In effect your customers are saying a tonnage of things to you, through several touch points but you aren’t able to listen to everything they say. Data has the tendency to become stale and misleading real quick so we need real time information to be gleaned from the ruthless onslaught of data drowning your company’s information gathering efforts and thereby blurring your profits.
A major problem in the marketing industry is that the marketers are not as tech savvy as the people they are marketing to. Another issue is the difficulty in recruiting the right kind of marketing personnel who are keen on learning new technologies.
The above problems can be solved by simplifying the platform and by training personnel. An effort in this direction is being made by Autopilot, a marketing automation software that simplifies multi-channel marketing through its drag and drop campaign builder, prebuilt guidebooks and integration with the likes of Salesforce.com, Twilio and Gooddata. Its lead intelligence automatically and periodically updates customer profiles through public searches. By promoting simplicity, Autopilot is taking marketing technology in the direction where it should be rightfully heading.
Speaking of direction, let’s not forget that customers are everywhere so companies will have to reach them everywhere too, but how and with what objective, will need insights and analysis. For example, the objective in case of a new client could be selling a trial package whereas for a regular client it could be asking for a referral. You also need to keep in mind what method the customer has chosen to receive any update from you. When I use a shopping app but leave without purchasing anything, the next time I net surf, I see advertisements from that retailer for the same or similar products and then I also get an email offering a cross sale scheme discount. It means that different channels need to interact with one another and provide the customer a consistent experience.
In the above scenario, companies seem to be playing their cards right but what if the only reason I had not bought the item was because it clearly said “Out of stock” or because I wanted a different color. No marketer asked me that. So despite doing many things right, marketing automation platforms still have some distance to cover. Simplicity and ease of use is an attractive quality in a product but not necessarily enough to do the job right.
The future may see an improvement in data mining capability, real time access to updated information and multi-channel management but we also need better data gathering. We need to listen carefully before we decide what to say. And for that we need to ask the right questions. Moreover, what about the company’s interaction with its internal customers? What about media relations? How do we integrate these into the marketing software without making it complex? Before you even get to that, think about the industry’s paradox, that the more personalized an offering we wish to make to our customers, the more automation we need in our marketing.