The Myth that Marketing Automation Reveals Buyers’ Journeys.
Big data is a disruptive technology that is changing how enterprises gain insights into their most valuable revenue generator: the customer. Knowing big data’s potential and its importance in customer analytics is one thing, productively managing and leveraging it is another.
I had a discussion recently with business associates on the effectiveness of email DM and social, it was a mixed response, but the group response was everyone had a story to share about emails being sent to the inbox that had no remote correlation to a qualification of interest and everyone was frustrated by following someone of Twitter and the first message you receive via DM was an automated offer to sell you something.
So thinking about the human interface vs automated or robotic, do you think senior citizens are the only people who still complain about not being able to talk to a live customer service rep? Think again. When a recent poll asked 1,000 U.S. consumers for their number-one customer service complaint, not being able to get from an automated phone system to a live person was the top complaint among Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers alike, these are really interesting observations.
Although often portrayed as wanting to interact with businesses entirely online, 32 percent of Millennials say their biggest frustration is customer service automation and being unable to reach a live person. Thirty percent of Gen X consumers and 47 percent of Baby Boomers feel the same way.
I recently read a few reports on marketing automation. Here is why I was stunned: marketing automation is one of the most valuable tools the modern day marketer can employ and yet it’s been adopted by less than 10% of companies.
In this context when I discuss marketing automation, I am not only talking about email automation. That is just a small piece of marketing automation. Email automation and automated drip campaigns have been around for over a decade and when they are included into this discussion the adoption numbers are higher. Real marketing automation is a tool that allows marketing departments to more effectively market to multiple channels (usually social, blogging, email, landing pages, etc.) and automate certain tasks.
A true marketing automation system requires implementation with a company’s website, social media accounts, CRM, and a few other existing infrastructures, this can cause some smaller companies who do not have the budget or time some heartburn.
Psychologists have compared the human instinctive aversion to change to the way people avoid pain or experience fear. Yet one of the primary responsibilities of CEOs is to facilitate cultural, organisational and strategic change in response to evolving market dynamics, a tall order when your opponent is human nature itself.
According to Forrester, 75 percent of the buying cycle is completed before Sales is ever contacted. IDG found that 60 percent of prospects look at nine or more digital sources to research products they are considering.
The buyer expected control of their experience. Vendors that do not put customers in the driver’s seat will have a hard time closing deals and keeping customers.
The only way to make the right changes is to align your entire organisation with the customer’s buying process. To do so successfully you will need an in-depth understanding of the customer that only comes from research and a partnership with your customer base.
The starting place is to interview them. Customers are happy to lay out the steps they take from the trigger event through purchase. Asked the right way, you will discover what type of information they look for, where, and to whom they turn for trusted feedback and advice. They will even tell you when and how they want to engage with your sales teams and their expectations of what, for them, makes a valuable customer experience. All you need to do is ask and then act on that information.
Executives might be afraid of what the customer says, but a vendor’s survival hinges on their ability to overcome those fears; to really talk to their customers and then tune their organisation’s culture, business model and processes to match the customer’s experience expectations.
Marketing automation, CRM, and sales automation systems cannot interview your customers, ask probing questions. Marketing automation does not help you build relationships or understand customers. These are not qualities we can purchase off a shelf.
What these systems can tell you is where in the buyers’ journey a prospect might be based upon the behavior you’ve been able to capture. Software has value, but vendors won’t get ahead just because they bought marketing automation.
What defines winners are CEOs who muster the courage to create change. To truly listen to their customers, build deep cross-organisational relationships based on value, and change from internally-focused, product-obsessed organizations to customer-centric businesses. That means overcoming fears of change and driving different values, culture, processes and ways of doing business.
Only when we understand customers’ trigger event, buy-cycle and what influences trust can we paint a story-board for the organisation to follow that guides us to customer alignment, loyalty, and sustainable growth.
As Simon Mainwaring once said:
“Companies and their brands need to reach out and speak directly to consumers, to honor their values, and to form meaningful relationships with them. They must become architects of community, consistently demonstrating the values that their customer community expects in exchange for their loyalty and purchases.”