Over the last decade, customer expectations have increased on an exponential scale, resulting in digital channels transforming and evolving to become even more personalised. No longer are buyers interested in a purely transactional process (i.e., just buying a product), today audiences seek a customised connection and experience that goes along with that purchase.
The need for a customised experience has put an increasing amount of pressure on marketers to emphasise engaging the buyer at every step of their purchasing journey. This constant-contact challenge can be alleviated, streamlined, optimised and scaled with automation.
Marketing automation in 2019 and beyond holds the key to meeting the rising demands of customers. Here are some excellent reasons from our BBN partners to incorporate marketing automation into your omnichannel strategy:
Tracking the lifecycle of a lead throughout its journey
Any successful marketer knows not to underestimate the power of insightful, resourceful and actionable data. Without reliable information, marketing departments would be making uneducated guesses as to what decisions to make and what aspects of their campaigns to modify or optimise for the best results.
Data is mission-critical, and automation provides brands with the chance to capitalise on modern technology to track users' behaviours and uncover a wealth of information.
The buyer journey is evolving at a quick pace, not to mention simultaneously becoming increasingly complex. We live in a data-centric age where those brands and marketing departments that fail to adapt will get left behind.
Delivering precise dynamic content when and where it's needed
Managing multiple channels and each having their own sets of marketing campaigns and creatives is stressful enough. Now, add in the requirement of a streamlined narrative, voice, and journey for the audience, and you could get overwhelmed quickly.
Content that can be dynamically delivered to a target audience through those channels and facilitated through automation is paramount to successful execution, especially at scale.
Lead scoring and prioritisation of sales resources
A great deal of information gets revealed along a customer journey and their interaction with your content. Marketing automation allows you to capture, categorise, analyse and score this information to segment potential leads or customers. These segments then get moved through other channels for nurturing or directly to your sales teams for closing deals.
These insightful profiles are leveraged to provide marketing, service and sales departments with the information they need to personalise further sales, support and nurturing efforts.
By utilising automation of this process, you can streamline efforts across multiple departments, allocating resources to those leads that will benefit both your brand and the prospect the most.
Progressive profiling with dynamic fields
Your sales team is only as good as the leads you provide them. Up until recently, improving lead quality has been limited. Today, marketing automation enhances lead forms in a way that produces higher quality leads, giving sales teams the advantage.
Progressive profiling is a way to enhance lead forms without burdening a new lead with lots of questions on their first visit to your site. Instead, your forms will display questions based off of the information you already have about that lead, making the questioning process seem less invasive. Progressive profiling requires fewer forms and gets more info from visitors providing an immediate positive effect on your lead gen efforts.
Coordinate seamless campaigns when delivering the journey
Those brands that have implemented automation see an improvement in brand perception, engagement and loyalty. However, synchronisation and cohesiveness are becoming more complicated, with your target audience typically engaging with multiple "touchpoints" before becoming a customer.
For example, a prospect may conduct a Google search, check out your website and head over to your social media profile. In the process, they get distracted, but later that day, they see a retargeting advert and click on that. The ad takes them to a landing page where they opt into a newsletter and receive an email sequence. In that sequence, they click on email #5 and eventually make it to your sales page where they convert to a buyer.
The above is just one of a virtually endless set of possibilities, which makes coordinating and delivering a smooth and continuous campaign that much more important. Luckily for us, marketing automation and technology have made this endeavour more seamless than ever before.
Not only that, the narrative, tonality, messaging, beliefs, value propositions, unique positioning and more are all consistent, providing a unified message that builds trust and converts "browsers" to buyers.
In our world, there are mostly two types of mobile application (app), one which our end buyer may use and one which can be used by the sales rep.
Benefits of mobile app marketing for the end-user
Less competition - Generally, people have more than a dozen apps on their smartphones; so how do you compete with that? However, when you consider that in the case of websites, the competition is in the range of one against millions, the competition is far less relevant.
Targetted selling - Social media is a new medium for a lot of small businesses that are trying to engage with their customers on around the clock basis. But when you look at the real face of social media, you will quickly realise that it is not an out and out buy-and-sell platform. Social platforms are becoming far more competitive, while mobile marketing, on the other hand, helps you make a targeted discussion. You get to talk to your customers about what they need and what best to offer them without having to battle against similar messaging from competitors.
Higher engagement - Mobile marketing has a higher percentage of engagement and inspired action with push notifications making the users curious about an app. Push notifications don't just give you updates; they tell you all that's happening within an app. What's more, push notifications are far more likely to get read, than say, an email.
Solving major sales issues with a sales rep tablet app
Here is an example of how understanding what is possible in a sales app lead us to solve some major sales issues for the ‘Ear, Nose & Throat' business in Medtronic Europe, in an innovative way. They had two major problems:
Backorders - This is when a product is out of stock (or close to being out of stock). In the medical field, this can cause major issues and quickly sour relations between a surgeon and the supplier. The current system was to send an excel sheet to all the reps that showed the 300+ SKUs and their availability across the entire region. This sheet (if printed out) could have covered the wall of most large offices. Bearing in mind that most reps checked their email on the phone, they were unusable. So, ‘reply to all' emails were sent in response to this sheet in an attempt to work out where the potential issues were. This lead to the next problem.
Email was broken - With all of the emails flying around reps stopped using email, and as a result, communication was breaking down.
So, our partner in Switzerland created an app with the following features to solve these problems, give back to the reps the power to manage their stock levels and manage expectations to their clients.
Excel to Google maps:
An algorithm converts the complex excel sheet to give a Google map view of the region. Each hospital is represented by a coloured dot (Green – no issues, Orange – the risk of backorders, Red – out of stock). The rep can, at a glance see where any problems might be. An automated email can be sent out to the hospitals that alert the surgeons of the issue and suggest alternatives. Finally, the reps are on the front foot rather than learning of issues during angry phone calls from their customers.
No more email:
Talking to reps, we realised that, when not in meetings, they are either driving or waiting for a meeting. During these times, they can listen to audio updates (podcasts from head office) or watch a video (product information, etc.).
Finally, to instil a greater sense of team and information sharing, we included a ‘community' where reps can ask each other questions and share information without sending out long emails.
Artifical Intelligence (AI)
Be it businesses or consumers; we can not deny that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has touched our hearts. From helping enterprises scale, predicting climate change, helping detect life-threatening diseases to Siri's witty replies, AI has amazed us in so many ways.
As adoption of AI gradually increases, specific business functions will witness a significant transformation. And one such business function is marketing.
Artificial Intelligence is gradually finding its way into digital marketing strategies. According to BridghtEdge, the next big marketing trend is consumer personalisation (29%), followed by AI (26%).
The need to understand customers better, boost user experience, improve scalability, ensure accurate targeting and increase ROI of marketing campaigns are some of the major drivers of AI adoption in digital marketing.
Here are three smart ways our tech-savvy marketers in Singapore are leveraging AI to gain a better competitive edge.
1. Understanding Customers
AI feeds on data. According to a report by Forbes, there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day. Imagine the possibilities. AI algorithms can analyse huge chunks of historical data sets. This analysis helps marketers understand what their customers are looking for, what their usual buying behaviour is, and what channels they use to consume content.
McKinsey & Company highlights that in an increasingly customer-centric world, the ability to capture and use customer insights to shape products, solutions, and the buying experience as a whole is critically important. The research firm highlights that organisations that leverage customer behavioural insights outperform peers by 85% in sales growth and more than 25% in gross margin.
2. Enhancing user experience
Enhancing user experience encapsulates a lot of things, but here we are talking about a marketing department's ability to deliver personalised experiences. And for AI instances to help marketers personalise content, it should first be able to understand the level of engagement a particular customer has with a brand. For example, if a customer frequently comments on online, talks about your brand on social media, and so on. Using data management platforms (DMPs), marketers can map that data against their CRM and ERP and determine precisely how they have been interacting with a brand.
Once such disparate data from different platforms are connected, AI instances can start drawing insights about a customer and make recommendations accordingly. Let us explain this more straightforwardly.
Imagine you are telecom provider. You have a specific set of customers who have bought Business Internet Plan A, a particular messaging service and a set of specific iPhone devices. With an AI solution in place, when a different customer buys that same messaging service and iPhone devices, marketers can easily recommend the Business Internet Plan A.
Similarly, if a customer goes for the Business Plan A and the same iPhone devices, AI engines can automatically recommend the messaging service that customers usually buy along with the other products.
Organisations that leverage customer behavioural insights outperform peers by 85% in sales growth and more than 25% in gross margin.
Based on similar customer engagement patterns, AI-powered software can recommend appropriate products and services. The offer can be made based on a customer's industry, geography, the kind of business he operates, the type of job role and more.
3. Boost ROI
Spray and pray marketing does not work. Targeting customers indiscriminately and then praying that something will eventually stick is a poor way of executing digital marketing campaigns. The challenge with this approach is that marketers end up spending hundreds of dollars in ads to reach out to a sizeable generic audience but rarely touch customers whom the advert is targeting.
Leveraging AI, marketers can make sound decisions on what content, offers, solutions and products to share with a unique set of customers.
Irrelevant content is a disaster for digital marketing campaigns. According to a Constellation Research report, lack of content relevancy generates 83% lower response rates in the average marketing campaign.
There are a plethora of benefits that AI can deliver for marketers; we have just scratched the surface. In 2019 we see more use cases of AI in digital marketing and the technology is gradually being perceived as a competitive differentiator.
AdTech and the rise of programmatic
No doubt paid advertising—primarily digital ads—drives results. And the most significant percentage of digital display ads purchased are data-driven, automated ads called programmatic.
According to Ad Age, "Programmatic ad buying is growing not only because it makes ad transactions more efficient but because it can make them more effective, as long as the right data is applied."
Overall programmatic advertising will reach $40 billion this year. While growth is essential, what is truly notable is that it will be 75% of the total global digital display ad spending. It was only 49% in 2014.
Programmatic continues to evolve with private marketplaces. These are invitation-only marketplaces where high calibre publishers offer their ad inventory directly to a select group of advertisers.
So, what is Programmatic Advertising?
Programmatic ad buying is the use of software and algorithms to buy online advertising, as opposed to the traditional process of RFPs, human negotiations and manual inventory orders.
It massively improves the efficiency processes of buying and serving ads and is significantly cheaper. Traders, using a Trade Desk or Demand Side Platform (DSP), optimise campaigns and plan strategies.
Today, it's mainly online ads that are traded programmatically, but increasingly media companies like Sky in the UK and JCDecaux are exploring ways to sell' traditional' media from TV and digital OOH this way too.
How does it work?
The use of programmatic is the buying of ads through real-time auctions that occur in the same time it takes a webpage to load. A publisher's inventory is bought blind, whereby we, the advertiser, only knows the category of site that the ads will appear on, but not the exact site.
Open Exchanges allow many buyers to bid on the inventory of many publishers in an auction environment. The winning bidder's ad is then displayed.
Real-time bidding (RTB) enables the targeting of ads to specific users rather than merely relying on publishers' information about their audience. We, therefore, no longer need to work directly with publishers to negotiate ad prices and to traffic ads.
It also enables access to the long tail of inventory across a wide range of sites beyond the handful of publishers that may ‘own' a category. We're able to cherry-pick only the impressions that are most valuable to us.
A few years ago, the only inventory available to advertisers was the so-called ‘blind' or ‘Open' marketplaces. But more recently, traditional publishers have opened up their inventory in Private Marketplaces (PMP). They are invitation-only RTB auctions where one or a group of publishers invite a select number of buyers to bid on its inventory.
The advantage of buying in a private marketplace is that the inventory purchased is transparent – we know exactly which site the ad will run on. Most PMPs, allow access via a Demand-side Platform (DSP) which plugs directly into the premium publishers' inventory. The inventory transaction is within an auction environment, but the terms of the deal are pre-negotiated between the buyer and the publisher. But just like RTB, data is used to optimise the bid-offer. We can buy ten impressions or a million impressions – it's totally up to us. With PMPs, we get "Premium" access to inventory at a lower price than buying directly. A disadvantage of PMPs over Open Networks and Exchanges is they are approximately 4 or 5 times more expensive as a cost per impression.
A relatively newer option is the buying of inventory via Programmatic Direct. Programmatic Direct is, as the name implies, where a publisher sells their inventory directly using traditional publisher/broker/advertiser sales. It's a way of guaranteeing the purchase of inventory but using a DSP to run the ad. In effect, it's a blend of traditional and non-RTB ad buying. Its advantage is it includes a publisher's top-tier inventory like home-page takeover ads at a fixed price for a guaranteed number of impressions. Programmatic Direct is an excellent choice for companies focused on brand safety, inventory control, premium placements.
Programmatic and Data Management Platforms provide marketers with centralised control of all their ad campaign data. It helps them manage and analyse data to craft, target, and optimise campaigns that reach more of the right people and drive improved ROI.
For example, you can manage the day-to-day effectiveness of all online advertising campaigns in one dashboard. It enables A/B testing of creative, audience profiling, optimising to a specific behaviour such as broad reach and awareness and clickthroughs, right up to form fills and purchases.
Most DSPs automatically optimise using thousands of variables and data points and can scale to billions of global data points if required.
But it's not just about the data. It's about the traders behind the data being able to optimise a campaign using a blend of open, private and direct buys. Plus ‘knowing' the audience that we are targeting.
Conclusion on programmatic
As roads to programmatic advertising, social media, marketing automation, and big data continue to play an increasingly important role in marketing, it's at the intersection where you will find data-driven success. And that's the roundabout we call the DMP.
Make your advertising and marketing more accountable to your revenue generation with these tools and approaches, and your boss will be as proud of you as your mom is. Well, except that she doesn't understand what you do. It's okay. We all get that.
One of the most critical technologies to incorporate into any marketing tactic is marketing analysis and analytics. Using Google analytics is an easy and affordable way to track how parts of your website are performing and what searches drive traffic to your site. If you know that certain products are being sought for frequently can direct you to boost your marketing presence around those popular, performing items. It's also important to keep an eye on email and social media marketing metrics. If no one is clicking on your emails or social ads, you shouldn't keep spending money on them. Instead, utilise data to collect information on what ads and emails are seen.
Accurate data and insightful analytics are critical to making confident decisions about your campaign or project. Without a clear view of how your users are behaving and interacting, you won't be able to make mission-critical decisions that can continuously improve performance.
But having all the data points is one thing. The thing about big data is, it's really big. To make all of that data make sense in a way that tells you what you need to know, data visualisation and dashboards, are becoming increasingly popular. Having the right perspective and insight on your big data is what transforms your data from overwhelming to value-proposition-driving information. The best outcome of data visualisation is a business-critical improvement. Analytics dashboards can look fancy and slick, but if they aren't visualising the right thing, they're nothing more than pretty charts. Make sure your dashboard developer is skilled at identifying the most relevant data points. Also, ensure the design team are experts at interpreting the data into value-driven reports and insights.
The evolution of marketing over the past years saw technology start as a minor role player and evolve into the star of the show. We'll leave you with some mind-blowing stats that tip MarTech as the next Oscar winner!
According to marketing intelligence firm Warc in their Martech: 2019 and Beyond survey based on responses from more than 800 brands and agencies in the UK, North America, Asia Pacific (APAC) and continental Europe, spend on martech is now worth an estimated $99.9bn (£76bn).
In the UK and North America, brands upped their budgets on marketing technology - email and social media marketing automation tools, in particular - by 44% over the past year to $52bn (£40bn).
It represents nearly a quarter (23%) of total marketing budgets and, according to the report, media spend is getting shouldered out as a result.
Instead, spend is being pushed towards technologies such as email marketing (79%) and social media (77%). While the report says, the most established technology currently in use is the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices.
Voice tech follows, and it's especially popular in the UK. Where over a third (36%) of respondents say they use tools for voice-based search, while a further 11% plan to do so in the next few months.
In North America and UK markets, 75% of marketers use martech for analytics, measurement and insights - a year-on-year increase of 19%. SEO, meanwhile, is the "most planned-for tactic" for the year ahead, owed to its ever-changing nature as algorithms develop.
Sources / References:
All content in this guide has been curated from BBN partners
- What is Marketing Technology - BBN Australia (McCorkell)
- How mobile apps can benefit small businesses - BBN Strategic partner HubSpire
- Why Your Omnichannel Marketing Needs Marketing Automation - BBN Strategic partner SharpSpring
- 5 reasons why marketing automation will elevate your business - BBN Singapore (GetIT Comms)
- What savvy marketers are not telling you about AI - BBN Singapore (GetIT Comms)
- The 7 steps B2B companies must take to achieve Predictive Marketing - BBN Finland ID BBN
- The rise of B2B programmatic ad buying - BBN UK (True)