Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs)

Blog_110_Marketing Automation Platforms

MAPs are a set of software tools with many moving pieces.

 

The promise of Marketing Automation Platforms is to integrate and automate marketing functions

Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs) are receiving lots of attention in the B-to-B marketing sphere. Most of these platforms are targeted toward companies with large database records that execute the majority of their marketing efforts online. For originations that fit the aforementioned criteria, MAPs promise greater marketing efficiency, integration with sales CRM software, reduced external resource expenditures, and ROI tracking for each marketing event.

The strength of an MAP is its ability to capture digital transactional information for specific marketing actions. These actions can include the following:

  • Email opens, top performing links, and overall performance
  • Website visitation, visitor page interaction and analytics
  • Inbound marketing responses to posted content and landing pages
  • Social platform monitoring for sentiment and customer insight

These actions are generally considered first encounter lead generation activities found at the top of the sales funnel. It is at this junction that marketing and sales must agree on what a qualified lead looks like and what steps are necessary to move this lead through the sales funnel.

With the definition of a qualified lead identified, an MAP can provide the functionality to automatically continue to reach out to the prospect. As the prospect demonstrates intent to purchase, CRM software is able to provide sales with leads that require shorter close times and better success rates.

All of this sounds great, almost like push button marketing; however, there are several things to consider:

  •  MAPs are a set of software tools with many moving pieces
  • MAPs are not a substitute for a strategic marketing plan
  • Underestimating the amount of content required to shepherd the prospect through the sales funnel
  • The current marketing staff may not have the technical horsepower needed to manage the MAP
  • Time commitment and resources from IT will be needed for implementation, integration, and ongoing maintenance
  • Substantial learning curve and resources required for marketing and sales personnel
  • Implementation time of 6 to 12 months to see results
  • Identification of critical data chains for ROI reporting
  • Commitment from the executive wing to fund and nurture MAP implementation

MAPs focus is on digital interaction. What about traditional marketing and brand building? These software platforms are challenged to know what effect display advertising has with regards to purchasing behavior, brand sentiment, and brand loyalty.

Don’t get me wrong here. I see the benefit of ROI analysis and the positive potential MAPs can have when implemented properly. However, at the same time, I am also cautious about MAPS. My concern begins with the automaton nature of the entire process. The promise of inbound marketing is to engage with interested prospects and begin to build a relationship. Being inundated with additional email offers and qualifying phone calls can be a turn-off, stopping the relationship building cold. In addition, marketers must be cautious about treating prospects like Pavlov’s dog. Thinking that they can be trained to respond by redundancy is a danger.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

Big data and creativity

Determining Advertising Return On Investment

How to engineer a social marketing strategy

Please leave your comments or thoughts below
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Do your customers suffer from “E-fluenza”?

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Too much digital messaging drives us to distraction

Everyday the pipeline of digital messaging is expanding. And because of this, our ability to take in, absorb and comprehend is becoming less and less.

E-mail, text, social network advertising, CRM software, and websites are increasingly shouting to be heard above a sea of keyword flotsam and search terms.

What can marketers do to improve their digital messaging?

Simplify your message

Clarity of thought drives consistent messaging. Formulate your value proposition and concentrate on what you do well. If the reader has to think too much, odds are you will lose their attention. One test for simplifying your messaging – have a teenager read your website home page, then ask them what your company does.

Design for humans, not for bots and crawlers

Some web analysts claim that up to 65% of web traffic are bots and crawlers reporting back to search engines. That leaves 35% for human consumption. Humans are drawn to good design and content that connects on an emotional level. Highly visual websites that use strong imagery can convey more emotional connection than text-heavy analytical sites.

Understand your customer’s decision-making process

Arrange content in a natural flow that identifies customers’ concerns and problems, allowing customers to contemplate your solution through a linear progression of small steps. Using this approach builds customer confidence in your solution and reinforces their decision that your approach is best. Provide case studies, user reviews, and technical literature along the way as needed to confirm their decision. Consider providing a redeemable coupon to enhance the purchasing experience.

Build the relationship

There has to be a human connection to sustain a relationship. If not, then the purchasing decision is relegated to the lowest price to achieve the desired results. Improve brand consideration by communicating the brand story through thoughts and actions that resonate with the customer. Influence the purchasing decision by aligning with causes that benefit the industry as a whole.

The purchasing decision is a series of small steps, so make the steps easy and communicate in real terms, not industry jargon. Remember that no one wants to be sold to. The only one that receives any emotional benefit from that approach is the seller. Instead, assume the role of trusted advisor or consultant, enabling the purchaser to make their own decision based on the features, benefits, and solution that best fulfills their needs.

Simplifying your digital messaging and appealing to customers’ emotional needs is a sure cure for their “E-fluenza,” replacing their confusion with your solution.

Additional articles you may find of interest on this topic:

The Precarious State of Advertising & Marketing

Social media content strategy

RESPECT the customer

Please leave your comments or thoughts below.

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