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Three rules for optimising your use of marketing automation

Businesses are under a lot of pressure to use the latest and greatest automated marketing technology to engage with huge numbers of customers and keep up with their competitors, but more often than not this happens at the expense of an effective, targeted strategy that delivers a real return on investment.

Having the newest, most expensive automation software to hand means nothing if you aren’t putting your customer data to proper use. Optimising your use of marketing automation requires a methodical approach that focuses on improving the customer experience, and takes into account the following key factors:

Target relevant customers

Just think of all the data your customers generate in a day, an hour or a minute. The sheer volume of customer information can be more overwhelming than useful for marketing and sales professionals. Desperate to keep up with the rapid influx of data, many invest in expensive tools that record and store every engagement with your brand, without a moment’s thought to its relevance.

The customer and prospect information you have in your database is worthless unless you can identify your priority targets. It’s important to have a clear idea about who you need to spend time and money on, and who can be ignored – not every customer is of value but it’s easy to be swayed by quantity over quality. As soon as you know the people you want to reach, your marketing budget will immediately be put to better use, strengthening ties with existing loyal customers and attracting new, relevant prospects.

Health-check your data on a regular basis and don’t be afraid to delete any irrelevant or unprofitable customer information that could dilute the efficacy of your strategy and result in unnecessary costs. Someone who ‘liked’ your brand on Facebook in 2009 -- and hasn’t engaged since -- is not worth sending monthly e-newsletters.

Personalise your communications

Once you have established a segmented view of your data, and its relevance to your brand, you can put the information to work and actually engage with your customers and prospects. It goes without saying that a lack of correct personalisation can damage your customer experience and thus how people respond to your brand, so stringent data cleansing and analytics processes are required to avoid this. The whole strategy can fall flat if your information is not accurate and, for example, you end up sending a store card application form to loyal customers who have had one for years.

The value exchange should be clear with the customer upfront. If you want people to share their personal information with you, you have to make it worth their while; promise to deliver them personalised, useful and valuable content. Failing to deliver content in this way will end up in poor customer experiences that even the most advanced automated software cannot rectify.

Monitor customer loyalty

In the world of marketing, conversions and ROI are continuously tracked, allowing you to adjust your communications as needed. But while these metrics are important, there are other factors to consider, such as customer loyalty. Loyalty can be measured using tools such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), giving you a valuable scoring model that will help you to track loyalty, refine your customer engagement strategy and direct your budget for the best long-term results.

Happy, repeat customers need to be made a priority as there is much more value to be gained from keeping this group satisfied than there is in trying to win new ones. There is no doubt that most customers who remain loyal to you for the rest of their lives are worth much more than the ones who responds to your special offer only once.

An automated, personalised marketing strategy that targets these people will cost far less than a huge acquisition drive, and will ultimately translate into higher profits in the long-run.

Change your approach and see better results

Automated marketing software can increase the efficiency and speed of communications, but relying too heavily on various technologies without taking into account your customers’ behaviours, buying habits, and preferences is a waste of money.

Ultimately, it’s less about the actual tools you employ and more about how well you use them. Automated communications that lack relevancy and personalisation will disappoint – with the potential to diminish not just a brand’s ROI, but also its customers’ loyalty.

The brands that take the time to know their customers, clean their databases and develop bespoke marketing messages are the ones who will put their existing automated technology to good use, delivering a positive customer experience that is very good for business.

Jason Lark, Managing Director, Celerity