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Cornerstones of marketing automation

(Image credit: Image Credit: Photonphotos / Bigstock)

E-commerce marketing automation is often thought of as synonymous with artificial intelligence - clever neural networks, evaluating an endless number of probable outcomes in order to market your products to your customers in such a way that they will buy more from you.

Well, that's not exactly how marketing automation works, but it’s not that far off.

Marketing automation uses datasets such as customers' in-store purchases and their online behaviour in order to help marketers build an understanding on how their customers interact with the brand.

This allows marketers to view the data in the broader context and setup scenarios (conditional marketing campaigns) which help them to contextualize their offer based on customers’ interactions.

This leads a meaningful dialogue between brands and their customers, even on a large scale across multiple channels.

In short, marketing automation:

  • Helps marketers to gain insights from data
  • Adds context to marketing communication at scale

Data Management

The first and arguably most important pillar of e-commerce marketing automation is data management.

Data management means that marketers are able to import datasets into the marketing automation tool and connect them using a common unique key which identifies the same customers across the dataset in order to contextualize their behaviour.

When setting up your marketing automation platform, you may want to connect personal and demographic data, online behavioural data, engagement data and transactional data, so you’re able to get the most concise understanding of your customers’ interactions with your brand.

How to Improve Your Data Management

One simple change you can make which will make a huge impact on your data management is to monitor the use of any third-party integrated tools and ensure that any anomalies are addressed.

Doing this will help to ensure an early detection of any issues, which will tighten your processes and help you avoid any mistakes being made. This will also help to strengthen your reputation and ensure nothing damages it.

Another great tool for managing data is LinkedIn. By correctly managing the analytic data gained from this social media platform, you can easily identify the right target audience to be used for your targeted marketing campaigns. Taking the time to research your targets and personalise your marketing data based on your findings will improve your chances of converting your leads into sales. Finally, having perfect data systems in place is a great start, but if your team are not trained to handle this data properly, it is all in vain. Ensure you properly train your data entry team, and you will start to see much better results. 

Customer Analytics

The next pillar of marketing automation is customer analytics. Your e-commerce marketing automation platform should be able to provide you with a detailed set of reporting options to get the insights you need to understand your customers.

Finding a tool which is able to support you with these capabilities, as well as perform advanced calculations and operations in chronological sequence is an important step in upping your marketing automation game.

As for the reporting tools, the ability to visualize and report the data as a flow, funnel or in a simple table with charting options is a minimum essential. But it goes further. For e-commerce analytics, you should be on the lookout for a platform which does all this and helps you to perform geographical, trend and cohort analyses as well.

How to Improve Your Customer Analytics

Generating high profits and marketing earnings is nearly twice as high for those that apply customer analytics broadly and intensively, so it is important that this is done to the highest quality.

Knowing how the full process works, from your customers first hearing about your company and expressing interest, right up to making their initial purchase, is the key to tailoring your marketing. 

It is no secret that the majority of purchasing transactions are now made over the internet. This subsequently means that if your website doesn’t include all of the necessary information needed to encourage sales, you can be missing out on a huge amount of profit.

Along with this, there has been proven research showing that a business which uses personalized customer interaction increases the likelihood of browsing becoming conversions. Therefore, discovering what it is your customers want to see, or what products they are interested in, can be the difference between an email being trashed or a sale.

Scenario Designer

The lifeblood of marketing automation lies in the ability to design scenarios. It’s usually a visual representation of what must happen in order to trigger marketing communication with a customer.

Scenarios are often represented like flowcharts with nodes indicating a certain action such as filtering certain customers, sending them messages over email or SMS or defining a dynamic time of communication based on each individual customer preferences.

How to Improve Your Marketing Automation Campaigns Using A Scenario Designer

Designing and understanding scenarios is essential in providing marketing teams and salespeople context of a buyer’s journey, and what steps need to be taken to land a sale. 

The essential factors which need to be considered when creating user scenarios are as follows.

It is important to use real data when creating these scenarios, as this will ensure that everything produced is as relevant as possible to your businesses needs. This will therefore involve collecting and analysing data from actual consumers and site users.

From this information you can then define an accurate target market in the form of personas and be able to understand who it is you are marketing for. Using these personas, it is then possible to develop bespoke user scenarios for each target market. 

This will allow you to further articulate the customer needs and be sure that they are all met, leaving no gaps where sale opportunities can be lost. 

A Practical Example Of Marketing Automation

A customer, let’s call her Simona, visits your brick and mortar store, buys a new purple dress and after a few days, she visits your online store. 

Since Simona used her loyalty card, your marketing automation platform is able to match her identity to her online session because she previously logged in to her customer account from the same computer in the past.

Your automation scenario is then able to kick in, match and recognize her previous purchase and how long ago it was.

Your marketing automation platform then calculates the probability of what Simona may be looking for and what would fit her well with her previous purchase. It also takes into consideration the products that you need to sell as soon as possible, so you won’t risk overstock.

Simona doesn't need to search through thousands of products on your store, she immediately gets what she wants. Both of you are happy since she bought something she loves and you made a sale.

That’s the power of marketing automation.

David Miller, Copywriter at Exponea (opens in new tab) 

David is’s resident wordsmith and an experienced serial entrepreneur. He writes easily digestible articles about customer experience personalization for CEOs and CMOs.