How Marketing Automation Creates Personalized Customer Experiences

Personalization is a key component of marketing for today’s enterprises. According to a Salesforce report, 52% of online consumers say they’d switch brands had they not received a personalized experience. However, most marketers say that doing so can be quite challenging. According to a survey of 190 marketers worldwide conducted by Ascend2, 63% of respondents said that data-driven personalization was the most difficult tactic to implement.   

This finding has been mirrored in other surveys, as well. In a March 2018 survey by Evergage and Researchscape of 300 US marketers, just 6% of respondents gave their personalization efforts an A, while 46% gave themselves a C. In another 2018 survey conducted by Verndale of 200 US senior decision-marketers, 84% of respondents said that personalization efforts had not been realized, despite just as many ranking personalization as pivotal to increasing sales and improving customer satisfaction and retention.  

For both B2B and B2C marketers, personalization is highly important as it helps them stand out from others in their industry. It allows marketers to imagine how to take their product or service to the next level in a way that people haven’t seen before. Even if there are hundreds of other companies out there doing the same thing, if your content can connect with users on an emotional level, then you can exemplify the demand and become the model others may wish to follow. 

Why is personalized marketing so hard to execute?

There are several clear challenges when driving personalized marketing for an audience of any size:

  • Scaling across multiple channels: The likelihood of seamless, individualized marketing for a targeted audience gets exponentially harder when you add in more channels (such as email, social, video and others). The concept becomes even harder to grasp as the audience grows.
  • Standardizing data: As you’re pulling from multiple sources to produce these campaigns, there’s a high chance of obtaining dirty data. Has it been cleansed? Has it been organized? Does it have an appropriate hygienic protocol? If your data is not standardized in some way, it’ll be hard to glean any value or pull the appropriate information you need before moving forward with any exercise. 
  • Incorporating customer behavior: For every prospect and customer, many data points are collected. The challenge is not how much data we collect, but how to make sense of it all – which details are important, where do you store it, how do we analyze, etc.   
  • Executing across multiple applications (in a timely fashion): Unfortunately, customer data and behavior patterns don’t coexist in most marketing platforms. Many users will collect data in their customer data platforms and marry it, one-by-one, with every user in their marketing campaigns. Not only does this waste significant time, but could prove ineffective as timing is key in many scenarios. 

These challenges can seem impenetrable, but are being overcome by emerging strategies that involve automation — which can handle large-scale orchestration — and API integrations — which connect all your applications, including syncing your customer data platform to your marketing automation platform (MAP) to produce flawlessly-executed personalized marketing campaigns in real time.

Using marketing automation for utility

Given its transformative power to change business, intelligent technologies and tools must be led by an insightful, human-driven strategy guiding its outputs — with one end goal being personalized experiences. Technology, in this instance, can highlight the value or utility of a product, which in turn spurs personalized marketing — and personalized marketing can breed brand loyalty and customer retention (think Apple introducing Face ID and animojis in 2017).  

Marketing automation is the sole way to reach every intended customer in your database at a time with the content they need. It enables automations like: 

  • Prompting mobile users with in-app notifications after they click on a particular button or link
  • Sending an automated email confirmation with tourist information (à la Airbnb) and suggestions related to the destination after purchase
  • Sending an email reminder of items left in a cart after a customer does not complete an online purchase
  • Automatically generating an offer of 1-2 free months of service while a customer is in the midst of canceling a subscription plan
  • A selection of site overlays (or pop-ups) where content can be tailored in an online store

With you as the driver, marketing automation is most commonly activated by set, predefined events that trigger a certain kind of communication — the kind of communication that drives people close to the point of purchase. 

Automation for marketing efficiency and ROI

One of the key strengths of automation is that it allows teams to focus on more high-value tasks as opposed to manual, repetitive work.

Logitech’s Ultimate Ears Pro, the #1 supplier of custom in-ear monitors for professional musicians, uses automation to move physical in-store leads into the digital lead nurture funnel. The company has a memorable in-store experience for lead gathering, which allows customers at multiple locations to walk up and get their ears scanned to create a 3D view of the ear. Each person who has their ear scanned is potentially a new customer and is added to Zendesk for follow-up. The manual process of managing this lead data would result in data loss, late follow-ups, or duplicate follow-ups—each error causing a poor customer experience or loss of revenue.

To solve this, Ultimate Ears Pro uses Workato to fetch the lead data from each physical store. The data is stored in a server database table, which Workato cleanly and efficiently moves into Zendesk. 

By replacing the manual process of transferring lead data between apps via CSV file, Workato helped streamline lead gen processes and allowed the company’s marketing team to continuously build more integrations. “It’s a solution that allows us to scale without having to grow our staff,” said Jazmin Sandoval, Digital Marketing Manager at Ultimate Ears Pro. “Workato has allowed us to create a more seamless internal experience for different workflows.”

Most importantly, the automation also significantly increased revenue by improving lead conversion. Because leads move seamlessly between lead gen channels, Zendesk, and their email marketing channels, the marketing team now has a real-time, comprehensive overview of every lead. “Workato allows us to create a 360° view of each customer,” Sandoval said. They can then better tailor their marketing efforts with more creative outputs to each potential customer by sending the right emails at the right time.

In other words, automation is the path to increased efficiency and productivity.

Slack, another Workato customer and the world’s #1 enterprise collaboration tool, would traditionally pull product usage data via a custom code that would take up to 8 hours to run. This data was needed, however, in real-time to be able to catch customers in the moment and serve them campaigns. By using this custom code solution, they would constantly miss out on opportunities. 

Now, every hour, Workato is processing 5 million customer records full of rich behavioral data from their product servers to their marketing platform for intelligent marketing automation and segmentation. This has allowed Slack to reduce run time from 8 hours to 30 minutes — a 93.75% decrease in wasted time. The result? Slack can inform more customers, more quickly when they are close to their cap usage based on their subscription plan and this creates more opportunities for upsells.  

Marketing automation means more channels

In the digital age, the customer journey is changing—and it’s crucial that you understand how it’s changing the way your leads (and customers!) behave. 

At the same time, it’s because of the digital age and related technologies that customers can be in a lot more places at once and it’s important to develop an understanding of how they interact with the digital landscape. Where do they live digitally, so to speak? Do they prefer Facebook Messenger? Twitter? Your website’s custom chatbot? Do they use all three sparingly, or predominantly use one over the other? Information like this makes it much easier to focus your efforts on key channels and projects.

To cover the gamut of platforms your customers use, automation can be used to populate content based on what consumers have done in the past and take the next best step in the customer cycle based on that history. For example, with marketing automation, online stores can track visitors, the part of the site they visit most, items browsed, items in a shopping cart, and purchases. Then, when that visitor returns, more relevant recommendations can be served up based on prior behavior (think Amazon). 

Based on visitor behavior, automation can then trigger the next logical step in the customer cycle. Depending on preferences, that step could be an email, a social ad, or a push notification via a mobile app — ensuring a seamless, consistent campaign for a much more connected experience. 

This enables marketers to plan and schedule communications across audiences while simultaneously maintaining a high level of personalization.

Personalization that continuously improves

Marketing automation can improve the degree to which personalization is achieved through testing and continuous self-learning. 

By experimenting with different messaging across audience groups, marketing automation programs can pinpoint what resonates best with which audience personas.

Automation can also utilize multi-branch testing (running your script on every branch that has it) to determine the correct messaging for a customer and engage with them through win-back programs — knowing based on behavioral data when the majority of your customers are most likely to drop off and which platforms are best at carrying out the objective — multi-step campaigns, and retargeting. By testing and refining, automation systems can help to ensure customers are seeing what they want based on their preferences.

Automation is changing the way people work in many industries, but if it’s personalized customer experiences you’re looking for, it’s the only way forward.

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