With the rate technology is changing in the world today, businesses don’t have a choice but to try to keep up.
“Your customers want you to talk to them on the channels that they’re using – not always on the ones you prefer,” explains Brooke Campbell, head of marketing automation at Squiz.
So, where is technology heading? What’s the next tool that will allow you to best communicate with your customers? The answer is that we just don’t know.
But when you know these communication channels are central to driving sales and business revenue, you’re in a bit of a bind.
“The younger generation isn’t always on Facebook anymore,” says Brooke. “They’re on a world of other platforms, such as Instagram and Snapchat. If you’re trying to sell to them on Facebook, you’re in the wrong place.”
Instead of trying to anticipate what technology trends are around the corner, Brooke suggests that organisations should make sure they have what they need to tackle these trends – whatever they may be.
So, how can you prepare for the future and ensure that you’re using marketing automation to its full potential?
Have an open platform that integrates
Businesses today have begun moving away from the consolidated central tool approach. Because of the growing marketing-technology stack, it’s no longer a realistic option.
“Compare the marketing-technology landscape five years ago to what it is today,” says Brooke. “There were 150 vendors listed in 2011, but in the supergraphic released earlier this year, there are close to 3900.”
Instead, organisations are heading towards open platforms with the capabilities to integrate with any other necessary piece of technology. Again, with technology’s rapid rate of change, this integration is critical for your future state.
“When the latest, greatest technology comes in, it shouldn’t be a question of whether your automation platform can integrate with it,” says Brooke. “If that’s the case, then you’re already at a disadvantage.”
It’s rare today for companies to build closed-off tools. Open automation platforms, such as Marketo, use application programming interfaces (APIs) and webhooks so they can easily plug in these emerging technologies.
A platform that can integrate with other technologies helps ensure that your business has the flexibility to move with your audience.
“You have to make sure you have an open platform in place so you can integrate technologies when your business is ready or, more important, as your consumers demand it,” says Brooke.
Capture the data you need with your future state in mind
Marketing automation is the new way to gather data. Previously, companies had to explicitly collect research through workshops, forums, and questionnaires. Now, they can do research in so many other ways. And although it’s important not to abandon these traditional methods – they’re valid and critical – these new ways of capturing and analysing data are creating new opportunities for organisations.
“Automation is the key to progressively profiling your customer,” explains Brooke. “Your tool allows you to continuously gather implicit data by tracking users’ behaviour on your site and their engagement with your social media and email communications.”
With these customer insights, you can then start to refine your personas and segments, and better determine the next best offer for your customers. You’ll also be able to constantly create new content and communications channels to gather still more customer data.
When you’re capturing this data, it’s important to have the future state of your business in mind because, although there’s never a waste of data, you need to ensure that the data you’re capturing aligns with your marketing-automation strategy.
“Although your overarching strategy will remain the same, your business needs to shift its tactics to address the changes in the marketing-technology landscape,” says Brooke. “When you have these new data insights, you’re in a much better position to do that.”
Start by getting the basics right
“If we look at the life cycle of marketing automation, the majority of businesses are still in their infancy,” says Brooke. And although some businesses are starting with more advanced automation, such as web personalisation, they’re often not doing the fundamentals right.
“We’re spending so much time lately trying to catch up with technology that it’s important to stop, take stock, and ensure you’re making the most of your tool,” says Brooke. “Most businesses are using only 10 per cent of its true potential.”
According to Brooke, although organisations definitely need to have their eye on the future and where technology is heading, they need to make sure they’re implementing strategies they’ve already set out.
Start doing the basics right first. Implement and optimise those correctly by taking a phased approach. Then begin looking towards the future.