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Using Marketing Automation to Enable Customer Journeys

It's not just plug and play

More than “setting and forgetting”

In our personal lives, we depend on many automatic tools to get us through our day. In the morning, we may depend on an alarm clock to wake us up and a preset coffee maker to cut the time we spend getting ready. When we’re away, we may set a security system to protect our valuables and an automatic sprinkler system to maintain our lawn while we’re away. These tools, when set up properly and synchronized with our schedules, can make our daily lives easier.

Marketing automation tools can make campaigns easier for us by taking out monotonous tasks such as sending emails, posting on social media, or updating websites, but we can’t just pull them out of the box, set them and forget about them. If we take the time to plan specific journeys and configure the tool properly, we can garner long-term efficiencies that allow more time to focus on other areas of the business.

The customer journey map determines the path

Marketing automation tools may make marketers lives easier, but it’s the end consumer that gets the greatest benefit. If applied properly, marketing automation tools will create the optimal experience for customers, which can lead to more qualified leads, repeat buyers, and even advocates for your brand. By starting with customer journey mapping, a marketer will be challenged to trace the customer journey from the customer view; identifying customer needs and expectations, content, channels, and business rules for each phase of the customer lifecycle. The resulting framework will allow for thoughtful placement of content and assets to achieve the desired customer experience.

Real customer journeys aren’t linear

It’s easy for us to think about the customer experience as a single linear journey, but the reality is that each experience is different and customers can enter, exit, advance, and regress at any given point. In addition, it’s easy for us to focus on a single channel such as email, when customers may be interacting with our brand through multiple channels. Today’s integrated marketing automation tools can enable omni-channel experiences in conjunction with email, and even the most complex customer journeys can be programmed into the tools.

Customer journeys are not linear

Right message at the right time

After you’ve built and embraced the customer journey, you can translate that journey and plot interactions on a technical map that delivers content in a logical manner and that matches the needs of the associated buyers. Based on your new understanding of your customers’ journeys, not all customers will qualify to enter the journey. With what is known of customers from their activities, such as online and offline actions, program your marketing automation tools to select customers and determine the appropriate outreach and path for them. Establish a scoring mechanism to gauge a customer’s level of interest and engagement at each phase and set rules accordingly.

Getting the right message to your customer at the right time is key to unlocking your marketing automation strategyThere will also be customers that have found themselves in the journey, but it just isn’t time for them to buy. Instead of inundating them with offers and messages, use your marketing automation tools to recognize these customers and set rules to divert them out of the journey and into an indirect marketing stream such as a newsletter or blog to keep your brand top of mind when they are ready.

Realize the full potential of marketing automation

Marketing automation tools are very powerful and can help transform the marketing process. Develop a clear strategic approach to help you realize value from your marketing automation tools; one which you would have overlooked without strategic planning. The following steps can help ensure that you maximize your customer journeys and reap the full benefits of your marketing automation tools:

  1. Set an objective – to establish clear and realistic campaign goals
  2. Conduct journey mapping – to understand the current customer experience and map the desired future-state customer journey
  3. Create a technical map – to detail rules for how the journey will be supported by your marketing automation tools
  4. Develop or build in platform – to program rules into your marketing automation tools
  5. Measure results – by enabling tracking of customer interactions as they progress through the journey

Together, these activities can help you avoid putting the cart before the horse and help you deliver more complex and strategic customer journeys, and ultimately, better customer experiences. To learn more about how to become more customer-centric, join our webinar titled “Customer-Centric Transformation: The Truth Behind Successful Change”.