February 17, 2012

Preventing “unautomation”

We operate in an automated world, one that is increasingly so for marketers.  Lisa Arthur in a recent article for Forbes pointed out that within 5 years, the CMO is expected to control more technology spend than the CIO.  You’ve amassed a toolkit enabling you to better and more intelligently interact with your customers while offering the products or services your business delivers:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Marketing Resource Management (MRM)
  • Multi-Channel Campaign Management (MCCM)
  • Digital Asset Management (DAM)

After you’ve gone this far down the technology path, you wouldn’t dream of turning back to your old approaches.  You wouldn’t “unautomate” what you do.  However, sometimes we accidentally step backward, and head for old comfortable habits.

So, as a helpful reminder to keep you from backsliding, I wanted to offer some helpful reminders and a nice little framework.  You know it’s important to understand the tool’s full capabilities.  More often than not, there are underutilized features that get overlooked resulting in the “un-automation” of processes.  Check out our recent blog post, The 12 Most Underutilized Resources Within Your EMM Tools, for more information on that subject.

You’re striving to deliver tactful marketing principles, better one-to-one informed customer interactions, data-driven customer-centric business decisions, and strategic planning methods  The logical outcomes is to piece this formula together aligned with effective marketing technology.

Looking at the depiction below, you will see a sample enterprise marketing management strategy that leads to the integration of all marketing automation applications.  The centerpiece is a logical marketing system of record that acts as a central hub of reusable, traceable building blocks.  These include audiences, segments, offers, treatments, and exclusion rules.  They represent the operating principles of your customer contact strategy.  The data you have is managed by a series of modular platforms that enhance automation and optimization of your campaigns.  Your business strategy drives the need for the tools and their management.   The strategy helps you determine not only your marketing roadmap but also you education/training efforts.  The successful fulfillment of your data, tools, and people will dictate the outer and limitless ring of the cicle representing a functional customer lifecycle.

Often enough, businesses deploying marketing automation tools may in fact end up only using about 20% of the system’s capabilities.  It’s like driving across country with your car in second gear.  Sure, you have processes you can leave unautomated.  However, is it that you haven’t stepped back and reassessed your needs or the tools capabilities? There’s a pretty reasonable chance you may have these tools installed but remain uncertain of everything they offer your business.  If this is the case, look into conducting an assessment for further optimization.  It’s helpful to consider this at two key points:

  • 12 to 18 months after bringing in a specific technology or launching new functions
  • Any time you want to bring in another technology

It’s natural that once you’ve started automating, you’ll purchase and implement additional marketing automation systems for your business.  At that point, it’s wise to conduct a thorough assessment of what is done where in your technologies.  That assessment makes any new investments able to maximize your whole portfolio. Start off with each vendor supplying a demo of their respective tool focused specifically on what you do.  Don’t get the “standard demo.”  Make sure it is customized to your needs and be sure to ask plenty of questions.  That probably means a little more preparation from you to help them give you the best representation of what they offer your organization specifically.  This will alleviate any confusion of capabilities and ensure that you do not duplicate, ignore or worse, accidentally remove processes that your tool already does.  You’ll mitigate any risk or liability of manual work and “un-automation”.

The sole purpose of exploring, deploying, integrating, and using marketing automation tools is to support your organization’s marketing strategy and apply that logic to build automated processes.  Some examples where automation can come to support your marketing campaigns are:

  • tracking your marketing spend
  • managing your digital assets
  • developing campaign production processes
  • promoting your marketing inventory and portfolio
  • building triggered dialogues to improve customer engagement
  • or affirming your success with customized reporting metrics

The majority of this work, once constructed, can be done for your department through automation.

With automated processes, many organizations more easily apply the tools of our trade.   That includes applying test and learn practices, analyzing data, exploring new scenarios to improve customer interactions, and refining channel delivery.  Additionally, marketing automation systems are able to record your progression and provide reporting metrics to help your gauge marketing automation mastery!

It might be time you revisit what your automation portfolio can do for you to explore new opportunities to help you with continual innovation.  You’ll be able to free up pieces of your day and improve utilization of your resources and personnel.  Then, you can do the things that’ll help your business succeed.

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