What’s the Marketing Automation buzz all about?
“Gartner estimates that the CMO IT budgets will surpass the CIO budgets by 2017.”
This is a great indicator of how the Marketing function is rapidly progressing in terms of technology adoption in their work flows.
‘Marketing Automation’, is a set of solutions that cater to customer acquisition, engagement and loyalty through various channels including web, mobile, email, and social networks. Colloquially, it generally refers to inbound marketing activities which include lead management, search marketing (organic and pay per click), landing pages, social engagement, content marketing, conversion optimisation and measurement analytics.
The players in the SMB market who have been making news are Hubspot, Act On and Moz, while Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot tend to service large enterprise clients. There are social specific tools such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer and Tweetdeck also. You also have niche providers such as Mailchimp or Unbounce and some noteworthy niche players in India are Octane, Visual Website Optimiser and Webengage. Keep your eyes on them!
Why is this automation necessary?
If you do a google.co.in search on marketing automation, unfortunately you don’t see any results from India based companies. So far, manual labour has driven the activities. Indian agencies who need automation rely on international cloud based apps such as Radian6, Sprinklr etc. for social listening and reputation management modules. I believe the time has come for automation providers to make their mark in India. Here are 5 main reasons why I think so:
1. Real Time Marketing – From Minutes to Milliseconds
Customers are now getting used to instant gratification and real time marketing is now a standard. The shelf life of a lead on platform such as, JustDial or Zomato is in seconds – not even minutes. Try competing with that, based on brute force and manual labour.
Additionally, we now have Real Time Bidding platforms where pricing of ad inventory between advertisers and publishers is done in real time. RTB allows ad inventory to be purchased by the individual impression through a bidding system that takes place within milliseconds prior to the website page loading. There are 3 such players in this space- (a) Demand Side Platforms (b) Publishers or Supply Side Platforms, and (c) The Ad Exchange which runs the real time auctions. Facebook Exchange (or FBX) is a prime example of such an exchange.
2. Personalisation – Hyper targeting individuals
Dynamic content, list based email triggers, social triggers, retargeting are all examples of ways in which companies can personalise interactions and improve the relevancy of their messaging. This leads to an increase in customer engagement and improvement in conversion metrics.
We know that a large majority of visitors to a website do not convert into sales or leads in their first visit. The ability to re-target those individual visitors through customised ad displays based on their behaviour is a powerful tool – but one that can only be handled by automation. For e.g. within Facebook, the custom audience option of targeting Facebook users via their email addresses is a brilliant way of hypertargeting.
3. Multi-Channel Marketing – Paradox of Choice
Within digital, there are multiple channels to cater to. I counted 20+ channels in my head but in my experience even the simplest campaign would have at least 7 streams needing constant attention– web design, content generation, ppc advertising, organic search, email, social and analytics.
A singular dashboard view will enable unified campaigns and branding while catering for the idiosyncrasies of each channel. Also, you won’t miss out on that damaging tweet from a disgruntled customer because you don’t log into Twitter often enough.
4. Instant measurement – ROI is King
Offline marketing relies on inexact measurement techniques. How many people viewed your billboard? How many people saw your TV ad? How many referrals led to sales? All these questions are answered through the polling of small sample sizes of the population over long periods of time.
On digital, measurement is based on the whole population and it provides instant analytics. You can now easily conduct micro-experiments before launching your campaigns to optimise your ROI. On platforms such as Twitter, all tweet data is public and there is tremendous amounts you can do with the API (or if you get firehose access) towards measurement and reporting.
5. Mobile First – Rise of the Phablet
The rapid growth of the Phablet devices in India is leading to a steady increase in the percentage of people using Mobile/ Tablet devices as their primary device for accessing the internet. Some estimates already put this as high as 25-30%. This has created two critical requirements for marketers – responsive design for their websites and native apps for their transactions. If browser compatibility across screen resolutions wasn’t a problem enough we would have a gazillion new screen sizes to cater to. Custom built designs are rapidly becoming redundant and automated landing pages/ websites will become essential. Within social, we notice the rise of mobile first platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp and this trend is bound to continue.