Marketing automation means using software platforms and tools to conduct marketing strategies more efficiently and effectively by automating repetitive tasks and processes. Typical tasks marketers might automate include segmenting customers based on interactions with a website, and managing email campaigns.
Marketing automation is a constantly evolving field, and as technology advances further and faster, marketing automation best practices today may not be relevant in five or ten years.
However, one important current aspect of marketing automation that looks set to stay relevant is Big Data.
You see, marketing automation can only deliver results when it’s based on large volumes of real-world data that incorporates buyer behavior and preferences. How can you deliver optimized, automated email campaigns without using all that juicy data you collect on your website analytics?
With 85 percent of companies attempting to become data-driven, it’s clear that businesses and marketers understand now that marketing automation cannot succeed without Big Data. The rest of this article outlines some examples of Big Data uses in marketing automation, and five best practices for marketing automation (before you get started, take a look at this wiki page with different takes on the subject of marketing automation best practices).
It’s always helpful to go through some realistic examples to understand just how important big data is in any marketing automation effort.
Someone visits a company’s website and becomes a lead by downloading a lead magnet, such as a free ebook. The same person then follows that company on Instagram later. The right marketing automation tools allow companies to automatically trigger email campaigns based on the fact that people have engaged with them on different platforms.
Before the Big Data revolution, such data would’ve been kept apart and its insights hidden, without any attempt to use what are clearly related actions in a positive way.
Marketers for an eCommerce company could run loyalty campaigns which trigger automatically when certain conditions are met in customers’ purchasing histories, such as more than $1,500 spent in the previous six months.
For a real-world use case of Big Data and marketing automation in a company everyone is familiar with, consider Amazon’s suggested purchases feature. Suggested purchases uses past user behaviors to drive insights into their perceived interests and automatically suggest other products customers might want to buy.
The following marketing automation best practices are particularly relevant in the context of Big Data and how it fits into automation.
A/B testing is fundamental to any marketer’s automation efforts. Marketers should always be running different versions of landing pages, email campaigns with different touch points, etc. Conducting A/B testing allows for continuous refinement and honing of marketing strategies, ensuring you get the most out of marketing automation by really getting to know what your prospects want.
Verify Data Quality
Marketers must understand that incorporating Big Data into marketing automation relies on high-quality data. It’s imperative, therefore, to always assess data for reliability and consistency. Data must provide a realistic customer view, and this process can actually be automated with data quality assurance tools. Such tools allow companies to profile data not only based on its quality but also how well it meets specific marketing needs.
Focus On Data Context
If marketing automation is going to succeed in helping marketers build better-qualified leads and become more efficient, that success depends on collecting quality contextual data. Good automation should not just focus on just basic lead information such as name, phone number, and email.
Marketers should consider using the wealth of other useful information at their disposal, including social media and website interactions, past customer purchases, and interactions with paying customers over several channels for a more holistic view of leads and returning customers.
Security Is Paramount
One of the most overlooked marketing automation best practices relates to security controls and the software marketers use. While features that add value to marketing efforts are important in any automation software, it’s important that businesses also look out for software vendors who pay attention to security when developing their marketing automation solutions.
Control Marketing Software Access
Following on from the previous point, if existing marketing tools are lacking in security and your company cannot afford another hefty investment in a new tool, having access controls in place can prevent a lot of problems, especially those that may arise due to employees accidentally corrupting data.
Ideally, there should be a senior marketing leader who acts as a gatekeeper for the marketing automation software, informing marketing staff what they can and cannot do with the system.
Big Data platforms like Hadoop typically store web log data, social media APIs provide access to information on company social media interactions, and email marketing tools gather email campaign data.
With all of these different sources, it’s vital to integrate and standardize all different data formats so this data can be viewed holistically to get more intelligent marketing insights for better automation. A good business intelligence solution can really help here.
You now have a thorough understanding now of how Big Data and marketing automation are inextricably linked in today’s data-driven world. Make sure your business follows the above marketing automation best practices for the best chance of ensuring quality data and genuine insights from its different marketing channels.