How to achieve personalization with marketing automation

What images do you associate with the term marketing automation? Many associates the word with cold industrial practices, robots on long production lines, and spam emails with generic, unpersonal greetings.

The instinctive reaction of most people is to say, “NOOOO!”

If we spoke to the man/woman on the street and asked them if they would prefer to be dealt with by a company that sells with them personally or through automated processes, the answer would be the same. They probably wouldn’t pick the robots.

We can change this. How about asking them to name the best customer interaction that they have ever had? What company did this? How did this happen? What was the secret to providing exceptional service at every touch point?

We could then ask them if this beautiful experience was enhanced by personal touches or automated marketing processes. Most people would choose the former, and most likely, they would be wrong.

Hidden in plain sight

This is what we want. We strive to deliver a great customer experience and to interact with our customers with genuine value. We must tailor our interactions with customers to their specific needs and goals, no matter their stage during the product or service’s lifetime.

This requires intimate knowledge of the consumer. This may be possible for small businesses that operate on a personal level. We may be able to reach clients individually if our client base is small. If so, we will likely keep data profiles of each client and manage that data ourselves. This becomes impossible as businesses grow.

Automation is the best way to segment customers. This allows us to offer intelligent levels of generic support geared toward a specific group. We can provide products, services, and support that fit their needs.

Our automated processes are thus hidden from plain sight. These processes increase customer engagement, understand customer needs and preferences, and gain insight into converting one-off clients into loyal customers. Marketing automation is about more than churning out mass responses. It’s a support system that allows us to connect with customers and provide the information they require.

The automated and personal partnership

Marketing automation is not an autopilot function. It’s not a cruise controller that allows us to relax and let our business run itself. It’s more of a platform and facilitator that gives us the extra time and resources to grow our business in all areas.

We have used customer segmentation to attract leads and nurture them along their journey to becoming customers. Then, we use our consumer insight to provide automated support post-sale to start the nurturing process again. Is that enough?

It’s not enough. We need both personal and automated partnerships, the complementing application of automated processes, and direct, personal interaction.

Automated interaction with different customer groups must be monitored. Even though processes may work one week, they are not guaranteed to work the next. Automation software can only give us insight and data about what is and isn’t performing well. It can’t make the necessary changes. Automation, combined with personal monitoring, is the best way forward.

We must also recognize when we need to intervene in human interaction. This is done by keeping an eye on the system and by observing customer actions and movements.

If the situation is beyond the capabilities of automated processes, such as when a customer files a complaint or when a consumer has to place a large purchase, a personal approach may be necessary. Combining automated processes with a personal touch can make marketing automation more personal.

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