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Strategic Planning for Marketing Automation

Early on in the age of digital, back in 1999 when we still called it “new media,” Don Peppers, Martha Rogers, and Bob Dorf were advocating for a new way to approach sales. They called it one-to-one marketing. Back then CRM was really in its infancy, and certainly the connection between marketing-led websites and the sales processes for most businesses was weak, if being considered at all. But their premise wasn’t complex—for customer relationship marketing to be effective, a salesperson must be able to tailor the purchase experience to the customer’s specific needs, through listening and adapting for mutual benefit. Beyond the single sale, this approach should generally lead to greater loyalty and long-term customers.

But these early advocates of one-to-one marketing noted the complexity as well when they said, “it’s one thing to train a sales staff to be warm and attentive; it’s quite another to identify, track, and interact with an individual customer and then reconfigure your product or service to meet that customer’s needs.”

Now it’s nearly two decades later. Are we there yet?

I’m going to answer that question with a provocative statement: we’re closer than your business is probably prepared to execute. But this introductory post, and the detailed follow-up posts to come, can help you get there.

Time to rethink your approach

It’s 2018, and whether you’re in charge of the digital experience for a B2B-focused manufacturer that sells industrial products to business customers, or a building products manufacturer that caters to homeowners, I’m going to guess that you have a pretty thorough website, one that has products and solutions well organized, with an experience that was directed from a strong customer-focused strategy. You’ve built on-brand messaging and design, and hopefully have email and digital campaigns that work together to attract and nurture leads and drive them to your sales team.

But is your business able to identify, track, and interact to the level your customers expect? ? Can you quantify just how well digital is contributing to the sales of your business? That’s where rethinking your approach, the way you think about the sale, and implementing marketing automation and personalization features into your experience can take you to the next level—the level we’ve been shooting for decades.

The strategic planning you need to do first

You’ve anticipated your site’s visitors and organized valuable content in a way that makes sense. But are you meeting individual customer’s expectations when it comes to their decision-making role?

And while you may already be well on your way to considering platforms to add to your marketing technology stack, there’s a lot more to consider than just plugging in or turning on the technology. In fact, integrating new technology often seems like the simplest part.

While there are tons of articles on how to do automation and personalization, this series is about the big picture digital strategy you should be thinking about before you begin to implement marketing automation and personalization. I believe your success starts here.

The Digital Marketing Ecosystem

digitalecosystem

This is our version of the Digital Marketing Ecosystem, as seen from both the customer’s point of view, and the points of marketing/content interaction, and the systems to power the experience. Success today requires connecting across all touchpoints from driving awareness through marketing, advertising and social engagement (search), to supporting information gathering, evaluation and consideration with rich content and features on websites and apps (research), and turning desire into action, whether through traditional sales, distribution/retail, or eCommerce (purchase and support).

With this connected ecosystem as the map to success, you’ll be able to create meaningful and relevant customer experiences from beginning to end. But it all starts with a good strategy.

Major topics for marketing automation planning

In this series, I’m going to break down the major topics you need to consider as you approach creating a more adaptive, personal, and effective digital experience for your business. These major topics include:

  • Do you have the right knowledge of your customers and their expectations? Have you mapped out the needs of each role, with much more granular personas?
  • Do you have the right content and user experience to benefit these individual customers? Are you ready to maintain content that is more granular, but more usable and effective, ready to be dynamically combined for personalization?
  • Is your business ready for a future of continuous optimization? Is everyone who contributes to the customer experience ready to work together? Do you have the right roles to command marketing technology?

Let’s get started

I’ll cover each of these topics in a separate post, starting with the first step: mapping out the needs of your customers. For details on how to do that as part of your marketing automation planning, stop back here in a few days for the next post in this series.