How to Keep the Customer (and More) in the Era of Digital Transformation
Maintaining the customer, respecting his passion and keeping him in direct connection with the sales team has many different forms and faces. We can talk about strategy, about the original idea — or about the systems that allow it. In the world of the absolute digitization of all corporate processes, this topic is moving more and more to the forefront.
One of the most discussed lecture topics of recent years (and also a buzzword) is Marketing Automation and, connected to it, all of the Lead phrases (Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Lead Scoring …) Let’s look at what it is and how it can — or cannot — help us.
How does modern marketing work?
The basic premise is quite clear. Whether you want it or not, your customer behaves more and more digitally. They actively search for information, compare offers, and evaluate. They use a corporate computer as well as a smartphone. The result? Especially in the area of hard B2B (technical and technological companies) it means only one thing — a significant extension of the purchasing process and, in fact, for all of the decision phases.
Similarly, business teams have the opportunity to reach out to more audiences and potential customers. We live in a world with a global economy. There is nothing extraordinary when a Czech company is based in a little village and has campaigns all around the world.
Either way, the result is always the same. You will quickly realize how unbelievably expensive traditional business and marketing channels can be. A business trip to Singapore? A call center in Norway? A trade fair in Brazil? You can easily run up costs in the millions.
None of these, however, solve one basic thing — maintaining communication and long-term commitment, at least, during the purchasing process. And we are not even talking about working existing client databases, expanding, and linking to other channels (and there are many of them!).
These extreme investments reduce the digital concept not only of getting, but above all, retaining and engaging potential customers through modern marketing clouds.
The marketing cloud — such a weird thing made of ones and zeros
If you’ve ever seen Marketing Cloud, MAP (Marketing Automation Platform), or Marketing Automation, you are definitely one of the most educated people. And, if not, no big deal. But you certainly know systems like ERP or CRM. So, quite simply, marketing clouds do about the same thing as your corporate CRM — but outward, not inside your business.
In other words, if your company system can store inventory, manage production and maintain logistics at the level of specific customers, the marketing cloud can do the same, but at the marketing level, from the outside, at the level of individual visitors to your site.
Sound complicated? Okay, let’s describe it in human language. I have a company that produces turbines. This is not a very sexy field (at least not for me), but I know that, if someone visits my website (which has been the basic communication channel since the digital transformation), it probably needs some turbines. At this point, every visitor to my site is worth the price of gold, or the price of a turbine. Naturally, no one will come to you and simply say “Hello, send me two iron propellers.”
It’s important for you to know what a person is looking for and how to get it to them. This is a fundamental difference between commonly used technologies (web analytics, regular newsletters) and Marketing Automation.
So you create a series of automation rules — if someone visits a turbine page more than three times, send him a newsletter with an offer, display a banner on a business site, and send a message to the dealer.
The marketing cloud can identify visitors to your site at the level of specific people. But that’s just the beginning. In the same cloud you can analyze his behavior, record his interests and orchestrate prepared campaigns. It’s totally automatic and based on predefined rules.
Newsletters, text messages, targeted remarketing campaigns, personalized banners, website creation, social media linking, event invitations, live chat, scoring based on actions taken, link alerts to business teams, evaluations and reporting. There are many options.
In other words, it is a comprehensive interface for all of your business’s marketing and business processes. The very word “automation”, therefore, means that these processes can be defined in advance, and the systems carry them out completely automatically, in real time.
How is it used in the Czech environment?
This is the most common question. Most Czech companies (at least in my experience) use these systems as the first step to verify and clean up the contact databases that they still maintain only in Excel and without any higher logic. In one cell is the director of the company; in the next is the cleaning woman.
The next step is to find out the interest for specific products or services. All of this can be resolved quite easily, typically with a series of newsletters or personalized banners, and then tracking the site traffic. Everything is still at the level of specific users.
The final — and the most difficult — step is to link the MAP with the overall marketing and business strategy of the company. Sales funnels, CRM connections, remarketing management and social media campaigns. This is already a higher level.
Is it worth it?
Of course, every company that develops these systems will amaze you with numbers. Personally, I recommend that you find quality benchmarks from your industry. The truth is, however, that on the list of the most successful companies in any field, most of them use some form of marketing automation.
Similarly, the largest IT companies in the world (Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce …) invest billions of dollars into the development of these tools. Certainly not just for a good feeling.
Hmm… and what will it cost me?
Of course, the money comes first. So: these systems are always built with cloud solutions. You pay a monthly fee, based (mostly) on the number of contacts you work with plus the cost for special modules. However, this may vary dramatically, sometimes up to several zeros! In dollars, of course. In general, you can have a tool for $100 or for $5,000. Like a car or a phone.
Here is just one piece of advice — before you make any decisions, consult an independent firm to help you define the features and processes that are needed for your business. Only then can you select the appropriate solution. Ideally, this should be with complete service and comprehensive interconnection to all of your communication channels and strategies. Otherwise, you may just have a very expensive toy…
Marco BBN Czech Republic