Daria Kravchenko 00:00
What I see, time and time again, is that companies buy those shiny new tools, and then they think, “Okay, brilliant. Now we're going to solve all of our challenges.” But actually, that marketing automation tool does not integrate with your CRM system, it does not integrate with your data analytics platform, and, in that case, it just sits there.
David Bain 00:26
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Hey, it's David. Is marketing automation just a way that you execute your marketing tasks? Or should it actually be part of your broader strategy? And if so, how? That's what we're discussing today with a marketing automation and lifecycle marketing expert who helps companies build unified, customized, and personalized experiences across different channels and touchpoints.
She is a former PwC Marketing Automation Manager who flew all over the globe to train marketing teams on cutting-edge marketing automation tools, helping companies to fully leverage their tech stack capabilities.
A warm welcome to the Strategic Marketing Show, the current Senior Lifecycle Marketing Specialist at Bolt: Daria Kravchenko.
Daria Kravchenko 01:25
Hi, David. Thank you for introducing me. I'm excited to be here.
David Bain 01:29
Hi, Daria. And a quick secret for the viewers, I did have to say your surname a few times before I almost got it right, sorry about that! But all the outtakes won't be available, I'm afraid. You can find Daria over at Bolt.eu.
So Daria, why should marketing automation be part of a wider marketing strategy?
Daria Kravchenko 01:52
Sure. Well, it's 2023. I'm not biased at all when I say that, but I think it's impossible to imagine a marketing strategy that does not incorporate marketing automation in this day and age – and I'll explain why. Because marketing automation really has endless use cases.
It helps to generate leads, it helps to retain and engage existing customers, it helps you to lower your churn rates, and it helps you to create a truly personalized and targeted experience that consumers have come to expect. Especially in the current economic crisis – where we're going through a cost-of-living crisis and people are very careful about their spending – they’re really careful with what they're subscribing for. And, at the same time, the companies, the marketing departments, are under pressure to demonstrate a return on investment and to do it quickly.
So, it's hard to imagine how day-to-day marketing tasks can be performed without having that marketing automation strategy in place.
David Bain 02:56
You're also a Lifecycle Marketing expert. What does that mean?
Daria Kravchenko 03:01
That is pretty much the same thing. When we think about the user journey, the customer journey, from the point where somebody – maybe they heard about your brand, maybe they visited your website, they interacted with some content, or maybe they filled out a form on your website to download some of your thought leadership content. Then they start reading about your product or about your service. They get into the consideration stage, then they move along the funnel. They become ready to purchase, they become a paid customer who either returns or not, and so on.
Lifecycle Marketing really is about working with customers along all those different stages and supporting them with the right messaging at the right time, to make sure that the person keeps engaging with your brand and keeps buying from you.
David Bain 03:52
You were also kind enough to share with you beforehand a few bullets of how marketing automation plays with other aspects of your marketing strategy in general and of your marketing in general, starting off with retaining customers.
How does marketing automation help with retaining customers?
Daria Kravchenko 04:10
Well, I think marketing automation really shines when it comes to retaining customers because, with the customers that already trust your brand enough, you want to make sure that they have great experiences that help them, for example, to use your product in the right way and to get the most out of your product or service.
Marketing automation comes into play where, for example, you can tie it to the action of a particular consumer. Somebody might have subscribed for your trial to try out your product, or they have purchased your product for the first time and, through the use of marketing automation tools, you can trigger a welcome campaign to them and you can educate them about the features of your product. You can tell them how to make the best out of it and, if it's useful content for them, then the chances are that they will use this product and then they will come back to it, or they will become a paid customer.
It's about giving useful content to your existing user base to make sure that you don't lose them; that it's not a one-off purchase. We see examples of brands doing it right. For example, when you become a Slack customer or you become a Trello customer, they send you really great educational emails telling you how to make sure that you use it to its full capability.
David Bain 05:38
I guess one of the challenges with marketing automation is to know when to do it, when it's most valuable to your business to do it, and when to step in and have that real personal relationship with the customer.
How do you draw the line to know that you're not automating too much, and when is the right moment to step in and have that face-to-face conversation, or at least a telephone conversation?
Daria Kravchenko 06:01
If we talk about really determining the right moment to have a conversation with somebody, that's where things like lead scoring come into play. A lot of marketing automation tools right now offer either out-of-the-box lead scoring functionality, or they allow you to create your own customized lead scoring programs. It's surprising that a lot of brands are still not using it, even though lead scoring should really be part of any marketing and sales effort. But I've seen it time and time again, where companies invest a lot of money to acquire new leads. For example, they put the content out there and somebody interacts with it and provides their details. Then those people just sit there, and they might never hear from the company again. Or the salespeople do not have the capacity to process all the leads, or they get in touch with the wrong people at the wrong time.
What you want to do is utilize different data points, through the use of marketing automation tools, to collect information about users’ profiles, their behavior online, their previous history, how they engage with the previous marketing messages, etc. For example, did they open your emails? Did they click through your push notifications? What you want to do is you want to define some of these leads as hot, and you want to present them to the salespeople to say, “Hey, out of this list of hundreds of leads, these 10 people are ready to speak to you.” so that you maximize the chances of success when salespeople actually reach out.
Then you might have people that are not ready to talk to you yet, but you can enroll them into a nurture email campaign. You can send them content to get them more familiar with your brand and move them along the funnel so that, when they're ready to speak to you, again, that signal is passed on to the sales team.
Then, of course, lead scoring also helps you to determine the people who maybe got into your database, but they're just not the right profile, they're just not the right fit, and you are not going to engage with them, and you're not going to spend resource on trying to talk to them. That's a good indication. If you have a lot of those cold leads, it might be an indication that maybe your acquisition efforts are not quite right; that maybe you're not reaching people on the right platform and maybe your targeting needs to be adjusted. It can help you with those insights that power your acquisition strategy as well.
David Bain 08:33
When you talk about lead scoring, I also think about things like whether that individual has a corporate email address, perhaps their IP address, and what country they're from as well. What would you say are the most underrated elements within a lead score?
Daria Kravchenko 08:48
I would say, sometimes, there is too much focus on the demographics. Sometimes brands define their customers in a very narrow way. They say, for example, “We only want to target females from the age of 18 to 19 and a half, and that's our user base.” In that case, what is getting missed is the behavioral signals.
As I said, lead scoring should be powered not just by the most obvious points – such as your age, your gender, your location, etc. – but also: what are the websites that you visit? What is your browsing history? At what time of the day are you most likely to interact with marketing messages? It's that behavioral element that is sometimes missing. And it's understandable because it's harder to gather that data, and it's harder to make sure that that data is flowing through your technology stack in real-time, and that you've got the right technology stack to even act on that data.
David Bain 09:49
Now, you also talk about how marketing automation can help to maximize a customer's lifetime value. How does it actually do that?
Daria Kravchenko 09:57
It comes back to the point of retention. As I said, if somebody purchased something from you – say, the most basic example: you bought a pair of trainers from a brand. It might be that you're absolutely satisfied with your purchase, and you will just never really buy from them again, and that's a lost opportunity there. But if the brand is able to engage with you through marketing efforts, in a meaningful way (if they've got a good personalization engine, for example, so they can send you marketing campaigns that display other products that match your profile that you might be interested in) and if they do it well, then you're more likely to come back and to purchase from them again. Or if you are able to send marketing messages that really resonate with the values of that customer.
In that sense, now that I’ve mentioned personalization engines, a lot of brands are attempting to do that. We're seeing it in eCommerce most of all: “These are other things you might be interested in buying.” We're seeing it with more traditional businesses that are trying to do that. For example, if you do a job search on a website, sometimes you get job ad ads landing in your inbox saying, “These are the vacancies you might be interested in.” And sometimes it's done well, but sometimes it's not done well. When it's not done well, it's most likely going to turn you away from using that company again. So it's very important that those personalizations are used in the correct way.
David Bain 11:33
I remember talking to Scott Brinker, who is a chap who actually built the Marketing Technology Landscape infographic, and he started doing it back in 2011. When he started doing it in 2011, there were 150 providers on there that he pinpointed as MarTech providers. And the last time he did this (he and his team did this in 2022) there were just shy of 10,000 different pieces of marketing technology that he'd identified. I'm sure there are many more as well.
How, as an organization, do you possibly pinpoint what the optimum technology is for you?
Daria Kravchenko 12:10
Yeah, you're absolutely right. It is a challenge for a lot of organizations. There are a lot of marketing automation tools out there, and it's very important to select the right one. When you select the tool, you need to think about: how do you operate as an organization? What is your customer base? How many subscribers are you aiming to target with your marketing messages? How many data points do you have? Because a lot of those tools, their pricing model is based on the data points or how many different pieces of information you need to process in order to create correct segmentation. So the more data you have, the more expensive it might be for you.
You need to absolutely think about your marketing teams. Marketing automation tools differ in complexity, so you need to think about getting the right level of tool for your people. Some marketing teams are very, very, technologically savvy, and can handle more complex tools and setups. Some teams might not necessarily have that knowledge. In that case, you might want to go for something that does not require any coding experience or any kind of back-end setup and is more reliant on the front-end capability.
Another thing that is absolutely key when selecting a tool is thinking about how it's going to integrate with the rest of the tech stack that you have. What I see, time and time again, is that companies buy those shiny new tools, and then they think, “Okay, brilliant. Now we're going to solve all of our challenges.” But actually, that marketing automation tool does not integrate with your CRM system, it does not integrate with your data analytics platform, and, in that case, it just sits there completely underused.
The key to having a successful marketing automation program is to have the right data being integrated, to allow you to have that 360-degree view of your customer. That is what is really going to power your messaging.
David Bain 14:22
You say that Netflix is a good example of a brand that does marketing automation, well. What specifically is it about what they do that you love so much?
Daria Kravchenko 14:32
While talking about personalization engines, Netflix is an example of a company that absolutely nailed it. And they've been working on it since the times that they were selling DVDs, so for a really long time. If you think about it now, it's such a seamless experience that we don't really fully appreciate it; I feel like we take it for granted. They say that 80% of all the views on their platform are coming through the recommended content, which means that their recommendations are incredibly effective, and they do match people's true preferences.
They collect a tremendous amount of data on every customer. They look at your demographic data, your gender, your age, and your location. They look at your watch history. What did you watch? And also, did you finish it, or did you stop a particular program two minutes in? But also, interestingly, their recommendations vary depending on the time of the day when you're watching. For example, if you started watching late, then they're less likely to recommend a full-on two or three-hour movie to you. They're more likely to recommend a shorter program. All of these data points are brought together, and then they use artificial intelligence to push those personalized recommendations to you. You can see them on their homepage, but also you can see them in the emails that they send to you. It's all being powered by that very, very intelligent personalization tool that they've developed.
And also, as a company, they do a tremendous amount of A/B testing. I think they mentioned somewhere that they do 250 A/B tests a year, which is one and a half tests a day, every day. Everything that you see on the Netflix website is being tested. When you switch on the homepage, the layout, the design, the buttons, the categories – all of those things have been A/B tested on really, really huge samples of individuals. Even the – I think they're called landing cards? When you see that little preview of a movie, whether it's a picture or video trailer; those are being customized, based on your profile. If they know that you like romance, you're most likely to see two people on that little piece of artwork. If you like a particular actor, and that actor is in that movie, that actor is going to be present on that viewing card. Another person who logs into their profile, they'll see the same movies, maybe, but that artwork will be completely different to them. So yes, they just have very, very intelligent machine learning and AI algorithms that they employ to their full capacity.
David Bain 17:26
I remember, a long time ago, before I got into digital marketing, I used to be a restaurant manager. I wasn’t able to go out to another restaurant and sit down without thinking, “They should be doing this. That plate was not being cleared.” and just thinking about exactly what was going on behind the scenes. I'm thinking that, when you're using Netflix, you're not actually able to use Netflix in a relaxed manner without thinking, “Now, why did it recommend me that? What have I done in the past that’s influenced the automation on play here? Am I right along the lines there?
Daria Kravchenko 18:01
David, I will tell you more. I'm so professionally deformed, that sometimes I would click on an unsubscribe link in an email just to see their preference center and how the unsubscribe experience happens for this particular brand. It is sad but, yes, it does happen when you work in this area.
David Bain 18:23
It's a real professional marketer. That's what I would describe it as.
Anyway, not necessarily thinking about what we've been discussing so far, what is the number one thing that marketers need to incorporate into their strategy?
Daria Kravchenko 18:35
Well, we talked a lot about personalization, so I would say personalization in the sense of really forgetting all the mass marketing tactics. Because it's brands like Netflix and Amazon and Nike and Spotify, that have really set the benchmark for marketing messages, and this is what a customer has come to expect.
We know for a fact that action-based and data-driven campaigns that are triggered to the right customer at the right time, give you much more and much better engagement, and much higher revenue, than any kind of ad hoc campaigns that are sent an arbitrary time. So I would say getting the technology right, getting the strategy right, and getting the data right, to create that segmented, personalized messaging is absolutely key.
But also, what I would add – and I think it's very important – is that we need to remember that, behind all the data points that we collect as marketing automation experts, they're real individuals. The more data points you have that power your marketing strategy, the more difficult it is to see a real person behind them. The irony of marketing automation is that it is automated but, when executed well, it feels very personal. You know it's not true, but you almost believe that there is this person on the other side of the screen that's crafted this email just for you and sent it to match your particular needs or answer your particular questions that you might have.
Again, there are examples. I think it was about four years ago, the flower delivery company Bloom & Wild had a marketing campaign before Mother's Day, and it's a top-selling period for them. People buy more and more flowers before Mother's Day. But also, for a lot of people, it's a difficult day because some of them might have lost their mothers recently, or for other reasons. They crafted a message to people to say, “Hey, would you like to opt out of Mother's Day-related messages?”, and a lot of people did. Instead of unsubscribing them completely, they put them in a temporary holdout group. Those people did not receive any Mother's Day messaging but, after that, they just resumed receiving their marketing materials, as usual.
That was a great example of a thoughtful marketing campaign. They got a lot of publicity on the back of that, but also it allowed them to retain a customer that might have unsubscribed otherwise, and they would have lost them. Since then, it became quite a common spread practice. Now you see a lot of brands using those customized preferences for different holidays and dates and so on. I think it's an example of keeping your customer in focus, as a marketeer, and thinking about them as s human being.
David Bain 21:48
Love it. A really thoughtful, great example of precise but caring marketing.
I've been your host, David Bain. You can find Daria Kravchenko over at Bolt.eu. Daria, thanks so much for being on the Strategic Marketing Show.
Daria Kravchenko 22:01
Thank you so much for having me.
David Bain 22:04
And thank you for listening. Here at IFP, our goal is simple: to connect you with the most relevant information, to help solve your business problems, all in one place. InsightsForProfessionals.com.
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