Credit from Canon
In the last thirty years marketing has undergone a dramatic transformation. It has evolved from physical to digital marketing and today, towards automation. In a world where customer experience is king, businesses are harnessing new technology to help marketers meet and exceed customer expectations.
For decades, marketers’ core strategy for reaching customers revolved around manual direct marketing such as catalogues. However, in the 1990s marketers began the first steps on the journey to digital transformation, with the first online marketing campaign launching in 1997.
Marketing digital transformation has one purpose at its core - to provide a relevant, engaging customer experience in a rapidly changing world. The birth of ubiquitous internet access switched the balance of power between brand and consumer, placing consumers firmly in the drivers’ seat.
With customers able to compare prices and access reviews at the click of a button, they have become much better informed and less loyal to brands. In response, businesses have been undergoing a transition to become increasingly customer-centric to ensure that they keep retention figures up by offering customers a service as they expect it - on their terms.
When personal computer and smart phone ownership exploded, the significance of analogue communication declined. Marketing had to adapt to keep up with new consumer preferences. Whilst postal marketing has never disappeared, digital marketing offered immense benefits alongside it. Instead of a one-way conversation, digital marketing encouraged interaction. Digital touchpoints also allowed marketers to adopt a data-driven approach, to better understand their customers and offer a more tailored service. This not only improved customer experience but made marketing outreach smarter and more accurate, boosting ROI and cutting down wasted efforts.
Digital transformation is an ongoing process: it is never ‘complete,’ but what are the key steps to guide a marketing transformation journey? For businesses who have already begun to digitise business processes, automation is an important consideration in that ongoing evolution. Used properly, a marketing automation process strategy can help marketers deploy personalised content to the right people, whilst also cut down on arduous, time consuming tasks.
Manual jobs like lead follow up and social media scheduling can be automated – and today, smarter software can even support lead generation by providing recommendations on how to improve a campaign in terms of aspects like key words. Automation can also be used to enhance inbound marketing by providing more tailored suggestions for communicating with leads, based on data collected across multiple channels to build a more complex and accurate profile.
However, automation does have its own set of challenges. It’s important for businesses to remember that automation cannot take over the role of a marketing professional. It cannot generate creative ideas, leads or replicate authentic human communication. Human interaction is still essential for a positive customer experience and can’t be mimicked by a programme, so automation should be optimised to enhance rather than replace current workflows.
Digital transformation is not a destination but a journey. For marketers this journey has completely changed the face of customer communication, making campaigns smarter, more personalised and more customer-centric. Used effectively, the introduction of automation to marketing has great potential to further refine this process, providing contextual content to the right people via the right channels, driving increased revenues and improving customer retention.
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