The Internet has almost completely penetrated our daily lives. As much as a dozen years ago it was still a novelty, to which we approached very carefully. Today we transferred our social, artistic, shopping, professional, and private activities to the digital world. The digital and material layer of life overlap and complement each other.
Sales follow people - it's natural.
Vendors and service providers who formerly could reach only a small part of the globe now can contact with recipients all over the world. And, which is also natural, they aim at growing their income.
Various marketing and sales techniques may lead (directly or indirectly) to this goal. On the material ground it seems easier to evaluate some actions. Offline is perceived as more ethereal realm, where a marketer doesn’t work with “real people”, only with their digital avatars, or filtered, unreal abstracts. Are those poor, unfortunate souls completely on their own?
I’d say: It’s quite contrary.
While on our virtual walks, we - the customers leave behind a track of digital footprints, that can be perfectly monitored, processed, and analyzed. Digital Body Language, because that’s how it’s called, represents the sum of the online actions, even those we are not aware of. The amount of data is beyond average person’s imagination. Also, for a John Doe, it is unprocessable. Remember Matrix - the scene where Cypher watches green hieroglyphs and says: ”there's way too much information to decode the Matrix. You get used to it, though. Your brain does the translating. I don't even see the code. All I see is blonde, brunette, redhead.“ And that’s the key - you need something to ‘decipher’ the data.
But there’s a catch.
Today’s consumers are not exactly the same who bought on Amazon 20+ years ago. The “lost boys” became cunning, picky and spoiled rotten over the years. On a highly competitive market, marketers can’t afford making too many mistakes. What’s easier than blocking the annoying marketing messages in any digital channel?
The true challenge of a modern marketer is to recognize customers’ needs and preferences and to integrate data from the various channels and put the a good use. Personalization is a market standard (that’s right, it’s not an ‘extra’ any longer). And it’s a tricky task. Finding the right pace, testing multiple options, tracking all results - all of it calls for a scientific approach supported by an intelligent software.
And that’s the main idea behind the marketing automation platforms
They track each website visitor, identify them and help address specific marketing activities both to individuals and entire groups. By the way, they can integrate data from different platforms and different channels, which is especially valuable in a world where customers repeatedly switch between different channels during the entire purchasing process. An additional, extremely important feature of this type of software is the analysis of both customer behavior (behavioral, transactional, demographic) as well as marketing and sales activities of the company (campaign success, website traffic, reactions to the message, A / B testing of website content, and so on).
The combination of many functions in one platform gives marketers a powerful tool that allows for a completely new approach to the customer. It extracts an individual unit, so a ‘customer’ is no longer a part of the crowd generally called the "recipient" or "target." This entails certain consequences in the form of a personalized approach to each of these people. Thanks to the automation of certain processes, this is possible even for thousands of people at the same time (without losing the quality of performed actions). The marketer’s arsenal contains of such tricks as:
- Behavioral profiling - User’s behavior on the website, i.e. the mentioned Digital Body Language, can be tracked and described individually for each contact. It is not limited only to the source from which a contact was redirected to the page or which form it filled out. Thanks to the web-beacons, you can check if a given user saw a specific area within one page, or whether they moved the cursor / clicked on interactive elements such as expandable graphics, buttons, sliders, etc.
- Segmentation and scoring - Using online behavioral data, you can assign points to specific people for performing specific activities and give them tags (sort of labels that organize the database) regarding the history of relationships. The easiest way to maintain order in the database is to create a tag system. It makes all the people who work with a given client or prospect will know what actions have already been directed to the person and what further actions can and should be done. This allows you to customize activities in any channel to the proper level of customer engagement, interests and needs.
- Advanced analytics - While standard segmentation is “level zero”, the advanced analytical panels allow you to transfer personalization to a definitely higher level. One of the most effective tools to achieve it are RFM panels. Their name is an abbreviation of the three main variables analyzed by them: Recency (time from the last purchase), Frequency (frequency of purchases) and Monetary Value (purchase value). These panels allow you to distinguish premium clients from those that are economical, loyal from one-timers and those who have been shopping quite recently from those who have visited the website a year ago. What's more, RFM analytics allows you to create matrices that compare sets of variables.
- Automation - All the above-mentioned activities and tools are aimed mostly at the segmentation of the contact database depending on the behavior, preferences and habits of customers. Automation of processes and tasks is usually the very heart of the platform. Thanks to properly set algorithms they can react within a few seconds to specific users' behaviors - send downloaded ebook and additionally tag it in the system, generate a discount and send it with a birthday message, add a customer with appropriate scoring to the proper stage of the sales funnel, or send an alert to sales people so they know exactly who is interested in a purchase at the moment. In addition, they minimize the risk of human error - the platform is never hungover nor has a worse day. Its infinite patience pairs with inhuman accuracy.