If you’ve found your way to this post, you've likely heard of, and/or maybe even implemented a marketing automation solution. You've developed and deployed your digital assets and have learned a lot about your audience. They have shared your content, searched your website, downloaded your white papers and likely even purchased your products. That means you’re winning, right?
Well that depends. Before we go too far down that track, we’d like to offer some guidance. No, we’re not trying to sell you anything. We’re here to give it away.
In full transparency, we’ve been working tirelessly on a marketing automation solution that is top shelf. It's open source, filled with flexibility, plays nice with others and is, well…free. At the core of who we are, we want to make marketing tools available to every organization that needs it. But what is a valuable solution without the instructions? This goes beyond documentation and how-to’s. It is strategic. We’d like to share an approach that we trust will help you understand the marketing automation landscape and determine how all these solutions fit together for your organization.
Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we’d like to offer our thoughts on how to assess your current state, further understand your customer buying cycle and develop a plan for implementation. All in an effort to help you customize your own unique approach to marketing automation.
In today’s post we want to highlight the value of the customer touchpoint. So many organizations today think that a few simple email campaigns will unlock the door to endless customer engagement and profits. This is simply not true. For your company to be truly successful you must learn that marketing automation is about understanding the big picture of your customer.
It’s critical in today’s marketplace, that you not only understand what customer need you’re meeting, but understand each touchpoint you have with them. During the buying cycle, there will be many times that you have an opportunity to create a meaningful, value-filled connection.
Step 1 of understanding how marketing automation fits within your business, begins with laying out your purchase/sales process and evaluating each customer touchpoint. We would like to provide you with a few thoughts to help get you started;
- First, write down the steps in your sales process from left to right. (Tip: This process should be cyclical. You never want to end the process with a sale.
- After you have identified your sales process, under every step, write down all the different touch points where the customer is involved/connected with that step. Does it involve contact with an associate? When do customers interact with your product or service? List all of them out. Even ones you think are outliers.
- Now you’ve written down each touch point your customer has with you and your product or service. There are a couple of additional questions that will take this exercise to the next level. Evaluate each touch point. Are you being proactive or reactive? What value can you bring the customer at each step that would delight them?
We've provided a high-level example of a sales process to get you started. Keep in mind this is a 50,000 foot view. If your process is more complex, there are likely many additional channels under each step that will require further evaluation.
Don't Go It Alone
You should not lay out this process or answer these questions alone. Each and every function in your business likely has a touch point and channel they are responsible for. Whether it is the cashier or the accountant, the salesperson or the receptionist, these touch points will provide you with a holistic picture for the areas where you can add over-the-top value to your customer, with the ultimate goal of developing a long-term relationship. To start you off, there is an HBR presentation that could assist you in beginning to see and understand the cumulative customer journey.
But outlining these customer touch points is just the beginning. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the opportunities to connect with your customer will continue to grow. So it’s important to make each and every connection count.
Understanding the big picture of your customer buying journey, and the touch points that impact them, will help you assess the areas you need to improve. But before you invest in a marketing automation solution, it is important to realize that automation will not increase your sales, creating meaningful customer experiences will.
Stayed tuned for the next installment of the Big Picture of marketing automation where we will discuss how to outline your goals. The blueprint for your marketing automation efforts.