Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a series of recent articles from Lenati's blog.
Most B2B marketers have heard of marketing automation, but platforms like Eloqua, Marketo and Salesforce.com are not just for marketing to businesses any more. According to the Marketo Blog, companies across B2C categories, including retail, "are adopting the software for its real-time, relationship-oriented approach to maintaining and extending customer relationships."
Marketing automation platforms are increasingly refining their offerings, tailoring their products and services to fit B2C needs. On one end of the market, Bronto is a platform that focuses more narrowly on retailer usage than some of its B2B focused competitors, while providing a more robust e-mail platform. Giants like Salesforce.com are building retail specific functionality like clienteling into their platforms.
As retailers begin to think about how to integrate marketing automation into their businesses, there are a few things to think about before taking the plunge:
Fit to your customer: High involvement purchases benefit the most. When the sales cycle is high touch and the buyer spends a lot of time researching options or engaging with the brand, marketing automation tools excel. These tools remember the shopper, and nurture them through their shopping process, across channels. Leads are nurtured with e-mails and social media interaction, and perhaps even calls from sales people at just the right time. Retailers whose customers have low involvement with the brand or who buy on impulse will see fewer opportunities to apply marketing automation and see its benefits.
Fit to your business: Budget will be a major determinant in what platform you adopt, but so will the ability of your team to keep it running. Consider the time it takes your current team to generate traffic, nurture multi-channel browsers, provide customer service, and conduct social listening. Also consider how much time it will take them to manage the new system. More complicated systems can both save time and consume it, so be sure you know exactly how much money and time you can afford to spend.
Fit to your business systems: Some platforms can integrate into your CRM solution, and others cannot. Automation platforms can do a great deal of tracking on their own, but linking to purchase history provides a depth of analysis that will help you prove results in loyalty and revenue, not just lead generation.
Careful consideration of the customer, the business and the business systems can help determine if marketing automation is a good fit, and which platform is the best fit.
What's the likelihood that marketing automation will be fairly common for many retail tasks over the next three to five years?