Marketing automation helps build customer relationships.

Marketing automation is key to accessing the next level of customer experience – personalisation. But automation involves a number of moving parts, each of which may seem complex at first.
So where should a beginner start? Here are the Martech team’s thoughts…

1. View automation as the beginning of a relationship

Automation, particularly email and social automation, is the beginning of a relationship. When a customer hands over permission to contact them, they are volunteering to stay connected with a brand – they want a relationship.

Automation, particularly email and social
automation, is the beginning of a relationship.

As with any relationship, the customer relationship must be nurtured and looked after. It’s the marketer’s job to respect the customer’s information and use it to continually better the brand’s service to them.
To that end, marketers can use what they already know about their new customer – for example, name, location, contact details – to engage with them using relevant and personalised content. The more time you have with the customer – to build trust, learn more information (i.e. birthday, purchase history) and more – the more you can tailor the relationship to that person’s needs.
Don’t forget that today’s customers expect the brands they deal with to know them and to use that knowledge to ensure that communications are relevant and timely. Sometimes the best way to stay true to this is by putting email metrics and goals aside, and remember the relationship element at the centre of it all.

2. Don’t get distracted by technology – build a solid core first


To truly succeed at marketing automation, you need a solid foundation.


There are lots of tools out there that can help organisations automate their marketing communications and it’s easy to get distracted. But better technology does not necessarily equate a better customer experience, especially if it’s built on a flimsy foundation.

There are some core building blocks that every organisation must consider first that will help make their marketing automation journey a success:

  • Organisational strategy – What is the company’s vision and mission statement? How does marketing align to these objectives?
  • Marketing strategy, people and processes – Who is involved, who is in charge, and who answers to whom? Are your people aligned to the company’s mission? Do your processes enable people to do their jobs effectively, or are there barriers to success?
  • Customer strategy – What are your customer expectations? How do they interact with your brand? What is the typical customer journey and what are they thinking and feeling at each point? What are the key communication points along the way? What channels are your customers using to interact with your brand?
  • Data – What information do you have about your customers or prospective customers? Where and how is this data stored? Does your database need a spring clean to tidy it up and get it organised? Are there any key data points missing and what could you do to fill these gaps? How will you capture and safely store customer preferences and permissions?
  • Technology – Based on your marketing and customer strategy, what tools are out there that could help you deliver on your identified objectives? Think about the short term but also about the longer term, and how you envisage your needs changing over time. Start small and simple and then grow your capability over time as you learn what works.
  • Measurement – Any organisation that invests time and money in marketing automation should be able to measure its impact and prove ROI. Ensure you build reporting and measurement into your requirements. This will also help you optimise over time so that you can get the most out of your marketing investment.

3. Let data take the wheel

Marketing automation can drive itself – if you set it up for success.


Marketing automation enables organisations to move away from large-scale tactical product/campaign driven communications to targeted communications that are driven by data and insights.
These communications can be left “always-on” and run with little to no manual intervention, going out to even small numbers of customers who meet the criteria at a particular time (i.e. they first sign up, or it’s their birthday). Over time, organisations should build up a library of communications that cover all key phases of a customer’s lifecycle with the brand, helping to build and nurture the brand/customer relationship over time – and provide a highly personalised experience.
However, as with any use of data, good hygiene is imperative to maintain optimal functionality. Information on any particular customer should be stored in a central database that is accessible by all relevant systems throughout the business so that applications can talk to each other and the data. This way, important information is not siloed in disparate locations where it is of little use to the marketing team.

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