The Future of Marketing Automation

Today’s business environment is being driven by technology and relationships. Technology seems to be driven by computers and the Internet. Relationships seem to be driven by trust. Have we come far enough to say that we trust technology? The first step in developing a trusting relationship is to reach out and connect. That connection, some call it Marketing, is readily accomplished through technology. The circle seems complete. Or does it?

The challenge with today’s Marketing initiatives is getting our hands around all the different and exciting ways to connect, so that we begin to form those trusting relationships. The marketing mix is definitely out there. Let’s mention a few; direct mail (both shotgun and personalized), email blasts, streaming video, interactive and personalized URLs, outbound and inbound call campaigns (both live and automated), online promotions, interactive telepromotions, mailing list generation, online surveys, telesurveys, radio, mobile text messages, the list goes on…

The future of Marketing will most definitely evolve into a true melding of technology and relationships. The Internet, accompanied by the interactive marketing movement, will make that evolution successful. Picture this scenario…

You’re a Marketing Manager for a nationwide manufacturer of widgets. You are given a project that entails coordinating a National Marketing Campaign for over 2500 dealers. How in the world do you launch and track all the different marketing mediums and then determine if they actually work across your 2500 widget dealers? Now mind you, these dealers aren’t card carrying rocket scientists. They were mostly the, “Blanch get me a beer” type of widget dealers. This campaign had to be easy, intuitive and most of all, cost effective. There are so many direct and supporting marketing mediums in this new age of technology. How do you make direct mail work intelligently with email? How do you make email work intelligently with private-branded, interactive web sites? How do you make those web sites trigger an outbound call campaign? How do you track the inbound calls that the direct mail and email generated? How do you fit radio and cable TV commercials into all of this? Or do you? Oh, by the way, make sure you keep the brand image and all the corporate creative assets in line and on message. Why do Chief Marketing Officers (CMO’s) only have an average lifespan of less than two years? Is it the lack of metrics and proper accountability? Is it the lack of their ability to think strategically and work holistically? What if there was a way to address all these logistical challenges?

We are living in a period that has produced extremely talented business resources. The global economy has a wealth of software and database architects, engineers and developers. There are going to be talented, visionary leaders that will figure out the logistics of this “marketing meld”. The ideal answer to the above scenario might look something like this…

There will be a back-end, administrative web portal that the Marketing Manager (let’s call him Joe) logs into. Joe will be able to set up a private, manufacturer branded web portal for the dealers to access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Joe would then set up and name a marketing campaign. This campaign will be modular in nature, allowing Joe to assign specific marketing medium to the campaign. One campaign might allow the widget dealers to launch direct mail, targeted HTML email and “drop-date + 4″ outbound call campaigns with pre-approved scripts. Most organizations could never coordinate this outbound call campaign to 10,000 direct mail recipients in a timely manner. But if this marketing platform is integrated with a Mid-West, accent neutral call center, we have another story on our hands, yes? Another campaign might have personalized direct mail with an inbound telepromotions number on the direct mail piece. The database on the platform will be set up to have recorded messages from local sports personalities based upon the toll-free number on the card. Add a PIN to the direct mail piece with a chance to win and suddenly your response rate skyrockets. These marketing mediums, which have already been integrated into the physical Marketing-On-Demand platform, will then be “published” to the manufacturer’s branded web portal. These web portals are the entrance way to widget dealer nirvana. This whole process will maintain the company’s brand logos, color schemes, fonts, content message and any legalize that is required. Joe the Marketer can set up the branded web site and the different campaigns prior to the actual campaign launch date. The automation will kick-in at the assigned launch time. The widget dealers are happy (they don’t have to think), Joe the Marketer is happy (he’s playing golf), the customer only receives information that reflects their buying needs and the CFO, CMO, etc. are able to access online daily, weekly and monthly reports showing the effectiveness of each marketing medium. All the metrics and data are “plugged into” the manufacturer’s legacy Accounting, Customer Relationship and Inventory Management systems. This integration allows the “C-Men” to make the proper strategic decisions in a more timely fashion. The best part of this whole scenario is that the platform is being accessed through a centralized, secure, multiple firewall protected, carrier grade data center. The scenario becomes a business expense, not a capital expenditure and the end result is a dynamic, revenue generating business tool. This scenario is going to happen in the very near future. Technology and Relationships demand so.