As technology advances and the desire to “work smarter, not harder” has become more of what we strive for today, automation has become not just an aspiration, but an expectation in many facets of our lives. From thermostats that adjust our temperature based on proximity to our homes to recurring grocery deliveries and everything in between, we want all things to happen automatically without giving a thought beyond the upfront work to set it up. And marketing is no different.
Marketing automation capabilities have drastically progressed over the last few years, and 2019 is going to show continued progress, making our lives as marketers not only simpler but also giving us insight into better data, customer interaction and customer leads. Learn more about five of the marketing automation trends that will be taking this year by storm below.
First and Foremost: Predictive Lead Scoring
Predictive lead scoring is a tactical tool that will continue to shape marketing automation in 2019. Predictive lead scoring software like Pardot and Marketo can take into account various consumer factors like demographics, behavioral data (website visits, whitepaper downloads, etc.), social information, and blog posts regarding your business. The tool then uses that information to assign the potential customer a score in order to predict whether or not the lead is qualified. Pretty neat, eh?
Understanding your qualified leads allows you to create and share relevant content with the right people through the right channel. This way, you can engage these leads by routing them to the proper nurture track or sales rep before you even have gathered customer data on them.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also an important component for Predictive Lead Scoring. A chatbot powered by AI can interact with a potential customer on your website, whose responses can then ultimately create an opportunity for a sale.
Other examples are tracking an individual’s interaction with your website via cookies. The user's “score” can go up each time they visit the website, interact with certain content on the page, or submit a form. Ultimately, the opportunity created may trigger a marketing message to the lead.
Marketers that effectively use data combined with the power of predictive analytics have found that they reap huge returns with relative ease.
Audience Segmentation Across Marketing Channels
Audience segmentation is when you divide your audience into different groups based on various criteria, such as demographics and media use. Digital marketers segment audiences as a key part of a targeted marketing strategy.
Audience segmentation is crucial in the digital sphere because consumers are more empowered than ever and making purchasing decisions at a faster rate than ever before. The challenge for brands is to understand how to catch them in the process of the buying decision. But how do you do that? Basically, you need to do everything possible to understand the way your audience thinks and behaves. Easy peasy, right? ; )
One technique to Audience Segmentation is developing Buyer Personas. A buyer persona is a description of your target customer. Creating a few different buyer personas can help a brand understand their audience better in order to target lead and sales strategies and segment an audience group.
Audience segmentation tools also exist for your convenience. Facebook’s Custom Audiences tool is a popular one, which presents a simple way to target your Facebook ads via emails. All you have to do is export emails into Facebook and create a customer list based on your preferred characteristics.
The more personalized your digital marketing tactics are, the better you will be able to engage with customers. In 2019 there’s more and more technology coming out (think chatbots—see below) that offer marketers the opportunity to better segment audience groups and engage at new levels of personalization.
And It Goes Beyond Purchase
Cross-platform communications don’t end at purchase. Tools like Exponea help you leverage online purchases into returning customers by delivering timely messages across multiple platforms. In addition to audience segmentation before purchase, tools like Exponea take the effort out of figuring out message delivery and funnel placement and streamline into one platform, allowing you to easily deliver a campaign to a single user whether they are using email, Facebook, Instagram or even your website.
In-depth Influencer Collaborations
Influencer marketing will continue to accelerate in importance 2019. Influencer marketing identifies the individuals who have influence over potential customers and orients marketing activities around these influencers. An important component of social media marketing is to leverage social media listening tools such as Agorapulse, Sprout Social, BuzzSumo, and Brandwatch to identify influencers and then reach out to these individuals for potential collaborations.
For example, if you are a restaurant group and you identify an individual who checks in frequently on Facebook and is an active restaurant-reviewer, then they represent an opportunity. Maybe it’s a guest blog post, a favorable review, or sharing content with their social network. What makes an Influencer especially influential is their large followings on the web and social media.
The key to harvesting potential influencers is to be organized with a strategy, plan, budget, and the time to spend on research. It's important to note that effective Influencers are people who’ve spent time building their own brand and cultivating their audience, so they will be naturally protective of their reputation and the people who trust them.
The Growth of Chatbots
Chatbot deployments have been rising in recent years and their use will grow even faster in 2019. According to Grand View Research, 45% of end users prefer to use Chatbots as a major means of communication in customer service.
Chatbots blend cutting-edge messaging technology with artificial intelligence and human interaction. They play a critical role in improving the customer experience and allow marketers to better engage with their audience—without really doing much. Work smarter, not harder, right? They offer real-time assistance to the user, dedicated support and a proactive interaction where they ask questions to understand the real problem.
Chatbots should be considered a crucial parameter for your digital marketing strategy for several reasons:
- They improve customer service as they are programmed to emulate live chat and talk with customers. Every customer expects quick, responsive service when they visit a website.
- They can engage customers after action on a website is completed. One of the digital marketing strategies is to ensure that your visitors are satisfied with their experience and also send routine follow-ups.
- They can collect important data and research as Chatbots can be programmed to collect data, monitor customer behavior and keep tabs on the visitor’s website experience. This can save time and money.
- They can be utilized as part of your social media marketing strategy. Chatbots can be added as an extension on various social media platforms for basic-level inquiries and to resolve initial level queries. Facebook Support is an especially good example.
- They can powerfully express your brand. Building brand value is an important aspect of digital marketing. Chatbots support the distribution of content and the help in promoting the brand.
Considering the above, chatbots can help your digital marketing strategy in the following ways:
- With their real-time interaction, chatbots can convert visitors to customers.
- They can be programmed for data collection, cross-referencing and demographic analysis.
- They can function as brand ambassadors.
- They provide a dynamic, real-time and seamless interface.
Ad personalization at its core drives improved consumer engagement. A marketer’s ability to personalize advertisements to a customer’s unique identifiers has been the cornerstone of digital marketing for several years. Ad personalization now goes beyond just customizing ad messages based on demographic data (geography, age, gender, etc.). While Facebook eliminated a brand's ability to target advertising based on third-party data, there are still multiple touchpoints available for ad targeting and personalization. Digital marketing allows brands to segment the most promising customers by interests and preferences, gathered from interactions with them across channels, like web, email, mobile, and social. Leverage your segments in Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and other popular ad platforms to deliver more personal and effective ads. Your goal as a marketer should be to deliver personal and contextual ad experiences at every point in the customer journey.
Interested in implementing some (or all) of these marketing automation tactics?
If you’re thinking that any one of the trends above would suit your brand, or even if any of them are just piquing your interest, Team TIS is here for you. Shoot us an email if you’d like to learn more about implementing any of these automation tactics or if you’d like to elevate your digital marketing strategy in the new year and beyond.