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Build a Customer-Centric Marketing Automation Strategy

by Meghan Keaney Anderson  |  
May 1, 2013

I've sent you an email. Open it and I'll trigger another one. Jump through that email hoop, and I'll send you an offer for a free trial. Ignore that, but click on something else in the email, I'll automatically send you another series of emails. Sound like fun? Unless you love marketing emails, probably not...

If-then logic is one of the most powerful concepts in computer programming, and it's the foundation of most marketing automation software. But, sometimes, if-then branching logic can lead to a snarl of over-communication with only a loose relevance to the recipient's true interests and needs. Think about it: Does one click sum you up?

As marketers, we shouldn't rest on the laurels of automated email flows. Just because we can build a complex branch of if/then statements for every possible action doesn't mean it's the right thing to do, or that it's going to get us any closer to understanding our leads.

Instead, we ought to challenge ourselves to bring a customer-centric approach to marketing automation. Marketing automation should make our lead- and customer-related decisions easier, not more cluttered.

Understanding Customer Personas

Since a single click doesn't approximate a complete view into the interests and motivations of a given lead, let's start by focusing on what does.

In B2B marketing, a lead first becomes known to you usually by completing a form of some sort. It could be an inquiry form, a content download, or any similar opt-in. The information gleaned from that first conversion gives you a foundation on which to build an understanding of that lead's persona. Depending on your form fields, you'll know things like the lead's industry, company size, and role.

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Meghan Keaney Anderson is a product marketing manager at HubSpot, a provider of inbound marketing software that includes lead nurturing, marketing automation, and email marketing tools.

Twitter: @meghkeaney
LinkedIn: Meghan Keaney Anderson

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  • by Randy Milanovic Wed May 1, 2013 via web

    Very, very smart Meghan.

  • by John Miller Wed May 1, 2013 via web

    Great stuff! A must read for marketing professionals.

  • by Jeff Machado Fri May 3, 2013 via web


    This is 100% true and a reason why most marketing automation systems aren't sufficient:

    "A lead may not be opening your emails, but she might have clicked on six of your most recent social media shares. Without knowing that, and incorporating it into your data on the lead, you're missing some meaningful information."

    A holistic approach to marketing automation like this is huge for sales and marketing alignment as well. I love the idea that marketing can pass off the lead with their 10-20 most recent interactions from email, web visits and social media to sales. It's not just marketing automation, it's marketing intelligence (or brilliance for that matter!)

  • by Rob Trube Fri May 3, 2013 via web

    Meghan, Great article! Email marketing is not marketing automation, and marketing automation is more than just email marketing.

    Creating personas can be a real challenge for many marketers. We have had success by first creating ideal customer profiles that get the primary elements of the personas in place. By looking at consistent characteristics of the companies or organizations that buy from you (B2B), you can begin to focus your messaging and workflows and then you can further segment and focus as you develop your personas.

    Thanks again for a great article!

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