The back-to-school season seems like it will be a new period of challenges for many Canadian companies. On the one hand, many uncertainties persist regarding the health crisis and its effects on operations. On the other hand, we’re in the midst of experiencing profound changes when it comes to values and behaviours in the digital space, which tends to promote inertia and the sense of a loss of direction. To this already-complex situation are added major technological changes that make data use a must, plus a labour shortage in the field of digital expertise, one that is particularly glaring in Canada.
Accelerating a company’s digital growth in this context is therefore a real puzzle for marketing leaders. In this article, I’ll be addressing a few solutions that are likely to help you meet this very tricky challenge, both in human terms as well as on the technological front. To that end, I propose an approach borrowed from managers of technology products that encourages thoughtful consideration and testing with the goal of driving lasting growth for your business.
If your team is currently well structured and you’re ready to make the leap into marketing automation, we’ve already written several articles that might be useful:
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to our society and at an organizational level. Digital operations have accelerated at great speed and the adoption of new technology has accelerated in every sphere of our existence, reinforcing the importance of having a digital strategy focused on the human.
In its latest analysis of the digital maturity of companies, Forrester underscores that the most advanced companies all employ cloud-based data as much as possible, work with integrated partners, involve clients early in their decision-making processes, and apply design thinking and agile methodologies. All these aspects that are essential to growth form the foundation of marketing automation.
Naturally, not all Canadian companies are the size of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft or Netflix, and of course not all of them want to be. The digital maturity of these companies, which is particularly noticeable in the way they use first-party data to offer a high-quality experience to their users, is still a good model for others who would like to implement an effective automation strategy.
Furthermore, the recent Harvey Nash/KPMG survey of executives in the technology sector (the details of which were published in French in this La Presse article) demonstrates that digital leaders generally invest between 25% and 50% more in technology than their competitors, are two times better at earning the loyalty of their customers than others, three times better at creating a positive customer and employee experience, three times better at increasing their field of activity, three and a half times better at increasing their revenue and profit, and four times better at improving their operational efficiency.
Nevertheless, it’s hard for a small or medium-sized business to launch these kinds of digital transformations when their human resources, like their budgets, are limited. That’s why it’s essential to plan your marketing automation strategy by identifying the best candidates for a proof of concept.
Before continuing, keep in mind the following principles of marketing automation:
Whether you’ve already started automating your communications or you’d like to begin the transition soon, it’s important that you determine, first off, if there’s a possibility of measuring your top-line results (revenue generated, conversion rate), without which the definition of your business case comes to an end.
A good point of departure might be to verify that your conversion goals are parametrized in Google Analytics if you sell exclusively online, or in your CRM if your sales come from a range of sources. From there, you can get a view of your mobilized channels and your active campaigns, as well as their impact on the revenue you’re collecting. If you’re using several attribution models, I recommend you also base your analyses on the last point of contact when conducting your attribution process, to make things simpler.
First define an ideal period for analyzing your industry (for example, the last 365 days if your activity has a strong seasonal element, or even the last 3 to 6 months if that isn’t the case) and keep the same period for future analyses.
Then, note the conversion rate by channel and compare the results to industry statistics to get a better idea of the optimization potential. Finally, note your revenue as well as the share of revenue generated by channel and (ideally) by campaign. This will enable you to then establish a useful order of priority so your future marketing efforts can be established more efficiently.
Now that you have a good idea of your optimization potential, you can proceed to a targeted analysis for each mobilized channel, with the goal of determining the quantity of effort invested by your organization to execute them on a monthly basis. To do this, identify the main tasks related to the use of each channel and attribute a value to them relative to their level of standardization.
Once this is complete, you’re now ready to more clearly target your operational pain points. In order to establish their order of priority for resolution, you can arrange them in a Cartesian coordinate plane showing the level of standardization of the task and the time required to effect the task. This will help you to quickly identify the most productive opportunities for implementing marketing automation.
Not all of the tasks you’ve identified as having a high level of standardization can necessarily be automated with marketing automation software. This is particularly the case with certain business processes like project management (however, to solve this kind of problem, you can acquire an agile project management software tool like Jira, for example, which provides advanced automation solutions).
The tasks that are most susceptible to being simplified and improved by marketing automation are those related to the main functionalities of solutions. In other words, tasks relating to contact management, message management, and reporting on messages.
Next, define your objectives for these tasks by identifying whether automating them will result in saving time during operationalization (ideal for refocusing activities on tasks that create more value in the context of a labour shortage) or instead generate revenue.
Brainstorm, ideally as a team, to find simple marketing automation solutions. This involves identifying your higher priority tasks for automation and organizing them sequentially:
○ Example 1: Send an email presenting our service offering
○ Example 2: Add a contact to a Facebook campaign
○ Example 1: 5 days after subscribers have registered for the newsletter
○ Example 2: 3 months after the first purchase
○ Example 1: To generate sales opportunities immediately
○ Example 2: To eliminate the time spent managing import lists in Facebook (1 hr. per week) and improve acquisition cost
○ Example 1: In Hubspot through a workflow, a segmented list and an automated email
○ Example 2: In Klaviyo through a Shopify connector to collect purchase information and a Facebook connector to grow the audience created in Klaviyo (customer segment)
Once your brainstorming is finished, you’ll have a list of marketing automation solutions in hand with a potentially high impact on generating revenue and saving time.
If you were able to identify which technical solutions to mobilize, you can then invest some effort on those that are easiest to set up. If, on the other hand, the technical aspect remains fuzzy at this stage, you need to do a bit of research within the documentation provided by the platforms you’re using, or even obtain some technical advice (from an IT service or consultants).
Next you should set up the best potential solution. Ensure you keep a written record of your time and other investments needed for implementation—this will really come in handy when it comes time to put together a report.
Here’s another tip for this step: Give preference to the simplest execution possible while always prioritizing efficiency over quality. For example, if you’re creating automated emailing, don’t spend too much time on designing the email. This aspect can be refined later, during optimization phases.
When the pilot project is launched, it’s important to track whether the automation performs well and change it if performance issues arise.
In a situation where you’re creating a sequence of emails, for example, you could note whether a message was sent to a lower or higher number of recipients than expected. A later investigation might then reveal that the chosen segmentation, amongst other things, excluded people from the sender list.
No matter what the nature of the problem is that arises, you must identify the causes and quickly implement optimizations to respond appropriately.
If no performance issues are identified, you can then create a report on the costs/benefits given your objectives, and thereby evaluate the real value to be gained by this automation.
Once complete, you might then conclude, for example, that automating an email sequence requires 16 hours of work and generates $2,000 in additional revenue, in addition to enabling the company to save 8 hours of productivity over the coming months.
Thanks to your pilot project and work at identifying the opportunities and solutions early on, you can construct a solid business case and draw up a detailed profile of your situation in which you list your problems and the solutions needed to fix them. This exercise will even enable you to estimate the costs and benefits of your projects if you follow the process presented in this article.
Whether you need additional resources or a new road map for your initiatives, you’ll be able to clearly see how automated marketing might accelerate your digital growth when applied intelligently.