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Andrea Serventi
21 April 2020
Reading time: 6 min.

How Marketing Automation Helps Improve the Customer Journey

It allows collecting user data along the entire journey, building buyer personas, creating synergies between company teams. Let’s take a look at why automation is so important in customer relations.

The relationship between company and consumer is based on many different interactions which take place in as many points of contact which, overall, may or may not lead to conversion, a purchase, or loyalty.

Today this set of contact points is more complex than ever.  Digital development is responsible for this: by multiplying technologies, devices, and therefore communication channels, it has led to the emergence of new forms of interaction between brands and people.

Complex customer journeys have thus developed, divided into several levels which can in some cases turn into real tangles instead of linear paths.

How can companies cope with this complexity today? Marketing automation is a fundamental tool in this sense, because it can intervene on two lines: on the one hand it allows rationalizing the customer journey (by untangling all the knots), and on the other it increases the effectiveness, the performance of each communication linked to each contact point. Let’s go into more detail.

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What is the customer journey today?

We could define customer journey as that which the user travels in his/her relationship with the brand: the beginning is the first contact, the first period is the conversion, the ultimate goal is advocacy (which expresses the maximum degree of brand loyalty, and is manifested in the customer’s willingness to recommend the brand to other people).

Here is a funnel model that can be considered a standard for many companies.

As mentioned, in recent years the customer journey has been changing, evolving in a sustained and sometimes radical way, due to a multitude of new communication channels available to companies, as well as devices (such as desktop, mobile, smart TV, smartwatch, voice assistants).

For this reason, today companies prioritize the knowledge and logical supervision of each point of contact (or touchpoint) between the user and the brand.

How automation optimizes every part of the customer journey

Marketing automation and customer journeys are indispensable to each other, although it’s more correct to say that automation is the driving force behind the definition and construction of a conscious and well-structured customer journey. Looking more closely, automation lets you:

  • Automatically collect user data throughout the journey, allowing the brand to focus on the most relevant data
  • Analyze and identify a typical customer model (the so-called buyer persona) on which to focus through touchpoint personalization strategies, with the aim of establishing communication that responds to users’ real interests and needs

What are buyer personas?

They are imaginary people, archetypes of “typical consumers” identified not only through research on demographic, economic, and geographic data, but also behavioral, situational, and emotional data and that linked to characteristics such as interests and hobbies.

  • Make all company departments collaborate (from the marketing team to the customer care team, up to the sales team), making the data immediately available between all the different teams and breaking down any data silos logic.

Email automation is still the cornerstone of the customer journey

Email marketing automation refers to that activity that lets companies send, schedule, and manage email campaigns, whether promotional, newsletters, or transactional messages, through automatisms. These automatisms are rules set within software that trigger a specific action (sending an email in this case) when certain conditions occur.

What are buyer personas?

They are imaginary people, archetypes of “typical consumers” identified not only through research on demographic, economic, and geographic data, but also behavioral, situational, and emotional data and that linked to characteristics such as interests and hobbies.

But this is not a simple automatism. If implemented carefully, automation is deeply involved in an email marketing strategy thanks to its ability to feed on the data relating to each customer: in this way automation can guide the sending and content of emails based on the individual recipient’s behaviordemographic characteristicsinterests and needs, or the degree of the relationship she or he has established with the brands (whether at the first contact, or the first purchase, or at the loyalty stage, for example).

To summarize, in addition to automating communications, email automation allows developing data-oriented strategies tailored to the customer or potential customer: greater personalization with which to make each single point of contact more effective.

Here’s an example of email automation applied to a specific consumer touchpoint: we are in the funnel phase usually called awareness, in which the brand has the main objective of helping the person/user understand whether the proposal is what they are looking for. How is this awareness phase cultivated? Through courses, webinars, case studies, and the most varied content marketing products.

There are three touchpoints, each with the aim of accompanying the new contact more and more within the brand proposal: the workflow starts when the contact registers on the site’s form. Every two days an email is triggered that contains a blog post or webinar dedicated to the topic for which a preference has been expressed, either implicitly or explicitly.

This is just an example of a workflow that can be used to see to a particular phase of the customer journey.

The future (and present) of the customer journey is in artificial intelligence

Speaking of effective customer journeys, the present and future frontier is the one that entails the intertwining of different channels within a single automated flow: so not just email, but also SMS and Facebook adv campaigns, for example.

This is because there are already platforms capable of carrying out these activities: Datatrics for example, a predictive marketing platform which – by integrating with MailUp – lets you predict the interests of customers and prospects who interact with the company website, emails, and marketing campaigns (Google, Facebook, Display Adv, etc.). All this with a result: creating dedicated customer journeys based on personalized content that can stimulate the purchase.

Here’s an example of a personalized customer journey thanks to predictive marketing.

The Datatrics-MailUp integration allows managing the following communication flow:
› Create a segment for customers in the “Decision” phase of the “TV” category
› Personalize a Facebook campaign showing the most fitting TVs
› When users click the Facebook campaign and land on the website, Datatrics makes it possible to show personalized products
› If the user decides not to put the product in their cart and goes to close the site, then Datatrics opens a pop-up with a newsletter subscription button in exchange for a coupon
› The user leaves their email address and, through MailUp, receives a personalized email with the coupon and possibly also a suggestion of products based on the customer’s decision flow
› When the user purchases the TV and passes to the “Evaluation” phase of the funnel, he/she receives another automatic email from MailUp with suggestions for related and similar products, plus the invitation to leave a review on Facebook
› Based on user behavior with the email sent by MailUp, it will always be possible to define additional marketing strategies on the various touchpoints (adv, website, email).

Predictive marketing: increase conversions thanks to data

In summary

Email marketing automation is one of the best tools we have available for increasing the effectiveness of our strategies, thanks to the possibility of involving all the data of each customer we have in the communication process.

We suggest relying on an integrated platform such as MailUp, which you can try for free for 30 days by requesting a free trial: you’ll have a month to try all the functions, including automation.

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Andrea Serventi

I was born in 1986 in Milan, where I graduated in Modern Literature and started writing for online newspapers, magazines and TV news programs. Having now converted to marketing and the digital world, I am a Content Editor at MailUp: I read, listen, collect ideas, and write about what email marketing is and how to use it strategically.

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