Not too long ago, marketers who wanted to understand their audience had to rely heavily on guesswork and intuition instead of hard data. The degree of customer insight we have now would have been science fiction just a decade ago. Thanks to marketing automation technology, we’re already living in the future – and there’s more to come.
Here’s a look at what the coming year will bring in marketing automation and how your business can get the jump on the competition.
Customer Care Takes Center Stage
Marketing automation tools are now the gold standard for lead acquisition, but increasingly, businesses turn to technology for complete customer care. That’s especially important in the B2B sector where costs per lead are typically higher and the sales cycle is longer. When you’ve invested in generating and nurturing leads, you want to hold onto those customers you’ve created and get full value for your efforts. Buyers are also some of your best brand ambassadors if you treat them well, so making your marketing automation system into your total customer care center brings in valuable leads through referrals.
Automation Gets Smarter
In its earliest incarnations, automation made marketers’ lives easier by handling routine mailing tasks and autoresponses. Next-generation platforms do so much more that we refer to them as something else: MARKETING AI®, a term that better describes the synthesis of state-of-the-art software with human insight from a marketing automation team. In 2018, you can expect to see a greater emphasis on automated systems that can learn and grow to scale with your company. A database maturity assessment will give you a good indication of where you stand now and how you can improve your MAP’s brain power in 2018.
Personalization Becomes More Personal
Customization and personalization are proven successes in marketing; potential buyers listen when they feel companies are speaking directly to them, and automation makes it possible to have personalized conversations with any number of leads at once. The next stage in the evolution of marketing automation brings prospects into the personalization process by getting their input on the ideal user experience. Preference pages and apps that let your leads customize their interactions with you serve a dual purpose: They put prospects at ease, and they give you greater access to leads’ information.
The Knowledge Gap Widens
When marketing automation was still fairly new on the scene, companies that fully harnessed its power had a far higher ceiling than those that hadn’t yet adopted the new tech. That’s still true, but now that automation has become the norm, organizations that haven’t yet adopted it are encountering the cold, hard floor. Businesses that don’t use some form of marketing automation, whether in-house or with a third-party partner, may find themselves at real risk of failure in their lead acquisition and customer retention campaigns. The gap between early adopters and companies that aren’t yet automated is likely to grow quickly in the near future.
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