In the past, I worked for a large technology company and they had some fantastic marketing automation software which promised to revolutionise marketing. And it did, but not in the way that clients had hoped for.
Let me rewind a little bit.
Most people in marketing have twigged that the most effective campaigns and strategies are those that engage the customer in a dialogue. Before the advent of digital marketing this meant sending out quarterly newsletters, or annual catalogues to the customer base. The more frequently you did this, the more often customers bought. With the advent of “digital” including websites, email and sms, a huge cost overhead was removed and the opportunity to have a more regular, intimate conversation with customers was created.
How do you sustain a daily or even hourly conversation with customers?
However, this opportunity also created a problem. What would your company have to say if you were ramping up the frequency of contact from annual to monthly, or weekly, or daily? Nonetheless, companies grasped this opportunity to dominate because they saw the relationship between outbound communication and sales. Clearly if I send you a catalogue every year you buy. So, if I send you an updated catalogue every day, I will have converted you from an annual purchaser to a daily purchaser and will have locked-out my competition!
Sadly, in the real world things aren’t that simple. A catalogue which may work as an annual communication certainly won’t work as a daily trigger. The problem is that most companies didn’t twig this. Catalogues became newsletters, special offers, new product updates. But still, fundamentally they were the same type of company-centric broadcast, far from the dialogue that marketers know is so important.
Instead of thinking about the customer they began to focus on making their communications monthly, or weekly. It was all about the BUSINESS’S schedule rather than the CUSTOMER’S needs.
Marketing automation equals marketing cost
So, with the advent of marketing automation platforms – advanced tools which allow for the pre-programming of customer “journey” communications, split testing and variable content, the chance to create a personalised dialogue was back again. Whilst many organisations saw this as a marketing panacea, what they didn’t see (or perhaps didn’t think about) was the huge overhead of work that this was going to create.
If a customer journey – from first being aware of the business to purchase of the product – has 10 points where the company needs to interact to effect the decision making process, that’s 10 pieces of communication. Then if there are two variants (type A & B) for men and women and you optimise this for new AND exciting customers, that’s 80 pieces of communication that need to be produced before you can really start to think about how your marketing automation tool can deliver some benefit.
Let me just say that again. That’s EIGHTY pieces of content.
And that’s just a basic example. If it’s a more complex sale, which requires more nurturing, and there are more derivatives, the number of pieces of content could easily run in to the hundreds.
This is a huge overhead of content to be produced by a marketing department that is used to delivering annual catalogues and monthly newsletters.
But the worst bit of all of this is that whilst the marketing automation companies will tell you that their platform delivers a 10x uplift in engagement, still the click through rate is under 2%. These companies will tell you that email is a growing industry because more emails are sent each year than the previous year, but that isn’t because it’s working. It is because it ISN’T working. You need to send 30% more emails to get the same response you did five years ago. You know this is true because YOU don’t open emails from me. Or anyone else. Even from lists that you have actively subscribed to. In other words, marketing automation delivers a larger slice of a shrinking pie. but the work required is enormous.
I’m not saying that marketing automation doesn’t work, but what I am saying is that the amount of work required to get your collateral in place before you start can be disproportionate to the benefits.
Social selling. An equation that works for your business
You need to be realistic. You know, deep down in your heart, that what you need to do to win and keep customers is to enter into a dialogue. You know, from your whole life that there is no easy solution, there is no free ride. You know that success comes from hard work and diligence and that any technology or process that you implement is not going to make all your problems disappear overnight because life doesn’t work that way.
How do you keep a dialogue going on a daily or even an hourly basis? The answer is a well-planned and employee driven social media strategy. Put it more bluntly: People + Social = Sales + Growth. We’ve worked with businesses big and small and we know that this equation works. Employees get it and, once they’ve been trained, they know how to make it benefit the business – as well as their individual commission or bonus.
If that’s an approach that you want to apply to your people and your sales growth strategy then get in touch with us today. We can help you build and sustain a conversation with customers and prospects that delivers rapid, measurable results. Most importantly of all, our methodology delivers clear ROI that proves beyond doubt, to other stakeholders within your organization, that social selling is the way forward.
We are a Social Media Agency. We do three things: Social Media Strategy, Social Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.