OMNI CHANNEL MARKETING AUTOMATION
CONSIDERATIONS FOR ANY BUSINESS
On today’s episode, we have Mike Ferranti, Founder and CEO of Endai. Damian and Mike cover omni channel marketing automation and automation considerations along the entire customer journey. Damian also asks Mike to debunk the most common marketing automation myths. To wrap up, Mike shares a story about when marketing automation went badly for a large retailer.
Mike begins by answering the question, “What is Marketing Automation?” He starts with a high-level overview and breaks it down into the steps that every business needs to take to successfully implement an omni channel approach to marketing automation.
Mike and Damien then debate the strategic value of Marketing Automation. Mike drills home the fact that companies need to identify their goals and structure their strategy around them. Mike pinpoints efficiency as the most common value created by marketing automation. He then highlights a few marketing touches that are more or less impossible without automation, such as cart abandonment emails.
In response to Damian’s query, “How do you Get Started?” Mike responds with a rule he lives by: “Start anywhere, go everywhere.”
Damian then asks Mike to debunk each of these myths:
- Marketing automation is only for email.
- Automation is not as good as a personal touch. “It is the lazy and ineffective way out.”
- Automation is too impersonal.
- It’s “one and done.”
- It’s only for sales and prospect nurturing.
- Marketers should automate everything.
The episode ends with an example from Mike on how marketing automation can go wrong.
What follows is a lightly edited transcript of Episode 6 of the Inevitable Success Podcast with Damian Bergamaschi and special guest Mike Ferranti. (Listen Here)
What is Marketing Automation?
Mike: You can’t talk about marketing automation anymore without talking about omni channel marketing automation. I think about two years ago now is when we first really began to hear the increasing need—particularly for brands that had a “brick and click” presence—to begin to unify the customer experience, the communication across those channels. And the reason is logical.
You go into a store, you make a purchase, and then you try to engage online. Customers must now go over to a whole different channel, and it takes longer. Oftentimes folks don’t even know what you’re talking about. The bigger brands were on this early—I would say the Gap companies did a great job early. I think they were among the first that allowed you to make a purchase online and then walk into the store and return it. Now that is an experience that is very pro-consumer. Could that have some impact on or costs for the retailer, the marketer? Sure, it could.
When you make it easy for the customer to engage with you, you make it easier to have a better relationship with them. At the end of the day, managing and growing that customer relationship is really the end-driver. That’s the goal behind omni channel marketing initiatives and automating those steps, those communications, across channels. That obviously makes for a better experience for the individual as well. So it’s a very timely subject, and marketing automation, of course, isn’t new, but doing it across channels is a little bit newer for a lot of brands.
Steps of Marketing Automation
Mike: If you take a high-level view, you’re really thinking about, What is the customer experience or the customer journey? A good way to think about it is, before they’re a customer they’re a prospect, and they may express interest. They see your display advertising, or maybe they receive your catalog because they were on a prospect list, but they take some action. Of course the best way to measure that action is still online. That is why most catalog sales today will drive you to the Website to complete a purchase.
We can measure that experience. But it begins with some level or some indication of interest. Then there are multiple engagements the customer might have with the brand and your messaging. (Those engagements could take many forms.) Then they go into consideration. Now that may happen in a single session, or that may happen over an extended period. The big driver there is what kind of purchase is this? Is this a highly considered purchase, or is this more of an impulse purchase?
Damian: What are some hints that you might have one or the other?
Mike: It begins with the product and the brand. If it’s an automotive vehicle, for example, it is less likely to be an impulse purchase, if you could even do it online. —Although, Tesla produced some staggering number of reservations for vehicles very quickly. To be fair, for many of those reservation holders that is likely an indication of high engagement and already being in the consideration stage, especially because they couldn’t see the product yet.
Damian: That also could have been a consideration for years of marketing as they were hyping that up.
Mike: That’s right. So, once a potential customer gets through consideration, they might do some research. I happen to hold a reservation on a Tesla, and it is a good catalyst for me to do a little bit of research. I see an article about what’s happening with Tesla, or its software updates, and I’m inclined to look at it. The research stage can be as complex as that, or it could be as simple as price shopping.
If they come in via search, they hop back to the SERP, and they might look multiple times at different competitors and compare pricing, shipping, and availability. So that research can take many forms. Another key form of research is looking at reviews—looking at social communication about the product or the brand. That’s an important part because research can span a long time. It could be a single session on the way to a purchase, or it can span days, weeks, months, or longer.
First Automation: Post-Purchase Customer Satisfaction Assessment
Mike: Once they get through research, then there’s a Go/No-go decision, and they might purchase. That is obviously a very key point of success in the process, subsequent to the purchase. If you’re doing a great job, they might go to customer satisfaction or CSAT assessment. A post-purchase email survey is a common way to do it. Not enough brands do it today, but it’s a great signal. It’s a live signal you can get a read on every day. It can help you identify issues in the product, the positioning, or the packaging.
We had a client brand that had very high return rates, and they said, “This is something you guys really can’t help with.” We said, “Let’s see what data we can find to help with it.” And we were able to isolate it. This was a footwear brand, and the number one reason for the return was that the sizes were wrong. As it turned out, the brand published the sizes in both European and U.S., but the European sizes were listed first and in bold, and then the customer had to use a chart to figure out the U.S. size, even though the brand knew they were U.S. customers.
So that process of picking the right size was difficult enough that the consumer would get impatient and make their best guess, which drove a high return rate. Now CSAT could have given us those signals months in advance and saved literally millions of dollars in return expenses. That’s a good example of how that real-time signal that you get through live CSAT as part of your customer experience can be very helpful.
Second Automation: Customer Seller Reviews and Social Sharing
So if we’ve gotten that far, the next step in the process would be customer reviews and potentially social sharing. A good example is shepherding that process. A lot of Amazon sellers, for example, are very aggressive about asking for that review. That’s important because in Amazon, your reviews score is how you get your traffic. You need quality reviews, and you need many of them. So taking proactive action to get that review is very helpful. And if you were to wait until after the CSAT score, you could probably shape the reviews that you receive in the process. That is what the better brands are doing today.
Of course, to this point all of this would be much easier, especially going from customer satisfaction assessment to review when it’s automated. If you can automate it you’re likely to get more of it, get more results, and do better. So, marketing automation here is important.
Third Automation: The Bounce-back Purchase
The next step, of course, is repeat purchase. What is the communication, and how does it go out? Automating the bounce-back purchase is a great idea for any marketer or retailer that isn’t doing that today.
Damian: What is the bounce-back purchase?
Mike: There’s a well-known phenomenon of direct marketing called the “Bounce-back Purchase.” That happens because of a signal we call “recency.” The more recent the last purchase, the more likely the consumer is to buy again. That’s because you know you’re dealing with someone with the means and motivation to purchase, because they just did.
As time goes by, the power of that recency will decay, and the decay rate varies by product and by brand. Typically, folks will look at multiple products in a category, maybe even multiple categories on the way to the purchase. This means that they are “primed” for that second purchase. Maybe they threw two things in the cart, and took one out before checking out. If you sent them that second item that they didn’t buy, much less a promotion, your likelihood goes up substantially to get that second purchase. That is, they “bounce-back” from the first purchase with the second one. Again, automation can really help us do that.
Fourth Automation: Referral
If you’ve gotten a repeat purchase, some of the steps afterwards might include referral. We could solicit those referrals. You could do that after the first purchase, surely after the second purchase. You now have a more loyal buyer who is more likely to give you referrals to people just like them.
Damian: I could almost see you taking the other strategy you just mentioned and using the CSAT to influence when you ask for it. If you have a highly satisfied purchase, that’s probably a good time to ask for a referral.
Mike: And that’s a great trigger that you can build into your marketing automation.
Damian: I’m always amazed at how effective some of the referral campaigns are. I’ve seen some amazing ones in client GA accounts.
Mike: It can be staggering. So, what this all does—and I sometimes think of it as the last step, but it’s more like a loop that goes around all the steps—is the maximization of the relationship and the maximization of customer value. These are the metrics you might take, each of which—and customer value is a good one—might trigger/mark an automated marketing touch at each stage.
That, in outline, is how to think about what and when you should use marketing automation or omni channel marketing automation, if you’re a multi-channel retailer or seller, to really drive incremental value for the business.
The Value of Marketing Automation
Damian: I think you started touching on it with customer value, but maybe you can go into some of the other details around the value of marketing automation.
Mike: That’s a very important question. There are some answers that are very typical, but we would always advise that a company think through their objectives, their unique goals. Because the value is greatest, not if you’re doing something that others do, but if you’re doing something that helps you achieve your goals.
Efficiency is probably the biggest, most common value ascribed to marketing automation. There are certain touches that without automation are more or less impossible. Perhaps the most widely adopted marketing automation today, surely in the e-commerce space, is delivering an abandoned cart message: “Whoops you forgot this. Come back and buy it.” Pretty much every e-commerce site has it today.
Damian: Or think about the automation that happens when you buy something, and it says your order’s confirmed and when it’s shipped. I can’t imagine doing that without automation. If you don’t get that email in two seconds you think, Alright, something’s broken. What’s going on here? It’s almost the standard. It MUST be automated.
Mike: Yes, there are probably many activities that we take for granted today, given the maturity of online marketing. You couldn’t do that at all were it not for a degree of automation. When you push into circa 2018 marketing automation, it’s being informed by automated machine intelligence, even artificial intelligence (or AI). This is where a machine is considering all the behaviors, touches, experiences, timing, cadences that are exhibited. The AI sense those that are in a way self-reported through behavior. In a CSAT survey, it’s self-reported through their responses.
It also collates those that are derived from data about the customer, and about their experience with machines. An individual could do that type of analysis, but not across an entire customer base. In a customer base there are so many different analyses that would need to be done, there’s no way to do it unless the entire process is automated. And even if you automated all of the analysis to figure out where an opportunity or a problem might exist within your customer base, you need to be able to deliver a message or take some step in an omni channel automation environment.
You might detect an individual visiting a store, via a beacon, via a purchase, and you might know whether they completed a return on that trip. You might notice that the order size was very different from usual—you might notice that through their transaction data. You might be able to tell through a systems approach that they made an unusually large purchase, bought a specific category or type of product that had to mean something for that brand.
For example, you might have a limited quantity, high-cost product moving into more of a luxury type purchase. Anything that’s out of the norm could be an opportunity. You could see that in the store and then deliver a message to the customer’s mobile device, or deliver an e-mail, or deliver a direct-mail piece from the president of the company thanking them for that unique purchase or experience they had with the brand. So, there are lots of opportunities that everybody would love to take. But if you don’t have that omni channel marketing automation in place, they’re basically impossible.
Damian: Talking about the value of doing marketing automation, is this more of an efficiency play for the marketer? Or is it like a performance booster?
Mike: That’s a great question because we started talking about efficiency, but we got off. We tailed off that description by getting into higher value communications. These are better communications. Again, you couldn’t produce a communication that well as a personally targeted message from the president thanking them and expressing appreciation for that customer because they made a unique purchase.
Fostering Customer Intimacy
Damian: That leads to thinking about what do you automate? What are the things that are easier, or even impossible without automation? Which things will produce a better experience for the customer? It may be something as simple as the transactional order completion email. That’s a good example of something you couldn’t do well or in a timely fashion without automation, and it makes the customer comfortable and happy. It’s very important to do that.
Mike: What it gets down to is the holy grail of marketing and customer relationship marketing. The ideal intersection between CRM and omni channel marketing automation is customer intimacy. That is the thing that’s sorely lacking at large. Ironically, it is marketing automation that made that possible.
So there’s sort of a double-edged sword here. Automation causes triggers to go out. They’re expected. No one’s surprised or delighted when they get an email saying you forgot this in your cart. It’s an example of marketing automation that can be quite effective, but it’s not a high-value communication. Also, the percentage of cart abandonment emails that drive the sale doesn’t exactly build intimacy nor a relationship with that customer. If you consider the fact that most of those emails will go out and not get a response (i.e., not get a sale), then those are the 96% or 98% that didn’t accomplish a whole lot. On the other hand, those are the opportunities through which personalization of marketing automation can help build intimacy with that customer.
That is the thing that’s sorely lacking. As consumers, we get one-size-fits-all messages all too often. So when my company is talking to retailers about how to engage in omni channel marketing automation, one of the first things we’ll say is, “What is the experience that you would love to have from a brand that you believe you should be valued by?” We ask them to think about the following:
Who are the brands that you frequent the most?
Who are the brands that you spend the most with?
Who’s a brand that you engaged with recently?
Finally, we ask “Was the experience unremarkable, or did you have a truly remarkable experience?” And the ratio of unremarkable to truly remarkable experiences is usually about 25 to 1.
Damian: That’s such a great reframe question to ask because instead of going through your checkbox of “I need to send a cart-rescue email and a welcome email and maybe two days later another email,” you’re saying, “How could I delight the customer, or do something that really connects with them?” So maybe that’s a good segue. Where would you recommend getting started?
Mike: That question is the biggest reason that organizations are still feeling their way through this—they don’t know where to get started. As a rule, the first thing we like to say is “Start anywhere, go everywhere.” But center that around the customer.
All too often these processes begin where somebody has a straw man or a position paper that they wrote, and they show it to us and say, “This is what we want to do with marketing automation. Can you help us do this?” Now, many of those ideas are great. The challenge becomes when it’s inside-out marketing, and by that I mean everybody got together in the boardroom or huddled in an office or a cubicle somewhere. They probably did some Google searches, and they said “Here’s 10 things that can be done. And we should do those 10 things because if they can be done, we should do them.” Whereas what we would say is, “Let’s go back to, ‘What would create the most value? What is the opportunity?’”
To do that, you must have some analytics. And you must say, for example, “Our conversion rate needs to go up. We need to get more repeat visits.” These are business problems, e-commerce business problems, physical retail store problems. Then you can think about, How might omni channel marketing automation help us get our conversion rate up?
Once you’ve decided on the business problem, then you can start thinking about how you solve that problem. For example, if I see that you browsed online but didn’t buy, and I saw that you were browsing a category where you might not be comfortable buying, and if I could see that your transaction history shows you browse multiple times before you buy—all of which insights machine intelligence can produce for us—then I might invite you into the store that is closest to your home or work. I could have that addressed by the store manager, or by the individual who served you the last time you were in the store, especially if I like the CSAT that goes with it.
These are the ways in which we can make those communications less “spammy.” And I say “spammy” because it’s not spam when you reach out to your existing customer, in the traditional definition. But there’s really a spectrum today. “Spam” started out as a term about a certain type of email, but it’s become parlance for any communication that’s not good. If you don’t do a good job, those are “spammy” touches, “spammy” communications, “spammy” experiences. That’s where we can help you with omni channel automation. The objective should always be to identify the metric or the business objective that you wish to move, and if you wrap an experience around that, that’s what you can automate across channels.
Myths of Marketing Automation
Damian: We want to spend some time to deeply go into some of the myths of marketing automation. We had our team of editors put together some myths that they found on the web, and we’d like your opinion.
Myth #1: Marketing automation is only for email.
Mike: That’s surely a myth, especially in the age of omni channel marketing automation. It’s not just for email anymore. Email is where marketing automation had big strides going back the most years. That’s why a lot of brands feel like marketing automation means sending emails on triggers.
It is a good place to start, but you really can do much better. You can automate experiences in the store. You could push intelligence to the point of sales system. Better brands are doing that today. When they look you up in a store, and they ask you for your phone number, they are looking at your total relationship with that brand. They might be looking at your customer value. They might be looking at past purchases, and they’re attaching the transaction and the experience in that store with an individually identifiable record across all your experiences.
Myth #2: Marketing automation is not as good as a personal touch.
Damian: Basically, it’s the lazy way out, and ineffective. Is that a myth?
Mike: I think the answer to that depends. If you could have a personal touch, and if it could be a cost-effective part of the business model, then a personal touch might be better. Then again let’s think about some customer service experiences where it’s become abundantly clear that a personal touch is not desired. This is especially true if that personal touch means getting a call from a call center in a foreign country where the individual might not understand you very well, is clearly reading scripts, and cannot solve your problem. When you talk to another person the expectation is that you’re talking to a problem-solver, but very often that person is just reading the best answer they have and getting stuck if the right answer isn’t there. So that might be an example showing that it’s a myth that the personal touch always outperforms automation.
I disputed a charge or I canceled the service on a credit card recently. I did the entire thing on American Express’s website through chat, and I’m pretty sure, I can’t tell you 100%, but I’m pretty sure it started out as some type of automated experience. And then at some point the responses got a lot more meaningful, and I think that had something to do with the nature of the questions that couldn’t be dealt with by the software driving that chat experience. But they did do a good job of saying, “This is a 20-year platinum cardholder, and we’re going to direct them to somebody that could simply solve the problem.” And they did.
Damian: It sounds like it upgraded from artificial intelligence to, let’s say. R.I. real intelligence. But it’s interesting. I could almost see the trajectory in a few years. It might go the opposite way where the artificial intelligence might do a better job than the individual on the other side.
Mike: I think that experience is a good example of a brand that got it right doing both. Even though it wasn’t face to face it was personal. I was thanked for being a card member for as long as I had been. So that was meaningful. And, it was interesting since we’ve been talking about CSAT—at the end of that experience, they went back to automation. That was clear enough. It wasn’t offensive, but it was clear. And it said, “Would you answer a few questions about this experience? Would you rate it?” And I had to give it a great rating because of the way they handled it with the right mix of marketing automation and personal touch.
Damian: I bet there’s a way that the transition isn’t as jarring or disruptive. I bet you they could have done that in a way where it felt like a continuation of the conversation with the rep that you were having.
Mike: I think it was acceptable. And to be fair, I do omni channel marketing automation for a living, so I’m probably more sensitive to it than the average person. I’m fascinated by it. I love this stuff. Every customer experience for me is interesting. But I think they did a pretty good job.
Myth #3: Marketing automation is too impersonal.
Mike: That could be the case. I think it’s a myth to say that it is always impersonal. This really gets to a union between personalization and automation. Marketing automation, as we talked about earlier, when it’s one-size-fits-all and all the touches you have with that brand are clearly automated, is impersonal.
The measure really is relevancy. In navigating that issue or that question, I would say it depends on how relevant it is. It depends on the nature of the brand, the product, and the relationship you want to have, but low-relevancy automation is what I would consider one of those “spammier” touches. High relevancy is always going to be considered valuable communication, and therefore the fact that it’s automated is less relevant.
Myth #4: Marketing automation is “one and done.”
Mike: That’s a good one. I would say we should try to bust that myth. The reason is, you might do a good job, you might even do a great job at setting up automation, but the odds that you do a perfect job or the best job that can be done—the maximum value job on the first try—are low. More realistically, you’re going to have to engage in some iterative testing.
That is something for which you can get lost in the process, because of that myth. The myth would lead you to believe that you set it up and then just forget about it. The efficiency that marketing automation can help you generate is sort of the prize that most marketers think about, and most retailers are looking for. Efficiency is terribly important in retail today, but it’s not the only measure. So, I think you fall into the “one and done” myth when you are convinced upfront that your expectation is, “We’re doing this for efficiency alone.” It should only be done if the objective is to maximize customer value. It should be done for relevancy value as well as efficiency. And if you do all those things, that means you’re going to have to play with that experience. You’re going to need some analytics. You’re going to need to measure it, and you’re going to need to optimize.
Damian: You must say, can you AB test and improve each touch? And there are even cases where you should remove some of the touches. They don’t add value. There are other cases where you add touches because those add value. Can you think of examples of when you had an existing marketing automation that you had to tweak?
Mike: There’s quite a few. One that we touched on earlier is the footwear brand that was having the high return issue. The first step—this is almost comical now that I think about it—was to automate the communications around returns. It was almost like we mechanized getting more returns. We got good at driving returns. But there were none. Initially, it was just done for efficiency. We said, “Okay if you’re going to return, you’re going to write to an email address that had the word ‘returns’ in it.” They did a little bit of keyword scanning, and they said, “A rep will get back to you, but first, here’s some frequently asked questions for folks looking to make a return.” And they accelerated that return, but they didn’t have an opportunity to solve the problem. So that’s a good example of a situation that without thoughtful consideration analysis, some metrics, you never get to the problem. Instead, you just automate the problem.
Myth #5: Marketing automation is only for sales and prospect nurturing.
Mike: If you take the tack that you’re trying to grow relationships, and yes, that growth and relationships ought to manifest as higher customer value and greater sales, then relationship development doesn’t necessarily mean a sale. The very best example would be an appreciation touch that can be automated. The bounce-back would be a good example of an automated sales-driving communication, but, a better example is the appreciation touch that follows the second sale or the first sale. That’s my favorite example.
An appreciation touch can be a bounce-back, and it could reference the fact that you had many options and you chose us, and we greatly appreciate it. You could set an expectation, for example, “If you have any issues, please contact us immediately.” That might short-circuit a negative review. There are all kinds of value you’re creating. But that’s not a call to action to buy something.
Another point I make on that is, we have used appreciation touches with no call to action about buying anything, and we have seen those appreciation touches do well in generating bounce-back purchases. The reason is, they just feel good about the brand. They’re in a window where any communication could lead to that purchase. But these are messages that really had no meaningful call to action that said, “Go buy now.”
It just goes to show you that it doesn’t have to be about sales, and yet touches that improve relevance and relationship absolutely can drive an increase in sales. Most brands have a prospect file, and invariably, those are getting one-size-fits-all highly automated batch and blast emails, and no touches on any other channel. So that’s an example where marketing automation isn’t living up to its full potential.
But I can give you an example of omni channel marketing automation that worked. And that is, we took a prospect file. We looked at those individuals and their channel preference. So we knew those who responded after getting a catalog or a direct mail piece. We knew those who made purchases offline as well as online, and we utilized the channel that they responded on most to increase intimacy with the customer.
It’s not about what we want to do. We might want to do e-mail because it’s cheap and it’s highly efficient. But if it’s a high-value customer who prefers to buy in the store, then maybe we’ll send them a message from the store manager. Or some brands are using client telling at the store level. The person who is their client manager can reach out to them, invite them in, and have a personalized experience. And those, of course, have much higher take-rates or conversion rates.
That’s an example where we can do the same thing with prospects. You’re a prospect. We could do potential value modeling on those prospects. By the way, we can automate that. BuyerGenomics has a high degree of automation on that type of thing. We have a lot of experience with that as well.
But now we can decide, based on the potential value, “What is the cost of the touch that is warranted?” Maybe it’s just an email. Maybe we have very low expectations on the potential value because somebody came in on a sweepstakes entry, for example; we probably don’t want to go to a ten-dollar mail piece with a free product trial in it. Maybe we want to go to that for only those individuals about whom we say, “These are the highest value prospects,” for example, customer value modeled prospects. These might be folks we don’t know, who have not bought the brand yet to our knowledge, who are proximate to a store, and we can deliver a touch that is very meaningful to them—higher value, maybe a complimentary shipping offer, maybe something else. And for those high-value prospects, it’s worth it to have that higher-value touch. That’s not “batch and blast” automation anymore.
Myth #6: Should we market automate everything?
Damian: I love this question because I love to automate everything.
Mike: I would say you should automate it if you could get the result that you really want. That’s the best barometer. Customer intimacy is at an all-time low.
The only brands that were doing a great job at that were luxury brands. As they have moved online, and have moved even to some of the very large selling platforms like eBay and Amazon, the intimacy is going away. Granted, the retailers need efficiency, but if it’s at the cost of intimacy, then the promiscuity of the buyer should be expected to go up. And it does. Every brand has experienced that. So, I would say, automate everything, but not if it’s not on the strategy to achieve your goals.
Damian: I also think that the marketer must take some ownership of creativity, and what they’re going to test, and must keep challenging and evolving what they’re automating.
Mike: That’s a good point. There’s a responsibility that comes with automation. And in marketing automation and omni channel marketing automation, there are so many ways it can go wrong. That’s why we always try to bring it back to strategy. That’s got to be first. And when I say strategy, I do not mean exclusively your omni channel marketing automation strategy. What I do mean is your business strategy. Because you can always be wrong with the latter. Generally a brand, and especially one that’s been around a bit and had some success, really knows who their customer is. And if you don’t, you need to work on that first. But if you’re going to employ automation, you have an obligation to your customer and to the business itself to be thoughtful about how you employ it. You need to know how it directly connects to the strategy for your business. If your business strategy is to provide unparalleled service—and there are many luxury brands that believe they provide unparalleled service—then one-size-fits-all automation that is “Set-it-and-Forget-it” isn’t going to work. You must validate that that automation is contributing meaningfully to the unparalleled level of service that your strategy calls for.
Marketing Automation Gone Awry
Damian: One last question: Is there an example of marketing automation gone wrong?
Mike: There’s a famous example that probably takes the cake. It’s been in the news, so I’ll reference the brand: Target. They had an infamous experience in marketing automation. That experience was a young woman browsing—I can’t remember if it was pregnancy tests, or prenatal care, or maternity clothing. So they made the inference that this is someone having a baby, and they began sending “expectant mom” communications to this person. Unfortunately, I’m not sure but she may have been a minor. The e-mail was picked up by her parent, and that created a firestorm in the media, and probably in the household. That’s a great example where automation went too far. It lacked intimacy—or maybe it had too much of it!
They may have been right, but like any relationship, it’s not about being right. It’s about getting along. So, in that case it just went too far.
Omni Channel Marketing Automation is the Future
Mike: I hope everybody takes a few things to heart. Omni channel marketing automation is the future, and at some point, it will be every brand’s future. When you think about Amazon opening bookstores, buying Whole Foods—the most digital of commerce players—is believing enormously and investing in omni channel to the tune of billions and billions of dollars. The local retailer, the small chain retailer who has invested very aggressively and heavily in online: their website, their communications at every end of the spectrum—every type of marketer today is moving ambitiously to be an omni channel retailer. That is a good bit of macro-level evidence that this is more than a trend. This is the future for probably every brand. That, coupled with having an appreciation for how marketing automation should be used, can play an important role in your strategy in 2018 and well beyond.