So, why another blog on marketing automation? That too, when we have already covered what marketing automation is, benefits of marketing automation, email automation, and a few other pillars of how small businesses could benefit using this easy-to-implement digital advancement.
In case you missed our in-depth coverage on the above topics, here is a quick recap:
“Automation, for any sector, means: assigning machines/software to do a person’s job for sake of efficiency. Now, when we use software (as we are talking about the internet) to perform tasks related to “digital” marketing, that’s what we call marketing automation. The major reason why we use such software is to increase efficiency by setting up processes that take care of activities that are repetitive and prone to errors."
Why do small businesses (digital or otherwise), like yours, which aim to break off the ceiling and match steps with the giants —again, like yours, should know new marketing trends as they evolve every year?
Doesn’t adapting to new trends cost money because of implementation and training? The answer to that is: Yes. They do cost money and take time to settle well with, but there is a silver lining in that.
First, if done with a positive mindset and good research, not all trends that you implement within your business would cost money.
That’s because companies coming up with such advancements make sure that their new solutions are better than their last ones, which makes them put more features than their previous package — and cost optimization is one of them.
Second, as most businesses are reluctant to change fearing the above reasons and a few of their own, it’s nothing short of a blessing for entrepreneurs such as you — the ones who believe that changing with time opens doors to new opportunities.
In short, searching for new trends and making them work for you has always been the mindset of entrepreneurs who drive change. Driving this point home are the following facts and figures that prove that companies that are quick to pick up new trends in marketing automation are rightly set on the path of becoming business leaders.
The data has spoken, and what’s left is its pursuit. But, today’s blog won’t be your regular marketing automation benefits or marketing automation 101 types.
Today, we are going to see the marketing automation trends of 2021 and how they are different from their predecessors. That'll help you get an idea of how open-armed marketing automation is to tech advancements, and why you should always be in the favor of it.
Wasn't it great when Google helped advertisers track the digital whereabouts of their visitors? This was possible because of web cookies — small text files installed in the browsers of visitors, installed either by the websites or by third-party advertisers.
Once installed, they tracked information like user name, age, on-site behavior, content and websites they visited, products and web sections they interacted most with, etc.
With such information, advertisers were able to “profile” these visitors, and then they were showed ads of products/services that they were most likely to buy.
This practice wasn’t new and encircled a large chunk of how publishers are sellers made a profit. But, soon came a sweeping wave of “Internet and Privacy revolution”, brought by bodies of pan-national internet activists, who argued that certain web analytics practices favored “Internet imperialism”.
As soon as industry regulations such as GDPR and the CCPA took stock, Google came into action and declared that it would soon (2021) phase-out third-party cookies on its Chrome browsers (though the year has been pushed ahead a few times and now it’s 2023).
So, what’s next? It’s important to ask this as a lot of web analytics, and by effect, most forms of personalization, depend on these small packets of data.
This is where zero-party data comes in.
But what exactly is zero-party data? Zero-party data is asking your web visitors what kind of content they like, what should be the frequency of email sent to them, what kinds of offers they would like to see more often, about their in-store experience, etc.
Basically, instead of installing cookies that track visitors' on-web behavior, you are asking them, point-blank, what they are interested in. This is a more ethical, straightforward, and reliable approach because if your visitors value your content, they won’t have an issue with playing along.
Personalization is the bread and butter of today’s marketing. Be it in-app or website user engagement, email marketing, or social media experience, both current and potential users love it when you “call them by their name”.
Offering be-spoke discounts, recommendations, and letting them call dibs on your new launches can make them fall in love with you.
Now the degree to which you can customize all the above marks the difference between personalization and hyper-personalization. Personalization, for most of the part, is about sending a birthday email to your users, addressing them by their name and/or gender, with the product’s name that they signed up for or dropped in the middle.
This doesn’t ask for the data collection on more than a few points.
Hyper-personalization, on the other hand, goes a few marks ahead.
It takes into consideration what blogs they read, what categories they visit, tags they click, what devices they used most to interact with your website or app, and even what words they use to define you on social media.
All of this is then put before content marketers — so they could come up with better ideas for creating better content — and sales team — so they could create better offers.
Of course, hyper-personalization, in marketing automation, takes a more data-intensive approach and better data analysis tools, but the efforts do pay off in the long run.
You launched a new, say, bass guitar, and someone commented: “Wow @insertyourbrandname, so classic, awesome look, straight out of ‘Jurassic 'park.”
Now, you have someone who you got interested in your product. But in what way? They tagged you, and it’s bound to take you places on social media, but what’s going to be the end result?
Earlier, brands would simply connect their social media handles with social media marketing automation software to keep an eye on how and where their brand’s name was mentioned.
Sadly, they forgot a little something called “sarcasm” — like used in the example above. Social media managers, often, count their campaigns' success in terms of how many tags, likes, dislikes, and impressions their posts garner. But that certainly isn’t the right picture.
Even Facebook’s auto-content moderation fails to some extent; because they take words for their face value and force a blanket ban.
That’s where sentimental analysis comes in. A stream under the wings of data analytics, Sentimental analysis considers the tone and emotion behind the comments made by users.
Words like “sick”, “dope”, “hell”, “kill” are often taken negatively, while the truth is they may have when used by teens and adults, positive connotations. That means someone saying, “your guitar is sick”, man,” could be both degrading or highest form of compliment.
It then falls on social media marketing managers to spot this trend and try coming up with word combinations that could put filtering on the right kind of automation.
Unlike the big businesses, which could afford to put dedicated tech support on every visitor on their website, 24*7, the ones with employee count less than 15 or 10 couldn't keep up with the visitors' arrival on their website.
Chatbots did wonders for businesses both big and small. They were hailed as the finest tools that marketing automation could give. And why not?
The real meaning of “earn while you sleep” was now realized, but this had its own limits.
The chatbots came at a time when data analytics, predictive analytics, AI, and other such terms were still considered jargon and graced only the computer science and R&D labs of some leading educational institutes enterprises.
AI changed the whole game. Though the modern chatbots could trigger a response based on context on the conversation — thanks to AI, they can’t crawl through resources available on the online database and produce them to visitors' aid.
On the other hand, virtual assistants have the above three and then some elements of emotional intelligence. That’s why queries like “Siri, do you love me?”, or the hilarious ones, seldom go unanswered.
Their job profile includes: reminding your schedule, taking notes, dialing numbers, searching queries on the internet, etc.
To make the differences clearer, think of Siri and Cortana when you think of Virtual Assistants.
On a more technical level, chatbots are made of NLP (Natural language processing), Rule-based triggers, and Machine Learning. Assistants have all these and added advantages of emotional intelligence.
In terms of website assistance, the virtual ones still have a long way to go as far as embedding them on your website is concerned, but they sure are the way to the future.
25 years ago, no one would have thought that AI — something that sci-fi writers always painted as a menace to humanity and force behind a dystopian future — combined with web analytics would help international nut sellers sell more units.
When it comes to the digital forms of marketing, it’s not easy to predict where the tide will turn. As this is an ultra-competitive field, the driving forces are both users and developers.
Companies will keep using whatever the data scientists have to offer and putting them inside their tools to make them better and eat the pie bigger and better.
And, new-age entrepreneurs won’t leave any stone unturned to go that extra mile in customer acquisition.
So, instead of seeing the opportunities get past you, get your hands dirty to make the most out of your business investments and make sure that you don’t let any marketing automation trend of today or tomorrow go unutilized.