What Springsteen Knew About B2B Marketing Automation
When Bruce Springsteen sang, “I just want someone to talk to – and a little of that human touch” he wasn’t talking about marketing automation, but he might as well have been.
Yes, really. Think about your marketing automation systems. They need a combination of human savvy and technological automation to be effective. In fact, if you’re not getting the ROI you hoped for, your marketing tech processes may need more of the human touch than they’re getting.
There’s no doubt that marketing technologies have had plenty of marketers thinking, “I’m on fire.” They offer so many great features to help teams scale and personalize and modify campaigns. But those very benefits have led some leaders to view marketing automation as the perfect auto-pilot dream: digital engagement and rising ROI without much human intervention required. That doesn’t cut it.
Dancing in the Dark
Marketers who let people take a backseat to technology are going to miss out on the most valuable part of effective marketing, insight. Our world has always been about one person understanding what motivates, challenges and satisfies another. Marketers triumph when they connect with the heart of the buyer’s day-to-day needs. That’s why we study the buyer’s journey; people’s decision-making processes are complicated and it takes skill and research to work with them along the way.
Sure, marketing technologies are great at helping marketers help buyers. But while our tools excel at automating tasks and serving up data, they can’t handle the entire buyer’s journey. Successful conversions require the playbook of human intervention.
After all, turning a lead into a sale rarely works without a real conversation. Want to gather insights and build tailored solutions? That takes more than broad demographic data. Buyer decisions are based on a number of factors, and can change at the last moment. Navigating all of the moments that go into a decision is tricky business.
So is creating the kind of loyalty Springsteen fans are known to feel for the man they call “The Boss.” Good sales reps are known for their ability to bond with their prospects, but marketers also need to offer up the connection and analysis only a person—not a tool—can offer.
The Hungry Heart of Marketing Automation
Successfully identifying where, when and how to incorporate the human touch into your B2B marketing programs requires some thought. Consider the following touchpoints:
- Successful marketing automation starts with an experienced team member researching the market and buyer preferences. That means researching, identifying and mapping out buyer personas and understanding the influences they experience on their journey.
- Writing and designing the campaigns requires several people. Templates are a start, but coming up with the right element to get attention requires a skilled marketing strategist. Creating powerful copy and visual design also requires a specific kind of copywriting talent, if you want content that dazzles your prospects.
- Unearthing where prospects really are in their buying decision can only truly happen with a person-to-person conversation. You’ll need a sales development teleservices agent to qualify your prospect in the funnel.
- Many marketers think they can be hands-off when it comes to the mountains of data a marketing automation system can collect. But prioritizing metrics, interpreting data and translating those numbers into insights takes an experienced marketing mind. For instance, one metric might point to one conclusion—but placed in context of an overall data picture, the conclusion changes. How do all of the numbers fit together? Where do you need to optimize and move forward? Which campaigns are working and which aren’t? No out-of-the-box report will meet all of your needs, so you’ll need to modify reports to answer the right questions.
Those are just a few critical touchpoints on the buyer’s journey where a real, live person should step in and guide the process. But the same applies to the overall management of your technology.
Consider all of your channels driving activity. Again, there’s no software that can view the sum of that engagement, as well as its parts, and study them in terms of your sales and services. Drawing those insights will involves a marketing expert, analysis and a cross-team discussions.
Managing the technology is also critical. Implementing the platform and figuring out how it integrates with the company’s existing tech stack requires someone with strategic foresight on what the team needs to get out of the tech. You’ll need to decide how it connects sales to customer service to other teams and how your processes align with the content strategy.
The Glory Days of Marketing Technology
Implementing marketing automation is not a one–and-done process. They may be “Born to Run” on their own, but someone will need to monitor all of these factors on an ongoing basis, from managing data fields to partnering the campaign strategy with the platform’s features. This takes complete, dedicated management. Take that human element away and your buyers will feel it and be less likely to convert.
So the next time you brainstorm ways to improve your marketing automation results, crank up the Best of Springsteen first. It’ll be a good reminder that the human touch is a big part of reaching your marketing automation goals, and getting the most out of your investment. By combining your people and your tech, you might just find yourself in the “Tunnel of Love” with regard to your marketing programs.
Ray Kemper is chief marketing officer at Televerde.