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Why marketing automation systems have long since been more than a nice gimmick

“More is better” is rarely a good idea. At a trade fair, no retailer would come up with the idea of persistently following visitors and chewing off their proverbial ears. Why should it be any different on the digital level? In order to really score points with your audience you need precisely two things: relevance and targeted communication.

We can see it particularly clearly in the current situation: customer communications and relationships need to work just as well digitally as on an analogue level. So it’s no wonder that, according to a current YouGov study commissioned by Adobe, 63% of companies surveyed are working intensively on expanding their digital customer dialogue and product communication. Many have now realised that there will be no going back to “business as usual”. 40% are convinced that strategies established this year will continue to exist after the pandemic – and that’s a good thing. But how can one of the great strengths of medium-sized companies – their personal relationships, often maintained over many years – be successfully extended on a digital level?

Communication in a nutshell

Anyone who meets (potential) customers at a trade fair or through conferences already has an initial idea of their needs through the context alone. The details can then be explored in a personal conversation. This has long since been working on a digital level: with the help of automation tools, companies can address their customers with highly relevant content at the right time on the right channel – and on a large scale.

The first thing necessary for this is a solid, real-time customer profile, which consolidates the data from every touchpoint through which visitors come into contact with a company and also further information on interests and previous purchases. Because only those who know their customers know what they want. This has also helped Carl Zeiss Meditec AG to score points with its extremely busy target group. After all, anyone who bombards doctors and surgeons with content indiscriminately is causing frustration, not only in the currently tense situation. Since the medical technology manufacturer has been relying on a central marketing automation system and networking all touchpoints, both online and offline, including trade fair and conference contacts and visits to the company’s website and social media channels, the brand has really been getting through to its customers.

The prerequisite for the creation of these real-time customer profiles is that all things – both employees and software solutions used – pull in the same direction. Thanks to the flexible interfaces, Carl Zeiss Meditec AG was able to easily integrate its marketing automation system into the product landscape that was already in use – around 30 applications in total. This allows all of the customer data collected to be easily transferred to a Power BI dashboard and clearly processed. Because here is the crux of the matter: the best technology is useless if every department does its own thing – the enemy of really good customer experiences are the data silos within the company. If marketing and sales each work in a vacuum, customers are not the only ones to notice quickly. Companies are also missing out on valuable business opportunities. The Andritz Group has therefore taken on a herculean task and thoroughly cleaned up its CRM. Their success is clearly visible: not only could 250% more leads be generated within a year, but the company was also able to identify a sales potential of 50 to 60 million euros just from contacts that were not yet properly optimised and which were lying dormant in the CRM – and all because the flow of data between marketing and sales wasn’t running smoothly

Scalability also applies to the user side

Many of you will now be thinking: only the big players can afford that. Where do I get the budget and (wo)manpower to implement and operate these tools? For many years this was a perfectly legitimate objection. In the early days in particular, it was primarily financially strong global players who could afford the appropriate solutions. Nowadays however, marketing automation systems are well supported by artificial intelligence and machine learning. This significantly reduces personnel costs and also enables medium-sized companies to use the applications without increasing staff expenditure.

In fact, the real challenge for many companies is on a completely different level: marketing automation only works if the data records are properly maintained. According to the study “Automatically better? The future of marketing and sales automation in D-A-CH” from the Institute for Sales and Marketing Automation in collaboration with the B2B agency wob AG, more than a third (37%) of German companies state that less than half of the records stored in their CRM systems are error-free. Many are finding their lack of investment in IT solutions for marketing and sales in recent years is now coming back to haunt them – no wonder then that only three percent of companies are convinced that their marketing is technologically stable. There is definitely some catching up to do here.

Granted, the conclusion might sound tough. However, I am convinced that medium-sized companies will jump this hurdle with flying colours. It is not for nothing that medium-sized companies are considered real doers who see a problem, analyse it – and then solve it with great accuracy. After the successful implementation of Industry 4.0, medium-sized companies will also take the next step in digitisation and remain a reliable partner for their customers in both digital and analogue formats.

Author Hartmut König

Head of Solutions & Strategy

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