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GUEST COMMENT Avoid these three marketing automation mistakes

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I am not a gambling man, but I’m willing to bet you have at least one automated marketing program that makes a lot of money. Messages are automatically triggered to a consumer when the moment is right, and then the magic happens.

I’d also wager a few notes that you have probably launched an automated message that has bombed. You thoughtfully mapped out your customer journey and paired your messages with those moments, yet the magic didn’t happen.

As much buzz as there is about marketing automation and going beyond your typical triggered messages, it’s important to avoid certain pitfalls that can blunder your best ideas. Let’s look at three common mistakes that can muck up your marketing automation and learn ways to avoid them.

Personalise to a fault

There’s a point where you can come on too strong. Try a little too hard. Care a bit too much.

You need to make your customers feel special, but not go so far that you begin to creep them out. You may ask where the line between caring and creepy lies, but unfortunately there’s no single solution.

There are certain personalisation attempts that can appear mechanical. For example, “Dear MR. STEVEN LEDGERWOOD” compared to “Hi Steve”, or “We saw you looked at these products” versus “We thought you may be interested in these products.”

Casing, formality, placement, voice and repetition can all be the nudge that pushes you across that care/creep line. Read your copy aloud to see if any of these elements sneak into the conversation, and modify them to connect in a way that is consistent with your brand’s caring voice.

Inundate the inbox

I’m not completely against the idea of “the more, the better” when it comes to marketing automation, but you must do things in a smart way. If a new shopper signs up to receive emails, and on the same day searches for products, puts them in their basket, abandons, then returns to complete an order, you could end up sending them more than five emails on that first day.

That’s probably not the best way to set the stage for long-term customer loyalty! As you add more marketing automation messages to your mix, ensure you have frequency constraints that prioritise messages and avoid overwhelming your shoppers.

This may mean suppressing a welcome email if the new shopper has left items in their basket, or simply checking that your basket reminder isn’t sent if the order is completed. You’d be surprised how many retailers will send a basket reminder with an incentive after the shopper has made a purchase. That’s not exactly the most charming customer service experience!

Your marketing automation platform will offer tools to prioritise messages, so don’t let this stop you from adding more automated messages to your mix. Just make calculated decisions that will ensure the most engaging messages, that drive the most sales, are top priority. Additionally, certain order-related messages, such as order and shipping confirmation emails, must be sent, and should receive top priority over your regular marketing emails.

Over-plan and under-execute

I’ll place one more bet (maybe I am a gambling man after all). I bet you are a smart marketer and enjoy your job. Considering you are now about 500 words deep into this article on Internet Retailing, you probably like mapping out customer experiences and watching the sales (and data!) roll in.

I get it, I really enjoy this stuff too. It can be easy to make your marketing programs overly complex. You can be your own worst enemy. While a good marketing plan should be well thought out, don’t delay the launch of your programs by making them unnecessarily complex.

Test variables as you go, and let your programs evolve where they find success. Avoid repeating failures, but occasionally retry old strategies to see if they connect with ever-changing consumer behaviours.

Marketing automation platforms have made it easier for marketers to test messages, make modifications and refine promotions to get the right mixture for their consumers. This has given us the opportunity to reach customers in ways we could barely imagine in the early days of ecommerce. Avoiding these three marketing automation mistakes will surely help your programs to find success. Wanna bet?

Steven Ledgerwood is managing director, UK at emarsys

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