By Chris Lee
Marketing automation is of growing interest to APAC marketers, but what hurdles do they face and how can they overcome them?
A fifth (21%) of APAC-based marketers reported earlier this year that they planned to increase their investment in marketing automation technology over the next 12 months.
To address this growing area of focus for the region’s marketers, Econsultancy teamed up with emarsys to produce the Marketing Automation in Asia Pacific Best Practice Guide.
Marketing automation is a category of technology aimed at streamlining the sales and marketing processes through the automation of repetitive tasks, enabling marketers to target and retarget potential customers while increasing operational efficiency.
As the report indicates, marketing automation is not solely a technology solution; it is an enabler that relies on process and execution and does not replace the marketer. Rather, marketing automation – when implemented correctly – should free up marketers to be more creative as they can make sense of and act upon reams of useful data on customer and prospect behaviour.
The report covers the core tenets of marketing automation – content generation, lead management, lead intelligence, sales enablement and technology – so that APAC marketers can ask the right questions when preparing for the journey into marketing automation.
Barriers to adoption
One of the key observations to come out of the report is that getting C-level buy-in is both critical and difficult to achieve. Decision-makers and budget holders want to see business case studies and the Marketing Automation in Asia-Pacific Best Practice Guide contains some insightful interviews with regional marketers who are early adopters (and beneficiaries) of marketing automation.
The perennial issue of digital skills shortage and C-suite understanding is by no means exclusive to APAC but is particularly acute given the massive advances and variety in the area. APAC’s make-up – linguistic, cultural, economic and technological variety – also presents a challenge to marketers.
Other key issues faced by marketers in the region which the best practice guide addresses include:
- How can I deliver the same message to my recipients across email, web, mobile and social?
- Can I understand who my customers are and how they interact with my brand across different channels?
- Is it possible to collect, analyse and understand customer loyalty across different channels?
- Can data we have in other systems be harvested and connected to a single user ID?
- Finally, if we have all the data we want, is it possible to automate the marketing processes and develop automated visual lifecycles using technology and not labour?
The customer journey
Understanding the customer decision journey is core to successful marketing and marketing automation technology can present marketers with incredible insights on customer and prospect behaviour, grade them according to their apparent readiness to buy and target them with the right content at the right time to stand the best chance of a sale.
According to Chinese ecommerce site Banggood.com:
“Marketing automation is a necessary and crucial phase when it comes to online marketing. All marketing activities should always be based on customers’ needs. If we can fully understand their requirements and needs and better satisfy their expectations, we will gain the returns and be rewarded.”
Equipping for marketing automation
A consistent response from those interviewed for this report was that in order to implement marketing automation you don’t only need C-level support, but also a strong, coherent team effort between the key implementers: marketing, sales, customer service and IT.
Chinese fashion website Milanoo states:
“Our marketing and sales activities all reside in the marketing department. One of the main tasks for the marketing department is to research on new marketing methods, techniques and services, and introduce any actionable ones. IT acts like a supporting department – it helps us develop new features or even new systems in order to implement our marketing automation projects.”
And finally, the benefits
Asia-Pacific marketers can learn a lot from the mature markets when it comes to implementing marketing automation, but it is clear that the bold organisations which rise to the challenge could develop a significant competitive edge.
Following best practice, marketers should see:
What are your tips?
Have you implemented marketing automation? Where have you experienced success? Or are there any pitfalls you want to share?