Marketing automation software has been around for 20 years, and it has redefined the way we do Marketing. However, consumer behavior has transformed since the early days of Martech, particularly in the past 18 months.
How can businesses use marketing automation to keep up with the needs of a new generation of buyers?
Customers Then vs. Now
Customers today are different than they were 20 years ago.
And if you thought, "Wow, so much has changed since the 80s," I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but 20 years ago was the year 2000.
A drip sequence of emails made for a refreshing customer journey back then, but now it's no longer enough to capture the interest of ever-demanding customers.
"Immediacy" is the word of the day. Most customers rate an immediate response from a business as "very important", with 82% of them expecting it when asking a marketing or sales-related question and even more when it's a customer support issue. "Immediate", in this scenario, refers to 10 minutes or less waiting for the business to reply to their inquiry. And yet, in customer acquisition, even 10 minutes might be too much. If your competitors can give replies on the spot, what's stopping your customers from going with them?
In a world where we want everything now, being left to wait is perceived as a bad experience. And 80% of consumers claim to have stopped doing business with a company because of a bad experience.
It's not just lack of speed that can create a negative experience. Customers have become much more aware of the marketing tricks of the current playbook, and they would like to avoid it. For example, 81% percent of tech buyers no longer fill out gated content forms or, if they do, they give false information.
And there's more!
Over 50% of B2B customers feel frustrated by the number of irrelevant ads and emails they receive from companies. Business customers' behaviors are shifting to resemble end-consumers, which means they expect personalized services and are more likely to walk away when that doesn't happen.
And how many will never open your carefully crafted emails because they ended up in the feared promotions folder or worst? 70%, if you're above the industry benchmark.
To stay on top of the game, you need to forget the aging marketing automation playbook - using gated content to capture leads who get sent drip email campaigns and retargeting ads.
Instead, marketing automation needs to happen in real-time, in a personalized fashion, in that elusive moment where you have your customers' undivided attention and complete control over the interaction.
When is that? When they are visiting your website.
Winners and Everyone Else
The average internet user spends 15 seconds on a website, and that's about how long you have to capture their attention. If your website has an appealing design, is easy to navigate, and features compelling copy, you might be reaching that number or even getting users to stay for longer.
But we're talking business here, and website visitors are potential customers.
Your website is supposed to convert users into customers. That's much more likely to happen if you have a real-time marketing automation strategy in place in the form of a conversational channel.
82% of website visitors are more likely to convert into customers if they've chatted with your business first. The same research shows that just one reply can increase conversion chances by 50%, one more response by 100%, and a conversation with six exchanged messages by 250%.
The numbers are too big to ignore, so why would you?
Businesses that have jumped on the chatbot train report considerable improvements in the results. LikeMind Media, for example, has seen a 57% increase in email inquiries by interacting automatically with prospects and providing a follow-up method that keeps the conversation going. MongoDB saw a rise of 70% in new leads thanks to automatic qualification and immediate responses by its chatbot. Wiredmark went from 10 to 200 leads a month booking an appointment with them after consistently putting a chatbot to use.
Gone are the days when people were suspicious of interacting with "a machine". 69% of customers nowadays actually like communicating with chatbots due to their ability to provide 24/7 assistance and give fast answers and solutions.
The numbers don't lie.
It's safe to say the winners in this picture are all those already with a real-time marketing automation solution in place. Given that customers want immediacy and customization and that chatbots offer just that, it's only logical that they're more likely to do business with companies that provide that and have a competitive advantage rather than with those that don't.
What Real-Time Marketing Automation Can Do for You
After seeing what customers expect and the successful examples of some businesses already doing real-time marketing automation, you're probably wondering what it can do for you.
In addition to allowing for on-the-spot interactions that are personalized as they go based on data collected throughout the conversation, chatbots can also:
- Recommend a product;
- Give a pricing quotation;
- Qualify a lead;
- Schedule a meeting;
- Answer frequently asked questions.
These would all typically be tasks that take up some time and require human intervention. However, through real-time marketing automation, they happen, well, in real-time, while your website visitors are still there.
No matter the applicable use-case for your business, your chatbot will efficiently point users in the right direction through their customer journey right when they're the most involved with your brand.
It's Not Magic; It's No-Code
If it's this simple, why haven't all businesses already invested in real-time marketing automation?
According to Ascend2's "The State of Marketing" report, 39% of respondents mention an insufficient amount of training and resources available as the main barrier to proper use of marketing automation tools. 25% find that these tools come with a complicated setup, followed by 16% who complain about a slow onboarding process.
It doesn't have to be so; in fact, it isn't.
Nowadays, many no-code tools are available for any team to quickly and effortlessly set up a chatbot and create real-time engaging experiences for customers.
Chatbot builders let marketers build and launch bots in minutes while easily integrating with other tools such as Google Sheets, Calendly, Zapier, Slack, and CRMs like Salesforce or Zendesk. They require no coding knowledge but are sophisticated enough to collect and exchange complex information. And by integrating with your CRM, your sales reps are instantly presented with new lead information.
As you can see, real-time marketing automation has tens of applications that can help your marketing team streamline processes while consequently helping your business grow.
In the future, do you want to find yourself struggling with the fact that you missed the chance to take your team and company to the next level AND that 1980 wasn't just two decades ago? Or only the latter?
I think I know the answer.