While the adoption of marketing automation in the last few years has speeded up and effectively streamlined the demand-creation process, its use has been primarily just for that – acquisition marketing.
Now the widespread adoption of marketing automation is reaching a tipping point. As the use of the technology becomes a majority strategy, the early adopters are looking for ways to retain a competitive edge. And it is the forward-thinking chief marketing officers (CMOs) who are recognising the broader applications for their marketing automation platforms.
This comes at a time when greater demands are being placed on the CMO, in terms of engaging customers with the brand, yet as Mr MacMillan says, no one is actually accountable for the customer life cycle.
“We can see huge opportunities for the CMO to step into this role,” he says.
The use of marketing automation has just scratched the surface; the technology can also provide the structural framework for monitoring, measuring and engaging with customers across the life cycle. The same techniques used for demand generation can be used to score and nurture other business relationships, including influencers and end-users.
As more businesses turn to a subscription-based model, more of their revenue eventually starts coming from existing customers than from signing new prospects. As a result, the extended use of marketing automation for customer retention will grow.
“We are seeing more and more companies apply their marketing automation to the renewal process. By incorporating predictive analytics they can apply a much more prescriptive approach to marketing across the entire customer life cycle,” explains Mr MacMillan. “This allows organisations to manage and trigger communications based on life-cycle stage or customer behaviours. They can identify who the brand advocates are among their customers, taking marketing intelligence to a new level.”
A study into the customer engagement life cycle, carried out by Act-On Software and Gleanster Research, involved a survey of marketing professionals. It found that top-performing marketing teams made better use of certain tactics than average companies. For example, top performers were twice as likely as all other companies to trigger personalised messages by stage, based on prospect behaviour, demonstrating a clear understanding of the customer life cycle. Top performers also leveraged data using technologies that include marketing automation.