How do you know if you’re ready for automation?

Want to communicate with your customers more often, but struggle to find the time?

Automation is the answer…but how and when do you start?

Ask yourself these questions to find out whether you and your organisation are ready to embark on the transformational journey to email automation:

1. How well do you trust your data?  
Automated communication requires accurate, current data that you can rely on.  Unlike manual communications, with automation you don’t get the chance to double check every mail or email before it goes out, so you need to be confident that your data is as accurate as it can be.  If you don’t have a high level of trust in your data, then a data clean-up project is the first place to start before embarking on any automation.

2. What do you want to say?
This may seem obvious, but there are many different messages that an organisation could share automatically with their customers.  However, trying to get too many automated journeys up and running at once is a mistake. The set-up process can be complex and time consuming and a little overwhelming if you’re embarking on this for the first time.  Instead, choose one key communication workflow to start with – preferably the one that will make the biggest difference to your organisation. (For example, a customer welcome journey, a membership renewal workflow, or a receipts/thank you workflow).

3. How (and when) do you want to say it?
Consider which communication channel would be the most effective for the message you want to convey, and which are your customers comfortable with you communicating with them via?  Email is powerful for many communications, but in some instances a letter in the mail will achieve better conversion, therefore a mix of both channels can be a potent automation strategy.  

When are the key moments in your customer cycle for you to communicate? This will differ for each workflow depending on your historical customer behaviour, so it’s worth investing some time to determine the best moments for your message(s) to dispatch to achieve cut through. 

4. What’s your long-term vision?
Despite suggesting earlier you focus on one workflow at a time, it is important, from the outset, that you have a clear long-term vision for your organisation’s total customer engagement in mind.  You don’t want to invest time and money into an automated workflow that is likely to be superseded or that is doubling up on a communication that partially happens elsewhere in the organisation. 

5. Who in your organisation should have input? 
Automation is a commitment and the development and implementation of a successful automated workflow is likely to require input from several different business units across your organisation.  Marketing and communications, finance, IT, fundraising, customer services need to be onboard with this journey to ensure it serves the needs of your wider organisation.  If it’s done right, it won’t take long for everyone, including your customers, to start enjoying the benefits and rewards automation brings.

6. What information do you need in your data?
Don’t wait until your data is perfect to get started – it will never be perfect.  
Much of your automated communication will be via email, so in order to get started, all you need is an accurate first name and email address.  However, the true power of automation is in making your communications as personalised and relevant to your individual customers as possible.  Make a list of the messages you’d ultimately like to send to your customers and what additional field information you would need to gather, in order to make that message as relevant as possible to your customer. This will help you identify the holes in your data that can be gathered over time through your other communications.

7. How do I choose the right marketing automation provider?
Choose a marketing automation provider who understands what you’re trying to achieve and can walk you through the process step by step. You need a provider that can provide a robust, powerful email marketing tool with local technical support should you need help and who can also offer expertise in direct marketing copywriting and design.  Successful marketing automation workflows require a high degree of personalisation and segmentation that makes each message relevant to your customers, and this level of engagement requires expert direct marketing advice.

Marketing Impact is New Zealand’s leading direct marketing mail house, with email, print production and mail processing facilities in Auckland and Wellington. If you have any questions regarding the journey to marketing automation, please feel free to contact our digital strategy team for a no obligation introductory chat.

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