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We hear a lot about marketing technology platforms -- the marketing clouds, the experience platforms and the digital marketing hubs. Most marketers are familiar with these platforms, but many aren't aware of all of their components and how brands can use these platforms to build intelligent, automated and effective marketing programs. 

Before we jump into best-practices, let's define a couple of terms.

Marketing automation typically refers to the automation of outbound marketing campaigns -- marketing programs that are initiated by the brand and extend to the consumer. These can include email and direct mail campaigns, as well as social, mobile and online campaigns.

Engagement marketing, also known as decision management, event-based marketing or real-time marketing, focuses on servicing customers over inbound channels -- that is, when a consumer initiates a request over a channel such as the Web, contact center, industry kiosk or social channel, and the brand responds.

Get it Together

Both are important as organizations are required to serve consumers in a more immediate manner with offers that are more anticipated, relevant and personal than ever before. But here's the thing: In September 2014, Signal surveyed 281 marketers across 16 verticals. Fifty-one percent of respondents claimed their marketing technologies are either loosely integrated or not at all.

This means that roughly half of all surveyed brands aren't using marketing automation and engagement marketing (as well as other marketing technologies) in an integrated manner. This can be due to a number of reasons -- including technological, cultural and departmental hurdles.

After working with clients over the past 15 years on such issues, I want to provide a few key tips as to what is working and how businesses are using inbound and outbound marketing technology platforms to build intelligent, automated engagement programs -- ones that not only resonate with the consumer, but drive higher return on marketing investment and ensure a more efficient organization.

Data and Analytics as the Foundation


Seems logical, right? You would be amazed at how many brands are still working through “We don't know how to get our transactional point-of-sale integrated with our demographic and third-party purchase data.” Solid data management and extract, transform, load processes form the foundation from which a solid enterprise marketing platform is built.

If your marketing campaigns aren't achieving the returns you expect or desire, go back to square one and examine your data management, data quality and data integration procedures to ensure they are sound. And please: Store everything in one place. I recommend an enterprise instance of a distributed or database management system of your organization's choice. Once the data is set, analytics are next.

Analytical processes such as segmentation, modeling and forecasting provide insight into what customer data to target with marketing campaigns. Analytical data visualization puts a face on those large data stores and really helps marketing understand what the data looks like and where to best focus marketing initiatives.

Integrate, Orchestrate and Optimize


This is a large category, but an important one as far as customer engagement is concerned.

First up is integration. Integrate marketing programs across channels -- leverage insights from outbound marketing programs to better serve customers on inbound channels and vice versa. With consumers switching channels as frequently as they do today, this is imperative.

Orchestrate campaigns and their offers so that the timing and sequence, as well as the channel delivered, make sense based on individual consumer preferences.

Optimization is the final step in the execution phase. Make sure you use analytically based optimization across all channels to avoid over-contact and saturation of consumers. Consumers are only annoyed by receiving an email offer for a product or service that they just signed up for last week during an inbound contact center conversation.

Close the Loop


The last step is to close the loop in order to perform truly integrated marketing. Take the information you learn from the delivery of both inbound and outbound offers: Did a customer open an email, respond to a social message or accept a verbal offer delivered via the contact center? If so, what effect does that have on downstream marketing efforts?

This should inform marketers about what the next offer or engagement should be -- and in some cases when and where it should be. Collecting this information not only helps you run better marketing programs, but helps to distribute marketing spend across channels and programs more effectively as well.

Consider putting each of these three tips into practice: It takes work but is well worth the effort. 

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  daveynin