When I think about what automated engagement marketing means, a really simple definition comes to mind: meeting my needs in my time of need. Done right, companies can successfully build strong relationships with customers who benefit from new and expanded projects leading to increased revenues. Done wrong, companies stand to lose new and potential customers.

Be Relevant and Persistent, But Not Pesky

I recently found myself on the receiving end of an automated engagement marketing program that had a positive outcome for me and the company that was trying to engage me.

Several years ago, I worked with a lead generation firm who provided a service to my company. My needs changed and the contract ended on good terms. A few years after our contract ended, the firm put a program in place to reach out to me on a consistent basis. I didn’t have use for their services for a long time, however, their regular, brief emails were a good reminder that they were still around and available to assist should the time come when I had a need.

The time did come. I found myself short-staffed and needed specific expertise on a particular project. While I had spoken to one of their sales reps a few months prior, the company’s email arrived in my inbox at just the right time, and I replied to their automated email. They had put the processes in place to ensure that email got answered within the same day and we started a new engagement shortly thereafter. 

Why was the company’s effort successful? Three reasons:

  1. They understood the problems I faced on a day-to-day basis and built an automated email program that spoke to my specific needs
  2. They sent brief, relevant content regularly and not in an overbearing, annoying way
  3. They responded to my interest right away … less than one business day after I responded, they replied.

In the end, they won a new project and built a more loyal (and appreciative) customer relationship in the process. They took a sales cycle that could typically take weeks and converted me in just a few days.

Companies that are in a position to develop automated engagement marketing programs should also consider engaging via mobile as part of their overall strategy.

Understand How Customers Use Mobile Before You Engage

Forrester analyst Ted Schadler said mobile services such as engagement services, device and app management services and app development services will soar to $32.4 billion by 2018. He continues that as companies’ apps are developed to be more aligned with customer behaviors, customers “… will take action in their immediate context and moments of need.”

When considering automated engagement marketing programs over mobile, the same rules apply. Understand how your customers use mobile devices and what kind of content they might want to consume in that medium. Recognizing how and what customers consume will enable you to better anticipate their needs in a timely, succinct and relevant way.

I recently worked with a client that wanted to be more mobile friendly with customers and prospects. The company thought that by sending relevant articles and tips over its new app, it would build customer loyalty, trust and credibility. 

Depending on a company’s ability to generate content, mobile apps are a good place for content to live. Apps provide customers and prospects a place to access valuable thought leadership in a timely manner -- as long as the content that is being sent is useful (relevant) and is something they would access via this particular platform. If the content isn’t relevant or useful, then the effort and investment is a waste, which is why knowing your customers before you engage is critical.

Make Data Work For You

If you’re looking to push web content such as updates and articles through your mobile app, an easy way to know which content will be most popular is to take a look at what’s most popular on your website. Beyond “popularity,” be sure to understand how engaged visitors are with your content and which devices they are using to access it. 

Build the Right Team to Maximize Results

An automated engagement marketing program -- be it web or mobile -- is only as good as the process you build around it. Think about the right team of people to optimize whatever the system can do. Too often I come across marketers who have a vision but no process in place to iteratively advance and optimize the system. They are stuck at the most basic use cases and applications because they are the safest thing to do.

Look for people who are flexible, who have the capacity to experiment and who are comfortable starting a project without knowing how it’s going to end. Technology systems change too fast to expect any team to know everything they need to know. 

Understanding customer needs, wants, desires and behaviors over diverse digital platforms is key to developing an effective automated engagement marketing program. Customer know-how combined with effective tracking and measurement tools and a flexible and agile team will enable you to engage with customers at the right levels, with the right content, resulting in better customer experiences.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic LicenseTitle image by  stu_spivack