There are times when maintaining the status quo is beneficial — a fact Coca-Cola discovered when it tried to convert customers to a new soft drink that bore the same name as the original but tasted very different.

Often, however, marketers need to challenge the status quo if they want to succeed. Technology evolves, customers change their priorities and competitors embrace new tactics.

Survival does not depend on being the biggest or the newest. It depends on being the most adaptable to all of the changes wrought by the modern world.

In an "adapt or perish" world, behavior marketing automation can help you challenge the status quo and reap the rewards that you want.

What Is Behavior Marketing Automation?

All prospective customers display certain behaviors when interacting with a company. They watch videos, click on data sheets, like the company's Facebook page or use the live chat feature to ask a question about a particular product.

Capturing the information about how the prospect chose to interact with your company lets you begin to create a profile that will be carefully constructed from every piece of information that you know about him or her.

Automation lets you interact with potential customers even if you are not personally available. Prospects can receive answers to their inquiries in less time, receive special offers or receive communications from you more frequently.

When you combine automation with what you know about the customer's behavior, you get behavior marketing automation.

The Risks of Ignoring Behavior

Automating marketing efforts without accounting for behavior leaves you wondering just what offers might be appealing to the customer.

You therefore blast every possible offer to every customer. Would you care to guess how many recipients find your messages relevant compared to the number who find them so annoying that they vow never to do business with your company?

When you try to leverage what you know about your customer's behavior without automating your efforts, the results can be even worse.

Frequently, you will wind up with data silos that no one can access except you. Mining the data that you collected can be so labor-intensive that by the time you are ready to apply your knowledge, the information is outdated.

Automation + Behaviors = A Winning Hand

Embracing behavior marketing requires that you move beyond personas, segments and even audiences.

You will be having one-on-one interactions with every customer on a very granular level.

Your interactions can be virtually instantaneous, highly relevant and cross-channel; they will be automatically — some might even say magically — personalized through analytics of their preferences, profiles and behaviors. You now have more time to devote to matters that cannot be automated.

Gathering Historical Data About Behaviors

One thing that many people discover when they decide to embrace behavior marketing automation is that they must alter their approach.

For example, your current approach might require that they register or sign up first, and only after this step is completed can they access datasheets, educational articles or other valuable content.

With behavior marketing automation, however, you will more likely allow them to have at least partial access prior to requiring them to register.

Although this might sound contradictory to what you have practiced for many years, it makes more sense if you examine it in the context of what you hope to accomplish.

If your goal is merely to collect the world's largest collection of email addresses, the old approach works fine, but what are you going to do with all of those email addresses?

Are you going to send out email blasts under the theory that if you throw enough glue at the wall, some of it is bound to stick?

If you are planning to send only relevant, custom messages, you need to amass as much data as possible about each customer's behavior. By making things easy for them to voluntarily contribute the data, you can learn more about every prospect's behavior in much less time.

Types of Behavioral Data

The next question that most people have is typically some variation of wondering the types of behavioral data to collect. This will be different for every marketer and perhaps for every product or service group offered by a single marketer.

However, the following list can give you some tips.

  • Social Sites: Did the customer share your tweet or like your Facebook post? Did they post a comment on your company page?
  • Email: Did the recipient open your email? Did they click on a link in the email? How long ago did this transpire?
  • Relational Tables: Did the customer or prospect telephone your call center, visit your showroom, place an order or perform any other action that was recorded as relational table data?
  • Website: Did a trackable prospect visit your website? What actions did they perform while they were there? Did they visit your blog, post any comments, view a video or perform any other actions?

With so many variables, it is not difficult to imagine the possibilities.

However, if you do not include marketing automation in your attempts to leverage the behavioral data that you collect, you might as well go back to emailing everyone on your list with the same tired offers.

Title image by Samuel Zeller