forrester, marketing automation, cxm, customer experience, digital marketing
Most marketers may be using marketing automation to scale and standardize marketing processes, but according to Forrester, the few who use automation to focus on customer behavior are the only ones seeing the benefits.

The report, "Use Behavioral Marketing to Up the Ante in the Age of the Customer" [registration required], was commissioned by marketing automation provider Silverpop and involved in-depth surveys with 157 marketing professionals in the U.S.

Marketing Automation for Campaigns, Lead Management

The study resulted in four key findings:

  • Marketing automation enables marketing success
  • Both B2B and B2C marketers have accepted multichannel marketing as common practice
  • Behavioral marketing is a slightly less mature practice than other more traditional forms
  • Practitioners of behavioral marketing have significantly different practices

Marketing automation systems are used these days to manage such processes as campaign development or lead management, and the report found that the top performing companies were using their automation investments to execute more campaigns that are more highly focused and that set higher targets.

A quarter of respondents saw themselves as experienced hands at multichannel marketing, and nearly 40 percent of others said they were in the process of getting there. While only 17 percent self-assessed as mature practitioners of behavioral marketing, the rewards were significant: 53 percent of behavioral marketers, for instance, grew their revenue faster than they had planned, compared to 41 percent of more traditional marketers.

Marketing Automation is Table Stakes

Understanding and acting on customer behavior is a necessity these days, the report says, because so many factors that used to be differentiators -- such as global supply chains or access to a given local market -- are no longer the case. Companies have to get super-serious about being oriented toward customers, not only in thinking, but in defining their strategies, understanding customer behaviors and needs in-depth, and maintaining an engagement strategy that speaks to those behaviors and needs. All of this is directed toward encouraging the customer to pick that company as its “first choice vendor.”

Marketing automation, according to Forrester, is “now table stakes,” the minimum required to play in this game, but “strategy and execution draw the winning hand.” Of the top performers, only 21 percent do not utilize automated marketing campaigns, and, for behavioral marketers, that figure drops to 16 percent.

One of the key reasons that campaigns involving marketing automation result in higher performance is that marketers can do more, faster, for longer periods of time and, often, with more precise targeting and tracking. Customer behaviors are the most frequently used action-triggers in marketing campaigns, such as adding an item to a shopping cart. But most marketers, the report said, are not using the full range or depth of customer behavior, such as preference, propensity or influence.

Learning Opportunities

Only 45 percent of marketers, on average, capture and analyze behavioral data from multiple channels into a single database, for instance. And there’s still a long way to go, since, Forrester said, “even the most advanced behavioral marketers still rank as neophytes.”

Yes, But What’s Missing?

The report’s recommendations are ones frequently heard in these kinds of reports. Create a culture of customer obsession, move from campaigns to engagement, establish a common language and experience across channels, and invest in a technical infrastructure that can support cross-channel conversations with customers.

The report sets up a great point: if marketing automation is letting you scale bigger and can handle the nitty-gritty, focus now on what the customer is doing and wants. Data obtained via marketing automation and other systems can tell us what buyers are reading, where they are finding the content, what they are buying, what sites they are visiting or channels they are using, where they are in the buying process, and even what they might do next.

What’s missing in this report is more attention to the missed opportunities in customer behavior, or even some illustrative scenes of typical customer behavior that is not being addressed. If I were a marketer with a marketing automation system in full use, I’d be left wondering exactly what I'm missing in my use of customer triggers, data capture or targeting toward categories of customers or toward particular users.

Photo courtesy of feivuezhangjie (Shutterstock)