By now we know that customers not only prefer, but expect a personalized experience that delivers what they want, when and how they need it. Anticipating and delivering on customer needs can make the difference between business growth and losing customers to competitors that provide a better experience.

While marketing automation is often part of customer journey orchestration, the latter is more complex, has more of an omnichannel approach to communications, and takes into account a fuller picture of the customer’s journey with your organization. Understanding your needs can make sure you are doing the right thing from a customer experience and business investment and outcomes perspective.

In this article, I’m going to discuss some of the criteria you should keep in mind when determining whether you should use an often more straightforward method of marketing automation, or if customer journey orchestration is right for you.

What Is Your Definition of 'Omnichannel'?

While the word “omni” means “all,” for the purposes of this article, omnichannel marketing can make up two or more channels. How you define it depends on your specific setup and circumstances.

If, in your case, you only have a few channels that you can personalize, your needs may fall more towards using marketing automation. On the other hand, if you have several different channels, online and offline contacts with customers, and other varied needs, you are going to soon run into limitations of the simpler capabilities of marketing automation. True omnichannel marketing and customer experience is what customer journey orchestration was built for.

While marketing automation can provide a good amount of personalization across a relatively small set of channels, if your marketing and customer experience need to span a multitude of mediums and formats, you will most likely be better off thinking about an orchestration approach that integrates some of your existing marketing automation.

Related Article: How to Unleash Your Omnichannel Content Strategy

How Detailed Is Your Audience Segmentation?

If you are reading this article, you are most likely doing some types of detailed audience segment already. Exactly how detailed, and how unique the desired actions and steps are between these audiences will vary greatly from one type of business to another, however.

If you are starting out with a relatively small amount of audience segments, or you don’t anticipate your segmentation to grow too complex over time, marketing automation may be the right fit for you. Marketing automation may also be a good way to do some initial tests on your audience segmentation, though it will generally hit some limitations when you are wanting to do true omnichannel approaches to your customer experience. Journey orchestration provides more flexibility to reach across multiple channels and mediums in most cases.

Once your segments grow more complex and varied, and if you have plans to create several distinct audiences, as well as to vary your communication throughout the journey, then you should strongly consider an orchestration approach.

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Related Article: Data Management Is the Key to Success – or Failure – in Customer Journey Orchestration

Other Considerations

There are a few other things to keep in mind as you are making decisions about whether to consider moving towards customer journey orchestrations.

From a customer data perspective, if you have multiple sources, including internal customer data platform (CDP) equivalents, you may find that the personalization and AI capabilities you need exist in the customer journey orchestration realm.

Similarly, if you have your own data science capabilities and are using proprietary machine learning methods to learn more about your customers, you will most likely need a customer journey orchestration platform that can handle such inputs. Keep in mind that not all of these platforms even do that, so you’ll need to review and see what your exact needs are.

As you can see, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to providing a personalized, tailored customer experience. You also don’t want to overengineer a solution that leaves you with spiraling technology costs, technical debt and a set of platforms that are difficult and cumbersome to maintain. By the same token, you also don’t want to shortchange your digital experience and leave money on the table.

The best thing to do is to carefully tailor an approach based on your current and anticipated future needs. For an increasing amount of organizations, simpler marketing automation is not enough, and starting down the path of customer journey orchestration is the optimal approach. Remember, you can also start small by focusing on a single customer segment, or even focus your efforts on specific parts of the journey so as not to create too big of a first step down this road.

As you can see, there are many factors that go into deciding whether marketing automation or customer journey orchestration will work best for you.

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