There’s no doubt regarding the effectiveness of marketing automation. Automation makes communicating with customers easy and has the potential to yield impressive results.

However, automation can be a nuisance for customers if not used appropriately. Automation fails when marketers present irrelevant, incorrect, or outdated content. At its worst, marketing automation can actually make a business lose customers.

Automation can be a little tricky, and automation across multiple channels can be tough. But a little extra effort can turn into a big payoff – a seamless, omnichannel marketing automation experience can be a marketer’s best friend.

So, what’s the point of marketing automation?

The end goal in most marketing automation campaigns is to drive traffic to the business’s website. E-commerce sales are steadily increasing, and the best way to make sales online is by increasing traffic to a website. Automated marketing provides relevant content for the right customers at the appropriate time. With automation tools, a marketer can create a personalized, 1:1 shopping experience without having to constantly attend to a customer’s needs.

Businesses who want to give shoppers an easy, convenient e-commerce experience should utilize automation via website, email, social media and call centers.

The Digital World:


Nearly every business that makes sales online uses some type of automation in their website. Website automation has a wide range of uses and may interact directly and indirectly with a customer.

Customers may experience automation through a business’s search engine, shopping cart, or user registration. Automation systems can also handle mundane, behind-the-scenes technical tasks like data backup.

Forever21's search engine predicts what you're searching for, and automatically directs you to the right product
Forever21’s search engine predicts what you’re searching for, and automatically directs you to the right product

The most important assets in website automation are leading pages. Emails, social media, and other web pages will often contain links to a site’s landing page. Landing pages are specifically designed to generate leads, as these links direct customers to a product page or collect customer data. Employing leading pages increases the likelihood for a completely seamless multi-channel automation experience.


Marketers should be strong advocates for email automation. This channel has particularly high potential and a variety of different opportunities to market.

As previously mentioned, landing pages play a large role in email automation. Businesses can send customers emails with relevant products a customer may be interested in, and prompt a sale by providing a link to the products’ landing page. Businesses can also send “Happy Birthday” discounts or information about sales, with links to their site.

Banana Repulic's Embark confirmation email
Banana Repulic’s Embark confirmation email

Businesses can also connect brick-and-mortar experiences with digital. For example, Banana Republic sends emails to its newly registered members, welcoming them to their Embark program. Seconds after I registered with Embark, I received the following email from Banana:

This automated email confirmed that my membership with Embark. A few days later, I received another email from Banana’s Embark with information about in-store sales. I had officially connected with Banana in-store and online via email. And, even though I was not actually with a Banana Republic associate, I was still able to access relevant information at my leisure.


Social media can be a strong asset for marketers using automation. The workout class provider ClassPass is one strong player in the social media marketing game. ClassPass provides a variety of yoga and pilates classes to members, and markets through automated social media ads.

ClassPass posts links to landing pages in their Twitter or Facebook feeds, sharing new promotions and products with their followers. Links within these posts lead ClassPass’s followers to more information about their offerings and a link to purchase workout classes.

ClassPass promotes new location
ClassPass promotes their new location via Twitter

ClassPass advertises to individuals that don’t necessarily follow them on social media, but may be potential clients using Facebook’s paid advertisement feature. Before I had heard of ClassPass, the following sponsored ad popped up on my Facebook feed.


As a pilates-loving woman living in a city with ClassPass locations, this advertisement was perfect for me. Using my gender, location and interests, Facebook and ClassPass targeted me as a possible client in the workout-class demographic. My personal information determined that I would likely be interested in ClassPass’s products.

Both types of social media advertisements are particularly effective for ClassPass, because they reach the consumer when he or she is likely not preoccupied with other tasks. As most people access social media in their free time, ClassPass’s potential customers have the time to explore the webpage and consider new purchases.

Call Center

Although phone calls are not digital, company call centers also play a role in the e-commerce experience. When a customer wants more information about a product or a shopping experience goes awry, he or she can call the customer service line.

In years past, a seamless website-call center experience was nonexistent. However, with technological advances, call centers contribute to easy, seamless shopping. Call centers have quick access to customer data from past purchases and personal information, and can pull up detailed information about a customer’s shopping experience in seconds.

If a customer has a complaint about their most recent purchase, a call center can verify purchases and help the customer with a touch of a button. If a customer is looking for more information about an out-of-stock product, the call center may be able to recommend other products based on similar shoppers’ preferences. And if a customer needs to be redirected to a different department, information can be shared with the new company rep digitally, quickly, and easily. A call center’s automated material is key in providing a personalized experience for customers.

While adjusting marketing automation strategies may require a little extra time and effort, businesses should keep eyes on the prize: an increase in customer interest, product awareness, and ROI. And, as experts believe that marketing automation will gain popularity, marketers should be quick to employ an automation strategy.

Clickstream technology is vital to understanding customers in any web associated business. The ability to track customer activity across digital fronts allows analysts and marketing teams to easily optimize UX, enrich their CRM, and enhance personalization. One of the key success factors for personalization is segmentation, and installing a clickstream tool can help build customer profiles to power automation engines and personalization.

Although clickstream is most intuitive for website use, it also provides value for other channels. For instance, basic analytics tools and most email services can show you the click-through rate, but using a clickstream will allow you to track which links were clicked and also track through the link onto a website to continue building the customer pathway as a prospect navigates through your digital world.

Marketing automation tools like nectarOM can help make the process of pulling in clickstream data, segmenting customers, and executing campaigns easier, but understanding how clickstream data can build or validate customer personas and profile types builds the base for more advanced personalization.

Analysis of historical data, like # of clicks on different assets, first session time, page view time, # of site visits, total session time, and tons of other data points that can help build understanding about an individual’s habits and personality type. Historical data can even be mapped to show progression of the customer through time, and analysis can see how each data point has changed over the lifecycle of an individual. With enough time, an automation tool, and planning, these data points can easily be imported into a CRM tool to enrich the existing customer information and fed into a marketing automation platform

Historical data about an individual customer can provide insights, but making clickstream data actionable enough requires laying out significant linkage between clickstream behavioral triggers and executed marketing engagement.

A marketing automation tool will make the act of ingesting and digesting new data points, and sending messages or content to customers much easier, but just like manual lists and campaigns, marketers will face challenges in describing what should prompt a marketing message or a change in content.

Things to keep in mind:


1. What describes a customer behavior change?

Many automation tools have predetermined algorithms that measure changes in quantitative history to optimize messaging, but each business is different.

2. Who are your buyer personas?

If you already have previously validated segments, how should they mesh with new clickstream data being pulled in? How is your clickstream data meshing with other customer data points from social, email, POS, and other sources.

3. What is your content?

This is often the most difficult and overlooked part in the personalization and automation evolution. Because sending relevant, personalized messages is important, how do you ensure that variants of content are enough, but not too much for your team to handle? The more personalized your marketing becomes, the more complex content to behavior linking will be. Marketer accessible data like like names, location, etc is much easier to personalize than things like design, copy, and other labor heavy work.

Clickstream is powerful, and it works, but utilization of the relatively easy to install tool requires a lot of thought into how it will enrich customer data, power automation and personalization, and ultimately increase marketing ROI. What are your challenges with clickstream data?

The biggest shopping day of the year is quickly approaching; and no, we aren’t talking about Black Friday. Cyber Monday 2014 is just a few days away.

Based off patterns from past Cyber Monday sales, we’re confident that Cyber Monday 2014 will provide record-breaking sales for every type of retailer. USA Today says “Black Friday will get crushed by Cyber Monday,” arguing that any special deals on Cyber Monday “will outshine most of the offerings on Black Friday.”

An IBM study analyzes historical and real-time data from retailers, showing a 20.6% increase in Cyber Monday online sales from 2012 to 2013. The study also showed that 2013 Cyber Monday sales were 31.5% more than those from Black Friday in the same year. What’s even more interesting is that Cyber Monday shoppers spent 5% less per order than Black Friday goers, with an average order value of $128.77 vs. $135.27. If these patterns continue, retailers can expect to see a significant uptick in traffic this year on Cyber Monday.

Importance of technology and marketing automation

These findings show the public’s shift from in-store to online sales, as customers rely on technology for purchasing products on these special shopping days.

As new developments in technology begin to influence marketing strategies, implementing a marketing automation plan is necessary for companies who wish to stay competitive. Marketing automation is the best innovation for raising product awareness among customers and keeping customers interested in products. The success of your company on December 1st could be determined by marketing automation tactics.

How will you use marketing automation to your advantage for Cyber Monday?

Create excitement for your customers.

Will you offer any special deals on Cyber Monday? Are there any promotional codes your customers may want to take advantage of? If so, let them know! Give your customers a brief preview into your Cyber Monday specials, offering special promo codes via your automation suite. Establishing interest in exciting sales ensures your customers remember to visit your site during the shopping holiday.

Make it special.

To ensure that your communication with shared clients is better than their communication with competition, take advantage of marketing personalization techniques. Personalization is necessary for a successful automation campaign in order to ensure the email does not come off as robotic, impersonal spam. Make sure communication is tailored differently to suit each customer. Provide recommendations for products that each customer may prefer, based on their past interests. A personalized, 1:1 messaging approach that is relevant to the customer will strengthen their relationship with your company.

Send reminder emails to checkout

Your customer visited your site, selected items for purchase, and is ready to buy…until they abandon their shopping cart at checkout. Whether customers are leaving your site to compare prices with your competition, or simply because they forget to return to the site for checkout, the abandonment of a shopping cart can be a tough loss. However, we recommend triggered emails to customers who have abandoned their shopping carts. These emails should be sent immediately after, the following day, and a week after the customer leaves the site. Sending three emails over this time period gently reminds the customer to buy, without being too pushy.

Why are we so sure marketing automation is the answer?

Companies that use marketing automation tend to perform better than those who do not. The Lenskold Group 2013 Lead Generation Marketing Effectiveness Study determined that 63% of companies that are outgrowing competitors use marketing automation. The same study showed that 78% of successful marketers attributed improvements in revenue to marketing automation.

Here is an impressive list of statistics that show the success of a marketing automation campaign. These statistics reveal it’s not only wise to use marketing automation for Cyber Monday, but absolutely necessary.

Why You Need Clickstream Data. And How You Should Use It

Clickstream Analysis: Understanding your Customers Online
Clickstream Analysis: Understanding your Customers Online

Almost everyone in online retail knows about clickstream tracking.  Many companies utilize click tracking on their sites.  However much of it is either not utilized or under-utilized as a tool to improve the customer shopping experience.  When clickstream data is analyzed, it is typically to understand usage patterns or the types of customers visiting the site.  Recently, e-retailers have begun using clickstream data to serve up improved content choices to its visitors–think of the “You May Also Like” or “Customers Who Viewed _____ also Viewed_____” widgets found on many websites today.

All these current uses are beneficial to the company and its customers.  The usage patterns can help inform a better path design to improve the customer experience.  The new content widgets provide improved relevancy to the customer, also improving their shopping experience.

However, clickstream tracking can deliver even more value when combined with other customer data, including their transactions, email interactions, mobile and social information, CRM data and so on.  When you combine click data with other data you have about your customer, you go from delivering potentially relevant content to delivering hyper-personalized communications. When you use hyper-personalized messages–what they want, when they want it, where they want it–to communicate with your customers, they are more engaged, more loyal and give you more of their business.

So why don’t brands use their click tracking data in this manner?  Below are a few reasons:

  1. Many brands use companies whose clickstream tracking is just too complicated to make real-time decisions.
  2. Even when they have easy access to their clickstream data, companies are not sure how to combine that data with other customer data.
  3. Using clickstream data as outlined above is just another “to-do” in a long list of “to-dos” marketers and IT departments have.

Do you use clickstream data?  Have you found what works and what doesn’t? Please let us know in the comments below.

Enhanced by Zemanta