During the economic downturn of 2008-09, the need for demand generation became a critical business challenge, and a number of marketing automation players quickly emerged to fill that space.
Companies soon embarked on comprehensive digital strategies that employed automation as a means of capturing, enticing and capitalizing on the customer’s online activity.
And as far as “generating transactions” is concerned, those automation strategies worked well. By monitoring and scoring a customer’s behavior on their website, companies were able to ramp up their online business – as well as meet the challenge of competitor’s online strategies.
But today’s challenge is different: online is now a given, information is transparent, and customers have real-time access to all of it in the palm of their hands
Marketing automation is no longer a competitive differentiator – customer engagement is.
So what’s the key difference between automation and engagement? Basically, it comes down to how companies respond to customer expectations:
|Customers can transact online||Customers can interact online, in-store, or both|
|The website recognizes visitors and knows past online activity & behavior||Store associates recognize visitors and know past online and offline activity & behavior|
|Information is readily available on demand||Information and knowledgeable resources are presented when and where they’re needed|
|Offers and deals are delivered based on past activity||Advice and guidance are offered based on interests, likes or dislikes|
|Orders are easily and quickly placed – fast “in and out”||Relationships are developed and maintained – long-term “life cycle”|
Going forward, companies will need to develop their own customer engagement strategies in order to win in today’s new world – a world where customers rule. It’s about augmenting the technology of automation with the art of engagement:
- Look beyond just scoring past behavior and algorithmically delivering offers
- Foster participative, 2-way interactions with customers
- Empower in-store associates with online customer insights
- Combine digital and in-store experiences into a consolidated whole
Note: Variations of this post have appeared previously on client blogs focused on customer experience and engagement. Those prior posts, as well as this one, are all 100% originated and authored by me.