Stereotype: a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, affective attitude or uncritical judgment. – Webster’s Dictionary
Society frowns on stereotypes, and for good reason: They may not reflect reality and they tend to violate our common understanding that all individuals are unique.
For years, however, marketing organizations have exhibited a similar kind of oversimplification with the time-honored practice of dividing markets into customer segments and using one-size-fits-all approaches in targeting them for marketing activities.
Traditional segmentation naively assumes that, say, all technology buyers in B2B companies with more than 5,000 employees act alike and can be related to in the same manner. Or that if a customer takes a certain action, the marketing response should always be the same – automatic emails to website visitors, for example.
That no longer works in today’s world. Customers engage with brands across multiple digital touch points — from the first interaction to the buying process to ongoing customer care — and they expect a more personalized experience throughout. It’s an adaptive journey and how companies conduct it has become as important as the product they sell.
Marketing automation platforms are evolving to handle these new realities, thanks to the help of embedded predictive and artificial intelligence technologies that can anticipate buyer behaviors, automate outreach and prescribe for the business whom to engage, when to engage and what to engage with.
The latest infrastructure is giving marketers a command center that helps them streamline, automate and measure marketing activities across channels, and send highly relevant customized content to the right customer or the right potential customer at just the right time.
It also can help Marketing better partner with Sales – showing the return on investment for the different marketing activities and how they all impact pipeline.
To picture the difference between today’s more advanced marketing automation platforms and the previous generations still in use at many companies, think of what it was like to use MapQuest circa 2003 compared with Waze or Google Maps now.
MapQuest was a major improvement over paper maps, giving users a more convenient, computerized way to get directions. But the technology was static: It couldn’t change on the fly if conditions changed – say, the driver made a wrong turn or an accident occurred ahead. Today’s apps, on the other hand, constantly pull in data about traffic, road conditions, etc. to automatically offer real-time, dynamic insights.
Similarly, the latest marketing automation infrastructure is able to leverage data in real time to assess, modify and optimize marketing activities so that companies can be more effective and agile in responding to and caring for customers.
When integrated with a company’s website, social media accounts, CRM and a host of other application infrastructures, marketing automation platforms can become enterprises’ de facto engagement database of record.
Ed Koch, the late mayor of New York City, once said, “Stereotypes lose their power when the world is found to be more complex than the stereotype would suggest.” This is very true of marketing today and why more intelligent marketing automation technology that delivers a more personalized experience is a must-have.