Implicit And Explicit Data In Marketing Automation Tutorial

Implicit & Explicit Data : Marketing Tutorial

Last updated on 29th Sep 2020, Blog, Tutorials

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Marketing Automation

  • Marketing automation is the process of using tools and technology to automate repetitive marketing tasks, track and measure campaign performance, improve productivity, and drive efficiency by minimizing manual actions.
  • Automating marketing tasks allows the team to spend more of their time on creative and decision-centric tasks such as marketing strategy, workflow planning, customer journey mapping etc.

Key Objectives and Advantages of Marketing Automation


Here are the 5 key objectives and advantages of marketing automation for businesses today:

1. Boosting marketing productivity

One of the most important objectives of implementing any automation is to minimize or eliminate human resource investment in manual and repetitive tasks, such that your human employees can instead focus on creative and imaginative jobs that cannot be automated and specifically requires human intervention.

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The same applies to implementing marketing automation where the goal is to move repetitive marketing tasks and defined customer/ audience engagement workflows- from creative humans to efficient machines. This frees your thinking, breathing marketing human resources to focus on tasks where their attention is actually critical, such as, marketing strategy, calendar planning, digital customer experience mapping, campaign performance monitoring, improvement and reporting etc.

2. Improving marketing efficiency and ROI

As your organization grows, it is no longer efficient or cost-effective to have marketers and sales enablers manually keep track of individual prospects and customers and engage them. This can drop the competitive edge, diminish your ROI balance sheets and can derail expansion as the company gets bogged down with bureaucracy needed to manage massive human resources who are largely doing meagre, repetitive and less motivating (and creative) tasks.

Marketing automation, when implemented even at a basic-to-intermediate stage, will enable your marketing team to schedule bulk emails, identity and segment prospects based on potential for conversion, nurture leads as per defined workflows, trigger engagements- such as sending customer feedback surveys after an interaction/ pre-defined time period and capture responses etc. Not only does this exponentially improve marketing efficiency in delivering outcomes with minimized manual work, your marketing team will now deliver real improvement in ROI as they engage in more strategic and creative tasks that are far more impactful.

On a side bonus, it also improves the marketing team’s employee satisfaction and reduces attrition rates, as these members now find more fulfillment through real creative tasks and learning opportunities in their day-to-day work profiles.

3. Enabling and delivering campaign personalization

Personalization is critical to effective lead nurturing and with marketing automation you are better equipped to personalize how you connect with your audience. It’s because more data helps you understand your audience better. When integrated with your CRM, your MAP provides greater insights into your audience which can be used to define relevant segments and deliver content to the right prospect at the right time in their buyer’s journey.

4. Providing real-time performance measurement

The 2017 Adestra study also revealed that 37% marketers see measuring performance as an important objective of marketing automation. Rightly so! With real-time campaign data through your MAP, you can analyze how well your campaign was received. Metrics such as open rate, click-through rate and so on, let you know what worked with your subscribers and what didn’t. This allows you to make tweaks and optimize your marketing campaigns along the way.

5. Enhancing customer acquisition and retention

Prospects are attracted and customers stay when a brand offers well-managed personalized journeys that are relevant to their context and buying preferences. Additionally, with marketing automation marketers can focus more on strategizing customer acquisition and retention as the regular campaign management, follow-ups and customer interactions are taken care of. 39% marketers in the same Adestra study also agreed to acquiring more customers as one of the objectives of marketing automation.

Levels of Marketing Automation

Let’s take a deeper look at the three levels of marketing automation technology maturity.

Basic: At this stage, a company/ organization is at the start of their journey when it comes to effective audience data management and multi-channel campaign orchestration. This is also when organizations are planning to integrate some of the data from primary audience/ customer engagement channels, and begin to measure the effectiveness of these campaigns- at least across some sections of the customer journey.

At this basic level, marketing automation exists only in the form of channel-specific campaign management and limited monitoring on tasks such as bulk email send out, scheduling social media posts, CMS for web content management etc.

This generic customer segmentation and siloed data (such as data spread across social media channels, email marketing campaigns, website traffic etc)- allows only rudimentary levels of targeting and personalization, which ultimately leads to an incoherent experience for the customer. Since it cannot rely on a unified audience list from across channels, this kind of marketing automation provides limited data on real campaign outcomes and limited insights for future campaign optimization.

Intermediate: A level up from basic marketing automation, a company in the intermediate tech maturity stage has some degree of data unification and integration across channels. This means that most of the data is in one place, and some marketing activities are orchestrated across limited channels, but there is significant room for improving integration, data flow, technology and processes.

An intermediate level marketing automation system typically involves at least a CRM integration and some marketing automation capabilities on tasks such as audience/ customer data segmentation based on organization defined parameters, automating lead nurturing workflows, limited ability to track user behavior across brand interactions (without knowing their identity) etc.

However, it’s not enough to provide a comprehensive, omnichannel and individualized experience for every single customer/ user. The campaigns are more multi-channel, efficient and output-focused, rather than omnichannel, effectiveness and outcome-focused . Yet, this level of maturity allows a reasonable degree of personalized, relevant and consistent communication with the customer.

Advanced: An advanced maturity level of marketing automation technology is characterized by end-to-end integration of customer and audience data gathered across all channels and platforms, be it social media, email campaigns, webinars, website, adtech etc. This data is fed into a centralized data system like a customer data platform (CDP), to successfully orchestrate and deliver sophisticated workflows for personalized, contextual, consistent and omnichannel customer/ audience engagement, digital advertising, re-targeting, lead nurturing and other marketing and sales enablement activities.

If you can identify where you stand amongst these three levels of marketing automation tech maturity, you will find it easier to advance to the next stage- but only if it’s an organizational requirement based on size of company, type of industry, priorities and capital available for investment.

Types Of Marketing Automation Softwares

Marketing automation can range from simple tools to aid brand promotion or a set of tools and applications to manage end-to-end workflows and campaigns. While the adoption of various possible marketing automation components or types varies based on your business needs, here are some of the common types you can choose from to build your platform:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM): This kind of an automation software stores, manages and helps retrieve customer/ lead data, purchase history and other business interactions between the brand and customers. This data is critical for aiming to plan and orchestrate customer journeys and bring some degree of personalization into their experience.

A CRM is essentially your central hub for automating the capture, storage and retrieval of all customer or prospect data. A business can also integrate their CRM with other marketing tools to automate a larger process. For example, you can easily integrate your Salesforce CRM with email marketing automation platforms like Hubspot, and create workflows based on audience segmentation maps for lead nurturing or upselling (depending on the stage of buying funnel and ultimate goal of the business).

  • Email marketing: This is one of the first and most common areas of automation adopted by companies, given the sheer use of this marketing method due to affordability and evergreen impact. Depending on the level of sophistication of the software, email marketing automation tools allow marketers to automate and to create audience segments based on captured data, create workflows for lead nurturing, create delivery and bounce reports, integrate with CRM/ other tools and of course, schedule and send bulk emails. Infact, smart systems like ActiveCampaigns, EngageBay and Hubspot, also allow you to configure email triggers based on a single or combination of factors.

Most tools also come with performance measurement dashboards that provide metrics on delivery rate, opening rate, click-through rate (CTR) etc.

You can personalize various aspects of the email’s content based on your CDM and dynamic content capabilities.

  • Lead management: Lead management is primarily a B2B marketing need, where value and effort per customer acquisition is much higher and takes since each prospect has a unique persona, different buying potential and are at different stages in the sales funnel, lead automation helps you nurture, engage and serve them relevant content. Through automation of lead processes such as mapping buyer journeys, lead scoring, lead qualification and lead progression, you can efficiently move from lead identification to conversion with custom designed nurture campaigns. Buyer journey mapping tells you if a lead is anonymous, known, engaged, marketing qualified, sales accepted, won, lost, or closed. Lead scoring lets you determine if a lead is ready to be passed on to sales for further perusal or you need to spend more time nurturing it. You can also automate the process of passing the marketing-qualified lead to sales automatically by applying a threshold on the lead score value.
  • Audience Segmentation and Management: While every customer or prospect has their own unique preferences and behaviour, there are some common factors that a business can use to segment their audience. These factors can be the stage of buying journey, purchase frequency and history, key account activities etc. Using these types of parameters based on what makes sense for your business, you can segment your audience to make their content consumption experience contextual to their actions and experiences. Today, platforms like Merkle, Marketo, MailChimp etc, enables you to do this segmentation and list management automatically. Using a data management platform further enables more micro-targeting and omnichannel campaign orchestration
  • Social Media Posting and Analytics:While Facebook, Twitter and other respective social media platforms provide free analytics for your account, there is an increased business appetite for scheduling multiple posts, deeper insights and connected, omnichannel social media analytics that are user/ customer centric and not platform centric only.

While it requires advanced software like a CDP to get a truly unified and single customer view (SCV) respectively, marketing automation software is readily available for obtaining deeper analytical insights on your audience across multiple channels.

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For example, platforms like DataBox can track organic social media users (not just paid campaigns) all the way to your website and provides you with insights such as social media conversion rate, individual and grouped post analytics, impressions from audience vs real engagement and conversions, customizable KPIs etc.

  • Digital Ads and Retargeting: Digital ads are text and multimedia ads on search engines, social media sites and ad networks that are real-time and programmatically managed. Marketing automation today enables you to orchestrate and activate ads across multiple channels, centrally bidded and managed using a demand side platform (DSP). So, while DSPs can be used for bidding, managing and retargeting operations of your digital ads, marketing automation platforms do much more. For instance, when comparing Marketo to SmartAds DSP, besides ad-ops operations and channel management, Marketo provides a host of additional post-click features such as contact management, audience segmentation, ROI tracking, affiliate management etc, that are critical for most marketing teams, especially in enterprise companies.

5 Key Steps To Implement Marketing Automation

Here are 5 key steps that will help you establish a strong marketing automation framework for your organization:

1. Define your requirements and goals

Organizations need marketing automation depending on size, organizational goals and resource prioritization. So, you need to ask yourself the following questions on marketing automation:

  • What are the various marketing activities that are critical to your business?
  • Do any of these activities have enough repetitive tasks to warrant an automation?
  • Does automation help bring in additional marketing capabilities that you need?
  • Will investing in automation tangibly help improve overall marketing ROI within a defined and feasible time period?

It is also highly advised to read and understand case studies of marketing automation implementation across companies in your market vertical or company size.

Also, consider if there are any gaps in your existing martech stack and the repetitive marketing tasks that you are looking to automate.

Study of various use cases to understand how you can use marketing automation within your own business.

2. Get a pricing estimate and get key stakeholders on-board

Based on your analysis of your marketing requirements and defined goals get proposals and pricing estimates from various marketing automation solution providers or consultants.

Once you have this information handy, study some use cases and let the other teams also know how marketing automation can help the marketing and sales departments become more efficient and the impact of the investment on the bottomline. It’s important that for smooth and seamless implementation, you need to have a buy-in from C-level executives and your own sales and marketing heads.

3. Find the right marketing automation platform (MAP)

Now that you know your specific requirements, you need to find out the best suited marketing automation software or solution for your business, from the many that are available out there. You need to consider your requirements, organization size, budget, features, etc. before zeroing in on a solution. Here are five key criterias you should consider before selecting one MAP:

  • Features: Look for a solution that offers the features you need and don’t give in to the temptation of spending more on a bulk of features that you may not necessarily need.
  • Ease of use: How convenient or user-friendly is the platform? It should require a minimal amount of learning and training before you can start using it.
  • Ease of integration: This is a critical aspect although most solutions available now are designed to easily integrate with third party systems. Ensure that the software platform you choose fits your existing Martech stack.
  • Modifications and customizations: discuss any special requirements you may need from the vendor and the impact on deployment timelines and costs for the same
  • Pricing: When considering the price of your MAP, add all the mandatory upfront costs for training and implementation, and other add-on features for the best estimate, and then tally with your budget. Also, consider the terms of the contract – is the payment monthly, or annual? What impact will scaling up the licenses or scope have on costs? .
  • Support: The post-implementation support from the platform vendor is one of the critical determinants of the effectiveness of your marketing automation platform.

4. Create an implementation/ deployment plan

Choose a few well-defined use cases to start with, demonstrate success and drive adoption. Ensure that data integration is completed from appropriate data sources.

Skilling and training of the right team members as well as putting a feedback mechanism in place where the vendor supports and handholds during the launch phase is critical.

You may even want to seek assistance from a marketing automation consultant, for streamlining all these tasks.

5. Start with the basics, then build on

We understand that it’s tempting to try out all the interesting features your marketing automation platform might offer, but don’t go all in, right away. Start with the essentials and experiment with more features as you move further and are able to demonstrate success with the early use cases. This approach will allow you to take a gradual course of learning, analyzing and improving upon the system usage and response.

Data comes in two principal forms, implicit and explicit.

Explicit data will be what you capture in forms and surveys, such as address, job function, size of the business, number of licenses, time to purchase etc. Once you have data such as this you can begin to segment buyers by these explicit data points to trigger them into more specific campaigns. For instance, if you know their contact details, company name, job role size of business and purchase timeframe you can more accurately predict their stage in the buyer journey.

Then, add to this the implicit data, the information you gather whilst they have been engaging with your business digitally, such as the products they have been focusing on, the items downloaded, the number of visits and length of time on your website, the videos they have watched, the emails opened and clicked, all build towards a picture of their needs.

This implicit and explicit data provides you with the killer insight to ensure you can really fine-tune the customer buyer journey for each prospect, removing the robustness of a one size fits all messaging and making it seamless, smooth, informative and a great experience.

Here are 7 ways ion leverages interactive content marketing data in marketing automation:

1.     Segmentation — for marketing

WHY: Marketing automation systems are often home to thousands of leads. In order to deliver more relevant nurture streams, smart marketers break their universe into addressable segments. ion facilitates high fidelity segmentation from explicit rather than inferred data.

HOW: Assessments, report cards and conversion paths are among the interactive content marketing experiences that yield explicit segmentation data. We combine all that rich data from buyers’ answers to strategically designed questions into a single ion mashup field exported to the MAP. We then use our marketing automation platform (MAP) to scan our ion mashup field for high qualifying answers and then add matching buyers to segment lists. We also tag those buyers for easy reference in the MAP.

2.     Best Bets — for sales

WHY: Sales needs a helping hand to identify their best bets. ion is uniquely suited to provide descriptive data that can be pattern matched to surface best bets based on explicit data from their interactive journey.

HOW: The digital journey can be a long one — with many touch points from form submits, to eBook consumption, to self assessments, to solution building, budget calculating and so on. The amount of high fidelity data generated over the course of that journey is both awesome and intimidating. ion provides quique, explicit data for marketing automation pattern matching. We use rules in ion and the MAP to look for combinations of responses across touchpoints that indicate ‘best bets’ for sales. For example, a buyer may respond that they have budget in one touchpoint, that they have pain in another touchpoint, and that they are the decision maker in another touchpoint. By having an automation rule look for that pattern in the data pushed into the MAP’s mashup field, we can surface ready buyers to sales. Marketing also uses ‘best bets’ as their most senior segment for judging performance — meaning, if marketing efforts don’t perform well with ‘best bets’, then there’s a marketing problem to solve.

3.     Worst Bets — for sales (and marketing)

WHY: Because where there are ‘best bets’ there are ‘worst bets’, and getting the worst bets off your radar minimizes distractions and consumption of your resources. Meaning, you need to segment out your ill fits so that you don’t waste time and money catering to them.

HOW: By the same token as ‘best bets’, certain combinations of buyer responses in their interactive journey indicate that they’re likely to be a waste of time. For example, they may indicate that their industry is outside your target, combined with their company size being an ill fit, combined with an indication of not having budget or decision making authority. And it’s likely that these data points come from various touch points across the journey. We use marketing automation to look for negative response patterns in the ion mashup data field and to segregate those matching leads so that sales doesn’t waste resources on them. Marketing also segments ‘worst bets’ out of its core group for evaluating performance — because we care a lot less about how ill fits perform.

4.     Targeting — for marketing

WHY: Relevance drives results. When each subsequent touchpoint in the digital journey can be smarter and more relevant, the journey accelerates revenue and business value improves.

HOW: Certain types of ion experiences earn explicit data perfect for targeting. Great examples of relevance targeting include gender, industry and seniority. Gender may come from a data append service and get immediately attached to the buyer’s ion record. Rather than inferring industry or seniority, we may get that data explicitly using a conversion path, segmenting eBook or report card experience. We write targeting data into the ion buyer profile and use that to make subsequent experiences dynamically more relevant. Rules within ion make that dynamic relevance possible. We also send targeting data to the MAP and use automation rules to segment and tag. We can then more specifically nurture and sell using those segments and tags to target messages, emails and experiences.

5.     Personalization — for marketing and sales

WHY: Personalization is like a more intimate form of relevance. Helping people to feel known and understood can make them feel more comfortable and willing to interact. Eliminating redundant personal data collection (and friction) is key. A word of caution — personalization taken too far is just creepy. Don’t cross that line and all is well.

HOW: ion creates a buyer profile for each user and appends that profile over the course of their journey. At some point an anonymous lead becomes known when they engage in touchpoints that yield their personal information. A typical interactive journey includes many of these touchpoints. The keys here are to only ask for data once, to ask for few data points at any one time, and to ask for new and deeper data in subsequent visits. This is like a much smarter and smoother version of ‘progressive profiling’. Later visits use previously supplied personal information to dynamically greet, subtly enhance and eliminate data gathering redundancies. For example, ion dynamically changes fields shown in forms based on what’s already in the buyer profile. Forms dynamically shrink making follow-on conversions more likely. Profile data is also passed into the MAP and leveraged in nurture programs.

6.     Scoring — for marketing and sales

WHY: Scoring sorts the wheat from the chaff. Inferred scoring — based on digital body language of clicks, downloads, views, opens — is guesswork subject to sub-optimal accuracy and noise. ion provides explicit data that minimizes guesswork and improves the accuracy and reliability of MAP scoring programs.

HOW: Buyer responses from their interactive journey are saved to their ion profile and simultaneously sent to the MAP as part of the ion mashup field. Automation rules in the MAP increment or decrement the explicit side of the lead score based on a buyer’s explicit responses to questions across their journey. A typical scoring challenge is a glut of low fidelity behavioral data (busy data) and a dearth of high fidelity explicit data. ion reverses this, supplying a glut of high quality, high reliability explicit data. This enables scores to climb more rapidly and accurately, accelerating lead scoring programs and ultimately pipeline velocity.

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7.     Full Circle — for marketing

WHY: So far, the first six ways to use ion data in marketing automation have focused on leveraging ion’s high fidelity information in the MAP. Well, it works the other way too and the business value is enormous.

HOW: ion’s experiences can dynamically change based on data passed in from marketing automation platforms. The code-free rules that enable this magic can consume everything we’ve talked about above — segments, targets, personalization, scoring — and make the user experience more relevant, personal and effective in real time. This high fidelity dynamic relevance is the wind beneath the wings driving acceleration of the journey and the pipeline.

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