Explaining marketing automation: The agency

Track managing director Rob Limb

What benefits do you see for adopting marketing automation?

Instead of having to spend time constantly creating new campaigns, marketing automation frees people up to focus on bigger things, like creating new ideas and innovation for your brand. You need to be in the market at the exact time that customers are thinking about purchasing –not just during a certain time of the day or certain time of the year. You’ve got to always be on, and automation allows you to do that. 

What results have you seen from your clients implementing marketing automation?

One of the biggest things we’ve noticed with clients is their volume of communication with customers going up massively. We’ve also seen that with teams who were once struggling trying to get basic life-cycle campaigns out the door are now being freed up to do other things. Lastly, we’ve seen clients shift their operating rhythm after implementing marketing automation because all of a sudden, you’re operating at a faster rhythm. You’re testing more stuff, you’re learning more things and you’re making decisions faster. So generally, the speed of operations definitely ratchets up.  

What advice would you give to a client considering taking up marketing automation?

Marketing is no doubt a technology-led discipline now. But if you see marketing automation as just a technology play or an efficiency play, you’re going to come unstuck. Because ultimately, when you’re talking about marketing automation, you’re talking about the way you talk to customers. Therefore, you have to be really clear about the experience you want your customers to have. Don’t just automate things that aren’t necessarily great in the first place. 

Secondly, don’t underestimate how much change is involved and how quick people will be to judge if it doesn’t work at first. Taking up marketing automation does need a strand of work that’s purely about the hard side of change management.

Another important thing to consider is how you resource support for the platform. Too many times I’ve seen organisations implement a platform but not be able to access the expertise, either in-house or through partners, to iron out the bugs and sort things out.

Lastly, it’s important to know that you’re probably not alone and that there are other organisations in non-competing sectors who have actually gone through similar experiences. I think people think they have to do things by themselves, but in New Zealand, marketers have been working with marketing automation for a good ten years now, and there are plenty of people out there who can share their experiences. 

How do you think international vendors compare to local vendors? 

Large-to-medium sized organisations in New Zealand who are maybe looking at overseas vendors could do well to remember that they may actually represent a small business in markets such as Europe, Asia or the USA. Therefore, some of the lessons these overseas vendors have learnt and some of the great results they’ve had, come with the sort of scale that is very hard to get in New Zealand.

Secondly, sometimes the support international vendors talk up in the sales process is not quite as strong in reality, so it’s important to ask all the tough questions and really understand the level of support you need. Find out from similar organisations about the level of support they’ve had because that support can make all the difference. You really have to push your potential vendors about the support they can give, and if you’re uncomfortable with that, it may be time to consider a local New Zealand supplier instead.

Overall, my experience with overseas vendors suggests that their focus is not on the customer and their experience. The speeches they make and the papers they publish may say that’s their focus, but ultimately, they’re about selling software. Of course there are outstanding vendors out there who learn from mistakes and do make the effort, but that experience is just something to bear in mind, and if people can bear that in mind, they’re going to end up getting a better result. 

Part 1: The provider
Part 2: The client

  • This story is part of a content partnership with Ubiquity.

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