redeyeSince its creation in 1997, RedEye has been developing single-customer-view databases and started employing behavioral email triggers in 2002 in order to integrate customer data and to generate individually relevant messages on this basis automatically. Over the years, the company gained abundant experience in marketing automation and therefore knows all too well that the B2C can be very complex, as it is very important to overcome certain hurdles.

As a help to assess whether your internal or external consultants can provide convincing answers to these questions, the following eight major areas, which RedEye sees as a key to success, could be assessed by you first.

1. The database

A single-customer-view database is the first step on the path to greater loyalty and increasing value to your customers. You collect all customer data, which is of importance for sales and communications, and sort them by customers (not according to sources). This database is the most important part of your future marketing automation solution. It must be scalable and combine data from many different sources.

Automatic programs ensure, that the amount of collected data as well as the number of segments which will grow exponentially, are sorted. Therefore, the database should be robust, preferably running on one of the leading management software solutions such as Oracle, IBM or Microsoft.

These are the questions you should ask yourself: Is all data in one place? Do all stakeholders have access? Is the provider able to answer questions quickly enough so that you will still remember your question?

Marketing automation databases are referred to by different names in digital marketing, for example customer data platform, data hub or data management platform. The name doesn't matter. Only a solution that enables you to capture all data centrally and to arrange it in a single customer view is a good solution.

2. Data quality

Make sure that your data is of good quality and remains that way. For example, one of the most important aspects of web analytics is the tag management. If there are changes to the site, it happens all too often that tags are moved or removed. Ask the provider of your choice how he verifies that the data collection and data feeds work properly. Such a test should take place once a day. Otherwise, you risk that automatic email programs work with wrong data and therefore revenue is lost.

A question that should be asked: Does your provider have his own tagging system or does he use a third party web analysis tool?

Whoever relies on conventional standard solutions for web analysis probably ends up collecting only half of the relevant data and therefore scores only half of the possible revenue. The database should contain both: transactional data and behavioral data. RFM (recency, frequency, monetary value) data can predict the future customer value. Behavioral data predicts the future interests of the purchaser: For example, through his search and clicking behavior on the website, a visitor indicates which products or product categories currently interest him.

Correct data is important, therefore the questions to be asked are: How does the provider maintain and update the data? Does he simply duplicate email addresses or does he take tougher stances? Can he recognize different, non-registered individuals on the same device or identify users across multiple devices? If the customer uses a second ID, such as a customer number, can the customer still be recognized? How about when he changes the email address? Remember that an average user changes his email address every three years.

3. Email marketing

Email marketing is an important aspect of your marketing automation strategy.

Questions that should make it: What experience with deliverability does the provider have? Does he consider delivery rates as his or your responsibility? Does he have proven experience in whitelisting?

4. Multichannel campaign management

The job of multichannel campaign management is to develop, create, and optimize online campaigns. In the ideal case, the result should be focused, measurable campaigns with advertising that has a consistent look and feel.

Questions that should be asked here: Are the right channels integrated into the system that you need for your campaign? How user-friendly is the campaign management? Does it provide a drag-and-drop user interface?

5. Analysis of the customer journey

Plan your inbound marketing by understanding which the main customer channels are. Customer journeys are rarely a simple sales funnel model. You must take into account the primary goals of your user, such as product search, price search, registration and purchase. In addition, you need a cross-channel reporting and analysis tools. Therefore, you should ideally work with a provider that can track users across different devices. The key to successful marketing is to understand the customers’ ways. A marketing automation solution provides you with these insights into the behavior of your prospects and customers.

6. Setup

When it is time for setting up the solution, you should have a clear process in mind.

Questions that you should ask: How long will the setup take? Are additional costs incurred during the setup? How complex is the setup?

7. Pricing

Costs are a key factor in your cost-benefit calculation.

Questions that you should make: Is the cost scalable? Are test runs also included in the price? Is the provider open to CPA deals?

8. Support, customer consulting and training

Last but not least: How good is the support that the provider is offering you?

Questions that you should ask: How many man-days of advice are included in the contract? In which sector of ecommerce is the consultant specialized in, such as mail order, financial products, gaming, travel etc.? Do they have experience with ecommerce, or rather with brand advertising? Have they worked for small, medium or large companies? What back-up solutions are there, if something goes wrong? Ask about available references: Are there case studies with proven ROI?

Remember: Training is the responsibility of the provider.

Questions to ask: Is training included in the price? How does the provider make sure that you get the most out of your marketing automation solution?

If all these questions are answered positively, you are well on your way to a successful B2C marketing automation implementation.

By Roger Stadler