Meeting Visitors “Face-to-Face” Thanks to Automation

March 23, 2018 Marla Schilling

 We’re bringing technological automation to our Boutique, while still offering a human conversation to website visitors.

Take a step back and think about how technology has played an integral part of making tasks easier and in turn, increasing our efficiency as humans.

Think about everything you don’t have to worry about thanks to technology and the automation it provides. For example, online banking and auto pay. Missing payments used to be a haunting thought; however, with technology, the issue of missing a payment is easily addressed. Autopay options can be programmed to pay our mortgages, our credit cards, our gym fees or car payments—everything can be automated requiring zero effort from us. We don’t even have to think about it. 

Coffee pots can be set to brew 5 minutes before you leave the house, providing you an effort-free cup of joe for your morning commute. Speaking of commute, self-driving cars are all the rage. In fact, Forbes estimates that by 2040, 95% of new vehicles sold, or 96.3 million cars, will be fully autonomous. When everyone is traveling the same speed on the highway, we are guaranteed a safer and more efficient shift in the transportation system. 

Now, we’re bringing technological automation to our Boutique, while still offering a human conversation to website visitors.

Engaging Conversations 

To date, everything in the Boutique has been manual. Sorting through data, compiling website visitor activity, heat-mapping, determining what conversation was happening, sending out personalized outreach to complement the current dialogue, repeat—nothing has been automated (learn more about our current process in Agile Marketing—Evolved. See How We're Doing It Now.). 

This goes back to my post Behind the Scenes: Our Unprecedented Journey into Making Marketing Human, in which I discussed why everything had to be so manual. Based on all of our sources of information, we had to figure out what all of our “hidden figures” meant:

  • Are we seeing patterns in activity? And if so, what do those patterns mean?
  • How is activity different when comparing who we believe is a browser, a shopper, or a buyer or our services?
  • Where did we actually complement the visitor’s conversation to the point of them engaging?
  • Did we see an engaging company suddenly go dark? And if so, where can we hypothesize they fell out of their buyer’s journey?
  • How long should we wait before we try to start a digital dialogue with a website visitor?

We have spent the past year learning how to take the data we acquire and apply it in a real conversation, in the most human ways possible. The manual process was necessary, however, not sustainable.

Shifting from manual to automatic

The Boutique team works with an online Excel worksheet which houses 379 tabs of companies we are currently watching. Yes, that is a lot of tabs and yes, downloading the online version to our desktop requires the patience of a saint. In addition, we are tracking about 5-10 new companies per week and doing outreach to approximately 25 companies per week. As the number of companies we are tracking continues to grow, it has proven to be quite the challenge to keep every single account updated with every single signal we can find.

Unfortunately, we have missed some important signals simply due to human error. And this can be the difference between facilitation of a shopper to a buyer or having someone drop out of their buyer’s journey completely.   

Because of this, we have been working with our technology partners at Wipro to automate the Boutique process. 

Signal Hub is the platform that we are using to automate the process.  We have to program it, and we have to program it perfectly. Automating our current Boutique process has not happened overnight. In fact, it has proven to be an intricate process of its own. We effectively need to “teach” the platform:

  •       What signals we need
  •       Where the signals are coming from
  •       How to consolidate all of the data into one single journey view  
  •       How to heat map the journey so we can efficiently see areas of interest
  •       How to recognize and label visitors as browsers, shoppers, or buyers

But all this teaching will be worth it as our automation efforts come online. We'll see important benefits like:

Automating the Boutique will allow us to be more efficient. 

Missing a signal due to human error will no longer be a concern for the Boutique. As technology takes over the process of compiling data and creating journey maps for our visitors, we will be able to review many more companies who are engaging on our website. By decreasing the actual time spent on the manual work, we will be able to focus more on the strategy of driving the Boutique. 

 Automating the Boutique will allow us to be more personal.

When we identify a company visiting our website, we use our contact database to pull contacts with job titles we believe could be viewing the content. We then compile a list of contacts with those titles (anywhere between 5 and 35, depending on how many we can pull from our contact database) and send them an email that provides them with content—hopefully complementing their previous website visit.

With this process, a manager is receiving the same email as the CMO. Once automation takes over our time-consuming task of compiling data, we will be able to prioritize our time differently and truly personalize our outreach efforts. Different job roles have different goals and indicators of success and therefore should be engaged differently. Automation will allow us more time to focus on the strategy behind the conversations we are having. This, in turn, provides us similar advantages of what you would find when engaging face-to-face in a physical store environment. Just like how, in 20 years, I will have much more time in my day, when my self-driving car allows me to complete tasks as it focuses on my daily commute.

Automating the Boutique will allow us to scale the operation.

At the end of the day, the Boutique is a numbers game, and automation will allow for us to exponentially increase those numbers. We will be able to view more visitor journeys that are taking place on our website, and in turn, we can engage more visitors in conversations. The more conversations we are able to have, the more likely we are to provide our visitors with value at the right moment in their journey—helping them to advance through that journey.

Automation through technology will soon play an integral part in running the Boutique, increasing our efficiency as marketers.

Tune in next time to hear about the first report Signal Hub created for us! 

Learn more about our Boutique and our journey toward agile, human marketing.

 

About the Author

Marla Schilling

Marla Schilling, Marketing Manager, focuses on digital marketing, demand generation and marketing communications. She earned her BS at Ithaca College, with studies in Health Sciences and her Master’s at the University of Northern Colorado, with studies in Exercise Physiology.

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