Executive, Head of Sales & Corporate Communication
Automated marketing can be useful in developing and expanding a client database as well as for lead generation.
What is automated marketing and how is it used?
Automated marketing or marketing automation refers to IT solutions that support marketing and the digitization of software. This is mainly used to collate, analyse and evaluate client and guest data, for use in marketing campaigns. Automated marketing tools can replace different stages in the marketing process. With increasing digitalization and an increasing amount of data available from communication platforms, the need for automation is growing, particularly in the tourism industry.
A successful automated marketing tool requires a sizeable client database. Automated marketing can be useful in developing and expanding a client database as well as for lead generation. Leads can be defined as clients or those who’ve voluntarily surrendered their contact data, such as e-mail address, for further interactions. Lead generation is about collecting as many contacts as possible. The initial objective is to attract potential guests and to generate interest. Automated social media messages can, for example, initiate a contact. Clients (or potential clients) are asked to provide their names and e-mail addresses on automated website landing pages. Once this data has been collected, the newly recruited lead is absorbed into the marketing cycle.
In the second phase, leads are segmented into different categories, which are targeted with content of potential interest. The software distinguishes between warm and cold leads. Warm leads are those that have enjoyed one or more stays at the hotel and usually respond more readily. Cold leads, such as participants in competitions, casual enquirers or newsletter subscribers are more remote and therefore harder to engage. Software capable of automatic data processing adapts the communication according to the target lead. The data can be broken down further when the lead clicks on the landing page and interacts with the content, revealing specific interests. Communication is not only automated, but also targeted and categorised, thus minimizing wastage.
- Guest Communication and Bonding
Guest communication can be effectively automated. Data obtained through lead generation and guests helps to identify the appropriate communication channel when needed. Content can be generated, personalized and automatically distributed. Automated newsletters draw attention to special offers, remaining seats on flights, competitions or promotional voucher campaigns. Automated communication via social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram supports this application and increases brand or company visibility. Thanks to learning systems, the landing page can also be automatically generated and filled with relevant content and text modules. If a potential guest is repeatedly targeted with a topic of interest, a bond is created, increasing the likelihood of a booking. Content is simplified and becomes more accessible.
- Planning, Implementation and Campaign Evaluation
Campaign planning and execution can also be fully automated. A schedule is created with the available data, routing advertising messages to potentially interested parties at the chosen time. Learning systems evaluate the results and correct the direction of the campaign accordingly, after which the results are reported, evaluated and data is categorised.
Advantages of automated marketing
The most immediate indicator of a successful automated marketing campaign is an increase in sales. There is also a decrease in manual operations as well as optimized sales, personalised content and effective messaging directed at the appropriate target group. Cost-cutting is achieved through a reduction in the size of the marketing team, and increased sales. The added value exceeds the scope of just bookings, including post-reservations, cross-selling and up-selling which can also be automated, producing an additional income stream. Increased automation enhances optimisation and simplification of workflows and work-processes, thus minimizing human error. Unlike manual operations, automated marketing works irrespective of staff or the volume of data processed. Time and money are saved, with increased profitability.
Automated marketing makes it possible to target specific clients, beyond the scope of bookings per se.
Interesting content, and especially ongoing, targeted communication with clients (and potential clients) yields financial rewards producing added value on an emotional level. Consistent communication enhances product recognition and strengthens brand identity. Automated marketing makes it possible to target specific clients, beyond the scope of bookings per se. Clients can be informed of any news and events of potential interest ahead of their stay, and automated software sends out birthday greetings or promotional vouchers. Ongoing communication helps to bond the client to the brand (and product), thus building trust. This leads to client loyalty and the development of a sustained client base, producing added value.
Interactions are measurable throughout the entire process. After a lead in the database is added to the marketing cycle, values are recorded including email opening rates, clicks, bounces, opt-outs and all interactions leading up to an inquiry and final bookings. Diagrams and graphics reflect the current situation and possible successes at any point during the campaign. The results can then be used to further improve marketing, creating a continuous learning and improvement process that can be used to exploit potential. Thanks to the increased volume of user data, profiles can be continuously refined, thus increasing efficiency and more personalized targeting.
Criteria for selecting an automated marketing tool
Certain criteria may influence the decision “For or Against” using automated marketing tools. If there’s insufficient control over marketing or the capacity to measure performance, or if staff overheads are too high; if too much time and money is spent on repetitive tasks, and if different types of software tools are used: then automated marketing might well be the way to go.
Various tools that provide “turn-key” solutions do exist, but a number of factors need to be considered. First of all, the exact requirements and necessary functions should be clearly defined at the outset. The question of costs is central to a decision: i.e. the ratio between the price and the service provided, how much is saved as the result of automated marketing and to which extent it fulfils a needed objective. The cost of automated marketing software usually depends on the size of the contact database and the capabilities of the tool. This is calculated monthly or annually depending on the agreed terms. The size of the business is not irrelevant when considering this expense. Not all standard tools fit the needs of different types and size businesses, with some automated marketing software providers offering custom solutions.
Only once these various criteria are addressed, can the right choice be made. Before ordering the software, one needs to clarify potential areas of uncertainty, including installation and operation. Although this might be possible without prior IT experience, it’s necessary to find out if technical support is available and on which basis. For ease of use, the user interface and software functions should be intuitive. The quality of technical support can be judged on how questions and problems are handled. The response time and the kinds of support services should be included in the purchase price. These are all important criteria in evaluating the acquisition of automated software. It is also necessary to find out in advance about software updates, additional packages and maintenance. Reliable technology and regular upgrades are essential when purchasing new software.
In the era of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), processing and safeguarding user data is a third and crucial factor to consider. Since providers outside the EU must comply with data management regulations, the location of stored data does matter. European Data Protection Regulations prescribe that user data must be handled in accordance with strict rules.
More than just software, automated marketing is an all-in-one business solution that spans marketing, sales and client-management. It serves to automate repetitive tasks, improve client services as well as marketing effectiveness. This has many advantages, the most significant of which is an increase in turnover through online sales-promotions resulting in higher sales and a reduction in staff. Targeting contacts with relevant content accelerates marketing and promotions while reducing wastage, thereby increasing campaign efficiency. Ongoing, client-oriented messaging and contact management helps to build the host-client relationship, while bonding the client to the product and brand. Satisfied, returning clients are a significant factor in increased turnover.
Besides effective client communication, planning, implementation and task reporting can also be automated. The initial investment will be more than justified if the package comes with business development features and customer support corresponding to the business’s requirements. It should prove itself as a sustainable and profitable asset, optimizing repetitive tasks, reducing margins of error and rendering the business’s marketing and sales functions more effective.
ADDITIVE+ MARKETING CLOUD
The ADDITIVE+ MARKETING CLOUD
is an automated, integrated marketing solution, tailored to the requirements of specific industries. Automated interactions with clients via e-mails, social media posts, advertisements on social media and Google Ads are based on learning algorithms. Regular, cross-platform marketing helps businesses attract new clients, while maintaining contacts with regular guests and offering added-value services. Landing pages automatically adapt to the advertising platform, target group and campaign in order to achieve the fastest possible completion rate. Client data is simultaneously processed, evaluated and categorised into target groups for loading content at the appropriate time. The data is analysed in real time to correct the campaign process. User-friendly charts and statistics generate data based on client-business interactions, actual bookings and turnover.
For further information on the ADDITIVE+ Marketing Cloud, follow this link