Marketing Automation is a software platform that lets you reach out to your target audience across multiple marketing avenues such as websites, email, and social media by automating and streamlining marketing activities and workflows to bring in more leads and revenue.
Whether you are a marketer working at a startup or a corporate giant, you’ll agree that generating and nurturing leads is not easy. The buyer journey is no longer a straightforward phenomenon. Its complexity increases as new marketing channels are introduced. In fact, Salesforce has identified that it takes approximately six to eight touches to generate a sales-ready lead.
Marketers have to juggle between multiple tools and software suites to communicate with their audience, identify and generate leads, nurture them, and pass the sales-ready leads to the sales team. This switch-tasking is not productive. Also, if you keep adding new tools to your MarTech stack, it will eventually lead to the dreaded frankenstack phenomenon and leave you overwhelmed.
To be efficient, you need an application that allows you to engage with your audience across different channels through a single suite of applications.
Enter Marketing Automation!
What Is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is software and technologies that help marketers reach audiences across channels and automate tasks such as organizing, streamlining and measuring analytics.
Marketing automation is a category of technology that allows companies to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows, so they can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.
By integrating with other tools from your MarTech stack, such as your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or customer service platform, marketing automation provides a cohesive view of your audience and enables you to create more refined segments, craft highly targeted messaging, and guide your leads through the marketing funnel. It doesn’t matter how many leads you have, marketing automation is capable of processing all this information at scale.
5 Benefits of Marketing Automation
Integrating a marketing automation solution with your MarTech stack can result in the following benefits to your organization:
Amazon is now giving third-party sellers access to aggregate demographic information about customers, including age, income, gender and marital status.
It’s part of an effort from Amazon to give more information to sellers using its third-party seller platform, Seller Central. The company noted some of these moves in a news release Tuesday that highlighted newly launched Amazon Brand Analytics, including insight on popular search terms and comparable products; a promotional Fulfilled by Amazon monthly storage and removal fee waiver; personalized guidance on how to sell globally, and educational tools for sellers. Kiri Masters, CEO of Amazon agency Bobsled Marketing, said news of the move emerged on a from a seller late last week; Amazon confirmed to Digiday that demographic analytics were made available to sellers in the U.S. last Thursday.
According to Amazon, Amazon Brand Analytics, including the customer demographics report, is available to “eligible brand owners” who are enrolled in Brand Registry. Currently, the feature is only available to sellers who own a brand or who serve as an agent, representative, or manufacturer of a brand.
For third-party sellers on Amazon, unlocking free customer demographics information addresses one of the biggest pain points of selling on Amazon’s marketplace: limited access to customer data. While brand analytics offer information about keyword searches, how popular keywords are, click and conversion share, information about who customers were was virtually nonexistent before, said Ryan Williams, director of finance for Rise Brewing. With limited customer data, it’s been challenging for many Amazon sellers to market to customers and would-be customers who peruse or buy items via Amazon.
The insights acquired from the demographics tool will have an impact on broader marketing strategies that go beyond Amazon, said Williams, who said he began accessing the feature on Tuesday.
“This really helps with your marketing strategy, not just on Amazon but outside of Amazon as well,” said Williams. “We’re constantly asked by investors who we should focus on, and beyond Google Analytics, those questions are not always easy to answer.”
For Brian Hemmert, chief marketing officer at Fat Snax, the added insights are a positive move from Amazon, but not enough to abandon growing Fat Snax’ own e-commerce site.
“It’s still crucial to have our own direct channels through our site,” he said.
Twenty-two percent of 73 marketers surveyed by Digiday this April plan to move work rom agencies to consultancies.
Agencies working with Amazon, however, say the motivations behind the new analytics tool aren’t only to benefit smaller sellers. Amidst recent reports that Amazon wants to move some sellers away from the wholesale platform to Seller Central, agency executives say what’s at play is a strategy to promote Seller Central by giving third-party sellers access to data they would have to pay for if they used Vendor Central. Brands that sell through Vendor Central have to pay for demographic data as part of a subscription to Amazon Retail Analytics (ARA) Premium, which can reportedly cost as much as $30,o00 per year (ARA basic, which is free, offers reports on business metrics including sales and inventory levels). But according to the company, brand analytics are less relevant to the vendor model since Amazon is handling the listings.
“I don’t know if I would characterize it as a win — it’s an incentive for larger sellers to move to Seller Central,” said Fred Killingsworth, CEO of Amazon-specialized agency Hinge, who added that moving more sellers to Seller Central lets Amazon divert resources from seller relationships within Vendor Central. “Amazon is a tech platform; the vendor relationship requires a lot more humans to be involved in the process, given expectations Amazon is going to provide help.”
Meanwhile, additional analytics are a powerful tool to justify additional investments in Amazon’s advertising platform.
“With brand analytics, the new demographics that came out in the past few days are a case for more ad spend on Amazon,” said Masters.
Twelve days ago, Shopify, the Canadian ecommerce platform underpinning thousands of brands, announced a series of changes to its partnership program and API access that has serious implications for its partners and merchants. It was also announced that Mailchimp is leaving Shopify’s marketplace, causing even more concern.
“I’m not surprised to see this happen where Shopify wants to protect their merchants and the data that flows through their platform,” said Casey Armstrong, CMO of Shipbob, a fulfillment company. “They need to protect competition across the board.”
The language dictating what agency partners can and cannot do is worrisome for some, considering agencies work with a variety of merchants and platforms—including competitors to Shopify.
“Shopify’s a platform and ecosystem that is open and operable,” said Satish Kanwar, vp of product at Shopify. “For us, it’s about valuing the integrity of our policy and our data. Preventing bad faith actors in the ecosystem. We don’t have any concerns when we have other partners that work with other ad partners. That’s a natural part of how commerce and the ecosystem works but it’s really about the intentions about how the information flows.”
Merchants will most likely use other ecommerce email marketing platforms like Klaviyo and partners will likely comply. Instead, these new terms show that Shopify is locking up its ecosystem to maintain its growth, amass more data and flex its imaginary muscles to growing competitors like BigCommerce, Webflow and yes—Mailchimp.
Jonathan Poma, chief evangelist at BVAccel, a marketing agency focused on Shopify+, said an agency like his is less concerned since he believe these changes are aimed more at technology partners.
“These partner agreements are not that substantial and there’s no legal precedent,” Poma said. “No consequence unless the Shopify relationship is very important to you and if you plan on soliciting.”
Armstrong added that it’s just keeping partners on a closer loop.
“Often times, the agencies are the trusted third party with any re-platforming conversation or technology decision,” Armstrong said. “Keeping these partners tightly woven into the Shopify ecosystem is key to them building their moat in both the immediate and long term, plus these partners often rely on Shopify returning the favor.”
As for the data change, it makes sense considering the growing privacy concerns happening across all types of platforms, whether it’s GDPR enforcement rules or the growing amount of data breaches. Ryan Kulp, founder of Fomo, a marketing SaaS product company, said the change protects the customer and that it was time for Shopify to implement it.
“The most aggressive new change is ‘sending data back to Shopify,’ but the specific fields in question are logical: first name, email, etc,” Kulp said. “And sending this information back actually benefits the store as well, because if an app keeps all end-shopper emails but then the app is deleted, that store is now unable to send messages to their own customers. I can’t imagine any honest app developers wanting to create this scenario. Just send the basic data back and let the Shopify store be your ‘source of truth.’”
This now brings us to the controversy surrounding Mailchimp. On March 22, Mailchimp wrote a blog post stating that it asked Shopify to remove the Mailchimp integration from the Shopify marketplace. Mailchimp’s reasoning behind the move was due to the new term requiring partners to send back any data collected “on behalf of the merchant” back to Shopify. According to Joni Deus, director of partnerships at Mailchimp, that data (in Mailchimp’s eyes) doesn’t belong to Shopify.
“We got permission from that user to have it within our Mailchimp platform and they wanted that retroactively,” Deus said. “The data sharing agreements in those terms go against data privacy expectations.”
Shopify then issued its own blog post response as to why the partnership ended, further stating that Mailchimp’s refusal to hand over the data meant merchants and others on the Shopify platform “can’t reliably serve their customers or comply with privacy legislation.”
However, industry sources think all of these changes—including Mailchimp and Shopify breaking up—were a long time coming.
Mailchimp’s made a series of moves signaling it’s intending to build its own ecommerce platform. Two big changes include Mailchimp partnering with Square to create shoppable landing pages (a landing page merchants can use to sell a single product) and hiring former members of LemonStand, an ecommerce company that’s fully shutting down on June 5.
The move however makes it a ripe time for other partners like Klaviyo, another email service provider to step in and fill in the hole for Mailchimp. Or, as Deus said, companies can also use a third-party integration like Shopsync or Automate.io to still utilize Shopify and Mailchimp.
However, these moves are part of Shopify keeping up with competition and retaining its leadership as an ecommerce platform. Competitors like BigCommerce and Webflow are picking up bigger clients and just last week, Square also announced an overhauled version of its Square for Retail option and a new product called Square Online store. Both leverage Square’s acquisition of Weebly last year and giving merchants more of an ability to bridge their online and offline channels.
For now, Shopify remains a leader (the company posted $1 billion in revenue last year) but it’s unclear for just how much longer.
The following is a guest article by Donny Dvorin, general manager of Never Stop Marketing Research, a leading analysis and consulting group focused on blockchain martech providers. Jeremy Epstein, the CEO of Never Stop Marketing, will be keynoting the MarTech conference this October 1-3 in Boston.
It was clear to anyone who attended one of the many talks — or screaming matches — touching on blockchain at Cannes this year that a major technology debate around the future of how advertising will look is gathering steam.
Can blockchain technology really bring long-awaited solutions to longstanding issues including lack of transparency, fraud, consumer privacy, fractured measurement, and slow payments?
There are passionate believers and doubters on both sides, and the stakes are high enough that seasoned professionals are losing their cool. What’s a marketer to think?
The key, at least for now, is patience. Calling a winner in the first inning of the game is pure speculation, and we’ve barely seen the first pitch.
Think of it like this:
It’s as though, suddenly, a new kind of computer has been invented, with fundamentally different rules, and immense promise. Early prototypes have been built, and they’re really good at doing certain things that other computers simply couldn’t accomplish. The plans are open source, and companies are starting to build prototypes and solve problems with them.
However, the majority of what’s been built to support normal computers doesn’t work with this new kind of computer, so a lot of infrastructure has to be rebuilt. It’s reminiscent of exactly 10 years ago on July 10th, 2008 when the iPhone App Store launched with 500 apps. Today, there are 2 million available apps, with over 180 billion downloads to date, per Statista.
Most of the companies/projects on Never Stop Marketing’s Blockchain MarTech Landscape are under 18 months old. The majority of these companies are building their tech and connecting the ecosystem’s pipes, while others already have pilots with brands in market, but have yet to go public in the trades.
There are approximately 200 martech companies claiming to use blockchain technology to help solve marketer’s needs. Of those 200, 48 (or 24%) are specifically focusing on programmatic media and adtech.
The issues these blockchain adtech companies are tackling are coming into focus now:
1. Transparency into the Media Supply Chain
P&G’s CMO Marc Pritchard must have launched at least a few companies with this quote: “We have a media supply chain that is murky at best and fraudulent at worst. We need to clean it up and invest the time and money we save into better advertising to drive growth.” Pritchard described standards compliance, unreliable measurement, hidden rebates and fraud as major challenges.
Many of the blockchain solutions in the marketplace aim at creating transparency, including:
IBM Blockchain — Providing transparency by starting with basic financial reconciliation solutions for digital media buying.
Papyrus — Connects advertisers, publishers, agencies, advertising platforms and verifiers within Papyrus blockchain network to create trust, fairness and efficiency within digital advertising market.
AdBank — Platform built to show transparency of payments between advertisers and publishers.
Adshares — use blockchain to let publishers and advertisers trade directly using our cryptocurrency.
Transaction Speed: One project providing transparency that’s laser focused on transaction speed required for programmatic media:
Ternio — A blockchain solution that can support the high QPS of programmatic media buying.
Fraud Mitigation: A few of the companies are primarily focused on fraud, in addition to transparency:
XCHNG — Open and unified blockchain network that mitigates fraud in real-time using smart contracts.
Rebel AI — Focused on identity, consensus, and currency to remove domain spoofing.
MetaX — Created AdChain Registry dapp to decipher which ad-supported websites are legitimate and why.
AdEx — Removes middleman by transacting advertising direct from advertisers to publishers.
Lucidity — Solution to cutdown on fraud and bring more transparency to digital advertising.
2. Data Privacy
This spring GDPR and the Facebook Cambridge Analytics scandal have shone a bright light on data privacy practices within marketing. Not only are consumers demanding their data stay private, governments and now states (CA) are as well.
Each marketer must also analyze their own challenges as they relate to data privacy. Solutions include:
MadNetwork — Built with privacy by design, pulls in relevant ads based on a user’s AI powered device profile which is secure, never shared, and sealed.
Datawallet — envisions a marketing future where consumers hold the data about themselves on their own devices and controls who gets the data, what the data says, and share the data in exchange for direct compensation.
Civic — Allows people to take control and protect their identity using the Civic Secure ID in their app.
3. Payments & Settlements
Payment terms are an enduring thorn in the sides of many industry players, especially those in the middle and on the publisher end. Long payment terms “are a tax on the industry for technology companies that are responsible for programmatic transactions,” as Rubicon Project CEO Michael Barrett has said. “For brands that are ready to create a more profitable supply chain, offering better payment terms could be a huge incentive for wary technology companies to become more open with their tactics and streamline their business model, saving brands millions in the process.”
Amino Pay — Optimizes reach in supply chain by reducing fraud and showing transparency based on payments.
NYIAX — Built in conjunction with Nasdaq to trade media future contracts on a blockchain ledger.
FusionSeven — Automates supply chain financial reconciliation to create trust and transparency from contract to payment.
For the most part, outside of coupons and rebates, consumers haven’t been rewarded for their attention. Due to token economics, consumers can be rewarded in tokens for the actions they take. A few of the companies who incentivize consumers, or allow them to use their tokens to pay publishers include:
Basic Attention Token (BAT) on the Brave Browser — Creates ad-free environment on the browser, protects privacy, and then uses the Basic Attention Token to exchange value between publishers, advertisers, and users.
Presearch — Decentralized search engine that rewards community members with Presearch Tokens for their usage, contribution to, and promotion of the platform.
While these use cases are first at bat, this early in the game we can expect many more to appear for their turn as the technology and infrastructure develop. Overall, look for solutions that create value by creating trust where there was none before, or by eliminating players who extract rent in exchange for trust.
Marketers must be very clear on the problems they are trying to solve and what their business objectives are to play in this space. In some cases, a non-blockchain solution may solve the problem, but in others blockchain technologies may be the only path.
Don’t miss Jeremy Epstein’s keynote presentation at MarTech, “The Emergence of Crypto-Native Martech: Tools of the Future, Already Here Today,” in Boston, October 1-3.
Now agencies are starting to respond by going down the same route.
A growing number of large traditional ad agencies are looking to lay claim to an ability to offer consulting services — promising not just to make ads and buy media, but help improve their clients’ business.
They are doing so by acquiring smaller consultancies, creating new divisions, dialing up their data offerings or reorganizing internally.
Agencies are promising clients one-stop shopping
Omnicom, for instance, announced that it was purchasing the Dallas-based consulting firm Credera last week. The next day, the ad firm Grey launched a new global enterprise practice called Grey Consulting by tapping into 150 existing technologists and creative and strategic planners to create a new global enterprise network.
“Agencies are … not taking this [threat] lying down,” said Jay Pattisall, principal analyst at Forrester focusing on ad agencies with a research report detailing this trend coming out later this month.
Agencies are rethinking the scope of their work beyond traditional advertising
From clients cutting back on fees to taking more work in-house, ad holding companies are facing strong headwinds. Thus, with the current advertising agency model under pressure, agencies have been forced to rethink their scope of their services.
“Ads don’t transform businesses,” said Andy Main, principal and head of Deloitte Digital. “So the ad agencies are being put under major pressure to prove their value.”
One way of grappling with the current upheaval is through buying companies with capabilities that complement what agencies already do. This theoretically enables agencies to connect data, analytics, research and their creative offerings in new ways.
Omnicom, for example, acquired Credera to augment its existing creative and data capabilities by adding management and IT consulting capabilities in the mix. The aim was to have as many capabilities that help clients navigate complex technology choices better in-house, without having to outsource the process, the company said.
“We’re very much trying to reinforce and support something we are already doing, and increase the value of a service we’re already providing,” Luke Taylor, chief executive of Omnicom’s precision-marketing group, told Business Insider. “It helps us fill in some of the gaps to drive precision marketing scale for our clients.”
Another approach to establishing a consulting practice is to simply restructure internally, as Kantar did — so that different entities within the company could work together in a more integrated manner.
“We had those assets available for clients for a number of years,” said Wayne Levings, Kantar Consulting’s president. “It was about bringing them together in a way that made them even more relevant for the marketplace, and allowed us to more effectively scale and invest in this area.”
And clients are demanding a more diverse range of services too
A lot of the change is being driven by clients themselves. Marketers are asking for help and thinking that goes beyond communications more than ever, says Leo Rayman, CEO of Grey Consulting, so it makes sense to give them a more concentrated offering.
That is why Grey Consulting was created. The rationale is that the more agencies can enhance their existing capabilities, the more entrenched they can be in other aspects of the client’s businesses.
“It allows us to codify the know-how we have, weaponise our creativity by marrying it with even more commercial strategy and allows us to move upstream, providing answers to the kinds of questions clients ask long before they get to defining the creative brief,” he said.
Plus the consultancy threat means that they must adapt
Of course, consulting giants like Accenture and Deloitte encroaching on agencies’ turf is big factor, whether agencies admit it or not. 73% of marketers said that they were open to using consultancies for digital marketing work, according to a recent Forrester study.
“I think often agencies seem to think they’re disrupting consultancies, but most are in fact having to respond to the very real fact that management consultants are moving downstream into their business,” said Saneel Radia, R/GA’s global head of consulting.
Consulting firms claim that their expertise in tech and business strategy as well as data and logistics helps them meet the needs of modern CEOs and CMOs far better than ad agencies can, which isn’t entirely exaggerated, according to Radia.
“Those organizations are quite good at understanding how to measure ROI, reduce cost, streamline process and leverage automation,” he said. “So of course [them] moving down into marketing is a pressure any advertising agency is feeling today.”
Marketing and consulting are colliding
To be sure, consulting isn’t an entirely new arena for ad agencies. A number of agencies, including R/GA and 360i ,have had consulting divisions for years. French advertising giant Publicis acquiring the consulting giant Sapient in 2015 at a deal valued at $3.7 billion.
And last year, Publicis teamed with tech consultancy Capgemini to help McDonald’s with its digital transformation.
“Marketing services and management consulting collided years ago,” said R/GA’s Radia. “The idea that anything is one type of company’s turf or the other is likely outdated.”
But the pace of change has accelerated more recently. Brands are seeking partners that help them drive efficiency as well as simplify efforts in an increasingly complex digital ecosystem, and both agencies and consultancies are stepping up.
The consultancies remain confident of the value they bring to the table. To transform client businesses, they say, you need everything from strategy, innovation, design, and creative to technology, analytics, organizational design, supply chain and finance — areas which they have owned for years.
“It takes years and years to build up those capabilities,” said Main. “Consultancies such as Deloitte Digital, with in-house creative and advertising capabilities, have much more to offer than ad agencies who acquire small, narrowly-targeted consulting companies.”
Traditional consultants may bring myriad analytical frameworks to the table, but agencies are also convinced that they’ll be able to tackle them head-on. According to 360i president Abbey Klaassen, consulting firms lack hands-on experience in execution and creativity.
“Part of the reason we’ve been successful in our consulting practice is because we’re not just process makers; as a creative and media agency, we’re also process users,” she said. “Being able to understand all the intricacies of a client relationship and how they come together – search, social, creative, media, leading inter-agency teams – makes us more effective as a consulting partner.”
Both agencies and consultancies must evolve their business models to meet changing client demands
Analysts aren’t so sure that agencies can suddenly match consulting firms. It is one thing to have a consulting unit, and another to attract and retain talent and even sell those services effectively, said Brian Wieser, senior analyst at Pivotal.
“That’s one of the biggest challenges for agencies,” he said. “You can do the work if you can sell through at a higher level than the CMO, and most agencies don’t have those connections.”
Agencies also need to focus on integrating their consulting practices within their broader cultural frameworks, said Forrester’s Patissall.
“Cultural integration is the hardest, Publicis is still working through the branding and positioning of Sapient and where it fits,” he said. “What they’re trying to do is build additional structures; the next step is appointing leaders to bring them together globally.”
Either way, what’s certain is that both agencies and consultancies must evolve their business models to meet changing client demands.
“We’re squarely in the era of disruption, many incumbents are investing in their own transformation,” said R/GA’s Radia. “It’s competitive, and the companies that serve as able hybrids will prosper most.”