(Last Updated On: June 7, 2021)

In part 1 of this series, we talked about aspects of marketing automation / campaign management that you may have to consider transforming, in order to achieve campaign management excellence.

In this part, we will largely cover five operational facets that will show if your digital campaign management function is due for transformation or not.

There is also one bonus recommendation at the end of the article, which will counter the bias in your heuristic-based campaigns.

Let’s dive in.

#6. You assume email automation is enough

We all know emails are great. In fact, when used right, they are very rewarding.

Email ROI

Source: Constant Contact

That’s the reason why you find so many email marketing platforms out in the market.

The Martech 5000 Database of marketing technology landscape lists 223 email marketing platforms.

Email

There are specific platforms that automate email marketing, allowing you to run drip campaigns and deliver cool reports.

But, is that enough?

Certainly not!

Sadly many marketers are confused between email automation and marketing campaign management tools.

Email automation or email campaign management tools allow you to send emails in a sequence to your subscribers / customers.

Whereas, marketing automation is at a whole different level.

Marketing automation allows you to connect to various data sources, create segments based on customer behavior, create, schedule and launch multi wave and multi channel campaing management plans , while streamlining most time-consuming activities.

Email automation is possibly sufficient in B2B marketing where email is the single biggest interaction channel.

But, when it comes to B2C marketing, email is just one among the few channels.

Multi-channel

Source: BRP

When you have a large customer base, a multitude of products and channels and your customers use multiple touchpoints to interact with you, using just email automation will hamper your ability to generate leads.

A study by Moosend shows that brands using Marketing Automation are more likely to generate 2X more leads than those who use only email platforms.

Our Middle Eastern retail banking client wanted us to help them find the right emailing platform for their marketing. We tried telling them of the benefits of marketing automation platforms but because of financial constraints they preferred an email platform.
When we talked, we discovered that the client already had unused licenses for an IBM marketing automation platform. We set to put those in use and managed their campaigns as well. 6 months down the line, the client was able to see the impact of campaigns on their portfolio.

Actionable Recommendations

If you want your messages to have a certain impact, you must have the ability to increase the relevance of your campaigns and undertake end to end campaign magement at scale.

  1. List your marketing processes. See which marketing platform can automate / streamline it and choose that.
  2. Integrate all customer and prospect-related data in a single place like a Customer Data Platform, DataMart, Data Warehouse or Data Lake
  3. Create a campaign calendar aimed at fulfilling customer needs across customer life stages and not based on business pressures
  4. Test variants of your campaign to find the most suitable one

#7. You run campaigns only on outbound channels

When we say campaign management, the two channels that immediately come to mind are email and SMS.

Incidentally, both are outbound channels and widely used by customers.

While these are important channels for your campaign management process, there are some challenges.

When you send campaigns to your customers on these channels, it’s very likely you are shooting in the dark as you don’t really know how attentive your customers would be when they open your emails and SMSes.

Your emails and messages might be opened, but not read, unless there is a compelling reason for the audience to do so.

Fortunately, there are other channels that your audiences use to interact with you.

The inbound channels where they come looking for your brand. For example, a branch, an ATM, your post-login website, your mobile app, kiosks etc.

When they make the move to interact with you, it’s very likely their attention span is high.

And so when you them what is relevant to them on inbound channels, it’s very likely to be embraced.

Here’s a comparison of responses for the same campaign that we ran for one of our clients on inbound and outbound channels.

Inbound vs Outbound

The above graph clearly shows that outbound channels provide more reach whereas inbound channels are far more effective when it comes to responses.

When your campaigns are exposed on multiple devices, it has a positive impact on awareness and recall.

delta lift

Source: On Device Research

The takeaway here is that both inbound and channels must co-exist in your campaign strategy so you get the maximum reach and responses.

In fact, when you combine multiple inbound and outbound channels on your campaigns, it directly impacts revenue.

Multi-channel_marketing

An aggressive private retail bank in India embarked on a campaign management journey to retain and realize lifetime value from each customer. Post implementing the platform, we started providing campaign management services to the bank. Although we got significantly better responses than other banks’ campaigns, it did not match our client’s aggression.
After discussing ways and means to improve the campaign response rates, we zeroed in on setting up a real time inbound campaign management platform and focus more on campaigns through the platform. This turned out to be a masterstroke as some campaigns got responses in the range of 65 to 75% on inbound channels such as branch, mobile app and ATMs. We went on to integrate six inbound channels in the campaign management platform, making it the first of its kind in the country. Even today, the bank’s campaign responses are way ahead of the industry average.

Source: Shopify

Actionable Recommendations

The primary difference between an outbound and inbound campaign is that, with outbound campaigns, you create segments and push communication. Whereas in inbound campaigns, you pull the most relevant offer or the next best action for the customer that visit the inbound channel. Here’s what you need to do integrate inbound channels with your marketing automation / campaign management tools.

  1. First augment your campaign management software / marketing automation stack with a real-time...
  2. Integrate all of your inbound channels / touchpoints with the platform
  3. Integrate the inbound marketing platform with your marketing automation / campaign management platform so that same campaign and communication is presented to users across channels
  4. Facilitate customer identification by the inbound marketing platform that can eventually be used to communicate with the marketing automation / campaign management system to fetch the right offer.

#8. You don’t maintain / act on contact and response history

As a marketer, you run hundreds of campaigns every month.

You always strive for maximum responses for all your campaigns.

But how will you achieve it if you don’t maintain contact and response history?

Even if you maintained it, do you act on it?

Why are contact and response histories important?

Pretty straight forward. They enable you to optimize campaign responses.

Which means, without maintaining contact and response history you will not have the data to optimize your responses.

Not just that. Without contact history, you cannot set up contact governance to prevent contact fatigue in your customers. [More on this in the next section]

This is important when you want to switch from individual level marketing to household level marketing.

For instance, if a customer has responded to a campaign, what is the point of sending it to the other members of his household?

Without response history, how would you even access this data and exclude the customer from some campaigns?

If contact and response histories are so important, wouldn’t every marketer already be maintaining one and act on it?

That’s the sad part! Most marketers move onto subsequent campaigns once they receive campaign reports.

Any optimization effort that they make is purely based on campaign reports and a bit of heuristics.

But, if you truly want to maximize the relevance of your campaigns and optimize responses at scale, you need to feed your machine learning algorithms at least the following data:

  • Contact history with details of segment, delivery channel, delivery day and time, creative used, offer made, number of exposures, etc.
  • Response history with details of response channel, response time stamp, creative used, response to which exposure, etc.

With this data, machine learning algorithms can tell you

  • Ideal way of segmentation
  • Ideal channel / sequence of channels to send the campaign
  • Ideal time to send the campaign
  • Ideal creative combination
  • Ideal number of exposures etc.

When we started working with a large private bank on campaign management, our focus was to increase marketing velocity without any change in headcount. While we were able to move from 20 to 200 campaigns a month with zero increase in headcount, the responses started going down. When we analyzes the root cause, we realized there was not enough data. That’s when we realized the need for storing contact and response history. We went on to build a “Customer Activity Record” where contact and response details were captured in a single row and always ready for analytics. This helped us optimize the campaign responses on an ongoing basis.

Actionable Recommendations

Setting up contact and response history is pretty straight forward. You just need to append the contact and response details with the appropriate campaign id for identification. Once you keep this data ready and regularly get it updated, you can follow the below campaign management best practices.

  1. Build response optimization models and statistically determine the following to improve campaign responses.
    1. Ideal number of exposures
    2. Segmentation criteria
    3. Creative variation
    4. Offer / Next best action
  2. Next, set up a contact governance policy in line with the above

#9. You bombard your customers with your campaigns

The first thing that comes to the mind of a marketer with access to a marketing automation / campaign management marketing software platform is the power to run an unlimited number of campaigns.

This is true of every marketer who only wishes to bombard their customers with marketing campaigns.

Ad Exposure

Source: PPC Protect

While you may argue that your messaging must stand out in the sea of spam, when it goes beyond a limit, it can be counter-productive.

Your customers start getting campaign fatigue.

Campaign fatigue is a mental state that your customers have as a result of seeing your campaigns multiple times with disinterest, resulting in a passiveness to all campaigns from you.

There is a fine line that differentiates campaign / communication coherence and campaign fatigue.

Coherence drives salience and responses, whereas fatigue hampers responses.

Remember this is complex. When does a customer get fatigue? Is everyone fatigued after the same number of campaign exposures?

Certainly Not! At a broad level, it’s the number of campaign exposures that appear to be the root cause of the problem.

Most marketers tend to cap the contact frequency number and implement sound contact governance policies.

But in reality, the root cause is “irrelevance”.

Only because your customers find it irrelevant, are they not responding to several exposures of your campaign.

Because you don’t change the campaign communication, they get fatigue.

When you focus on maximizing the relevance of your campaigns, you could solve the fatigue problem, at the root.

Actionable Recommendations

While the first solution that comes to mind, is to restrict the number of exposures of your campaign to all of your customers, this isn’t the most ideal. In fact, it could even be counterproductive. Here’s what you need to arrest campaign fatigue.

  1. Strategically maximize the relevance of campaigns to customers based on their behavior, so that there is no need for many exposures
  2. Tactically minimize campaign fatigue by,
    1. Changing campaign creative for each exposure
    2. Using different channels in each wave
    3. Using different offers to elicit responses

#10. Your campaigns don’t have a 100% reach on eligible customers

Are you a mature marketer doing campaign management?

How sure are you that all customers eligible to receive the campaign as per your campaign logic are indeed touched?

Next time when you run a campaign, ask your campaign developer to share the “waterfall report”.

A waterfall report, or an equivalent report is one that gives you a clear picture on the number of customers eligible for a campaign at various levels of targeting criteria.

Here’s a sample waterfall report.

Waterfall

If you take a look at this picture, you can clearly understand how many eligible customers are added, how many ineligible customers are being removed and finally how many are eligible for the campaign.

Compare the final number with the campaign report that you usually receive.

If you see the number of emails sent is the same as the final number of eligible customers in the waterfall report, you don’t have a problem.

If you find a discrepancy where the eligible customers are greater than the number of emails sent, there lies the problem.

Your email tool will comfortably ignore customers for which there are no email addresses available, even if they are eligible for the campaign.

The impact that this might have on the overall effectiveness of the campaign is largely ignored.

The next problem is the discrepancy between the number of emails sent and number of emails delivered.

If your emails bounced due to soft nature, it might be a temporary problem that might be fixed automatically. But if your emails had hard bounce, then this is as bad as the first problem with so much loss of opportunity.

This isn’t a problem with just emails. This happens when your customers change their mobile numbers. Same might happen with mobile apps when they uninstall it!

When we started working with India’s most diversified fintech brand on campaign management, the first thing that we realized was the lack of contact information. There were plans to develop complex campaigns as they had varied offerings and diversified customers. While the campaign planning was happening in parallel, we ran profile enrichment and contact confirmation campaigns to every single customer in its base, in 3 waves. By the end of the campaign, we were able to get a whopping 356,000+ new contact details, thereby empowering our client to have maximum reach.

Actionable Recommendations

The only way to avoid this problem is to get your customers’ contact details updated at any point of time and here’s how you can do it.

  1. Run profile enrichment campaigns to collect as much contact details of your customers as possible.
  2. Keep monitoring delivery reports. Immediately act on hard bounces and undelivered messages by reaching out to your customers on channels where their contact information is present.
  3. Run contact detail confirmation campaigns every quarter, disclosing your customers’ contact details and asking them to confirm if it was up to date.

Bonus Recommendation

We recommend that you treat every campaign as a marketing experiment so that you understand whether your campaigns really contribute to your bottom line.

Running a marketing experiment isn’t rocket science.

Just split your eligible campaign base into target and control group. Say 85% target group and 15% control group.

Expose the ad to the target group and don’t expose the ad to the control group throughout the campaign period.

At the end of the campaign period, compare the percentage of target group who took the desired action vis-à-vis control group.

If there is a statistically significant difference between your target and control groups where your target group has a higher percentage of takers, then your campaigns can be attributed the success. Else, you may have to think twice on continuing the campaign.

This will help you eliminate the bias of heuristics-based campaigns.

Summary

Campaign management is a highly powerful function that has the capability to directly influence the portfolio of your brand, when done right.

However, there are lot of strategic and operational glitches that hamper marketers from achieving the success they deserve.

When you understand what is campaign management and correct the factors discussed in the article, we are confident your campaigns will have a greater effect on your brand.

We believe we have covered the key transformational factors. If you think any other key point should have been included in this article, please comment below.