As technology advances and data becomes an integral part of the marketing strategy, marketers are turning to marketing automation tools to help drive leads. According to Leyda Hernandez, Director of Marketing at Priori Legal, "data by itself is not useful. You need to analyze it to get actionable insights." This alone can take time, but with the rise of marketing automation and the ability to analyze data automatically, all of a sudden marketers have access to a tool that not only gives them hard numbers, but saves them time while providing valuable insights.
So what do you do with all the data, once you have access to it? "Use customer data to predict triggers and market proactively not re-actively after the trigger," says Audrey Hendley, Sr. VP at American Express. Personalization is also key, it's great to personalize with a first name, but having the ability to personalize each customers' shopping experience to meet specific needs and wants is the goal.
In some cases, "people don't know what they want," states Ethan Song, Cofounder & CEO of Frank & Oak, "customers come to us to push their style and challenge them, but you need to know which customers you can push and which ones you can't." Speaking about technology T.J. Gentle, President & CEO of SmartFurniture.com doesn't care what technology marketers are using, "at the end of the day I think in terms of what does my customer want and what makes their experience better. It's not necessarily about the algorithm, but more about making the recommendation that gives the customer the best outcome."
Not all automation tools are the same, black box solutions may not work for finely tuned retailers who recognize that each one of their customers is unique. Having the ability to look at the data and make decisions based on the knowledge you have on your customer base is key. To paraphrase what T.J. is saying, marketing = data + expertise + intuition. The difference between consumers and customers is engagement; actionable data enables you to send the right message, at the right time, to the right person.