What's The Future Of Marketing Automation?
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What's The Future Of Marketing Automation?

By Brennan Dunn

Last week, I was at Leadpages HQ to give a company-wide talk on what I think the future of marketing automation is.

First: I'm floored that anyone thinks I'm at all qualified to present on this subject.

Second: Everyone has an opinion on what "the next big thing" for getting more leads / more sales / etc is (*cough* bots...), so take whatever anyone tells you with a grain of salt.

Here's what I shared with the Leadpages team, and I think you'll agree with me on this:

Personalization is nothing new.

Web pages work by having a server generate some stuff and sending it up to the user's web browser.

Often times, databases back these websites. When you go to a website, like your online bank or Facebook, you enter in some credentials and they show you content specific to you. (Hopefully, you're not seeing other people's bank balances!)

Historically, we've looked at websites backed by databases that require authentication (let's call these "apps") as being something different than a website for the neighborhood bakery (let's just call these "websites.)

But, from the perspective of a web browser, they're the same thing. They're both just web pages.

Slowly the line between "app" and "website" has started to blur.

If you go to an online store and add something to your cart, they're now personalizing their website for you. There's probably some indicator that your cart has stuff in it, right?

Or some websites are starting to geo-locate traffic and showing local listings and events specific to the visitor (like Yelp and Meetup.)

Doing this, though, has required coding. And often... lots of it.

It's obvious that we want to tailor content on our websites to reflect the user - e.g. showing "2 items in cart" or listing local events, but what if we could also change the messaging?

Again, the web browser doesn't care if the headline on the page says "Hello, Web Designer!" or "2 items in cart" -- it's all just HTML code.

What do I think of bots?

It's too early to tell. But I'm guessing those automated phone systems every corporation uses was thought to be the best thing since sliced bread. And I bet a lot of executives at Bank of America really thought they were doing their customers a service by allowing their customers to say what they want rather than keying in a number. But... let's just say "messenger bots" remind me a lot of the bots that pick up whenever I call a toll-free number.

But personalization?

Personalization is nothing new.

If you and I met in person, I'd speak to you based on what I know about you. Are we chatting at a business conference? You'll hear the business owner in me. A development conference? I'll talk code. And so on.

People expect the person talking to them to personalize what they're saying.

A lawyer talking to a client who got charged with a DUI yesterday is going to talk specifically about traffic law, even though the firm also offers corporate law, personal injury, medical malpractice, etc.

Personalization just hasn't yet been easily accessible and available on more "static" mediums, like web pages. (RightMessage fixes this.)

People also think you need super high volume to make personalization work for them. This is true for A/B testing since a lot of data needs to be accumulated before any sort of statistical certainty can be established.

But it's not true of personalization.

Someone emailed me today saying they get "8 people a day to their website", so personalization was probably premature.

He's getting 8 unique individuals, each with their own needs and desires, visiting his website. Each of these people could turn into customers, especially if they felt like they were at the right place and were being offered the right product. So why not do your best to try to speak directly to each visitor?

That's the gist of what I shared with the team at Leadpages. As one of the leading marketing automation companies out there, they were really excited to start to apply a lot of this - especially since they operate on a scale where doing this right = massive payoffs.