Marketing Automation – It’s the latest buzz word. We’ve had big data, content marketing and any number of  over used phrases, where everybody says they want to do it, but we’re not really sure who is doing it properly.

The more I read about marketing automation, and understand how it is being utilised (often with very mixed results) the more I realised that our application is different. Yes, we automate marketing campaigns. But to us at Gecko, Automated Marketing is the implementation of marketing campaigns through a pre-defined process; harnessing technology to facilitate complicated, individual communications to increase customer interaction whilst saving time and costs and reducing any risk associated with human error.

We provide the tools and expertise to make it happen, consistently, across all the marketing channels. The theory and planning of campaigns is still very much in the hands of the marketing professional.

The biggest marketing automation companies on the market claim to be automating campaigns across all channels. When you actually look into it, by ‘all channels’ they actually mean all online channels. No direct mail in sight. Why would traditional automation not include this vital part of the marketing mix? Particularly when Royal Mail’s recent study into the Private life of mail found that Multi-media campaigns including mail were 27 per cent more likely to deliver top-ranking sales performance and 40 per cent more likely to deliver top-ranking acquisition levels than campaigns that didn’t include mail.

Digital print technology is now so flexible and responsive that direct mail now has a fully deserved place back in the channel mix. The surge in direct mail usage continues, with Royal Mail reporting that digitally printed (ie relevant and targeted) direct mail costs have fallen by 25% over the past 5 years. Yet marketing automation seems to be ignoring this channel.

Today’s consumer is more astute. We know more about their preferences than ever before (back to the big data thing) and we know that communicating across different channels delivers results. We can also implement variable digital print to ensure the message is relevant. Email is an important part of the mix, but it does not have a monopoly on variable messages. 

In fact, the ability to automatically create and deploy variable content across all channels, has been the catalyst for resurgence in the DM market. If done well, it really works. We are regularly seeing 25% to 35% increases in response rates through effective deployment. The process of automating communications, driven by customer knowledge and relevant messages, really is a very powerful proposition.