Hottest Marketing Automation Trends for 2021

Global marketing automation spend is projected to reach $25 billion by 2023.

It’s clear that marketing automation is rapidly gaining importance for marketers all over the world. Which is unsurprising as marketing tactics continue to become more sophisticated. But team size and budgets aren’t necessarily growing at such a scale.

Fortunately, marketing automation offers brands the ability to remain competitive without an increase in budget or team size. Marketers can scale their processes and activities as and when necessary, be agile in their approach to marketing strategy and communications. And of course, offer their consumers an unparalleled experience.

But automation isn’t the answer to all marketing problems. Brands still need to stay on top of the latest trends to ensure their tactics are as competitive as others in their industry.

And while some trends remain the same throughout the years, the rapidly changing marketing industry throws up new ones on a regular basis.

So, to support marketers, here are our hottest marketing automation trends for 2021.

For marketers, better starts here.

AI-powered personalisation

For some, the phrases ‘AI’ and ‘machine learning’ conjure up images of a post-apocalyptic future led by robots.

In reality, it’s not quite as dramatic.

Many brands and marketers alike have seen the benefits of AI, embracing this technology to gain a fuller understanding of their audience. And act upon it.

AI marketing platforms empower brands to listen, engage, and understand their audience in a more efficient way compared to pouring over endless data, analytics, and reports.

But one of the most exciting features of AI marketing is the hyper-personalisation it offers.

AI can bridge the gap between data and communication by automating messaging that is highly relevant and personalised to the individual.

And the opportunities this brings are ever-increasing. Brands can utilise AI with browsing or purchasing data to automate the most relevant product recommendations to the specific individual. It can be utilised to automate email communications based on replenishment timelines. And can ensure that messaging, imagery, and CTAs are tailored to the individual based on their stage in the customer journey.

Marketing Automation - Ai powered personalisation

Automation-based lifecycle marketing

Consumer experience has been a key trend in marketing for a few years now. And rightly so.

Brands are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their personalisation and engagement tactics to offer consumers the one-to-one communication that they crave.

However, one tactic that impacts consumer experience, but is often not given the time it deserves, is lifecycle marketing.

Brands may send a welcome campaign or a short nurturing series. But automation can offer much for sophisticated communications to support at every stage of the lifecycle.

For instance, brands can automate personalised product recommendations based on similar purchasers or behavioural data. They can send feedback requests after key stages in the customer lifecycle, such as post-purchase, support, or onboarding. And they can automate re-engagement campaigns for those recipients or customers who haven’t opened an email, or purchased from the brand in a while.

All of these automated communications ensure that the right message is being sent at the right stage in a consumer’s lifecycle. Encouraging them to move along their journey to becoming loyal, regular customers.

Marketing Automation - Automated lifecycle journeys

More human-like interactions

Many marketers are striving to offer their consumers a more ‘human’, one-to-one experience.

Marketing automation has been considered by some as cold, robotic, and void of emotion. But many brands do not have the time or resource to offer a real one-to-one experience to all of their consumers. The communications would become endless.

Fortunately, marketing automation has become sophisticated enough to offer that sought-after human element.

Marketing automation can offer the right content at the right time. Ensuring that it utilises data to make communications as personalised, relevant, and genuinely helpful to the specific individual as possible.

For instance, simple marketing automation can be used to remind recipients of an item they have been browsing or considering buying. Populating the email with the exact product and further relevant information.

Or, marketers can use automation in a more advanced way. By reminding the consumer to repurchase a product they regularly buy or that has been out of stock. Using geo-targeting to send predictive campaigns based on weather updates. And pulling through UGC (user-generated content) from other customers to offer a sense of community for similar purchasers.

Marketing Automation - Be more human

Renewed focus on customer retention

Despite it costing five times more to attract new customers compared to existing ones. Businesses still often put more emphasis on acquisition over retention.

But the past 18 months have reminded many brands of the importance of repeat customers. And we predict this could be the tipping point when it comes to acquisition vs retention.

Fortunately, the benefit of marketing to customers is that a brand will hold far more data on them. And data is key to great automation.

Furthermore, instead of marketers having to sift through endless data or constantly review customer activity to offer relevant marketing. Automation can do the hard work for them.

The key to customer retention is to make the customer feel valued, listened to, and acknowledged. This means that brands need to predict their behaviour, and offer consumers what they want, before even they realise it.

Automated campaigns such as abandoned browse and abandoned basket, replenishment campaigns, recommended products, and regular purchase updates are all key to achieving this.

And of course, making the customer feel special is also important for retention. Using simple anniversary or VIP campaigns that offer a customer something extra for their custom will help to keep a brand in their mind. And asking for their feedback, ratings, and reviews help to show that a brand really cares about their customers’ opinions.

Marketing Automation - Customer Retention

Social proof and UGC

We are social creatures, and therefore recommendations from our peers can be powerful.

In fact, over 93% of consumers take online reviews and recommendations into account when making a purchasing decision.

Social proof provides consumers with the reassurance they require when making a purchase by offering up reviews, recommendations, ratings, photos, and feedback of products. Without the consumer having to spend hours searching online.

And while it’s commonplace for brands to include testimonials and quotes on their website and in their communications. Automation can supercharge social proof in 2021. Making it real-time, relevant, and far more engaging.

For instance, automation can pull through real-time social media feeds and hashtags so that consumers can see how others are interacting with their products. This of course has the added benefit of a brand being able to utilise UGC (user-generated content) from their social media community, to help promote their brand with little additional resource.

Furthermore, automation can populate ratings, popularity, and scarcity in real-time for specific products. For instance, if a product is selling out fast, this can be automatically flagged on the website or in an email. Tapping into consumers’ sense of FOMO. And encouraging a purchase.

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Geotargeting to support bricks-and-mortar brands

With 2.14 billion global consumers expected to turn to eCommerce to satisfy their shopping needs, why would location matter?

Because, for some businesses, bricks-and-mortar stores are still essential to their buying lifecycle. This is notably the case for stores selling high-ticket items such as furniture or electronics. So driving in-store traffic, or at least promoting their in-store experience, will be essential to recovery over the coming year.

Geotargeting can be utilised to automatically populate communications with the most relevant information, based on the specific individual’s physical location.

This could include introducing their closest store, promoting in-store or location-based offers, or recommending products that are available at a store nearby.

But that’s not the only benefit geotargeting brings to brands. For businesses who deal with an international audience, or are planning on expanding, the location of their consumers is key to messaging.

In this case, geotargeting can be utilised to populate communications with the correct language, currency, messaging, and imagery. All based on location.

This saves marketers endless time and resource having to create specific communications for specific regions.

Marketing Automation - Geotargeting

Mobile as part of the marketing mix

Today, one-third of all purchases made in the UK are through a mobile device. Meaning mobile is fast becoming the primary method for online shopping for many consumers.

To address this rapid change, marketers are creating sophisticated mobile engagement strategies. Included SMS, email, and notifications. And marketing automation is key to bringing all of these channels and approaches together so that they work cohesively.

Firstly, brands should utilise the extensive mobile data that they now have access to gain a further understanding of their audience. Including location, mobile platform, and browsing and purchase behaviour. All of this data is essential for building more personalised, multi-channel campaigns over different devices.

Secondly, brands should focus on incorporating mobile as a key communication channel in their marketing strategy. With automation, brands can ensure their message is hitting all of the correct channels and devices, whilst still offering a personalised experience. For instance, if a brand is sending out an email promotion, they can incorporate SMS promotions into their plan for recipients who are more engaged in this channel.

Or, instead of only sending out purchase updates via email, brands can automate SMS notifications to keep customers as up to date as possible.

Marketing Automation - Mobile Marketing

The importance of data privacy

We’ve discussed using data to enable automation a lot in this guide. However, it’s important to point out that data privacy and trust is another hot topic for both marketers and consumers.

72% of consumers like to engage with personalised content. Yet 86% of consumers worry about their data privacy. So it’s clear there is a clash between these two important trends.

One of the most effective ways to manage data privacy concerns is simply to be open, transparent, and to offer consumers as much control over their data as possible.

Tis can include simple tactics such as making sure your privacy policy is up to date and clearly displayed on your website and within your communications. Ensuring proper opt-in practices when data is being collected. And providing clear opportunities for consumers to manage their preferences, such as via a dedicated preference centre campaign.

Marketing Automation - Privacy

Is your brand looking to get the most out of marketing automation?

At Pure360, we have worked with some of the biggest brands to deliver cutting-edge automated marketing campaigns. So we’re confident we can help your brand utilise automation and beat the competition.

Get in touch today to find out more.

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