5 Minute MadTech – Sales Automation and Marketing Automation: Part 3

Where have you been? Thanks to the internet,  you can catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 here.

What allows Sales Automation (SA) and Marketing Automation (MA) to be on an upward trajectory? Tech, baby. As we move into the automated future, the friction of MA/SA implementation should be first to go. The star of the show, ladies and gentle-bots: Artificial Intelligence.  

Waves of Innovation

Gartner has represented the constant growth of SA through different “waves”:

  • “Wave 1: Client-server and desktop based sales systems”
  • “Wave 2: Web 2.0 and API-based sales systems”
  • “Wave 3: Algorithmic SA with predictive analytics and AI”

Waves 1 and 2 were gnarly, but we’re on the front end of the big kahuna – #3. Tech is simplifying the sales process by automating – and thereby accelerating – communication between sales and marketing departments. Knowledge Tree states, “Automated analytics about the performance of content can be automatically shuttled back to marketing so they can see which content performs and which doesn’t. The result is that teams can invest in assists that win and eliminate low-performers.”

Box checked for automation – but what about AI? CRMs are the biggest intersection of sales and marketing departments. According to Medium, “AI applications in CRM is just a tip of the iceberg. As AI technology strengthens, CRM which is ripe for disruption is going to be the biggest beneficiary moving from being a system of records to a really helpful tool helping organizations become more efficient and productive.”

As long as the machines don’t rise up against us, the future is looking much smoother.

MA, FTW

The Huffington Post quoted a Gleanster study which, “…reports that 90% of respondents report regular and periodic use of Marketing Automation for large-volume email campaigns.” The article continues to explain that MA, “has revolutionized the way organizations are managing their time and targets.” Now the best possible prospects are given time to convert, saving time, energy, and money.

Data integrations and predictive analysis will be the main focus for MA growth, via AI integration.

The Huffington Post continues, “The most valuable use of AI in marketing is to enable personalized conversations with customers, knowing their goals, ambitions and profiles. This type of personalized communication eliminates spam, which often plagues marketing today.” Digital natives know when they’re being spammed, unwillingly part of  chain emails, etc., and the lack of personalization is an instant red flag. In spite of this, in recent years many have concluded that mass emailing works… but does it? This answer isn’t so black and white.

Personalized one-on-one conversations can now move beyond simple list segmentations. “…Visitors can expect to have a unique conversation with the brand, based on their specific needs. Dynamic ad copy, one-to-one emails, customized website and mobile experience, AI will make hyper-personalization possible at scale.

AI may allow MA to practice safe marketing. Rather than communicating with promiscuity, the personalized approach that AI has introduced will reach mass audiences creating interactions that are aligned with actual individuals, rather than more vague segments.

Wrapping It Up…

AI has expanded well-beyond sitting on your kitchen counter (ordering your paper towels and surreptitiously shilling for Burger King.) It’s being implemented across MadTech, and SA/MA are no exception. If only we could get it to open the pod bay doors.

Ok Everyone, You Missed the Point

Last week Burger King earned significant publicity over their latest ad stunt, in which a TV spot was designed to hijack Google Home devices by asking “OK, Google, what is the Whopper burger?” The hope was that viewers with a Google Home Virtual Digital Assistant (VDA) would hear a list the ingredients back from their device. There has been a lot of news and industry talk about the advertisement itself… the Wikipedia skirmishes… but so far, everyone has missed the point.

This stunt is not about the ad, but about the power of the home-based VDA. Given Google’s insatiable appetite for advertising revenue, Google Home is programmed to use Wikipedia to list Whopper ingredients — a tiny illustration of the power of VDAs. How long will it take for your Google Home, Amazon Echo, or other VDA, to not only link to an advertisement and choose where to direct you, but for Google and Amazon to get paid by brands for your virtual self-space? Imagine you ask for paper towels – let’s say your VDA can choose Bounty or Brawny – what is Amazon’s incentive to pick one brand over the other?

I already say to my Echo, “Alexa, reorder XYZ”, and it does. No price check, no alternative, and when XYZ is a generic item, like sugar, it effectively selects the brand. I know this is the effect of my own laziness, but what I expect to see soon will be nothing short of invasive. Amazon already knows far too much about me. Again, my own choice, but in this “winner take all” economy, our retail choices are going to become limited in an entirely new way. It will not just be the local merchant being pushed out by big boxes and malls. Even they are being shattered as we embrace e-commerce, online price checking, and are swayed by social influencers, changing how we buy. eMarkerter’s recent report on programmatic spending, indicating that 84% of all digital advertising will be programmatic, shows that algorithmically-driven advertising works.  It is coming to TV (already in video) and to every other form of advertising.

What is fascinating about the potential power of VDA as it relates to marketing, advertising, and commerce, is that no one is paying attention. This will be the largest sea change in advertising/marketing and controlled by only a few companies (Google, Amazon, Apple, ???). Both Google and Amazon have reduced the friction of every transaction and are basically selling a BIG EASY BUTTON for shopping. However, the costs of finding alternatives, or actually knowing what the alternatives are, will continue to empower that easy button. This enables yield pricing on every product we buy online.

Many are already familiar with how airlines present different prices to the same person based upon how they search (one price on Kayak, another on the company’s website, and a third price on the company’s app).  When I recently searched Delta for a flight from LaGuardia to St. Louis using these three methods I was simultaneously quoted three different prices (ranging from $171~$187).  In each instance, Delta knew different things about me, and therefor quoted me three different prices. What is to stop Amazon Echo from quoting me a different price? Amazon already changes its pricing in real time – that cookware set you bought yesterday may be cheaper today (and Amazon no longer offers price protection). Why wouldn’t Amazon set pricing based upon willingness to pay? They could tune their margins perfectly.

VDAs are becoming the next narrowing point of the purchase funnel. Limiting selection and actively managing price is simply the next step.

What can we do? The answer is complicated, but it begins with awareness. We professionals in the MadTech world are familiar with how algorithms dynamically bid for impressions, change creative content inside of ads, and generally drive the successful targeting of advertising. But most people don’t know how pricing algorithms discriminate based upon what they know. As these Madtech capabilities continue to migrate to pricing, the most important thing we can do it is not fall into the easy trap by spending a little more time looking for pricing alternatives.