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Today’s b2b customer experience expectations demand a personalised approach to delivering enhanced levels of engagement that in turn boost ecommerce performance. This puts significant pressure on sales and marketing teams to develop fresh and innovative solutions that improve the quality of customer interactions. As a result, many companies are utilising marketing automation tools to drive website traffic, improve sales and support greater customer loyalty. At the same time, these companies recognise the importance of the human touch in building and maintaining strong customer relationships.

Marketing automation tools can help to bring the efforts of sales and marketing teams together through more efficient CRM processes. These processes save time and resource, and reduce the chance of missing opportunities to influence the customer journey. But the most effective marketing activities rely on creative thinking – and most often, this comes from the ability to understand customer behaviour and through human collaboration. So just because a marketing team can access the latest automation tools does not guarantee a successful campaign – in fact, if marketing becomes too automated, it can have an adverse affect on the customer relationship.

Balancing the influence of automation tools and the power of human creativity on marketing activities is critical. Marketing automation can enable fast response times and help to deliver a carefully considered, personalised sales experience – but knowing when to add the human touch, and how much to add, can make all the difference. Key to this is defining what constitutes a successful campaign, then being able to accurately measure and evaluate results. That means agreeing an ecommerce sales target, and then working back to create a marketing plan that will deliver your goal.

For example, during the next financial year, a company’s marketing team plans to increase its conversion rate by 1% and its website traffic by 18% in order to generate an additional £275k in b2b ecommerce revenue. This is a SMART goal (specific, measureable, achievable, relevant, time-based) that highlights where effort should be focused. Capabilities of the team will then need to be assessed and responsibilities assigned across broad areas including strategy development (devising a plan to achieve objectives), creative development (producing campaign materials), communications (producing content and managing activities) and PR (working with collaborators and influencers to support the campaign).

Part of this assessment and one of the foundations of strategy development should be a comprehensive competitor analysis to identify how to best gain advantage. That could end up being through creative projects such as innovative site content – or it might be through a process of search engine optimisation (SEO), for example.

Companies need to be realistic about how responsibilities are assigned; briefing a group of creatives to devise your strategy for example, not only compromises efficiency, creativity and effectiveness, it might also indicate that you need to allocate more budget to hiring new team members rather than spending on marketing automation tools. Of course, the benefits of people versus automation software will vary by company and goals, but the best performing organisations understand that if they want to be better at what they already do, they need to invest in marketing automation tools. And if they want to disrupt the market and take a different approach, they should prioritise investment in human talent.

 

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