Automation enables activities to happen automatically, without the need for a user to manually launch those. Adobe Campaign provides automation capabilities that range from data management to the delivery of communications across any of the supported channels. Those are mostly available as workflows. Not only does this save huge amounts of time, it can also be used to scale up personalised experiences which is significant when it comes to driving increased engagement and improving the customer experience.
In its most basic form, automation can be as simple as a single email, scheduled to go out at a predefined time.
More advanced automation workflows can be used to address the complexities of planning and executing journeys such as sending multiple waves over a number days and branching out to different treatments according to customer behaviour.
The concept of triggers is also important when it comes to automation. A trigger might be any change in the data like a subscription (which is a direct interaction from the customer) but it could also be more complex like a client reaching a certain LTV and entering your VIP stream as a result. There are endless triggers available to the most imaginative marketers, from clicking on an email to the typical browse abandonment.
To illustrate an automated journey, let’s use one of the world’s most famous shopping days: Black Friday. Although this event takes place at the end of November, customers who might be expected to make a purchase on the day actually start their journeys much earlier.
Well ahead of time potential customers will start receiving automated comms via multiple channels, encouraging them to view the upcoming offers. They will continue on their journey, receiving these automated messages, until they meet certain criteria.
Criteria that change the direction of the journey include specific interactions, as chosen by the brand and defined in the workflow, such as the purchase of a product or service for example. When this happens, the customer could be directed onto a different branch or exits the journey altogether.
When it comes to data management, workflows are the running force behind automation.
Use-cases include data loading, data cleansing, calculating scores like RFM or LTV, householding, aggregating, segmenting, augmenting, etc…
While automation presents a wide range of opportunities for businesses, it doesn’t come without its challenges. Not only is a certain skill set is required to develop automation workflows but reporting, error management and a lack of visibility are commonly seen as obstacles by users of the platform.
Automation makes it possible for brands to send millions of emails across hundreds of different campaigns and customer journeys. It nonetheless makes it difficult for teams to keep tabs on what’s being sent to who and when.
Reporting can be simple when a workflow is fairly linear and run once like the Black Friday warm-up journey. But when a workflow is triggered on a recurring basis and individuals are taken through a journey one by one, reporting can become a lot more challenging.
For example, the open rate or click-through of an individual message might be declining over time but that insight will be lost in the report’s aggregation. The ratio of people taking various branches of the workflow is also something that is not easily accessible. There is a lot of insight that is not necessarily available with the standard reporting suit, even if the data is there.
Unfortunately, there is always a chance that workflows will run into problems. This is not always spotted straight away and again, the skills required to fix the issues can be advanced. There are a number of strategies that can be implemented to minimise errors and to ensure alerts are promptly raised with the correct resource.
As sophistication increases, so will the number of automated processes, whether they are triggers, automated journeys or advanced campaigns. Customers can end up being enrolled into several audiences and pulled into automated streams from different campaigns and even different teams when it comes to larger companies.
There are safeguards such as the marketing pressure parameters which will limit the number of communications a customer can receive over a specific period but from a marketing perspective, visibility of how automated processes might overlap is very limited. The resulting optimisation challenge is considerable.
While automation is a crucial part in scaling up efficiencies and in saving time, it is only ever as reliable as the person building the workflow, and as good as the data and content used to run them. Both workflow and content demand considerable time and resources at the creation stage.
It is particularly important not to take content for granted. Timing is crucial in ensuring your campaign gets the best possible results, but if the content being delivered is not valuable to users, then it’s unlikely that users will act upon it – no matter how well-timed the messaging is. Always analyse results and tweak content as well as timing to ensure campaigns fulfil their potential.
Metrics should be closely monitored at every point in the automation strategy. It’s only by analysing these metrics, that brands can ensure that no issues are building up under the surface, that they can learn from the performance of their campaigns, and build upon successes. As programs become ever more sophisticated thanks to the depth of automation capabilities, monitoring becomes even more important.
This is why TAP London has developed proprietary tools that monitor various areas of an Adobe Campaign platform and ensure alerts are raised whenever automation issues are detected. Do get in touch if you’d like to know more.
At TAP London, we provide expert marketing and technology services to help brands create outstanding customer experiences. Visit wearetaplondon.com to find out more about how Adobe Campaign could benefit your brand, or get in touch with our team for further information.