This is fast becoming one of the big games of the season. The early history of the industry saw the total domination of call centers, as this method took an early lead in the race to conversions and retention. Automation, which seemed to come out of nowhere, is now taking a slender lead as we move into the next leg of the game.
As metaphors go, a football game is a good analogy and makes for a nice headline, but there is a lot more to the perceived battle between old and new styles than meets the eyes. Understanding automation is the first main hurdle for many brokers as it is usually referred to as marketing automation. There are pitfalls in both parts of the name.
What does marketing mean?
To start with, for many brokers ‘marketing’ means acquisition-like advertising or affiliates, and not conversion and retention. When it comes to advertising, be it media buying or SEM, there are many automation tools available under the new banner of ‘programmatic’. You can automate your AdWords and media campaigns, and, you have to automate your real time bidding. This is not marketing automation.
The second part, automation, is also confusing to many. Other than the famous broker floated on the stock exchange, adoption of automation is not full. Automation leads users through funnels as much as possible on their own.
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However, when you are asking someone to invest a significant amount of money, most would agree that at some point there has to be human to human contact in order for the investor to understand that this a real company, serviced by real people. Automation should bring this contact to fruition at the optimal time so that call centers are eliminating wasted hours on cold calls or mistimed calls that could even be detrimental to the end goal.
What does automation bring to the game?
What automation should bring is smart segmentation that builds best practice funnels in order to achieve a specific call to action, execute, analyze the results and then learn how to optimize segments. Automation will present the right message at the right time to the end user, to prompt the next decision in an ongoing process.
Via machine learning and artificial intelligence, smart systems like Optim8 can learn patterns, identify segments of similar patterns and identify the correct path to take towards achieving a specific financial transaction goal.
In retention cycles, after the first deposit, everything is relatively simpler as the database already has some initial data to draw comparisons with other accounts. The danger here is that the system presents too many micro segments making the human operators confused and unable to follow through. When it comes to conversion, the user has no data.
Smart systems can still find basic patterns and match them with a set of predefined best practices that have shown results over time from similar clients and then learn how to tailor, customize and optimize conversion rates based on defined KPIs.
Now that we are all clear on what marketing automation is, let us go back to the football analogy. With the first leg over, the industry is expecting much tougher conditions to play in during the second leg. It is no wonder that brokers are flocking to adopt new automation tactics, making them clear favorites to win in the second leg.