Marketing Automation: Too Profitable to Ignore

I am getting tired of being a Chapters iRewards member.

The flagship loyalty program for Canada’s largest national bookseller rewards members with up to 20% off books and scores of additional perks.

But I have been receiving newsletters for years, emails that feature book genres I have never had the bad fortune of looking at, let alone purchasing.

My years of fan fiction and fantasy were worked out of me at a very young age, and seldom have I found myself leafing through chick-lit stories of Americana, mysteries or even adult fiction.

Instead, I dive into photography, art, history and business. I am, by all accounts, a true gen-xer.

So I can’t figure out why Chapters would pass up on giving me links to stuff I can buy now that cater to my interests. Consider the things that make me easy pickings for sales and leads:

  • I love my books and ebooks (in my last move, I had 95 boxes of books alone)
  • I love Chapters (a big-box book experience feels like legal gluttony)
  • I love reading stuff that makes me look smart in front of my friends
  • I am competitive as hell

But take a look:

iRewards and Marketing Automation


With my obvious desires and expectations clarified in my purchase patterns, it’s amazing to me that any company would ignore the obvious advantage of connecting with their customers based on behaviours. Nurturing any customer or lead to purchase gets easier with the use of modern digital tools, and picking the lowest hanging fruit is the simplest path to profitability.


Enter Marketing Automation and Personalization

Automation and personalization has come a long way. The process of automating your messages to your prospects and customers has become more important. With today’s capabilities, companies can track the purchases, behaviours and interests of their customers and create profiles with extreme accuracy—right down to their return visit dates. Content can be tailored to suit those particular customer profiles and paths to success can be mapped and tracked for real-time improvement.

But marketing is work, and you want to get it right.

These are real people that have established an affinity with your company. Whether they are customers or leads, you can build data driven profiles that will guide your content (newsletters, blog post, landing page content, campaigns or social media posts) that will move them further down the marketing funnel. The marketing funnel of a customer base can be broken down into six key stages:

  • Discovery and research
  • Awareness
  • Decision-making
  • Conversion
  • Purchase
  • Advocacy

A Point About Prospects

Reaching out to new prospects quickly can dramatically improve conversions after follow-up touch points. A recent Harvard study examined both B2B and B2C companies and determined that immediate follow-ups are up to 60 times more likely to win the customer they followed-up with.

I used to subscribe to a software (SaaS) company that really understood how to work with automation and personalization. Every month, I received their general newsletter that had links to blog posts, articles—and company announcements. I didn’t spend much time on their website because it didn’t really interest me (someone without automation or personalization might not even determine me a prospect, since I show up as a bounce rate or an open and delete subscriber).


But every second month, I would receive an invitation to download a white paper or case study on the data behind their software, their successes and trends in their market. This to me was very interesting (because I have to know more than my friends). I would gobble them up and save them on my iPad for weekend reading. All I did was enter my email on their landing page (email tracking) and off I went. This had become one of my weekly practices, and I became a full-fledged advocate of their software solution. I’d brag about their content (offline and online) and they’d track my behaviour.

SaaS companies (especially in the B2B vertical) generally have mastered automation, lead nurturing and personalization. It’s said that up to 95% of the top 19 SaaS companies use automation and personalization.

And as a (former) B2B customer—I ran a business for 7 years—I can say that I prefer to know that my vendor took the time to figure me out, lead nurture and earn their way to my dollar (without really taking up my time).

A Pardot State of Demand study discovered that around 77% of B2B customers wanted content tailored to their stage of the buying cycle in the same way. Our audiences now expect a personalized experience.

It’s time for the rest of the companies out there to catch up with reality. Prospects and customers like to know they’re being thought about and being communicated to how they want to be contacted and with the content that reflects their needs and interests.


Marketing automation and personalization makes that possible.

But more than that, the most easily accessible sales and profits lie within the same space! And with only 59% of companies surveyed using any form of marketing automation/personalization, the benefit for acting soon is high.

In a future post, I’ll walk through how we construct a profile based on

  • User behaviour
  • Purchase history
  • Website browsing and visits

I’ll also show some great examples of automated content and personalization techniques that work for both B2B and B2C companies.