Marketing Automation Puts Customers in the Driver’s Seat

As 2018 approached, I heard speculation that 2018 would be the year of data. No, the year of data protection. No, wait, the year of data transparency. 2018 would be the year of artificial intelligence (AI).

But what has really happened? It’s been the year of Customer Control.

Think about it. In a sense, all the predictions were right. Data protection, data transparency, and even AI are all aimed at giving the customer control over their information and preferences. It’s no longer enough to send the right e-mail at the right time, either. Consumers today expect highly personalized service and communication across all channels and platforms. This is why marketing automation is becoming an increasingly critical tool.

A recent Forrester report on marketing automation technology forecasts a 14% compound annual growth rate in marketing automation technology tool spending over the next five years. That means $25.1 billion annually by 2023. With implementation of GDPR-like laws likely elsewhere, digital wellness, and other attempts to put the consumer in greater control of their data and digital lives, marketing automation platforms can either help us or hurt us.

Ensure Your Marketing Automation Platform Provides Data Protection and Privacy

Marketing automation allows us to prioritize and accomplish marketing tasks more efficiently. Part of this process includes collecting data on potential leads and current clients. This is all great so long as you have gained consent from these individuals.

The challenge for many of our clients is how to obtain consent in a way that isn’t pushy or intrusive. We solve for their pain points by giving them full control over HOW to gather consent. That applies not just to the channel (web, agent, e-mail, text) but also the ability to customize their messaging around consent gathering. Everyone has a different understanding of “pushy and intrusive” and we empower our clients to tailor the approach to their customers’ preferences.

Some think that if they don’t do business in the EU, then they don’t need to worry about all of this. California, however, has enacted its own version of GDPR. Several other states have enacted data privacy-related laws in the wake of GDPR as well. While data privacy remains less regulated in the U.S., the appetite for more regulation is growing, so it’s best to think ahead. Here, I’ll do that by looking at the provisions of GDPR and how they might be applied here in the United States, Australia, or other places we serve.

Potential Regulatory Stumbling Blocks

What parts of marketing automation platforms could get you into trouble? You should obtain consent for automated data management campaigns and reverse IP tracking. Even lead scoring can be problematic if it’s not approached properly. Under GDPR rules, lead scoring constitutes profiling, so marketers must get consent to do it.

With Katabat’s marketing-automation software, you can secure and load consent-related data that you can then use to drive new-account acquisition and cross-sells to existing customers. Implementing our product does not require a new website; we can place a banner ad on the page that basically asks customers to let us know how we can contact them.

Reactivation programs are not allowed under GDPR since individuals who have not recently opted in to communications should not be contacted. Finally, customers who do not opt in or who withdraw consent (which they need to be allowed to do at any time) should have their data permanently removed from your database.

How Can Marketing Automation Help with GDPR?

Many were concerned that GDPR would mean the end of marketing. That was never its intent. The purpose of the law has always been to put individuals in greater control of their data. While this does not mean death to marketing, it does mean that the relevance of your marketing will need to increase. In a way, GDPR is just pushing us to improve customer engagement, and that’s something we all want.

That said, marketing automation used correctly can help you stay compliant. It makes keeping track of consent and opt-outs much simpler. Marketing automation platforms are continually improving. Artificial intelligence allows companies to further personalize customer interaction and also supports greater customer segmentation. All of this leads to customers getting more of what they want and less of what they don’t.

Features like advanced lead scoring and multivariate analysis are leading to more effective communication between companies and their customers and leads. Marketing automation platforms already out-perform paid search and blogging in terms of customer acquisition. As these platforms do a better job of tracking individual customers across their lifecycle, they will increase customer retention as well.

What Is Digital Wellness?

GDPR is not the only thing out there putting consumers in greater control of their data and digital lives. Presenters at Apple’s 2018 Worldwide Developers Conference made a point of prioritizing digital well-being.

Digital wellness or digital well-being refers to the growing realization that we are all spending too much time on our phones. Apple has responded to the calls for moderation by developing new controls. These allow users to monitor how much time they spend on devices, set time limits on app usage, reduce the distraction of notifications, and oversee device usage for kids. Users can also get reports on how much time they are spending on their device and which apps are sending the most notifications. Google has also introduced similar app time management controls.

What does all of this have to do with marketing automation? It’s another way that the customer is being given more control. Are you sending too many notifications or non-relevant messages and offers? Your customers are going to notice, and now they have more tools to silence you.

Join the Conversation…

Does any of this scare you?  Has it changed the way you do business? Ever-improving marketing automation technology is making it easier and easier to cater to the individual. Enhanced content marketing, better tracking across the customer lifecycle, and website behavior tracking with advanced multivariate testing are just a few of the trends in marketing automation that are making personalization easier. Increased customization, control over our own data, and digital wellness are good for all of us. After all, it’s the Year of the Customer.

Matt Butler is North American Sales Director for Katabat. Prior to joining Katabat in 2014, he spent nine years in the Financial Services Industry with a focus on collection and customer contact strategies.


Katabat is the leading provider of debt collections software to banks, agencies, and alternative lenders. Founded in 2006 and led by a diverse team of lending executives and leading software engineers, Katabat pioneered digital collections and has led the industry ever since. It is our mission to provide the best credit collections software in the market and solve debt resolution from the perspectives of both lenders and borrowers.

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