What Election Season Is Teaching Us About Marketing Automation

What Election Season Is Teaching Us About Marketing Automation

In this opinion piece, PR & content manager for Edge Belinda Aucott explains how content driven marketing automation is helping marketers target bespoke audiences using digital, social and mobile.

Belinda Aucott
Posted by Belinda Aucott

In the United States, politicians Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are using sophisticated online techniques to attract and convert voters. Both are leveraging their personal brands to the hilt through the use of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

Teams of data nerds on both sides are tracking potentials voters across the spectrum, from those who are ‘true believers’ to ‘new sign-ups’.

The idea of using data to attract potential voters with content isn’t particularly new. It helped Barack Obama win the White house twice (in 2009 and again in 2012). But technology today is improving in critical ways. Emails, videos and flyers can all now be distributed based on voter profiling and behaviour.

Marketing automation software has been designed for products and consumers, and can be used by politicians to inform, update and influence voters on their path to purchase (I mean, their path to choosing a president).

While Trump uses Twitter as a megaphone to talk to his eight million followers, he also serves up (selective) content on his own website. This is destination viewing at its best.

At Trump’s campaign website, clips chosen by Trump range from positive news coverage and successful talk show interviews to propaganda about violence at his rallies. It should come as no surprise that Trump voters like his ‘fast food style’ campaign messages – namely, snackable content and tasty sound bites.

After all, Trump supporters hail from the same culture of celebrity that bred him as the presumptive Republican nominee. His current fame has almost certainly been stoked by reality TV shows like The Apprentice, which he starred in from 2004 to 2015.

The marketing software being used by US politicians is not transparent. It is not harmless and it is not always open to fact checks and media scrutiny as campaign TVCs are. Trump party campaigners can, in effect, use dark channels such as direct mail to say anything they like to their target audience – say, for example, a cohort of under-30 non-school finishers with a low IQ.

These days, if you have the money – which Trump does – there is almost no limit to how you can use online media to influence consumer behaviour.

Online listening

Via marketing automation you can listen to the web, measure sentiment, track engagement and provide detailed insights based on data analytics.

It is making a big impact on the way brands, whether personal or corporate, can spend their campaign or marketing budgets. Marketing automation is changing the way companies do business and how they think about audience segmentation.

The advantage for content marketing stems from having audiences see content that is directly relevant to them. This is especially important for certain segments. We spoke to James New from Marketo, one of the leading providers to explain the benefits.

“We are helping brands to be more human,” said New. “We don’t want marketing to be invasive. Millennials have come to expect high-touch marketing and a high level of interaction.

“The thing to remember with Millennials is that they just don’t tolerate a bad brand experience. They want to engage every step of the way.”

New says he is giving CMOs hard data to support his assertions and giving marketers the tools to create content plans that show where the audience lies. Often that is on their smartphones.

“Marketing automation rapidly becomes any marketer’s single source of truth,” New added. “We’re investing heavily to ensure that we can track every single digital interaction that you feed into the platform, whether you’re feeding stuff in from your social activity, CRM, from your website, or from your data warehouse.

“There are so many channels available now that marketers must cover a lot of ground without automating that process and tracking it’s impossible to manage efficiently”

The new order

To any modern marketing evangelist, using data to make decisions about content delivery is a ‘no-brainer’. And it doesn’t matter whether that data is for a political campaign or a consumer campaign.

To convert a lead to vote, or buy, it might mean getting true believers to convert their friends on Facebook, or sending an email that can be read on mobile on the morning of a primary. It might mean not communicating for a day or two to allow the recipient some space.

New continued, “Sometimes the action the super computer instructs you to do is to communicate less frequently with a person. Not more.”

Content creation savings and smarter budget control I hear you say! ‘I vote for that’.