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By Joanna Mills


10 Inspirational Marketing Automation Practices

Take the lead from 10 award winning marketing automation practices and prepare your personalisation, data analysis and mobile engagement strategies for an inspirational future

As marketers, we’re under constant pressure to anticipate and develop marketing automation practices which break the established boundaries – and exceed ROI investments in the process. But crystal balls are fragile and often cloudy. A more reliable guide is to study businesses that are already leap-frogging the competition with inspirational, forward-looking practices which bring sales and marketing closer than ever.

This year’s Oracle Marketing Cloud Markie and Marketo’s Revvie award winners offer a rich supply of examples: enterprises that tick the ‘Marketing Awesome’ box with practices which exploit the full value of personalisation, real time marketing, data use and predictive analytics, and mobile CRM – always with one eye clearly set on the future.

As each of the following ten winners proves, you don’t have to do it all at once – or break the bank – to break new ground. The most effective route to marketing automation can often be step by step, each one delivering new benefits and opening up further possibilities.


Navigation and mapping specialist TomTom won the Best International Campaign 2016 Markie with an integrated campaign focused on personalisation, which enabled it to break into new markets by targeting 20 million customers in 21 countries, with 1,500 campaign variants in 15 languages. A personalised device checker let customers know which services were available on their device, and followed up with tailored offers. The result was a 200% improvement on average TomTom click-through rates and an 8% revenue boost worth $3.7 million.

Smart content

Blackbaud, which supplies software and services to not-for-profit customers, earned itself The Futurist Revvie Award for a global interactive content marketing programme which drove up engagement rates and boosted conversion rates by 56%. The programme integrated a core Marketo automated marketing platform with SnapApp and Uberflip, helping the transactional sales team to finish at 133% of their quota at the end of the first six months, and adding more than $600,000 in new sales above target.

Predictive data

Luxury hotel visionary YOTEL won the Best Testing & Customer Experience Optimisation Markie by using predictive analytics to take the risk out of launching its new mobile site. Smart content, courtesy of Oracle Maxymiser, allowed it to continuously test and improve the end-user experience with minimal in-house web development skills – resulting in a 27% improvement in conversion and a 9% increase in transaction volume. Customer satisfaction also rose by 20% and the bounce rate from YOTEL’s site shrunk by nearly 20%.

Scalability for SMBs

Marketing automation success isn’t restricted to large enterprises, as SMB Marketing Team of the Year Revvie winner Pluralsight confirmed, having rebuilt its strategy around Marketo, increasing its year-on-year B2B opportunities by 168% and B2C sign-ups by 184%. The online education specialist succeeded in scaling its programmes to provide an increasingly personalised experience for customers – essential in the intense competition of video-based distance learning.


Meaningful, personalized communications helped retailer Zalora South to victory in the Best Mobile Experience Markie category. The business was determined to keep up with its customers on the go, building a truly integrated strategy to match messages with a relevant and compelling mobile shopping experience. This meant refining its tech infrastructure to synchronise mobile with its CRM channels, making its app more accessible and enriching personalized content to build multi-channel loyalty and engagement. Customers received push emails based on their last used device – and Zalora trebled its mobile app orders and revenue, boosting retention and building loyalty.

CRM integration

Where there were four email marketing tools, now there is just one platform: by streamlining Forbes Media’s marketing technology into a single, optimized marketing automation and CRM system in just two months, Marketing Executive of the Year Revvie winner Tom Davis was able to give the global sales team complete visibility of prospects’ web activity across multiple online properties, languages and geographies. Already, the sales team has landed bigger projects, saved time and build important new relationships.

Data Use

Using audience data in innovative and strategic ways struck gold for IT giant Dell, which won a Markie for reinvigorating its customer base – retargeting existing consumers who had purchased within the last five years, as well as potential new ones. Automated with Oracle’s BlueKai data management platform, this strategy enabled the company to increase its view through return on ad spend by 200%, with a 10% budget reduction.


The customer journey provided the template for Bridge Builder Revvie winner 3 Day Blinds to build a highly personalized, integrated marketing strategy, based on smarter targeting and more consistent messaging at every stage and across every channel. Tailored messaging appropriate to the touchpoint helped to build engagement, trust and demand, increased the company’s ad click-through rate by 140% and slashed cost-per-acquisition by 80%.


Out with the old – reporting based on data which has been organized into informational summaries to monitor marketing performance – and in with the new: analysis based on new data and meaningful insights, which leads to improved performance. This is the strategy which won Thomson Reuters the Best Use of Data Analytics & Insights Markie, helping it to predict marketing ROI and set performance goals for marketing. Identifying which campaigns are most effective, and targeting decision makers who strike the best deals has given the business new focus on where it can maximize revenues.


Trend forecasting and analysis is WGSN’s business, and the company proved that it is on trend in marketing automation by winning The Stack Master Revvie with its powerful marketing technology stack. By integrating Marketo with a portfolio of applications and functions including predictive analytics, data visualization, APIs and native product features, it has managed to re-engage low usage subscribers five times more effectively than traditional marketing techniques.

Looking ahead

If there is a common thread that runs through each of these ground-breaking marketing automation practices, it’s the eye to the future demonstrated by the winners’ readiness to discard legacy systems and attitudes in favour of tools which automate their ability to react – quickly – to an increasingly personalised customer journey, wherever that interaction takes place:

  • On web pages where customers spend most time
  • Through social media posts that customers engage with and share
  • Through emails that are opened – or not
  • Through contact with call centres
  • Through the digital ads that customers actually click through
Pushing off

Out goes the ‘push’ mentality, replaced by messages that fit specific interactions but remain consistent across multiple channels, and engage customers in two-way ‘conversations’. And in comes the Internet of Things, making the number of touchpoints on every customer journey potentially limitless.

Infrastructure revolution

What marketers need, according to JPMorgan Chase CMO Kristin Lemkau, is an infrastructure that supports personalised market without feeling like an ad or an invasion. Contributing to the latest research from Marketo/The Economist Intelligence Unit – The Path to 2020 – Lemkau said: “You’re no longer marketing AT people, you’re influencing them in an environment where they’ve already had a chance to form a view.”

Wise words from one of the 86% of 500 CMOs and senior marketers interviewed for the report, who have declared their intention to ‘own’ the customer journey by 2020.

To get there, marketers will need a single view of the customer rather than relying on multiple databases that don’t talk to each other. And if you can take inspiration from the pioneers now, and start making steps towards that goal, you’ll be in a great position to reap the benefits of personalised marketing as they emerge – with gathering speed – in the next few years.

  • Prepare today for tomorrow’s successful personalised marketing automation strategies.
  • Truly integrated, streamlined CRM and marketing communications systems will provide the perfect infrastructure for visionary campaigns based on smart messages and omni-channel consistency.
  • The best marketing automation practices of the future will mirror a complete, granular view of the customer journey.