Marketing Automation Day 2018

The Marketing Automation Day is one of those days that allows you, as a Marketing Automation Expert, to keep the finger on the pulse and to keep testing if you are still up-to-date. And that is good news, because at The Reference, we are still up-to-date… Below you will find 4 key take aways from this inspiring day.

1. Email marketing is so 2017 – Get to know marketing automation…

A logical message, of course, when you are at a marketing automation congress. But as Marketing Automation experts, we have been yelling this for years and that is exactly the problem. Because email marketing still works. You can send the same email to your complete database and many clicks will follow, you will even get a lot of revenue out of it.
Than why invest in marketing automation?

Let us be clear, email marketing is part of marketing automation and will stay that way for a very long time. The automation aspect only makes sure that you can send more segmented mails (read: 1on1) with the same effort. Because the question you have to ask yourself is for how long it will be possible to send the same email to everyone.

  • The client protection becomes better every day. On top of that, the enhanced media attention around GDPR and the latest data scandals (Cambridge Analytica…) make sure that customers are more and more aware of their rights. Can you justify every communication you send?
  • A mass mail will lead to more unsubscribes and causes less future sales. Have you tried to decrease your unsubscribe rate?
  • The number of mails keeps on increasing. In 2018, the total amount of professional and private mails that will be sent and received will rise to more than 281 milliard a day. This is an expansion of 4.5% compared to 2017. How do you make sure that you still stand out between all these mails?
  • Machine learning algorithms become more important to separate relevant mails from the giant amount of irrelevant mails. Does Gmail hide your mails under the publicity tab as well?

Marketing automation is a smarter and more relevant way to handle email marketing.

With marketing automation, you want to automate marketing processes such as lead generation, conversion, retention… preferably in a smart way. It is a combination between inbound and outbound over several channels and it places the customer at the heart. Automation should lead to cost saving or should allow your organization to spread its attention over other marketing processes. You can see email marketing as one outbound channel serving your marketing strategy. It often is about ad-hoc campaigns.

2. Artificial Intelligence

What you have notices, is that 2018 will be the year of AI in marketing automation. Because if we are honest, we have to admit that we have not come that far in AI. Which is rather bizarre because we already have a lot of data – the fuel behind AI - in marketing automation. 

During the Marketing Automation Day, a presentation was given about, one of the many solutions the market offers to add AI to your marketing automation flows. It always comes down to the same thing. From historical (click) data of a whole bunch of people, algorithms can make the connection between content (articles, promotions, products…) and individuals. From the moment we know these links, we can apply them to other people to show them content that is relevant for them (and therefore more profitable for us). Furthermore, this can be applied to more than just content. Shipping times, sequences of actions, channels …. can all be made more relevant for your customer. 


The word GDPR was heard several times in every presentation and the message was clear: the time of the cowboys is over. 

The big commotion surrounding GDPR is difficult to understand. Since 1992, Belgium has a strict privacy law that hands the customer a lot of rights. Companies that do not know which way to turn have not been handling 100% legal.
According to us, the biggest challenge waiting for us at the end of this year (the beginning of next year) is the European cookie regulation. Just like with GDPR, several national laws will be replaced by European laws. 

The essence of GDPR to us in three points:

  • Can I communicate with that person?
    Belgium actually already belongs to the better countries in the EU when it comes to consent. So again, when you think GDPR is very shocking on this field, you probably were not acting 100% legal before.
  • What do I use personal data for?
    This is the most challenging and how am I going to be in this? Are you going to tell that click data or offline data are used to determine online reduction? Or to offer person A another prize than person B?
  • Technical shizzle
    The GDPR regulation does not just bring European citizens better insights in why companies collect certain data, but it also allows them to control their personal data in a better way. So as a company you better make sure you know where your data is located. Work together with the entire organization and provide scripts and processes (human ones as well as technical ones) that you can use whenever data subjects want to exercise their rights:

    - Right to resist, inspection and rectification
    - Right to be forgotten
    - Right to portability of its data
    - Right to restrict from processing
    - Right to object processing

4. Start the conversation with your customers based on their digital behavior 

This was present in the presentation of Nokia, best known for its mobile phones but mainly a big player in the healthcare and IoT market.

For Nokia, marketing automation serves to foresee the internal sales of the right information at the right time in the purchase cycle of the customer. This way, marketing collects the digital engagement of every customer even before they come into contact with the sales organization. The complete process is evaluated by the qualitative as well as the quantitative metrics. 

  • Qualitative:  #sales opportinties / #MQL
  • Quantitative:   #offers/#MQL   #won/#MQL

We notice that only small amounts of businesses – B2B as well as B2C – are engaged to collect data on their digital channels. Do you sometimes ask yourself if the digital behavior of your customers on your website or app could be used within your organization?

Our approach

Within The Reference, we truly believe that with marketing automation, you can generate more value for your business than you can with email marketing. Even though we think that a smart email marketing strategy still is a great first step. 

We are digital in heart and soul and we love to see how we can collect the relevant information of your customers and how this can generate value for your business.
Together we look how new technology such as AI can influence your business and marketing automation strategy. 

All of this of course within the GDPR regulation. This means that we treat your data as if it were ours. Safe and with respect for the privacy of your customers. Flows that we figure out together will always be ‘privacy by design’ proof. 

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