The Adaptive Journey Approach: The Next Step For Marketing Automation

Leadership / Mark Seyforth / Marketing / July 2, 2016


When marketing automation platforms first began, they grew around the idea of email marketing. This typically involved “if/then” rules. If a customer took a certain action, then people would show a certain response. But today’s market is too busy and complex to simply use “if/then” rules. There are millions of customers and each one has a difference frame of mind. In today’s society, each consumer expects his or her own personalized experience.

Marketing platforms have begun to evolve to accommodate these changes in today’s world. They have switched from their original “if/then” campaigns to customer journeys, which are typically guided by machine learning. YesPath CEO Jason Garoutte gives the example of Netflix’s recommendation engine. Instead of writing rules about the shows and movies a person should watch next, Netflix makes inferences from what people who watch similar programs enjoy.

There are many different ideas for how to implement this new marketing approach. But generally, there is agreement that this approach is the next generation. The journey method employs machine intelligence, like machine learning, in order to learn from previous examples and thus go outside of marketer-defined rules. This “journey” approach is built to handle both traditional structured data and unstructured data.

This new incarnation of marketing platforms is expected to emphasize the journey of the customer, focusing on whatever stage of the decision-making process the consumer is currently in. Instead of focusing on individual trigger actions as the previous method did, this approach will focus on what the consumer needs at this exact point in order to reach a buying decision.

With this new generation of marketing platforms, marketers are able to set a goal using a machine learning-based system. Platforms see which engagement tactics have worked on similar website visitors, and then they recommend those actions.

David Raab of marketing research firm Raab Associates describes this new type of platform as a Journey Orchestration Engine, or JOE for short. Raab states that when the journey is guided by self-learning machines, it is not only a personal journey, also an adaptive journey. Necessary in today’s economy because there is an excessive amount of data.The previously used rules-based platforms allowed for too many possible paths, all of which marketing would need to handle. This made it nearly impossible for the platform to accurately give a personalized experience. Customizing each consumer’s journey is likely to be a much more effective marketing tactic. Some startups that utilize the new adaptive marketing technique are Usermind, Thunderhead, YesPath, and Pointillist.

Raab believes that this approach is actually more about marketers than about consumers. Setting up the rules of all personalized journeys would take too much time, and marketers are starting to realize this. Even traditional marketing automation platforms like Salesforce and Marketo have taken on this new adaptive marketing approach. This approach seems to be making a big impact, but only time can tell just how successful it will be.

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Mark Seyforth
Mark Seyforth is an entrepreneur and marketing guru based in Coral Gables, Florida. Learn more about the ambitious businessman by connecting with him on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

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