I recently went to Wal­greens to pick up a new pre­scrip­tion. On my bag was a mes­sage to go online at wal​greens​.com to order pre­scrip­tion refills and update my per­sonal health his­tory. A few days after I cre­ated an account, I received an email to down­load the com­pli­men­tary mobile app to help man­age my records while I’m on the go. Right before my pre­scrip­tion ran out, I received both a mobile push noti­fi­ca­tion and email reminder to order a refill, which I do. A cou­ple of days later, I received a push noti­fi­ca­tion say­ing my refill was ready to pick up at the Walgreen’s phar­macy clos­est to my home. Five days later, I received an auto­mated voice­mail inform­ing me that my refill was ready; this was extremely help­ful since I travel a lot and had actu­ally for­got­ten about my pre­scrip­tion. This was a con­sis­tent, rel­e­vant, and easy cus­tomer journey—all because I took a few min­utes to set up an account that included my pref­er­ences.

The best way to nur­ture customers—and get them to keep com­ing back—is by deliv­er­ing the right mes­sage at the right time. This is exactly what hap­pened to me with Wal­greens; any brand seek­ing to build mean­ing­ful and pro­duc­tive rela­tion­ships with their cus­tomers should be doing the same thing.

To do this suc­cess­fully, man­ual action will not work—as I men­tion quite often, there is sim­ply too much data to do this. An orga­ni­za­tion must auto­mate its mar­ket­ing processes—everything from pro­mo­tional, trans­ac­tional mes­sages to sea­sonal cam­paigns. Every inter­ac­tion must be lever­aged to sus­tain this rela­tion­ship. This is called orches­trat­ing cus­tomer jour­neys. By orches­trat­ing all the cam­paign data, con­tent, and chan­nels, an orga­ni­za­tion can not only build per­son­al­ized cus­tomer expe­ri­ences but also gain sig­nif­i­cant pro­gram effi­cien­cies. By automat­ing your mar­ket­ing approach, you are solv­ing the fol­low­ing prob­lems asso­ci­ated with a mar­ket­ing campaign:

  • Time: Every sec­ond your team ded­i­cates to the orches­tra­tion of your mar­ket­ing cam­paign is time that could have been spent exe­cut­ing it. Automa­tion frees your team to be even more pro­duc­tive to work on other, more proac­tive projects that will fur­ther your business.
  • Cost: In order to exe­cute tasks related to the orches­tra­tion of your mar­ket­ing cam­paign, you must allo­cate resources to get the job done. The less effi­cient you are with this, the more resources—and ulti­mately money—it will cost.
  • Effi­ciency: Automa­tion (as opposed to a man­ual approach) jump­starts your time and cost-efficiency, thereby reduc­ing your over­all cost.
  • Redun­dancy: Any­thing run by peo­ple is sub­ject to human error. A com­mon result of human error is redun­dancy, which not only means wasted efforts but could also result in send­ing the same cus­tomer a sin­gle mes­sage more than once. With automa­tion, you are sub­ject to less redundancy.

Cam­paign orches­tra­tion is one of the hottest top­ics I dis­cuss with mar­ket­ing lead­ers, and I always get the same ques­tion: “Where do we start?” My reply is always the same: Start with your customer’s life­cy­cle, iden­tify the major steps every cus­tomer has to go through, and deliver value through all interactions.

I pose the fol­low­ing ques­tions to you: What is of value to your cus­tomers on each inter­ac­tion? How can you best com­mu­ni­cate with them at each step of their journey?