Automation isn’t new to the audiovisual industry, but a new kind of automation for this technology-focused trade will be centered around automating the customer’s buying journey. As innovation has led the consumer markets to automate the discovery process for buyers, so too has the time come for the long-established AV industry to adapt and embrace the future of vertical market content automation for sales and marketing.
The Future of Your Customer Is Automated
In the Trends article of this month’s column, the groundwork was laid to present the customer journey map as the guide to increase search results via repurposing existing product content with targeted vertical market nuance and channelization. To summarize, the goal is to create multiple types of assets using a pattern that can be repurposed with minimal edits across all market segments and published to vertical market website landing pages. Build the majority of your product and service content once; re-edit and repurpose those assets many times to build out a customer journey map unique to each vertical market segment.
As helpful as this method is today, the future already beckons with ever-increasing velocity towards an automated future. Most of the technology already exists right now; the only limitation is the accessibility and extensibility via third-party API to seamlessly integrate across technology solutions. The illustration below is from the customer journey map and represents the concept of creating a targeted content strategy to reach various personas in each market segment. It may look daunting, but a collaboration between product owners, sales and marketing makes this possible with the focus on repurposing 80 percent of the content across assets and vertical markets.
The future, however, is far more streamlined. Instead of the Core Asset being central to the strategy, Content Marketing Automation (CMA) software is at the nexus of scalability and workflow.
Comparing the two illustrations reveals some obvious patterns: Content creation is nearly identical, as is a focus on repurposing content to create multiple assets for various personas. All of the pieces that make up the customer journey map are present in the Vertical Market Content Automation illustration, but added to the mix are third-party integrations which share data with the CMA to keep the prospect, lead and client information synced and shared.
Automation in the AV industry has long been around control of systems. From proprietary control protocols to customized apps to hardware interface control systems, AV veterans have deep experience with controlling their technology. New to this venerable industry is the emergence of automation before the sale, and it is a fast-growing technology segment. In fact, one of the leading authorities has tracked the growth of automation and software tools for the customer journey and noted an increase from about 150 software tools in 2011 to now over 7,000 in 2018. The customer journey is a booming business!
Imagine The Future
Imagine knowing when a new visitor comes to your site and you know where they came from, what they’re looking for, and how they scroll around the page. Then imagine knowing when they came back and having an automated message welcome them back and offer up relevant suggestions. Consider knowing if they also attended a trade show where you had a booth and which webinars of yours they’ve been to and what kind of information they’ve looked for on your website. And how helpful would it be to be able to have an automatic tracking that created a score based on the number of free downloads they’ve pulled and a grade based on the pre-qualifying they’ve completed so that only those with high scores and high grades automatically get passed onto sales?
All of that technology exists today. But today, much of that technology is layered in multiple software tools which don’t talk to each other seamlessly. However, that is changing and the gap between data is not only closing, it is also doing so rapidly.
Compared to the archaic method of producing generic spec sheets and feature/benefit focused product pages on your website, even the customer journey map is a preferred future; it just so happens that future is now here and the Vertical Market Content Automation is in the immediate future.
The Future Waits for No Company
For those unaware of these options, start with where you are. Build out your initial customer journey map and begin the process of repurposing content to meet prospects on their discovery journey. Without the strategy to determine how to shift from a product-centric focus to a customer-centric focus, automation is a non-starter because the very implementation of these CMA tools demands that a content marketing strategy already is in place.
The future is upon the AV industry and the rate of change is accelerating. The window of opportunity to remain relevant in the world of search and the buyer journey is closing. None of the AV industry, including (and perhaps especially) the juggernaut brands are immune from the digital tides of change. The time has come for the entrenched AV industry to adapt and embrace the future of automation for sales and marketing. Your customers are searching; will you be found in the near future?
What say you about the future of automation for the AV industry? Share your views and links in the comments below.