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PHOTO: Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

When it comes to CX approaches, marketers need to choose between two different strategies: marketing automation vs. customer journey orchestration (CJO). While marketing automation is often part of customer journey orchestration, the latter is more complex.

“The true benefit of customer journey orchestration is that it allows you to shore up gaps in your customers’ sales journeys that simpler automation or ad retargeting just doesn’t solve,” CX consultant Greg Kihlstrom told Forbes.

Sometimes, however, your needs may only require simpler marketing automation. Below is a look at the benefits of each.

The Benefits of Marketing Automation

“Marketing automation focuses on using software, such as campaign management software, to automate repetitive tasks or interactions that may happen between customer and brand,” explained Jonathan Moran, SAS head of martech solutions marketing.

“These include things like email marketing, social posting, digital advertising and even some web and mobile personalization,” he added. “Marketing automation is often campaign (not journey) focused, more singular in nature and leverages cross channel capabilities.”

The primary benefit of this CX approach is the automation of certain aspects of marketing needs, said Lyle Solomon, principal attorney at Oak View Law Group, which utilizes research and various marketing technologies.

“Through marketing automation, a business gets to streamline and fasten the process of its interaction with its customers,” said Solomon. “It helps a business cut down repetitive tasks and enhance the output of its marketing teams.”

He added that brands can automate marketing tasks like:

  • Lead generation
  • Lead scoring
  • Drip campaigns
  • Customer retention
  • Segmentation
  • Retargeting

“Marketing automation is typically thought of as the vehicle firmly centered on solving the ‘how’ of facilitating scalable processes, data signal responsiveness and operational coordination to get ideas into delivered campaigns,” added Joan Smith, Protiviti Digital managing director. “It is often a component element of customer journey orchestration.”

She added, “Marketing automation can decrease cost and effort of execution, increase scalability and, if designed well, it can operate in real-time to act or react based on customer/prospect target actions and help carry through a journey or experience.”

Related Article: How Marketing Automation Generates Quality Leads

The Benefits of Customer Orchestration

By contrast, customer journey orchestration is much more holistic and advanced, according to Moran. It focuses on setting up detailed customer journeys, which are often groups of campaigns (comprised of a series of steps and interactions) that a customer may take over a portion of time or even a lifetime with a brand.

“Orchestrating a customer journey then adds a level of complexity whereby advanced data management, analytics and optimization capabilities are necessary,” Moran added.

He continued, “Customer journey orchestration involves the use of customer journey mapping technologies with the intent of guiding customers to end conversion events versus forcing them down predefined marketing paths.”

According to Forrester, CJO allows companies to discover, optimize and orchestrate journeys, with platforms helping companies use real-time data at the individual customer level to analyze current behavior and predict and adjust future behavior.

"Customer journey orchestration is really about building authentic relationships with prospects and customers, whereas marketing automation can be perceived as impersonal and checking boxes in the sales funnel to convert a lead,” said Jessica Andrews, Copper senior product marketing manager.

Most marketing strategies today revolve around a customer journey, added Gary Warner, Joloda Hydraroll marketing manager. “Being able to focus on how a customer behaves and what route they take to transact adds predictability for a sales team. CJO brings granular personalization and relevant content on an individual basis and is the next level of CX — this is the pinnacle of marketing activity and what many consumers now expect in their advertising communications.”

Automation can give a reliable flow of inquiries, orders and sales. However, due to the nature of the machine process, sometimes marketing automation will fail to create trust and loyalty from customers, Warner explained.

He continued, “Without the injection of ‘real time’ and current messaging, the content may have a negative impact on brand image if the approach doesn’t relate to ‘live’ affairs (such as promoting socializing during the pandemic lockdowns).”

Though analysts agree that marketing orchestration is more advanced, that doesn’t mean it’s right for every organization.

Related Article: The Key to CX Success? Planning the Entire Customer Journey

What Questions Should Marketers Ask?

When selecting which approach to take, said Moran, organizations should ask the following questions and be very honest with themselves:

  • How advanced are my data collection and management techniques?
  • Do I have a holistic view of my customer across channels?
  • Are my marketing interactions batch-based and time-boxed in nature?
  • Do I have the tools, technologies and processes to execute real-time, highly personalized interactions across a customer journey?
  • Are my marketing interactions based on what my marketing department wants to talk about — or what prospects and customers have shown interest in?
  • Do my marketing interactions build on top of each other to create a customer journey that I can then orchestrate with analytics running behind my customer journeys?

“CJO is for organizations that need to span channels, devices, departments and points in time with analytics behind the scenes, like optimization,” Moran added.

He used the example of a bank that needs to track customers — from performing research on a mobile device to making an online purchase to calling customer support, all over the span of weeks.

“Marketing automation works better for batch-based single-channel campaigns,” said Moran. “So organizations with less sophisticated needs, perhaps fewer channels, for example, might choose marketing automation over CJO. Campaigns from marketing orchestration help to form the basis for CJO.”