From theory to practice: How to make the implementation of marketing automation a success

Andrea Küpfer

Transgourmet is considered a market leader in the Swiss wholesale business. To serve their customers even more individually, the company has implemented the intuitive Digital Experience Platform BSI CX, which facilitates intelligent customer communication and efficient automation.

gateB had the opportunity to support Adrian Albrecht, Head of Marketing at Transgourmet, and his team on their journey toward more automation and greater personalization. In an interview, he and Robert Schumacher, a Director at gateB, share the rationales, approaches and success factors of this marketing automation project.

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Adrian, what made you decide to take on marketing automation?

Adrian: As a B2B company, we know our customers well, and we know when they want to buy what. Our objective was to increase the relevance of the communication for the individual customer and ensure targeted interactions with customers at the right time. To do so, we needed automation.

At the same time, the calls for measurable metrics in marketing have been increasing. The keyword here is data-based marketing.

Robert: Yes, company executives no longer want to talk about shapes and colors in marketing. More and more, they demand a verifiable contribution to the company’s success.

The reasons for more automation vary from company to company. But an objective such as “I want to introduce marketing automation software” is not very promising because data and systems are only a means to an end.

Adrian, you didn’t focus on technology but on goal setting and a new way of working. Since the project was a group initiative, each CEO had their own ideas. How did you approach the project?

Adrian: We had to do a lot of persuading at the beginning. That was hard work. Many were concerned that the project would become a bottomless pit. But we managed to change the decision-makers’ minds by presenting a clear business case focused on just a few applications.

We also put together an interdisciplinary core team right from the start, with representatives from sales, IT and the subsidiaries.

Robert: Besides having an interdisciplinary team, we also like to use an integrated and iterative approach with such projects. For us, integrated means looking at things from the customer’s perspective and across all channels, and iterative means step by step – test, learn, optimize. What you always need with that, too, is some pragmatism.

For example, we did not receive an endless list of requirements from Transgourmet for the software evaluation. Or countless questions about functions that may be needed at some point. The focus was on other criteria. That is the right way to do it, in my opinion.

Adrian: So, when we evaluated the software partners, we also looked specifically at their mode of operation, organization, and the people behind it. Most of the time, things don’t fail because of technology.

We designed and gradually implemented four customer journeys in only six months with the marketing automation solution from BSI that we ended up selecting. That’s rather impressive. What were the key success factors?

Robert: We made rapid progress with the Transgourmet team. Still, customers often think that everything takes longer than expected, which also has to do with the fact that marketing automation is not a project. Rather, it facilitates a new, modern and data-based way of working in marketing.

Adrian: We were able to celebrate small successes in the first six months. One example is our promotional newsletter. In the past, we used to have one newsletter for everyone, whereas now, the newsletter’s content relates to the purchasing behaviors of the individual customer. Not only has the personalization of our newsletter increased the opening rate, but it has also increased our sales. This measurable success has given us confidence and has motivated the team.

Now it is important to scale the use cases that have proven successful and, at the same time, identify and implement new ones so that we can achieve our larger goals.

Robert: Focusing on just a few use cases at the beginning is a critical factor for success. Before you scale or think too big, it is important to understand on a small scale what works and what does not. Test, learn, optimize.

Adrian: It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and it takes patience. Marketing automation is not only marketing’s business. There is the occasional obstacle regarding data or delays because we have to wait for IT or even operational issues that need to be resolved together.

In my opinion, what’s also important is continuous communication and extensive networking about the topic and for the sake of the topic. Celebrate success and create perspective.

Robert: And budget for an increasing number of resources. Marketing automation doesn’t require fewer people – it requires different people: people with strong analytical skills.

Adrian, it has almost been a year since Transgourmet went live. You mentioned some communication-related successes. The communication with customers became more personal, and you managed to simplify operational activities or make them more efficient with the BSI CX marketing automation solution. How does the system help sales be more efficient and more successful?

Adrian: Once you start working with BSI CX, you have more and more ideas about what else you could do with it. Still, you don’t want to lose focus.

As far as sales are concerned, the marketing automation solution is intended to support the customer development process in a systems-based manner. In the past, the sales rep would make an entry in Outlook for when it was time to contact a customer again. Whether the call actually took place depended on the salesperson. If something came up, the salesperson would postpone the call or would potentially even forget about it at times. Automation provides support with this. With the help of BSI, we can automatically generate and deliver a sequence of communications by using defined triggers – and ensure that we engage with our customers at critical moments. Another example is welcoming a new customer. We can trigger an e-mail reminder for the salesperson through the system and at the same time send a personalized mailing to the customer.

Robert: That is a very important aspect. Marketing automation is not just an online matter, and we have to think of it holistically and across media. For us, marketing automation is an enabler for sales, particularly in the B2B segment.

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At the BSI Customer Summit 2021, Adrian Albrecht and Robert Schumacher talked about the dos and don’ts of implementing marketing automation.

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