9 Clouds Automotive Marketing Blog

Where automotive meets digital marketing.


Timing Is Everything: Connect with Customers Using Marketing Automation

wall drug

In 1931, Nebraska pharmacist Ted Hustead was looking for a place to start his business. His requirements were simple: a small town with a Catholic church.

He searched north to the middle of the dry, barren western plains of South Dakota and found a small pharmacy in Wall, SD. He purchased the store and opened Wall Drug.

Business was slow until his wife had a powerful idea: let's offer free ice water to thirsty travelers headed west to the brand new Mount Rushmore.

The rest is history. Wall Drug is now advertised around the globe and attracts over 2 million people a year to a remote town in South Dakota.

Timing is Everything

Timing was essential to Hustead's success in two ways.

  1. Time of interest. Wall Drug opened and promoted water just as interest in visiting western South Dakota was growing. Hustead saw the demand and got there before any other drug store owners.
  2. Time of day. Free water is always available whenever travelers arrive. It's not just on Mondays from 4-6 p.m. or the first Friday of the month, it's available when the customer wants it.

As marketers, we can learn from Hustead and leverage marketing automation to take advantage of timing based on interest and the specific time of day.

The Right People at the Right Time

Time of interest

Marketing automation tells marketers who is interested or in “buying mode.”

Hustead saw lots of cars headed west, so he knew demand was increasing. Today, marketers can be much more sophisticated. Marketing automation looks at a customers online activity to determine their interest. When a potential customer visits the pricing page of your website or returns to your website for the second time in two days, you might call them qualified.

As a business, determine what would demonstrate true interest for your business. At 9 Clouds, we typically recommend two types of qualifications:

  1. Qualitative interest – They visit a certain page that only potential customers would want to see.
  2. Quantitative interest – They are reading a certain number of pages within a short time frame, showing they are really interested in what you are talking about online.

When a customer hits either of your interest benchmarks, the marketing automation software will alert your business to take action. It might be a phone call, email or a tweet, but your business will know who you should be talking to instead of making cold calls to uninterested customers.

Time of day

Marketing automation tells marketers when to talk to interested customers.

Hustead had to keep Wall Drug open at any time that travelers might be coming by. Marketing automation takes the guess work out of deciding when to communicate. It also enables marketers to talk to each individual customer on their own schedule.

There are two ways marketing automation knows when you should talk to a specific customer:

  1. History of interaction – If a customer visited your site at 11 p.m. on a Monday, there is a good chance they will be online again at that time.
  2. Real-time interaction – If a customer is on your website right now, there is a very good chance they will also be checking their email, social media or phone.

Marketing automation enables marketers to create content or a follow-up message for potential customers ahead of time. Using personalization fields, the message can change based on the customers history, profile or any data points the business has about the lead.

Then, marketing automation sends the message at the perfect time. If it is a large newsletter or email promotion, it can deliver the message to leads at the time they will be most likely to read it (history of interaction).

Similarly, the message can only send when a potential customer is on the website. Then, the lead is reading about you and suddenly gets an email from you. There is a very good chance they will open that email and move closer to purchase.

Claim Your Wall Drug

Hustead's Wall Drug was a huge success because he was first to market. Since he got there first, he owned the market and built what has become one of the best know tourist attractions (or traps) in the United States.

Marketing automation is your business' opportunity to move fast and first in your market. By knowing who to talk to and when to talk to them, your business can distinguish itself by providing the best service, information and support.

The best part: you don't have to wait up to give free water to anyone. Marketing automation software will take care of that for you. All you have to do is create the message.

Get Started with Marketing Automation

Want to try marketing automation software for yourself? Take advantage of a 30 day free trial. We'll even help you get things set up.

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Photo: jshyun