Marketing automation, this is misleading

These two words: marketing automation, leave behind the whole meaning of the concept.
The fact is that automation is more a by-product of the whole process than the core of it.

Shall we rather say: behavior-based email marketing, automated.
And here it’s more clear.

What are we trying to achieve? Watch our users, our customers.

And send them emails in reaction to what they do or don’t do.
Yeah, email. Not Facebook status or Twitter message, or any social media interaction.

Because we want our message to:

  1. reach a personal and identified inbox
  2. not depend on a feed algorithm to be shown or not
  3. be personalized
  4. and provide a clear action to be executed

There is nothing here about automation.

Automation is only the mean to an end: reactiveness and scalability.

You can closely monitor only so much of your users. Let alone, send the appropriate email within 5 minutes.

This is where automation comes in handy. It allows you to set rules and pre-program emails to be sent for each situation.
And as long a rule is set for one, it will work for all the subsequent additional user or customer.
At a very marginal cost: basically, as you add more emails to send, you’ll only need more of the infrastructure (eg. the server, load balancer …) to scale up.

So, now what we have understood that we want to observe what our users and customers do with our product, what should we watch for?

Any stage of our customer journey is worth watching.

But instead of going from the start and stepping through until the end, let’s do it backward.
I prefer this read direction because it makes more sense to fix our “leaky bucket” before pouring more would-be customer into it.
If our customers do not stick with our product it does not make sense to attract more into signing up.

At the very bottom of the funnel is customer churn. People who don’t renew or cancel their subscription.
It’s worth sending a “sad to let you go” email just to have a chance to know why this person is leaving.
There’s a lot to learn: is s/he not satisfied with the service? Is the need not here anymore? Is s/he going to a competitor?

Then one step ahead: the trial ending.
Did our subscriber had not enough time to test our product? Can we extend the trial period to give him/her another chance?

Speaking about the trial: this is a critical period where we must convert our subscriber to happy paying customer.
As soon as a user subscribes to our product we must ensure s/he can accomplish at least the first smallest task possible to feel a “win”.
Be it upload a file, connect an account, …
The sooner, the better.
This is really where marketing automation can shine, in sync with application activity monitoring.
If our user has not accomplished the first action within 30 minutes, it’s time to send an email to walk him/her through the first steps.
The whole trial period is worth an article in itself.

One more step ahead: subscription.
about 2/3 of confirmation email are never clicked.
Still worth sending a subscription rescue email
Christoph Engelhardt wrote a very interested article about that

If we take one more step backward, we enter the realm of lead nurturing. Which I will definitely talk about in another article.

Another benefit of automation: on-the-fly content switching

Let’s assume we know our visitor. Why should we serve the same content as someone who is new to us?
If s/he is already subscribed to our newsletter, we should use the subscribe form real estate for some other valuable content.
If we invited an already known user to a webinar, why should we ask her/him to give his/her email again?

Stay tuned for my next article about these subjects ;)