Marketing automation: I didn’t understand marketing automation for a long time.
There’s a bunch of junk online about how to use it to make sales and stuff, but that all seemed so inauthentic and manipulative. If you’ve ever seen a marketing automation map it just feels slimy.
Then I realized what marketing automation was for. It’s not about manipulation, it’s about building a relationship with your customers.
Now that seems a bit counter-intuitive, because marketing automation is made up of scripted emails. However, it’s impossible to show personal attention to every single person who signs up for interact at this point. We just crossed over 50,000 total users and with just 7 of us on our team it’s physically impossible to keep in touch.
Back when we only had a few hundred customers I used to check in weekly with every single one of them. I spent a lot of time on it and always found something to be helpful with. I took a lot of pride in how much attention was paid to everyone.
When I went back to begin building automation sequences I tried my very best to re-create the experience I crafted for our new users back when I was doing everything one at a time.
Scott Martineau, CEO of Infusionsoft, inspired my first take at marketing automation. In this interview he talks about how you really only need three automation sequences to get started. He was right, and this is an amazing way to make marketing automation less daunting and actually begin using it. I use Drip for our marketing automation, that’s not an affiliate link, I just think they have a great visual builder.
1. Before Activation
2. After Activation but Not Paying
3. After Paying
I’ll walk you through the type of content I send in each of these sequences. One other super important aspect I learned is that you can only accomplish one goal with each sequence. What I mean is that you can’t have your content be all over the place and expect to succeed, it has to be focused in. For example, if the goal is to get someone to begin building a quiz that’s the only goal, and every email in the sequence should revolve around that.
1. Before activation
Goal: Begin Building a Quiz
The way this automation sequence is set up, it only goes out to people who have signed up but pretty much immediately stopped using our product. This is a pretty shocking number of people, as almost half of the people who sign up leave before they begin actually working on building a quiz. That’s an issue for a different day, but here’s how we handle this sequence.
How the workflow operates
People stay on this workflow as long as their lead score is below 5, which basically means they haven’t started building a quiz yet. Someone can achieve a lead score of 5 by simply adding a few questions to a quiz or even logging in twice.
Because anyone still on this sequence hasn’t even started yet, all of the emails we send out are about how to get started. In the screenshot below the two emails you see (the blue rectangles) are “How to Build Your First Quiz (Video)” and “Brittany Berger’s Quiz Tutorial (Video)” We’ve found that for folks who are just getting started video is a great format because it’s low commitment and quick to digest.
This sequence starts off with a frequency of sending once per week and then drops down to every other week and eventually once a month if the people on it still haven’t responded and started building a quiz. This is exactly what I used to do in the early days of interact when we’d get signups from people who never activated, but now we can do it at scale for thousands of people a month instead of one at a time.
2. After activation before sale
Goal: Launch a Quiz
Once someone begins using our product (building a quiz) but hasn’t committed yet (started a paid trial), we move them to our “Lead to Upgrade” sequence which operates for anyone who has a lead score of greater than 5 (is active) but a lifetime value of less than $0 (hasn’t bought yet).
The purpose of this sequence is to have the person actually launch their quiz, or at least get prepared to. The way interact works, you can launch a quiz without paying using our free version, but you can’t collect emails using a free quiz. So in this sequence we want to give customers the full information necessary to prepare a quiz for launch which leads to more of them upgrading in order to collect emails when they do launch.
How the workflow operates
The delays on this workflow mimic our initial workflow, so at first it sends once a week, then every two weeks and out to a month if the person still hasn’t made a purchase after several weeks. The check between each email is lifetime value, and once that gets over $0 which means a purchase was made, the person is moved off of this workflow.
Since the goal here is to get people to launch a quiz, the emails are all built around that, with guides on how to effectively promote a quiz, how to implement onto a website, and how to share on social media. Since the folks on this list are more engaged we start to mix up the content types more. We do a mix of infographics, written content, video, and case studies. The other thing to keep in mind on this sequence is that this is where people often get their teams involved in the process, so we try to provide materials that are share-able within the organization. With that in mind we’ll send out infographics and case studies that represent information in a quick and visual manner for people who need to buy-in on the idea but don’t necessarily need all the details of how it works.
This is a mirror image of what I used to do in a manual way through email. The one drawback of this automated campaign is that I can’t look at each company and send industry-specific guides on each one. At some point in the future we’ll segment out our campaign for that.
3. After sale
Goal: Utilize a Quiz For Marketing
Once someone has committed to purchasing interact software we want to continue building the relationship and providing the necessary resources to have success with it so interact helps our customers grow their businesses. The way I see it, when someone makes the initial purchase they’ve maybe implemented our software like 30% of the way to how it could be, so our goal from this point forward is to get to 100%.
How the workflow operates
The filtering system for this workflow is based on lead score for paying customers. We segment people out based on their lead score because a higher lead score means they’re using the product more, and we have more advanced recommendations for those folks than we do for someone who is still just getting started.
In the content of this sequence we start to diversify and provide exclusive access to our best stuff. This includes podcasts, courses, and guides that we reserve for our paying customers, as well as offers of coaching calls and quiz strategy sessions to make sure each customer is using the product to its fullest extent. Again going back to the purpose of this product, we want people to get from around 30% utilization all the way up to 100%.
*I came to the realization that this sequence is actually the most important of all when I myself signed up for a bodybuilding.com subscription to get access to a paid workout program. I signed up, and then never heard from them. Two months later I had switched workout programs and stopped using the one I’d paid for so I cancelled. However, if they had just sent me one relevant email in those two months (another workout or some healthy recipes or something), I would have been much more likely to continue on. Often people sign up for your product for a very specific reason and might not even know about all they can do with it. This after-purchase workflow helps to fill in those knowledge gaps and continue a harmoniuos relationship.