Adir Zangi
Marketing Expert and Political figure

Marketing Automation – A Predictable Chess Game

https://pixabay.com/illustrations/website-responsive-creative-design-3374825/
online marketing automation
https://pixabay.com/vectors/email-email-marketing-newsletter-4284157/

TL;DR There is nothing to be afraid of in creating a user journey. Take the task on yourself, do the steps one by one, work on the strategy, compose, implement, and test slowly. Afterward, launch the campaigns by phases while making sure to measure the results. Don’t forget to enjoy doing this.

During the last 6 years as an online marketing manager, I ran into several challenges that needed to be solved to generate profit. I worked at several big agencies as the leader of some major projects in the gaming industry. My duties included brand creation, lead generation, as well as marketing automation.

The main challenge is to think about the way your customer does. We usually do not have the same properties as our gamer/client, so my team and I had to build a full playground environment for the client to feel interested in the game. At the same time, however, we needed to avoid harassing the client by reducing the amount of interaction with the brand. The interaction needed to feel like a good friend that follows you around in your pocket, ready to jump out at any minute with a nice surprise.

With the experience I have developed as a musician and a chess player, I have composed a strategy that alters the marketing journey into art. By combining procedure, art, content, and technology, I analyze and predict the next move of the client, then send him a message asking him to go back into the sales funnel (which can be a game, trading platform, e-commerce website.) Each step is backed with a scoring method that supports the main goal.

In this article, you will not get a technical overview or any complicated formulas. Instead, you will get a general overview of the practical process that a marketing manager must go through in order to build a nurturing channel for a cross-segmentation operation. This is alongside the obstacles that need to be broken down into pieces in order to allow the marketer to solve them, leading to a successful marketing funnel.

https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/effective-email-marketing/#when-to-send-emails-that-push-customers-closer-to-a-purchase

Great summary from – BigCommerce

To move forward, I am going to lay down several basic aspects that will help you to build the journey of a client, by using my type of vision and practices.

Part 1: Strategy

  • Assessment
  • KPI
  • Storyline
  • Time Frame
  • Marketing Platform

Part 2: Operational

  • Content Writing
  • Image Design
  • Email Structure
  • Implementation
  • Tests

Part 3: Execution, Learning & Improving

  • Launch campaigns
  • Track results
  • Analyze
  • Make Adjustments
  • Plan for the Future

In each part, you will have to combine stages while also going back and forth several times, until achieving a level that satisfies all parties involved in the project. It’s important that you don’t be shy, don’t avoid your plans, arrange your tasks, and harness your team. Full cooperation is important for the perfection process. You are the project manager of this field; you must feel secure in your actions in order to take your journey to the next level.

Few email marketing back2basics points:

  • A/B test only with one part of the email – such as subject line OR button OR font color
  • Make sure font size is readable
  • Make sure font text color is readable over the background-color
  • Don’t forget to create a CTA button
  • Unsubscribe button should be visible
  • Footer need to be aligned with the GDPR guidelines
  • Try to include at least one placeholder [I.E {{firstname}} / {{email}} ]
  • Make proper spaces between paragraphs and blocks
  • Keep a specific font and stick to it
https://www.pexels.com/photo/email-blocks-on-gray-surface-1591062/

Part One – Strategy: Plan your work, work your plan

Brainstorming and concept creation are where you will start, and are important, fundamental steps. Your main job is to come up with a concept that is connected to the main character or platform, or to a brand that clients are using and want it to relate to. If there is no character, you can either tell a fascinating story regarding this platform or create an imaginary world to stimulate the customers’ minds and inspire him towards the company’s goal.

The optimal team for this type of operation, except yourself, is the VP of Marketing, a marketing manager, a project manager, a tech-oriented worker, a designer, a content writer, an HTML coder, a BI analyst, and – if the project is within the gaming industry- an entity connected to laws or regulation for issues such as regulations or GDPR. For several types of jobs, you can use outsourced services, of course. The brainstorming meeting must include the company’s designer and follow the brand book by its type, language, and style.

The main objective is to draw a general storyline on a piece of paper (or an app or a whiteboard) – this project going to change a lot, but the main structure will essentially stay the same. I personally like to create a never-ending story for the client. The storytelling mode is less popular in email marketing because the marketer doesn’t know how to compose the story in a single paragraph, as well as the lack of creativity. Most of the emails I receive talk about the “product” and the benefits of this “product”.

This is not the correct form of thinking. The right way is to ask yourself what these benefits are doing for your clients, and how it affects their life. Let’s take 2 examples, one from e-commerce and the other from gaming:

For the e-commerce example, take CBD oil for instance: if you take it, what will your day look like? How is this day going to be different from the last day? What does CBD oil give to the clients – a relaxed feeling, the ability to go through the day happier, lower stress?

We will move to a social casino for our gaming example: What benefits will playing the game lead to? Time flying, feeling relaxed, improving the ability to concentrate, being social with other players. The daily promo keeps the player optimist, sharp, stress-free.

Following this structure, you would need to decide what your KPIs parameters. I prefer to start from the end: the money, the income, or- as we marketers call it – the ROI. Decide how much money you would need to generate in order to create a satisfactory profit.  To this end, you must factor in how many clients you currently have, how many are added daily/weekly/monthly, app downloads, the current growth rate, and the excepted growth rate (before the launch of the marketing automation).

Calculating these parameters in addition to predicting your email engagement will help get you an accurate forecast of your automated journey.

The first email in the series- usually referred to as a welcome email- should have an overall open rate of around 30%-50% and around 20%-30% click rate out of the current audience that opened the email. The further the sequence continues, the lower the rate will go. If at any point you see a surprising drop in open emails, you must figure out the reasons.

For instance:

Email 3: Open 15%/Click 6%

Email 4: Open 7%/Click 8%

Email 5: Open 10%/Click 7%

If you see that email #4 open rate dropped but the engagement is high, you need to check for the reason. You will find it around the subject line or the sender’s name. Maybe consider using an A/B test to accurately assess the issue.

This is how you generally determine the open/click rate, but you also need to take into consideration several more parameters, such as how many bounced emails you will have, how many sent, as well as SPAM complaints.

When comparing gaming and B2B, the numbers may differ, but overall you should see: Bounce 1%-3% | SPAM 0.01%-0.1% | Sent successfully 97%-99%

So you sketched the general story on your whiteboard, you created your main subject, and you have your shiny marketing automation system with you. The last step in this phase is to know how much time the client will spend on each small journys within the greater journey.

Say we are working on an e-commerce website, in which we have several segments:

  • Visitors – we still don’t know who they are
  • Leads
  • First-time purchase (Also called FTD)
  • Second-time buyer (Also called STD)
  • High roller (our top 10%-15% clients)

 

We need to build a journey to convince the visitor to become our top client.

Our most basic automated journey will look something like this:

    • Push notification/Chat-bot to drive the visitor to leave
    • Journey 1: Welcome and intro emails for leads that did not deposit yet
    • Optional Journey: Abandoned cart – leads only
    • Journey 2: Sequence of emails for a client who bought on the first visit
    • Optional Journey: Abandoned cart – for purchased clients
    • Journey 3: Sequence of emails for a client who bought on the second visit – and they are not members of the club (if you own any membership club or loyalty store)
    • Optional Journey: Product review X days after purchase~
    • Optional Journey: Product review X days after purchase~

 

https://pixabay.com/photos/art-pottery-clay-craft-hands-man-1837073/

Part Two: Operational – It’s time to get your hands dirty!

Now that part one is finished and you have aligned all the strategies with the team, it is time to break it down into action items and start to work on it “hands-on”. As you can see, we’ve created a base of 3 important journeys, on top of which we can add several more journeys that will follow the footsteps of the client.

So what now? Compose the text? Maybe design the images? Or the HTML templates? According to my strategy, you need to do all of them at once. Establish the marketing platform with the rules and time frame – maybe with a template HTML if needed. In the meantime, the designer, content writer, and HTML team are working to perfect the journeys. It is particularly important that they all work on the same journeys (campaigns) together to review and approve them one by one. Don’t move on to the next chapter until everybody is ready to move on to the next chapter. Every part of the team has to be in sync with each other.  After finishing the first sequence by making the template, it is your responsibility to upload it, TEST IT, and make sure all the team working properly before clicking on the “SEND” button. You can even create an email marketing checklist to make sure nothing is being neglected.

This is the most stressful phase when every mistake could be crucial. Any error in the time frames, text, and technical parts such as the right segments, SPF&DKIM, and sender name, might lead to a database burnout. So, you have to do everything very carefully.

Nowadays, you have free incredible tools such as Chrome browser options to simulate the look of the email design on several devices, while making sure that the email is looking good, the text size is acceptable, the font is aligned, and the HTML structure is as it should be. It must fit the emails to all platforms, but there are specialists that know how to do it.

Call me old fashioned, but I like my email simple and clear with a specific format. A simple structure helps the visitor to acknowledge who you are along with what your type is. It is understandable to try to change the format a little bit in the welcome email or some emails later on the process, but for the beginning, I like to keep the following order:

 

My Sketch

Here is an example, this one from Boooking.com:

 

No need to attribution

Keeping this line will help your team to speed up the work and assist later on with the A/B testing for other types of HTML formats. I also believe that this form is easier on the eyes – a nice, simple format.

I highly recommend that before the campaign launch, give the structure to another coworker, having them check the process, emails, text, and buttons. You would be surprised how many small errors you will find. You must watch the little details, make sure all is aligned properly, and feel secure the moment you click the launch button.

https://www.pexels.com/photo/young-game-match-kids-2923/

Part Three – Execution: Make your vision come life

It should not take more than three months for the first round of emails, while you gradually launch these journeys. If it takes you longer than that, and you plan to do between 30-50 email campaigns, then you should check on what stalled you in order to fix it yourself.

Who has not done their job? Is there an issue with platform integration? Is there anything that we can do to speed up the work?

I recommend you split the journeys into 3 phases. This way it will be easier to handle and implement them, while also using all of the methods with A/B testing. Also, when you finish the last section, you would be able to go back to the first one and analyze the numbers.

Drill down on all the numbers, clean your list, keep it fresh, and keep the unsubscribe button visible – especially in the first email. Make sure the whole team likes your vision, because they would need to continue with this type of guidelines, story, look, and feel for the rest of the project.

Now you have a finished product in your hands. It is generating numbers each minute, it might (I mean must!) generate profits each day, it is generating interaction on social media, getting shares, generating replies to your support/sales/compliance teams, and most importantly – generating you more original ideas. With the new data, you can go even deeper creating micro-segments, while combining the open/click/purchased statistics from the emails so as to regenerate more journeys; such as clients who used your coupon on the email and bought for the 2nd time, or people who clicked on 10 emails and bought only 1 product.

Here is one last example, this time from CodeAcademy.com:

Another good example, using a micro-segment, a specific client, a specific time frame, and the same font size and type. Formation: image header | subject line | text | CTA button | Footer. Simple, to the point, urgency, makes the job.

Your clients want to know more – more about your product, more about their life, more about the world. Share with them your company’s knowledge and offer them a promotion, and push it forward with proper stimulation. Your clients want to pay, want to read, and want to feel engaged.

Conclusion

The purpose of this article was to give you some basic guidelines before getting into small details and technical issues. It is clear that we can break each part into smaller details and dive in further. This article gave you the basic launch for your task. If you have been given the task to create a full life cycle for your clients, but you feel lost and you want someone to share your fears – this is the right spot to start.

This is not only your user’s journey, but it is also your personal project of building the experience for the client who walks on your yellow brick road. Your manager is counting on you to be creative, precise, and well organized in this process.

I know how stressful the process can be, which is why I want to wish you good luck in building this amazing never-ending journey. It is time to take a deep breath, jump into the deep, shark-infested water, data, and limited working hours – and show the world why you are the best automation marketer in the industry.

You can contact me on LinkedIn for any questions you might have.

About the Author
Adir is a senior marketing automation expert. During the last years, he worked at some of most intense gaming agencies in Israel as a marketing manager. Adir owns a Master's degree from the Hebrew University in political science, he interned at the INSS and as a parliamentary consultant at the Knesset.
Related Topics
Related Posts
Comments