Why you need a centralised model for marketing automation

Here’s a great post from Brad at Mailchimp on how to do an email segment for your database and get some automated responses working. It looks simple and people tend to gloss over automation posts and presos and think “so what, that’s pretty easy?”

The real issue with marketing and email automation is not carving up the data and developing custom emails for each audience (well, you know know more than the standard everyone is an expert on email marketing creative stuff but you can cope with that). 

The real issue is getting various parts of the business to stick to the schedule so you get a true customer value metric or some sort of ROI. If you get the R return number great but most people struggle with the I because they aren't actually capturing everything. So you end up measuring what's easy to measure- say a paid media schedule from an agency- and not all the other activity that goes on across the org. It's annoying because it means that teams are penalised for having sophisticated and open tools (stuff that's easy to read and measure) and all the ad-hoc rando behaviour gets subjectively filed into people's own view of awesomeness and effectiveness, usually based on Creative and not anything transactional like conversions. 

In short, people tend to measure the crap out of everything at head office and refuse to believe that there is a whole lot of rogue customer emailing going on from private accounts and other databases that people have hacked together for themselves. 

I don’t blame people for doing that (I’ve done some of it myself) but it is important that marketing leadership make it clear “we are responsible for the email relationship with the customer and everything goes through one system”. Barbie understands this. 

#feministhackerBarbie has a system

I know it’s a bit utopian but that’s why it’s so important to be fierce about multi-user and getting everyone on one system so they can login and see all the planned and actual activity. There needs to be an organisation-wide promotional schedule so the activity can me measured and prioritised and so the database doesn’t get burned out and so the brand is not speaking in word art or text speak. Then you have all the anti-spam regulation stuff to consider. 

Historically, retailers tend to be good at this stuff as all the marketing activity is centred around the in-store promotional schedule and pointed at customers. Omni-channel makes it harder as online and offline customers can get hit from a few angles but if you are serious about getting any real measure and not just same faux vanity metrics then you have to control the scheduling. 

We can see the sophistication of the Mailchimp automation and the only way you will get this type of result is if you have a framework so everything can be measured. Attribution is challenging at the best of times (let’s not get started on assisted conversions with email/ social signal tracking)  

Here’s the Mailchimp schedule in theory. 

Here’s what it would look like in reality. 

week 1

Sales send an event reminder email because the number for their Sydney event is low

Training send a course commencement email because their course numbers are low

Account manager sends a “Hi I’m Beyonce and I’m your new account manager for Sydney” email from her personal Outlook

week 2

Event numbers are still low, two for one email sent to all customers in Sydney

Account manager Beyonce is having a coffee group on wednesday and sends an email invite to her Sydney database i.e. her Outlook contacts

Training don’t like the email that marketing sent so make one themselves in MS Word with word art

There is no unsubscribe link on the email that Training sent and Marketing tell them not to send random email because they’ll get a spam slap from the regulatory people

week 3 

Sales only fill half the room for their event because “marketing wasn’t good enough”

5% unsubscribe rate on Sydney database as customers get sick of all the emails

Two for one deal not approved by Finance. Event runs at a loss. No more email marketing deals without ROI calculations ahead of time

week 4

Beyonce leaves and takes all the contacts in her Outlook to a new company. GM wants to ban LinkedIn. 

Training go to a tech expo and buy an enterprise marketing automation system for themselves because they don’t realise the company already has one

Press release sent to All Customer database because ‘who cares, they might be interested. All media is good media amiright?”

week 5 

Marketing person asked to produce ROI on all marketing and communications

I know, lots of moans and not a lot of solutions in this post and that's why people give up because they can't be bothered wading through the reality of activity outside their department. It's that cross functional/ collaboration thing again that's going to solve it and you need Barbie leading your team to get everyone on the same system and keep Steve's hands off the cable.  

Useful resources for getting unstuck on your social media campaigns

It always amazes me the that people working in marketing and communications industries have such a blind spot about asking the technology vendors how to best use their products. I was working on an FMCG Facebook campaign for an agency in Sydney the other day and we weren’t sure about the best way to consolidate pages that had been run by various agencies and marketing teams over the years.

We got a bit stuck about what you could and couldn’t do so I asked for their Facebook account manager’s contact to get an answer. 

“Um. We don’t have one. There was this guy that called once but…why would you call Facebook?”

“Can you call Facebook? It’s just a sales office I don’t think they help you”

In Australia and New Zealand we have got very used to being self sufficient and not having any product support but remember that things have changed and many companies have had their hands forced into putting boots on the ground in market including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Often the resource is targeted at accounts over a certain spend or certain verticals they’re targeting but in the least, you should be going for their resources and guides to get you unstuck as a first point of call. 

Sometimes it’s just to get a download of the latest resources and examples. I find 20 minutes with an account manager can give me an idea of what campaigns they are benchmarking off, what their latest tools are and any metrics we might want to pay more attention to. 

Use their resources and guides as much as possible and don’t be weird about ‘they just try and sell us ads’. Of course they do, and aren’t you in business too? Learn from them, get some logins for their client resources, ask about latest tools and best practices -it’s their product and it beats everyone sitting around stuck. 

Useful resources
Facebook Media http://media.fb.com/

LinkedIn Sales Navigator http://business.linkedin.com/sales-solutions/training.html

Twitter for Business https://business.twitter.com/

Google mobile playbook http://www.themobileplaybook.com/en-us/

Social media campaign benchmarking by country http://www.socialbakers.com/facebook-statistics/australia

YouTube advertising guide http://www.youtube.com/yt/advertise/

If I were 22: my advice for living so far...

I’ve read a couple of the ‘if I were 22’ posts on LinkedIn and had a go at writing mine last night. It got to about 12.40am so I was falling asleep and it’s a bit rambly but here’s mine:

1. Seek Truth and Wisdom above everything else

Truth is a painful thing and a freeing thing. Sometimes Truth will reveal that you were being a bit of a jerk. Sometime Truth will reveal that you’ve got a long way to go and things might be harder than you thought. Sometimes Truth will reveal that your boyfriend’s new startup is actually another girl that he is starting up a relationship with. Truth breaks things but it also fixes things and it makes you a better and wiser human. Seek Truth in all situations and you’ll grow in Wisdom and discernment. You’ll make better, more long-term decisions and have more peace in your life. 

2. You’re doing better than you think you are

I look at photos of myself from that time and think ‘wow I looked really good- and I thought I was fat and ugly’. I went to China by myself and wandered around freely with no concerns for my personal safety or finances or anything other than thinking I’d like to go to China and now I am here. 

3. I’m going to have to disagree with Guy Kawasaki's 22 year old self advice —you aren’t there to make your boss look good

A very wise internal recruiter in retail once told me she pays no attention to personal references from managers. She said ‘if the person is good, they don’t want them to leave so they’ll downplay options for promotion. If the person is terrible, they want to get rid of them. If the person is a star, the manager can be jealous and hyper critical.'

Let your light shine before men and all of that so that you both look good-for sure. The better everyone in the team performs then everyone looks good (also pondering if 'looking good in itself is not a very good outcome?). But I have seen people waste their lives in an unhealthy lap-dog, faux loyalty, relationship with managers and leaders. Rate yourself and don’t let someone else decide your path for you, they may not have your best interests at heart. Get advice from trusted, independent sources about your career, preferably someone outside your organisation. Managers can be a dice roll and don't expect too much, they're human like you. 

4. Don’t make decisions based on stuff

I’ve seen people turn down opportunities because they would have to put their new fridge and washing machine into storage. What the hell? I had to move out of an apartment once and I was rushing to get everything packed and moved and find a new place and still go to work. I remember standing in the living room and thinking ‘I actually don’t even really like any of this stuff. That coffee table is ugly. Someone gave me that lamp because they were moving overseas. None of my cups match. Why am I dragging this crap around?”

So I rang the Salvation Army and said ‘come and take everything’. I gave them the whole house lot and moved into a fully furnished place and it was amazing and freeing. From that day forth I’ve made much better decisions because I haven’t been encumbered with stuff. 

5. 28 isn’t a thing

I used to think (and I hear a lot of people at uni or in their 20s also talk like this) that I had to have everything by the time I was 28. 28 was the big year for everything. Marriage, job, no debt, travel. Everything had to be achieved before this big 28 deadline. 28 isn’t a thing. I had a house, serious marriage-material (so I thought -see point 1) boyfriend, dog and a company car and at about 23 and I was miserable because I hadn’t really lived yet. I had conformed to a narrative that wasn’t really me and it made my soul unhappy. The Truth set me free from that and it hurt like hell but it was better and I’m so grateful for it now. 

6. Think in terms of decades

Seed, time, and harvest. Sometimes you think that you’ve put down enough seed and you’d quite like the harvest part now thank you very much, but the time part is important. Patience grasshopper. Bill Gates describes his career in terms of ’in my 20s I did this, in my 30s I did this.’

Since I made an executive decision that 1. I will live to 120 years old 2. I will never retire, I’ve realised I have more decades to work with. Suddenly, the horribly expensive and difficult coding course I did in my 20s seems a good investment. The hundred of hours of my life I’ve dedicated to Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Robert Kiyosaki, Jack Welch [insert pop business motivational author] box sets and DVDs seems pretty excellent. My Nana is 92 and she told me she’s been on the pension for 32 years. Look after your health (physical, mental, and spiritual) and you’ll get lots more decades to work with. Keep putting down seed. 

7. Go to things by yourself

I remember once having expensive work tickets to a fancy theatre event and feeling all sorry for myself because I had nobody to go with. So (using the powers of pattern interruption gained through my motivational tape sets) I told myself ‘if the only reason you’re not going to go is because you have nobody to go with, that’s really stupid and that’s not a reason to not go.” I had one of the best nights I’d had in ages and met lots of amazing people and hung out with all the performers and went to the after-party. The ability to just turn up to things without needing anyone to hold your hand is one of the underestimated and incredible life skills. 

8. Go to the art gallery

Often when you want to buy things in shops, it's because you're seeking and trying to capture design and beauty. Save your money and go to the art gallery or to a beach or garden. 

9. Choose life over death

Choose light over dark. Choose cat videos over porn. Choose good over evil. Choose humans over machines. There is a lot of suffering in the world and the best way you can help others is to be an overcomer. Be a dreamer and a do-gooder. Be a Bono. Nothing good is achieved by being cynical and self-absorbed. Resist the very human urge to be a bit of a hater and surround yourself with people who want to make the world better. 

The State of Social Business 2013: Make It Scale


For fun and amusement, sit down and architect the social system for your organisation with 20 or 40 dedicated social headcount. Go on. What would and wouldn't work? What skill sets would you need? What systems, process, policies and training would you need? What would your social dream team look like?

The latest Altimeter research concludes that 'only 17% of organisations are truly strategic in the execution of their social strategies' and highlights that while we have made good progress, it is still early days. I always try to get organisations to 'map channels and not apps'. That means forget about Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and LinkedIn and all that for now. Just think about communication and transaction channels in and out of your organisation and then you can put an app overlay on it. Removing the apps removes the app bias and ensures that people aren't making channels choices based on their preference as a consumer. 

Thinking in terms of headcount takes your brain out of the 'John looks after social' mindset and forces a systems approach. We saw this trend in the early days of company websites with the one 'webmaster' valiantly commanding online efforts and assuring the business that everything was sailing along fine thank you very much and there was no need to change anything, let alone scale things up for growth and new technologies. It's very important in terms of both the company (and your own personal career development-ahem social media managers I'm looking at you) that you are thinking in terms of scalable systems and processes, not just 'John looks after social' or 'I look after social and the place would fall apart without me'. 

The US headcount numbers from the report will probably shock most people in the Asia Pacific region, 'companies with more than 100,000 employees, which now report an average of 49 full-time employees (FTEs) supporting social media in the organization, compared to 20 in 2010'. How would that work at your place?

Altimeter have consistently set the standard in open social research and can I please (please, please, please, beg, grovel) encourage all of you working in enterprise and government social to spend some time in their resources and start sketching up your own social channel models. You don't have to implement them for now, just plant the seeds and notice how it impacts on the way you work and plan for true enterprise social. 

Highlights of Findings


In terms of social business maturity, most organizations are “intermediate,” with only 17% who are truly strategic in the execution of their social strategies.

The lack of clear leadership, organization, and strategy means that many organizations experience some form of “social anarchy,” of siloed, uncoordinated social efforts.

More companies are moving to the Multiple Hub and Spoke model to organize their social business programs, up from 18% in 2010 using this model to 23.6% in 2013.

Most dedicated social media teams continue to report to Marketing (40%) or Corporate Communications/PR (26%). But now, 13 different departments around the organization are seeing dedicated staff work on social initiatives. 

Companies are committing more headcount to social media across all sizes of companies. The biggest jump is for companies with more than 100,000 employees, which now report an average of 49 full-time employees (FTEs) supporting social media in the organization, compared to 20 in 2010.

Top priorities for social include scaling for engagement, integrating data, and training/ education around social.

Measuring the impact of social is maturing, with over half of organizations able to track the impact of social on marketing efforts.

Lack of employee training around social media policies remains a significant risk area — only 18% of companies said that their employees have a good or very good understanding of their social media policies.

Full report

Social Media Statistics Australia – September 2013

1. Facebook – 12,000,000 monthly Australian users (see here further details)
2. YouTube – 11,750,000 UAVs
3. WordPress.com – 5,100,000
4. Tumblr – 4,200,000
5. LinkedIn – 3,400,000
6. Blogspot – 3,200,000
7. Twitter - 2,167,849 Active Australian Users (see previous calculation)
8. Instagram - 1,469,000 Active Australian Users (see previous calculation)
9. Flickr – 840,000
10. TripAdvisor – 830,000
11. Pinterest – 510,000
12. MySpace – 230,000
13. Yelp – 220,000
14. Reddit – 160,000
15. Google Plus – approx 75,000 monthly active Australian users (my estimation *revised*)
16. StumbleUpon – 73,000
17. Foursquare – 46,000
18. Digg – 33,000
19. Delicious – 25,000

Key Points to Note via David at Social Media News Australia

  • A trend we have noticed is that blogging platforms such as WordPress and Tumblr have really grown further in 2013.
    5 Million Australians visit WordPress.com blogs every month, and over 4 million visit Tumblr blogs. There seems to be a shift in users creating their own more professional style content off typical social media websites.
  • The other main networks of Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram continue to consume much of our social media time.

All stats represent the number of Unique Australian Visitors [UAVs] to the site over August – except for Facebook which is the number of active monthly users as reported by Facebook themselves).