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.
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.
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
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
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
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?”
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.