Automated customer journeys are a cornerstone to successful outreach strategies for organizations of any size. It’s one of the most effective strategies we use at NuGrowth to help our clients grow their outreach and engagement. Below are some of our best practices for setting up and executing these journeys through Act-On’s marketing automation system.
What is an Automated Customer Journey?
First, a short explanation: automated customer journeys are created through email automation where a series of potential paths are laid for each segment of prospects, customers, or members. When the recipient takes (or doesn’t take) a specific action, their next email is triggered. Each new message is designed to eventually send them on the path to engagement in some way (i.e., make a purchase or sign up for an event).
We use these automated journeys to help clients grow their outreach base and increase their specific KPI goals, such as the open rate or click-through rate. Let’s take a look at some of the steps our expert email marketing team takes in setting up an automated journey for our clients.
1. Curate the Source List
The first step in launching an automated customer journey in Act-On is to determine the purpose of the journey. Hand-in-hand with this purpose is the source list, or who to enter into the program. It’s essential to decide on the segment details tied to each specific program.
When creating segments, consider not only profile filters – such as location, title, industry, etc. – but also behavior filters, like opening emails or visiting your website. Integration with your CRM is vital for certain types of programs. For example, you may want to enter contacts into a program when they have purchased a ticket, renewed a membership, or even celebrated a birthday.
Tracking these dates and actions in a real-time CRM system integrated with Act-On is critical to ensuring you keep in touch with these contacts through automated email programs.
2. Determine Source List Update Timing
Your next step is to consider when and how often new contacts enter your program.
Act-On provides a few different options for outlining when new contacts enter. For more particular campaigns, you may want to set entries to be handled manually, requiring you to select “Add Contacts Now” when you are ready for new entrants.
Another option is to automate the system to enter contacts as soon as they reach your source list or set them to enter on a schedule (e.g., every hour or once a day at a specific time). However, be mindful of when your CRM data is synced. If updates are made to your system overnight, you may run the risk of sending contacts emails outside of typical hours.
3. Establish Message Timing
Another critical element is how often you plan to send messages to your source list. If you’re sending several emails, be sure not to overwhelm your constituents. Nobody likes receiving marketing emails every day – even from their favorite organizations. Put some thought into your wait steps and spread your email cadence over a specific period. You can also use wait steps to avoid sending emails on particular days (weekends, for example) or during odd hours.
4. Pay Attention to Exit Types and Quantity
After some time, some contacts will no longer fit the description of your source list specifications. Act-On allows you to select list segments or criteria to remove them from your program, and you can mark them as positive or negative exits in your results dashboard.
Positive exits are used when contacts follow a call to action from one of your previous messages. You may want to exit a contact who clicked on a link within one of your emails, submitted an order, renewed membership, or even replied to an email with positive feedback.
Negative exits are opt-outs and hard bounces automatically removed from your Act-On automated program. You may also want to remove contacts based on a “Not interested” reply. Like the entry conditions, you want specific list criteria to prevent an unqualified or uninterested contact from going through your program.
5. Define How to End a Journey
All programs and campaigns must end, so you need to think about what’s next for this group of individuals. Considering the final steps of your program is vital to ensuring no contact goes forgotten. One option is to “copy to list” to add contacts who complete the program to a specific list, which could be used for one-off email campaigns or a future program.
Another option is to “change field” to update a specific field of all standard exits. You may want to check a “completed program” box in your CRM system and create list views for those that have gone through your journey.
Start Growing Your Outreach with Automated Customer Journeys Today
At NuGrowth, our specialists have the experience and knowledge you need to craft the ideal automated journey to grow your KPIs and boost your outreach. Using best-in-class technology and proven messaging templates and outreach cadence, we guarantee you’ll see a change in your email outreach campaigns.
Sarah Deak is a veteran copywriter and content strategist with NuGrowth Solutions. She likes to look for the unexpected angle and uses her background in education, business development, and marketing to create interesting and informative pieces to equip readers with actionable data