A recording of my talk at the Growth Mentor Summit 2019. Below you can also get access to the presentation deck.
Hey everybody and welcome to my Growth Summit Session!
In this session, I’m going to talk about how to create the Holistic Marketing Funnel Automation Strategy for your startup. If you’re in a SaaS company or a mobile app or another type of Product Company this is something that you may want to listen to.
In this video, you will learn how to get from zero to running a live marketing funnel automation system that helps you convert your leads into customers and your customers into forever customers. I’ve also included some interesting templates and frameworks that will be shared in this talk, so you’re also going to get access to them.
Get the supplementary files:
A little bit about me, my name is Kalo and I’m the co-founder of Encharge.io. Encharge is a marketing automation tool that helps SaaS and mobile app companies increase their revenue and drive more conversions through targeted messages, mostly email.
Before we start with this marketing funnel automation system and this strategy session, let’s go over what exactly is marketing automation.
I’m sure you know marketing automation is everywhere. it’s so ubiquitous today that it’s almost impossible not to do marketing automation if you run a SaaS company. That term has been thrown around a lot and it means very different things and I’m sure a lot of you are doing marketing automation without even naming it that way. So just for the purpose of this conversation, I’m going to use the five W’s to define what exactly marketing automation is:
Marketing automation helps you deliver personalized messages cross-channel so that means email, SMS, push, social media, direct mail to a broader audience at the right time and most importantly using software.
In other words in an automated way and why well because it helps you attract, convert and retain more customers with fewer resources in less time and more efficiently.
There are a lot of benefits to marketing automation and I really don’t want to boggle your mind now with a lot of numbers. It has been proven that these automated messages have a strong impact on your overall bottom line and in a research 70% of people found improved targeting messages to be the most important benefit of marketing automation. And this improved messages this improved automated messages they usually lead to more free time so you are able to save time in your business and more effective lead generation. And most importantly positive effect on your bottom line, in other words, targetted messages help you increase your revenue and make more money for your product.
When we talk with SaaS and product companies about marketing automation and they come to us usually, the first thing that they get to ask us is you know what tool should we use to do our marketing automation. And this is really, in my opinion, the number one mistake SaaS and mobile app companies and product companies generally make: they start to think in tools rather than frameworks and processes. And what happens is that they don’t have the overarching idea of what they actually want to achieve and how they’re going to achieve this through marketing automation.
In this presentation, my goal is to share with you my six-step process to create a really comprehensive, really holistic marketing funnel automation strategy. We’re going to cover the frameworks, my processes, my documents as well as some more technical things like how to create a flow and how to actually implement this thing into practice.
I’m going to share the process step-by-step and this includes six steps:
- The first one is to define and choose the life-cycle funnel for your business.
- The second step is to define and choose the metrics that you want to track at each step of this funnel.
- The third step is to map your lifecycle customer journey.
- The fourth step is to outline the specific events and create an event tracking plan and we’re going to cover what exactly are events and mark the event tracking plan.
- The fifth step is to write the copy for your messages so that’s for email so if you want to use push notifications or SMS whatever messages or channels you want to use.
- And the last step is to actually bring this into life with up-and-running marketing automation flows.
Actually, before we jump into this representation, there are a few documents — the marketing funnel automation strategy Blueprint. This is a template that you can use to plan your marketing funnel automation.
You’re also going to get an event tracking plan that you can use in Google spreadsheets. We use that to track our client events and then work with their development team on implementing these events.
You’re also going to need Google Docs or a word document or another word processor to actually write the email copy.
And last but not least very important thing is to actually have a marketing automation tool in place. I would recommend using something that is really catered towards SaaS or product companies, so you might want to check some tools like Encharge our company, Customer.io, Vero, Autopilot, or maybe Drip. What I mean here is really a marketing automation software that is advanced enough to support events and also mostly events but also other integrations with the tools that you need.
So this is how the marketing funnel automation blueprint looks like…and this is how it looks when it’s completed.
By the end of this session, by the end of this exercise, you should have this plan you should have this Blueprint completed, obviously not with the exact same values as this one here —it needs to be relevant to your business and your automation funnel and we’re going to discuss this through that session.
That’s how the marketing automation funnel Blueprint looks when it’s completed.
Let’s actually start with the first step which is to define and decide on your life cycle funnel. And here, by the way, I couldn’t find an emoji for funnels, so I’m using this tornado emoji, so don’t blame me for that. 🙂
Step 1: Define the Automation Funnel
So what exactly is the lifecycle marketing funnel? The lifecycle funnel is the process a person takes towards becoming a customer of your product. It’s essentially the framework that helps you understand how your business is performing at different stages of your customer journey.
From the very first moment from the very first customer touchpoint with your product until the moment they become customer and eventually an advocate.
There are really dozens of lifecycle automation funnels that you can research. The goal here is not to teach you to choose a specific one, but to define and decide which funnel you’d like to choose and make sure that your whole team understands your marketing funnel and understands how your funnel works within your company, within your product and with your customers.
Some of the marketing funnels that are quite popular are Attention, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue by Dave McClure. You can go with something more simple like the AIDA framework Attention, Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. Or maybe something more complex.
It really doesn’t matter and you can also come up with your own funnel and this is what we actually do with most of our customers. For example, our friends at Metrilo.com have their own funnel which is Awareness — first stage, Education of the problem — second stage, Education of the solution — third stage and Consideration, so they have four stages and they’re really specific and relevant to their particular business model.
Again, make sure to choose a funnel that really works with your business and make sure to put that funnel into the marketing funnel automation blueprint. This will be across the first row, the customer funnel you would like to put the different stages of your automation funnel. They might be four, they might be three, there might be six it really depends on your business model.
Step 2: Define the Metrics
The next step here is to define the metrics that you want to track at each stage of the funnel.
There’s no way to know how good your marketing funnel automation strategy or efforts are without tracking any metrics.
Each funnel stage deserves its own set of metrics or a single metric.
To get your brain juice flowing I’m going to give you an idea of metrics that you could track at different stages.
So let’s say we go with the ADIA framework — Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.
At the first stage your Awareness stage, you may want to track the number of visitors, so you need Website Visitors or Email Subscribers. How many people subscribe to your newsletter or lead magnets or other educational material and resources? You might want to track visitor to subscriber conversion rate or best-referring channels tracking your traffic UTM’s and which ones bring the most and highest quality traffic.
At the second stage Interest you may want to track the average email open rate, leads generated, demos booked, demo close conversion rate, lead velocity rate, the grow percent which is basically the growth percentage of qualified leads month over month, number of trials (really important if you have a free trial model), visitor the trial conversion rate, and so on.
At the Desire stage, you may want to track your new user product engagement, the Net Promoter Score or something like support questions asked in the onboarding trial phase.
At the Action stage, you may want to track the new number of customers, travel to customer conversion rate, new monthly recurring revenue added this month, gross revenue added, customer acquisition cost and so on.
There are also other metrics that you want to track across the whole marketing funnel and these are things like the customer lifetime value, average revenue per user, average revenue per paying user, daily weekly or monthly user retention, customer acquisition payback period, and so on.
Apart from tracking these metrics, you must know which department and which person owns each specific metric. Who owns, for example, visitors or the increase of new website visitors or the increase of traffic in the awareness stage?
Once you have that cleared and completed in your funnel blueprint document, the next step is to really get into the shoes of your customers and map the lifecycle customer journey.
Step 3: Map the Lifecycle Customer Journeys
So the customer journey basically shows whether the specific actions and set of activities (scenarios) a person needs to complete in order to become a customer of your product.
The goal here is to map all these activities. You can use a separate file or whiteboard or whatever and all of these touchpoints.
Let’s take Encharge as an example.
Simply our customer journey would look something like:
- he user visits the marketing front-end website.
- The user books a demo call with us.
- The user gets on a call with us.
- The user register for a trial.
- The user opens an onboarding email.
- The user activates a feature like say, for example, sends the first email.
- The user registers for a paid account.
These are all the steps and you may have different personas you may have different stakeholders that use your product in a different way in your goal here is really to map out the whole customer journey and you know these scenarios at the different stages of your marketing funnel automation.
Step 4: Track the Important Events
The next step and you know a really important step is to outline and decide on the important events and to create an event tracking plan.
Not all user actions in the customer journey we’re tracking are important. Our goal here is to list only the events that are related to value moments in your customer journey and in your funnel.
For example, if we take Encharge again a really important event is the User Import action. Another one is when the user sends their first email so that’s pretty much the only way they could get value out of the system.
On the other hand, we don’t necessarily need to set up an event for Email DNS settings setup. We don’t want to track how many people have activated their DNS settings because it’s not really a value moment.
The value moments here are really these moments, these actions that help the user get from one stage of your automation funnel to the next stage. They don’t really need to complete every single action in that stage of the funnel. They only need specific events or actions that will push the user to progress from one stage of the funnel to the next one.
And what you need to do here with the event tracking document which you’re also going to get access with this presentation and by the way this event tracking is based on a template by Segment com, so really grateful to Segment for providing this template.
In the first column, you need to put the important events so these are the value moments that the customers need to do in your app.
Here this is an example, this is a real-life example from one of our customers, Veremark which is an HR reference SaaS platform.
We decided that the important actions, the core events are:
- Signed up,
- Logged in
- Sent request (this is the request that is sent to the employee)
- Request criteria met when all of the referral checks are completed.
Then there are some additional events that are also important to check but are not crucial. These are events like Draft request saved, Created criteria, Created a questionnaire, Team member invited, and so on.
It’s really helpful to actually define why it’s important to track these events. You can defend, why your developers need to track that event.
The next thing here is the property. Each event has a number of properties. For example, every single request has a request ID, a number of checks included in that request, if it has a reference check (also known as a Boolean field), employment check, nationality check, criminal record check, and so on.
These are the property values — that’s a text number or something else.
If we scroll to the right here we can actually see the process of implementation for these events. Once you have the events here in this document as a marketer you need to outline these events and once you have them ready you want to send that document to your developer so you developers can integrate these events with your marketing automation tool of choice.
You can send the events from your app, in this case, Veremark with the properties and the values to Encharge.
Here we have the status of the event whether the event is being coded, deployed, and tested. Once your developers are ready with each of these steps, they’re just going to put a Yes value in which one of these. This is when you’re ready to create automate your marketing funnel in Encharge. This is when you can actually start building and thinking about the copy, the flows, the real elements that put your marketing funnel automation strategy to life.
Step 5: Write the Messaging Copy
I like to start with a Google document and map out what are the exact flows so what are the different flows they want to create for each stage of the marketing automation funnel. And going back to the blueprint this is the last row here with the flows for each funnel stage.
The flows are basically the marketing funnel automation, the marketing automation part that the customer actually goes through once they interact with your app. The building blocks of your marketing automation funnel.
Let’s say for example in the Awareness stage we might want to have a flow when the leads subscribe to the newsletter. When a lead subscribes to a newsletter we may want to send out lead nurturing emails or we might want to change the lead scoring of this lead.
In the Acquisition stage of the automation funnel, we might want to have a flow for users started trial so this could be like a series of welcome emails or event-based emails that nudge the user to convert to paying customers and so on.
These are the actual building blocks, the actual marketing automation flows.
And now going back to the document here you can see this is again a real example from Veremark, this is the onboarding stage of their marketing funnel automation and we have decided that we’re going to create four different flows.
And for each of these flows I’ve actually put the copy for each message, email, SMS, push notification, etc. And the event that is going to trigger that message, when we want to send that message, and what is the actual purpose of that message.
For example, with the welcome with the event-based flow we have a welcome email and what is the purpose of the welcome email to explain what you’re tool does, what problem it solves, what are the guaranteed results, and also a low-friction call to action in the case of Veremarkto the CTA is “Create the first request”. This gets the people back to the app and nudges them to create the first request.
This is something you want to do with each flow in each email in the flows and I’m not going to go now through you know example flows and email copy because this could easily take a whole other session
You can go to Encharge.io/blog and you can see a number of templates that we have published that will give you a lot to start with.
For example, our latest post is 38 automated emails or you can also check this one if you’re working on your own boarding stage. If you want to create an effective email sequence or you can also check 13 Email Sequence Templates, so there is really a lot of examples here from real brands as well from Encharge.
Another important bit is when you actually sign up for Encharge you’ll be able to start with a pre-populated flow that comes in with best-practices email copy.
Step 6: Build the Automation Flows
Going back to our marketing funnel automation, the last step that we actually have is to build these marketing automation workflows. Now you need to start using your marketing automation tool.
For example, if I go to Encharge I can show you here the flows that we have created for Veremark.
For the onboarding stage of the marketing funnel automation we have created four flows:
- Post-trial flow
- Event-based flow
- Trial expiry Warning flow
- Time-based flow.
Let’s go to the event-based flow because this one is probably the most interesting for SaaS companies.
This is how this flow looks in Encharge. You can see here a very simple flow — when the user signs up for Veremark, they will receive a Welcome email.
In the way we get these events is if you remember in the previous step we created the event tracking plan and your developers have already integrated with Encharge. We know the name of the events and all you need to do as a marketer is copy-paste the name of the event into the marketing automation flow builder where you can create these automated flows.
In this case, the event is called “Signed up” —when someone signs up for Veremark this is going to trigger a welcome email.
And now you know things are getting more interesting here as you can do a lot of different things once you have access to these value-based events in your marketing automation tool and in Encharge you can do a number of different things.
For example, let’s say we want to send a re-engagement email, we want to have a flow that sends a re-engagement email when someone opens a specific page but doesn’t complete the action on that page. With Veremark this is the Request page. We wait for one hour and then we are going to check if they have sent an event — and we know that because we have tagged all people who have completed that section with the tag “Send request”. So if they don’t have the tag “Sent request” we’re going to send them a new email that asks them to go back to the Request page and complete that action.
When you write these re-engagement emails make sure to always stress the benefit of the specific feature. Rather than just pushing people to go back to the app, try to handle any objections and state why exactly they should care about completing this action.
Things could get more advanced and more sophisticated as you create more flows or depending on your process and marketing automation funnel.
For example, you might have a high-touch sales model or a hybrid (self-serve + high touch). Let’s say you have a hybrid model. In that case, you might want to involve your sales rep so rather than just sending automated welcome emails you may actually want to create a new deal in HubSpot. In that case you might want to use the Action step “Create HubSpot Deal”, so every time someone signs up you create a deal in your HubSpot account where your sales rep can see all the data of the events that are sent from your app to Encharge and then to HubSpot, and based on that reach out manually to get on a call with that person.
Marketing Funnel Automation Conclusion
This is how the marketing funnel automation system looks like and just to wrap up quickly the steps for this system.
First, you have to decide on a life cycle funnel.
You need to define the metrics you want to track at each stage of the funnel and also define who owns each metric.
Then you want to get into the shoes of your customers mark the lifecycle customer journey, so all and every steps and actions that your customers take in your product.
Next, you need to map out only the events that create value, so the value moments in your app and build your event tracking plan. And also send that event tracking plan to your developers, so they can integrate it with your marketing automation tool of choice. For example, Encharge makes sure that you use a marketing automation tool that actually supports events because events are critical for SaaS, mobile app and product companies.
Then the fifth step is to have a document that outlines the flows that you want to create for each stage of the funnel automation and the messaging copy. Go to Encharge.io/blog to see hundreds of examples like email and other messaging examples and flow examples that you can start with.
Then, six and last step, and probably the most important step that really brings that whole strategy to life is to put these flows in the marketing automation tool of your choice.
Don’t forget to use the blueprint, a simple top-level overview of your marketing funnel automation plan.
That’s from me. I hope you enjoyed this session and if you have any questions or feedback please do get in touch with me at [email protected] or book a consultation session. My consultation sessions are free at the moment on growth mentor, so go to app.growthmentor.com/kaloyan-yankulov, I know it’s a weird name but you can just look it here and I’m going to zoom in so you can see it. I’m looking forward to connecting with your and it was a blast having the opportunity to talk to you, guys. Take care and speak to you soon!
- [Webinar] User Onboarding Emails — Examples & Best Practices
- 23 Online Conferences, Summits, and Webinars for SaaS Marketers that You Can Watch At Home
- 16+ Onboarding Emails You Can Steal in 2020