Go Beyond Email With Multi-Channel Marketing Automation

Peter Sharkey on 1 st of Feb 2017
Multi Channel Marketing Automation

Multi Channel Marketing Automation

What channels come to mind when you think about marketing automation? I’d bet $50 that email is the first place your mind goes. It makes sense. After all, the marketing automation industry was birthed out of the batch-and-blast email marketing era. But there’s a problem. More specifically, a trillion problems. Today’s consumers are completely overwhelmed by the amount of email they’re getting on a daily basis, competition to stand out in the inbox is stiff, and leads are requiring an ever-increasing number of touches to become sales-ready. (The Online Marketing Institute puts it at 7-13+.) In our multi-touch, multi-device, multi-everything world, we need to go _beyond_ email to multi-channel marketing automation. Here are four ways to step up your game:

  • On-site messaging
  • Retargeting ads
  • SMS
  • Direct mail

1. On-site messaging

Want to interact with anonymous website visitors? Ditch the outdated email support approach and the even slower phone number. Today, modern channels—like Proactive Headsup—empower marketers to deliver on-site messages that promote relevant content, capture new leads, and start conversations. mParticle, a customer data platform, uses an on-site message to start conversations with anonymous visitors. Screen Shot 2017 01 31 at 9.54.58 AM This reply back message starts a conversation by asking qualifying questions. When anonymous visitors respond, the company can gain insight into why the individual visited the site and what they’re interested in, along with any feedback they share. Once a person enters their email, the company can then drop them into a list for further personalized marketing. Here are a few more examples of automated on-site messages you can try:

  • Invite visitors who land on your product page to an upcoming webinar
  • Offer a special discount to pricing page visitors who sign up for a free trial
  • Announce your latest feature that hasn’t been revealed on your website yet
  • Encourage visitors to subscribe to your blog to receive valuable content

This isn’t customer support. It’s marketing automation. It’s lead gen. It’s customer acquisition.

2. Retargeting ads

Facebook and Salesforce conducted a study to see if there’s an increase in purchases when a retailer combines email and ad retargeting. The study compared three segments:

  • Only opened email
  • Only saw Facebook ads
  • Opened emails _and_ saw Facebook ads

The results? The combined segment was 22% more likely to purchase than the segment who opened the email but didn’t see the ads. 2 The takeaway here is to coordinate your messaging between your automated email sends and retargeting efforts. In other words, to go beyond a “just email” mindset to a “email and” mindset. On the ads side, use Facebook’s ads platform to create dynamic segments that are updated on-the-fly based on the criteria we’ve already mentioned—like targeting people who have visited your trial sign-up or pricing page. create audience To take it next level, implement sequential retargeting, which is “the practice of varying the ad copy and messaging depending on where the visitor is in the conversion process, with the end goal of pushing them along.” (Thanks for the definition, KlientBoost.) what is sequential retargeting 600x300 Want to take an even more advanced approach? Combine sequential retargeting with a nurture machine that sends complementary emails alongside every ad, and you’ll have a powerhouse experience that’s a proven path to more conversions. nurture stages On their own, email and retargeting ads are both solid channels for converting customers. But by leveraging a cohesive approach, you can reach people the way they actually shop around—jumping from channel to channel and device to device until they’re ready to buy.

3. SMS

SMS open rates are unrivaled at 99%. Plus, according to a RingCentral study, more than a third of business professionals claim they can’t go over 10 minutes without responding to a text. These numbers crush email marketing open rates, which typically hover between 15% and 25%. What would it look like to inject this near foolproof channel into your customer journeys? Let’s walk through a simple example to find out. Say your “aha!” moment is a user completing five events in your app. While 8% of your users hit this mark within a day, you want to increase it to 10% by implementing marketing automation. Here’s a journey you could launch that includes both email and SMS: Screen Shot 2017 01 31 at 4.54.48 PM The automated journey kicks off after a user completes the signup form. After a one-day delay, the system checks if the number of events is greater than five. If not, it sends an email reminder to log back in. After an additional three-day delay, the system checks again if the number of events is greater than five. If not, it sends an SMS message with an additional reminder to log back in. Same message, different channels—both based on user behavior. Your use case is probably more complicated, but the principle is the same: Start with your “customer-centric success milestones” (h/t Lincoln Murphy) during the activation phase, then create behavior-based messaging that nudges users to the next step in their journey—with the help of SMS. In addition to your onboarding flow, what are other clever ways you can inject SMS into your customer journeys?

4. Direct mail

Your marketing automation doesn’t need to be limited to the digital world. You can reach new audiences and cut through the noise by adding a dash of physical direct mail. Surprisingly, Harvard Business Review____ found that direct mail has a better response rate than email and the United States Postal Service found that 60% of direct mail recipients will also visit the promoted website. Looks like the channel is making a comeback. Practically speaking, how can you insert direct mail into your marketing automation efforts? Here are a few ideas:

  • Offer a 15% discount to entice first-time buyers to make a second purchase
  • Send a personalized thank you postcard after a lead attends a product demo
  • Win a first purchase by offering $25 off with a promo code

Creating direct mail is easier than it sounds. You can create postcards simply by dragging and dropping with a tool like Autopilot, which also allows you to personalize them with custom variables like name and address. postcard


Email marketing is still effective. But it’s never been more difficult. Customers today bounce around more often, visiting multiple channels on different devices before and after making a purchase. If you rely solely on email, you’re only scratching the surface of marketing automation. Combining on-site messaging, retargeting ads, SMS, and direct mail not only reduces the burden of manual follow up, but it can also improve results—automatically and consistently at scale. Do you use multiple channels in your marketing automation? How have you gone beyond email? Let us know in the comments.

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