Navigating The 5 Stages Of Marketing Automation

White Paper

Navigating the winding road of marketing automation can be tricky trail. Searching for a new piece of technology that enables you to follow your dreams as a marketer can be a bit like choosing a travel destination: discombobulating. Or, if you’ve already got the right platform, finding the time to get the best out of what you have can feel like visiting a new city without a local guide to show you the hidden treasures. Yet, with every new adventure embarked on, the lust to wander often develops into a burning desire to take a path less traveled.

The marketing automation journey can feel like a mountain to climb, but with any expedition comes huge and life-changing rewards. We’ve mapped out the marketing automation journey a typical business – and marketer – might be faced with. All you need to do is work out where you are and this guide provides the itinerary.

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Are you the daytripper?

You’re sending mass one-size-fits-all mailouts to your entire list and it’s still working … sort of. You have a million and one things to do and your focus keeps being shifted from email, so why in your right mind would you want to write, build and send more of them?

A typical day in the life of the daytripper

You’re a one or two-man marketing band, meaning email marketing isn’t your core responsibility. In fact, you also have the website to maintain, you’ve got to set up that monthly marketing survey and fit in competitor research, plus there’s a growing list of social networks to monitor. You can’t find any time to develop your email marketing tactics – but you know other companies like yours are seeing big successes.

Can’t change tactics, won’t change tactics

There’s no time to search for new email marketing tools or additional services and present a case to your boss. Email is underperforming (flat-lining at best), so why would they want to make any further investments? Costs are tightly constrained so without proof that a new platform or training session would remove pain points (and bring returns), there’s no hope

The email experience

You’re sending one email to everyone about your latest offers (that’s enough, isn’t it?). Your company’s data is unstructured, making imports difficult, and it’s impacting your ability to do segmentation – so all you can manage is opportunistic targeting at best. Your unsubscribe rate is steadily increasing and open rates are at an all-time low.

Your current email platform sits on its own and isn’t connected to any other system, like a CRM. Any data upload is manual and takes heaps of time; if only you used something like dotmailer, which makes imports easy and offers connectors that even remove the manual process.

Tips for the daytripper who’s an aspiring long-weekender

Sit back and take stock of the situation – it’s time to impress your boss! Here’s your itinerary to make the transition from a daytripper to a trendy long-weekender.

Make some time

It’s all about making time to save time. Book out 30 minutes in your diary a couple of days a week – that’s all you’ll need.

Write a list of requirements or explore what you have

Based on your profile, you could be looking for a slick piece of software that makes email creation and data imports fast and hassle-free. Or you already have the right platform and you just haven’t had the chance to explore the current system’s full capabilities.

Pre-built templates (which are included in the dotmailer package) mean you don’t have to start from scratch. Drag-and-drop editors enable you to populate content in a flash, and automation’s purpose is to lighten your workload, too.

The quicker you can build your emails, the more time you’ll have to think about how you can begin to become more advanced (and deliver the ROI you promised your boss). You want that promotion and pay rise, after all.

Check out experts’ blogs

Email’s been around for a while, so there are a number of industry experts who dish out invaluable advice. For instance, check out this amazing blog called Email Vendor Selection which offers up everything you would want to know about picking a new platform. Email Vendor Selection is run by Jordie van Rijn, who’s also the editor of Email Monday – another go-to place for up-to-date email advice. There’s also the Chief Marketing Technologist Blog, by Scott Brinker, who’s an advocate of companies infusing technical capabilities into their DNA.

Look at case studies

Customer success stories themed around driving efficiencies – and which relate to businesses like yours – are the holy grail. We have a customer success section on, including case studies based around time and resource.

Whittle down your choices and sign up for free trials and demos

If you don’t already have an easyto-use platform like dotmailer, get some first-hand experience of what it’s like. Make notes during your trial experience on why the new tool could revolutionize your tactics, which will arm you when presenting a case to your boss. If he or she is showing some movement, book a demo so an expert can showcase the depth and breadth of the software.

Are you the long-weekender?

You’ve got a best-of-breed platform that makes email creation fast and easy. It has all the capabilities that allow you to do advanced email marketing, however you’ve only dipped your feet in basic segmentation and the triggered campaigns that are set up are minimal.

A typical day in the life of the long-weekender

You’re a digital marketer with some understanding of today’s tactics – but you’re aware that you could probably know more. Your primary remit involves planning, developing and implementing marketing campaigns. You brief designers and copywriters, as well as liaising with the product team to ensure you’re marketing accurate information. You’re also responsible for managing social media and PPC, and, because you’ve got an easy-to-use tool, the email marketing.

It’s time to show them what you’re made of

Your company invested in a new email platform not long ago and it’s got all the features that’ll let you do awesome stuff. You’ve heard about marketing automation and you want to make the most of the opportunities. Data’s not readily available and when it is it seems basic, plus you’re not 100% sure of its validity. No-one’s shown you how the automation tool works, so getting going is easier said than done. But if someone in your business – or even an outsider – gave you a demo, you could improve efficiencies, get more emails out and shout about your successes. You can be an island-hopper!

The email experience

You’re sending the monthly newsletter, you’ve got a welcome email set up and you’re doing basic segmentation for offers and announcements. There’s a difficulty in getting hold of up-to-date data on your contacts, meaning you’re only able to segment by whether someone’s a prospect or a past customer. It’s fine that you can target messaging based on whether someone’s purchased previously, but your results are stagnant and you recognize that you should be improving relevancy.

You know that data is the root of success – if only it was easier to get your hands on it. Imagine if you could find out what your contacts have looked at on your website, or learn what they’ve bought in the past and when they purchased it? The thing is, you use CRM software and you’re sure it could connect to your email marketing platform.

Tips for the long-weekender who’s an aspiring island-hopper

It’s time to get out of the comfort zone and be the email marketer you know you can be. The transition from long-weekender to island-hopper will be smoother sailing than you think.

Research best practice guides

Luckily, the internet is teeming with articles and guides on email marketing automation, including our own ever-growing resource library. Getting started guides are extremely useful if you want to learn about how automation works, what segments you could be targeting if you had the right data, and what apps and integrations are available.

Read about others’ successes

Just like best practice guides and whitepapers, email marketing automation case studies are an invaluable resource. They tell stories of brands’ journeys with automation technology and provide inspiration for your own voyage. Look out for integration cases where companies have connected their email marketing platform to their CRM.

Look up some technical integrations

The easiest way to get the data that’s going to improve your marketing is to introduce an app that enables real-time access to contact information. Check out integrations (demos are a great option) that sync up with your email marketing platform. For instance, we offer dotmailer for Magento, dotmailer for Microsoft Dynamics and dotmailer for Salesforce. All of these extensions offer deep integrations with access to live data.

Speak to your boss and tech team

You’ve done the research; now it’s time to pull it all together and present it to your boss. You want to demonstrate that these changes are going to deliver cold, hard cash for your business. Case studies will come in handy here, as you’ll want to show that good data combined with marketing automation combined has transformed the marketing strategies of companies like yours.

Link up with your IT team, too, and tell them your findings. Show them that you know your stuff and you’re not just a marketer with fluffy, outthere ideas.

Are you the island-hopper?

You’re the cool, calm and collected marketer who’s got automated email programs running like clockwork. Your data is fully synced with your email marketing platform and your programmatic campaigns are driving steady incremental revenue. However, while email’s your main channel because it delivers the best ROI, you want to find other ways to engage your audience at scale.

A typical day in the life of the island-hopper

The island-hopper has plenty of marketing experience. You’re not afraid to immerse yourself in new tactics and everything you do is backed up by data – after all, what’s the point in doing it if you’re not seeing results? You manage a team and you’re responsible for the online marketing strategy. You like to test and optimize and you’re an avid data cleanser, because you know how important it is to keep developing; island-hoppers never stand still. You know your key segments and you’re focused on creating and sending emails that’ll have the most impact.

The next step is to start using automation to communicate with contacts through multiple marketing channels.

On a voyage of ROI

You chose your company’s current email marketing platform because it lets you target and create automation programs with ease, achieving great deliverability rates. The returns you get from your campaigns far outweigh the operating costs, meaning email has a firm standing in the overall marketing budget. But you’re not one to get complacent; the email marketing platform you have is also flexible and is designed to grow with your business. You want to become even more efficient and drive up engagement by automating things like SMS, printed direct mail and more.

The email experience

You’re sending personalized newsletters using basic dynamic content; that’s the benefit of a healthy and up-to-date database. You have access to realtime behavioral and purchase data, and you know who to target and how to target them, so you’re certain that you’re sending compelling content to the people who want to receive it. It’s a similar story for your automated email programs: each one is triggered based on a contact’s action and this is working very well.

You’re in the ideal position for a marketer who likes to act on insight and reach as many people as possible. Your CRM is synced up with your email marketing software and right now it’s the only extension you have. All in all it’s a job well done, however you’re not one to rest on your laurels…

Tips for the island-hopper who’s an aspiring adventurer

You know what you want (well, you’re 90% sure) and you know how to get it (sort of). The journey from islandhopper to adventurer is a boat and a plane ride away … but don’t be put off, because it’s closer than you might think.

Desk-based research

Scour the web for available multichannel marketing extensions. There are a ton of blog posts and product pages that announce new extensions, speak of people’s experiences and go into great detail about features and benefits. If you’re lucky, you may even find review sites that include valuable extension ratings (dotmailer’s App Directory has this, for reference). Make sure you start a list of possibles and keep it handy.

Speak to your account manager.

If your email service provider (ESP) includes account management, like dotmailer does, lock in a conversation with your key contact. They’ll be able to tell you about the available options, how the integration/s will work, and maybe even stories about their other clients’ experiences.

Find real-life examples

If your account manager can’t provide any success stories that are specific to your business’s situation, yet you have an idea of the extensions you want to implement, look for case studies. Case studies are often a great indicator as to whether a particular extension will bring results for the purpose you have in mind. dotmailer has an archive of customer success stories to peruse.

Consider consultancy

If you’re looking to implement an extension or two that will affect a sizable portion of your company, it could be wise to seek some consultancy. For instance, something bespoke may be what you need, rather than introducing a pre-built extension that won’t live up to the job. Custom solutions teams often have business analysts who can look at the overall infrastructure, alongside your IT team, and make recommendations.

Test some apps

If your company has invested in a best-of-breed email marketing platform that makes it easy to plug in smaller apps, there’s no harm in trying one out. Compared to an all-in-one marketing cloud, a flexible ESP makes testing tools much lower risk and enables you to advance your roadmap in logical phases.

Find data specialists

You’re absolutely swimming in data. And if you don’t employ a savvy data scientist or enlist the help if a data agency soon, you might just drown in those seemingly calm turquoise waters. Data science helps your company make decisions on product and operating metrics, however business intelligence and analyst functions can also help with operating metrics. Companies of a certain data maturity are best positioned to leverage data science teams, while others can fulfill their data needs with BI and Analyst functions. Again, a consultant can help you to determine whether a data scientist or a specialist agency would make sense for your business.

Are you the adventurer?

The adventurer is a savvy marketer who’s on a quest to make marketing channels work harder. After all, your data is totally in check and your company has a single customer view. A sizable chunk of your multichannel marketing is being automated and you’re reaping the rewards, yet a few of your strategic ideas are often viewed as a bit ‘pie in the sky’ by your peers. Most of the time you prove the cynics wrong, but sometimes you feel as though your dreams get knocked back.

A typical day in the life of the adventurer

Your enviable team is leading the way in digital marketing. You’ve got all bases covered in terms of marketing channels and your aim is to keep your employees on top of the latest trends. Your company’s dipping its feet in predictive analytics or artificial intelligence and your automations are very advanced. You’re not afraid to seek help from the experts, though, and you enlist the help of strategic consultancy to ensure you remain on top. But, being the person you are, you’re not stopping there: you want a self-educating platform that automates data enrichment and campaign optimization. Machine learning is a trailblazer’s prerogative.

Email marketing automation is king

Thanks to you and your team’s hard work, email’s intrinsic value is celebrated within your business. Continual investment in best-of-breed software and extensions is justified, so long as you continue to deliver ROI. You’re leveraging a deeper level of customer insight thanks to fully-integrated systems, which is enabling your team to orchestrate marketing communications that customers feel are truly one to one.

The email experience

Almost every marketing email you send feels like it was tailor-made for the recipient. At the very least, you’re delivering next-level newsletters that leverage advanced personalization. You’re also dynamically segmenting contacts into people who looked at A, did C, clicked Y but did not sign up for Z. This gives you the ability to predict these segments in advance, prepare appropriate content and deliver it automatically when someone fits the profile.

As well as your CRM and ecommerce platforms, you have multiple extensions connected to your marketing automation software. Everyone in your business can see prospects’ and customers’ data and activity in real time, and it’s empowering them to act fast and stay ahead.

Tips for the adventurer who’s an aspiring trailblazer

The trailblazer is a god-like figurehead in the world of email. This marketer is the epitome of true success and is looked upon in admiration by the adventurer. To get to this stage there’s a mountain to climb, but it’s a commitment worth making.

Call a board-level meeting

As a senior marketer, you’ve got a clear idea of what you want to do next – it’s just a matter of getting buy-in. Seeing as your plans affect the entire business, the first step is to present your ideas and gather people’s requirements. It’s wise to get your IT team and a business analyst involved, too, although the real conversation will happen when you’ve selected some possible tech solutions.

Attend a summit or two

Summits are full of inspiration, with talks from thought leaders and trailblazing brands to vendors showcasing the latest in tech. It’s worth listening in to what the leading brands are doing and using in the marketing technology space. And if you’ve the chance, do some networking at an after-conference social. By this point, you’re probably also in demand to speak at these kinds of events; your company’s leading the way and others are inspired by what you do.

Website technology look-ups

If you’re the adventurer you think you are, you’ll be signed up to receive communications from some of the world’s most innovative brands (and you may even buy from them, too). These are the kinds of companies that have the budget and workforce behind them, and there’s a way to get a sneaky insight into the tools they’re using.

BuiltWith, StackShare and SimilarTech are useful tools which’ll let you check companies’ web and email hosting providers, as well as advertising tools, analytics, widgets, syndication techniques and more.

Seek an expert’s advice

While speaking to your account manager is useful, this kind of strategy step-up rrequires the deepdive assistance of an expert. You’ll find different kinds of consultants who’ll specialize in your company’s area of expertise – for example, regulated industries – and their knowledge could prove invaluable.

The Trailblazer

Need we say more? The trailblazer is the innovator; the person who’s first to try something and succeed. And they won’t stop until they’ve achieved world domination! (Well, not quite but the ambition is certainly there). Your multichannel marketing is working automagically, because machine learning is at the heart of your strategy. You’re excited about the concept of a digitally connected world and you’re playing a role in the normalization of the Internet of Things (IoT).

A typical day in the life of the trailblazer

Everything you do is geared towards ultimate efficiency and innovation. You’re constantly investing in tools that enable your brand to initiate life-like conversations across the marketing spectrum. Artificial intelligence is your best friend, because it’s empowering your super-smart team to stay ahead of the game and develop never-been-tried-before tactics. Your standing in the industry means you’re often invited to speak at high-profile events and this enables you to mingle with elite thought leaders. You often get referenced in the news and you’ve got a solid following on

Marketing is your business

You’re the brains behind your company’s all-encompassing data and marketing automation strategy, and it’s thanks to your hard work that the ongoing strategy has buy-in from the top down. The digital marketing team is seen as one of the most important departments in your company and there are no hesitations in securing investment for long-term plans. The value of data that’s harnessed and refined outweighs the costs and resource, which is why you have a data scientist.

The email experience

Who knew email could be so sexy (again)? Your company is blurring the lines of what makes a good marketer, and this shows in your multichannel campaigns and programs. Your team of digital content specialists are writing copy for your constant flow of new email programs, however you’re at a stage where you’re confident in the strength of computer-generated content. Every email you send harnesses the power of your data and turns it into a message that feels as though it was written personally to the recipient. Your company’s strategic intelligence feeds other business systems and processes; it’s a big job but you’re smashing it. To the trailblazer, one-sizefits-all communications were so 20 years ago.

All of your systems are top-notch and proactively connect to each other. The self-educating infrastructure you have in place is designed to share learnings across your business, and every decision is automated or made with intelligent insight. When it comes to integrations, the only thing on your mind is ‘what’s next?’

What does the trailblazer do next?

Sit back and put your feet up, take an extended trip, buy a sports car? By now you’ve the time and money to enjoy life at a leisurely pace – but, as we know, the trailblazer’s never one to stand still.

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