ActiveTrail Automations in Practice (Part 2 of 4) Personalization

Real world examples of ActiveTrail clients using automations to create more streamlined, effective digital marketing campaigns that yield better results.

We kicked off this series of blog posts with a brief review of email marketing automations, how they help, and we took a closer look at one of the fundamental uses of automations, getting new members or customers onboard with your site or system. In this installment, we go to the heart of the matter by delving into what is, perhaps, the most important motivation for automation and its most significant use, personalization, and we will see how one of ActiveTrail’s vehicle maintenance clients is using this to improve their customers’ experience.

Getting Personal
For most email marketers “personalization” means adding personal or business information to subject lines and the body of email campaigns, e.g. “Ms. Kraft, a special gift from ActiveTrail for Your Birthday” or “Dear Mark, …”. Indeed, this is an important part of personalization (emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened), but automations add whole other dimensions to the craft of making people feel as if emails were written just for them.

Let’s take a step back and describe personalization, in general terms:
Email personalization is a marketing device that leverages customer data (gender, location, birthday…) and actions (buying certain items, renewing a membership…) to create more targeted email campaigns with greater customer appeal.

Why have we bolded the word “campaigns”? While subject line personalization helps to get people to open an individual email, automations have the capacity to personalize a whole email campaign. By sending emails in response to certain actions, by sending different emails based on groupings or selections made by users in earlier campaign mails, by coordinating emails to certain events, etc., all different types of automation, we will meet the needs of more customers, our emails will be more relevant and our customers will feel as if we are giving them one-on-one care.
Automation Basics
To get a better feel for our real world example for this blog post, here’s a quick review of a few of the fundamentals of email campaign automation:automations basics

Automation Workflow
The diagram above depicts the fundamental building blocks of any automation, although not every automation will necessary include all of the steps, for instance, an onboarding automations. such as we described in the prior post, might not require segmentation.

With that said, to get the most out of personalized campaigns you will want to pay attention to each of the workflow elements:
Segmentation: By breaking down your contacts into smaller groups with common attributes, you can tailor how your campaign is kicked off for each group, plan how they will progress through your campaign and generate content most suitable for them.
trigger your campaign differentlyTriggers: Automations are processes, and therefore something needs to launch them. Generally, there are two components of email marketing systems that are used to triggered automations: customer data (e.g. a birthday or registration date) or customer actions (e.g. a customer registers or is added to a segment). Either of these triggers, is by definition, personal, allowing you to trigger your campaign differently based on a specific piece of data or action.
Rules: Rules determine which message will be sent to specific customers based on their behaviors and are the means by which you lead people through your campaign. At each intersection, you have an opportunity to further customize your customers’ experience.
Content: Once you have considered all of the above, your content is the manifestation of your personalization. Each and every piece of text or graphic illustration in each and every email of your campaign can be personalized.

Personalized Car Care
When thinking of email automations, car garages might not be the first type of business that pops into your mind, but one of ActiveTrail’s heaviest users, a multi-location auto-body shop (we’ll refer to them as AutoShop herein), is doing wonders with personalized automations. Following is a watered down version of their annual vehicle checkup automation flow:

  1. AutoShop segments their body of clients based on two parameters:
    1. Regular Visits – Whether a customer has come in regularly over the past two years
    2. Pickup Service – Whether a customer used AutoShop’s pickup service. If a customer has, their initial mail will also ask them to mention this when they schedule their pickup.
  2. There is a single trigger – the date of the last checkup. Dates are checked monthly and email is sent to anyone whose last visit is over 11 months ago.
  3. Personal data is used in the subject line as well as the body. For instance, the standard subject line might look like this: “Pamela, it’s checkup time for your Honda Civic”, and the date of the last visit is mentioned in the body of the mail.
  4. Automation #1, Non-Action: If a client hasn’t scheduled a checkup, reminders are sent after two weeks, and then once a month for up to 2 years.
  5. Automation #2, Checkup Scheduled: A number of things happen here, such as visit reminders being sent out that include offers to upgrade to VIP service (which, if selected, triggers additional mails).
  6. Automation #3, After Checkup: After a customer has brought in their car for a checkup there are two general paths – a thank you mail with various promotions for additional AutoShop services and a series of mails for those who chose VIP Service.

The flow described herein is only about 1/3 of the whole automation flow. While it took the AutoShop some time to develop the flow, they are seeing tremendous success from its implementation, including many more clients who have become regulars, a whopping 40% increase in customer satisfaction and a 20% increase in revenues from cross and upselling.

With automations, businesses are afforded an unparalleled opportunity to adapt their marketing campaigns and actual services rendered to the needs of their individual customers. Such personalization is a central reason why email marketing continues to beat out all of its rivals. For our customer, AutoShop, personalized automations have been a windfall:

  • Customers are getting what they want: AutoShop customers are seeing only what is relevant to their car maintenance needs and AutoShop is giving them exactly what they are telling the garage that they want.
  • Customers appreciate additional offers: Through triggers and rules, AutoShop is able to engage in pinpoint targeting, making sure the right messages are delivered to the appropriate audiences, increasing the effectiveness of their cross-selling activities.
  • Customers feel cared for: The extent and accuracy of AutoShop’s personalized automations gives its customers a pleasant sense that they are in good hands.

Please tune-in to our next installment which will further expand on personalization, but on a B2B level.