How to get More out of Your Marketing Automation Software

As software owners and creators, we have entered into a really cool season. Software has moved to the cloud, no longer limited or constrained by local resources. This move gives us potential that is not limited to machine-based resources. It unlocks something much more powerful — behavioral analytics.

For those of us just beginning a career in software development and management, this is something that we take for granted. It hasn’t always been this way. One of my closest mentors spent his career as an SVP at Ingram Micro, managing major channels and partnerships through the dot com era. His job was sales and customer success, and this meant that he needed to know what users thought of the software they were serving up, where users were having difficulties, and what they were actually using the software for. He tells me he used to pack his corner office full of customers. He would keep his team late after work to look over their customer’s shoulders and gain insight into how they were using the software. It was a tedious task that was hour- intensive — a task that with the cloud, we don’t have to do anymore.

We have the luxury of having that data gathered and served up to us in real time, complete with all the pie charts and line graphs our hearts could desire. But, just because we have it doesn’t mean that we know how to use it. In this post, I want to talk about how we use behavioral analytics to speed user onboarding and increase retention with our users, through marketing automation software.

What is Behavioral Analytics?

Let’s start by defining behavioral analytics.

Behavioral Analytics is a recent development in business intelligence that uses real user data to provided organizations with insights into how customers are using their product. This data includes specific feature usage, time in product, habitual usage, and in-product actions.

Behavioral analytics focuses on understanding how and why consumers act, enabling accurate predictions into how they are likely to behave in the future. This enables software owners to engage the right consumer segments at the right time.

Marketing Automation and Behavioral Analytics

The ultimate goal of software owners is to get users on and using your product. With behavioral analytics, we can speed user on-boarding, increase user retention, and build powerful habits.

Speed User On-Boarding with Marketing Automation

One of the most powerful yet least used capabilities of automation software is the ability to speed user onboarding. To do this, you will need to integrate your software into the marketing automation platform that you have choose . Note that these automations require more robust platforms like Marketo, HubSpot, InfusionSoft. You will also need a developer who can work with APIs if you are not code savvy.

Next, you will need to pull behavioral data into your marketing automation platform. The data that you will want to bring in includes:

1. Account information (creation date, referral source, name, location, etc)

2. Feature usage information

3. Key product actions

The first thing we are going to do is look at the behavioral data from our top users. These could be the ones who are most profitable or even the ones that use your product most. Our goal is to spot little trends in their onboarding process that will allow us to try and ‘clone’ them. This might include:

– Heavy usage of specific features

– Specific actions in a feature

– Amount of time spent in the product over the first twenty-four to thirty-six hours

– Interactions with welcome emails

– Interactions with specific documentation

– Secondary product integrations

Once you have identified a few trends, we are going to map out a new onboarding campaign that intentionally pushes users to mimic those key behaviors.

For example, let’s pretend that we found that users who use 4/7 features in the first 22 hours are 85% more likely to make the transition to a paid subscription. This data tells us that we need to do a few things:

1. Trigger our campaign in the first few hours after signup, because we are limited to 22 hours.

2. Focus on informing users about 4 key features and equipping them to use those features successfully.

3. Trigger an upgrade email after they have used all 4 features.

As soon as a user signs up, they should be dropped into your on-boarding campaign. Trigger the first email to send minutes after they sign up, thanking them for using the product and introducing them to two key features that will provide the most impact. These features should be the ones that solve the biggest pain point for your users. Keep these emails short and don’t get too technical. Your goal should be to intrigue users just enough to have them go try that feature. Once a user tries that feature, trigger the next email.

After you have successfully identified and created an on-boarding campaign, it’s important to turn your focus to retaining those users.

Increasing User Retention with Marketing Automation

The users who stay with your product stay for very specific reasons. There will be hundreds of different reasons, but you will be able to spot trends between those who stay and those who don’t.

Let’s pretend that your product is a SaaS billing system like Square. You might find that users who log in to view their data monthly, have an average lifetime value (LTV) of $10,000 and users who log in quarterly only have an LTV of $7500. This would tell us that it’s important to pull users back into your product.

Mint, Intuit’s personal expense tracking app, does a great job at doing just that. At the end of every week, I get an email that gives me an update of my current net worth. That number is rarely the same number that I remember seeing last week and I can’t keep myself from logging in to see why it’s up or down.

The second way that you increase LTV is to make your product so integrated into the life of a user that they form a usage habit.

Medium does a great job at this. The team at Medium knows that I’m a part of the community for two reasons: I’m a creator and I’m a consumer. They are well aware that I can consume much more content than I could ever possibly create, so they send me a daily digest of content that I would like and a weekly update on how my posts are performing.

The daily digest keeps me reading, which is important to their platform, but the weekly stats update keeps me writing, which is vital to their own success. By poking me weekly with my stats, Medium has found a way to make me compete against myself and write great content weekly.

In Conclusion

Marketing automation is one of the most powerful tools that you could bring into your marketing stack. Unfortunately, most companies don’t see the ROI of their marketing automation platform because they don’t do the work of discovering data and extracting value. When it’s done right, it makes that overpriced marketing automation suite the best investment you’ve ever made.

It’s a process of clarification, simplification that leads to the ability to scale. If you’re interested in getting more value out of your marketing automation platform, schedule a free 1 hour consultation with our GROW team. We love helping marketing teams succeed and would love to share how we can help you.

About the author

is head of Mindbox's GROW division. He's a passionate marketer focused on growing enterprise software and technology companies through combining data and creativity to achieve market adoption.