Marketing Automation Gone Wrong

Person A at the bar: “Hi, I’m great. You should date me.”
Person B: “Please go away.”

I’m not going to name names, but I’ve noticed some companies doing a terrible job with their marketing automation lately. For the sake of this write up, when I say marketing automation… I’m specifically talking about automated email campaigns that get sent out when you become a target for marketing or when you become a new customer of a service.

Welcome, new customer!

A few weeks ago, I convinced the decision makers at my new job to let me sign us up for cloud based landing page software. It’s pretty much everything we worked to create at SocialWhirled: self serve, mobile optimized websites with A/B testing, integration into Salesforce, stock image libraries, and all the bells and whistles you could dream up. I was ecstatic about finding this service to create a great experience for people who click through our AdWords ads, and at a price point of less than $100 per month it didn’t take a lot of begging and pleading to get that corporate credit card entered into their system.

Since I spent pretty much a year and a half in the very same world as this service, it took me no time to get up and running on my own. Within a day or so, I had multiple landing pages set up with various integrations and was already hooking them into our live campaigns. It surprised me that I got an email a couple of days later: “Thanks for signing up for the free trial. We noticed you haven’t launched any campaigns yet. What can we do to help?” Um. Yes, I did. I’ve got three of them live in production. Did I not activate them? *checks really quickly* Yes, I sure did. There’s nothing wrong on my end. Oh, I see what happened. YOUR email automation is broken! At this point, I actually took the time to send them a quick note along the lines of “Hey thanks for checking in – I think your email automation is broken, as I’m actually pretty far along in creating campaigns. Thanks, though – I’ll let you know if I need anything or have any problems!” They got back to me pretty quickly, to their credit – saying thanks for the heads up. Cool. No biggie.

Two weeks later, I started getting more emails from them. “Hey, trial user. Why don’t you upgrade to our platinum package?” What? Oh, I’m only a premium user. Kind of odd that they’re asking me to upgrade already, but I guess I get it. I hope this doesn’t continue. Wait, did they call me a trial user? I already gave them my credit card info. What just happened? Ah, whatever. Later that week, I get another email about the platinum package? Ugh. *DELETED* The following week – “Your free trial is about to end – why you no platinum?” (I’m paraphrasing with these, if you can’t tell by now) Seriously guys? Again with the free trial thing? That’s confusing. But seriously. Why don’t you check in with me to see if I’m happy with your product? Why don’t you send me some helpful tips to make sure my landing pages are successful? Wine me and dine me a little bit before asking for my hand in marriage. I mean, seriously.

So I sent another email. They again responded pretty quickly, thanking me for the feedback and promising me that they are continuously trying to improve their email messaging. Well, yeah, guys. For your sake – I hope so. Lucky for you that your software kicks so much ass, or else I’d have moved on by now.

The leads aren’t weak. YOU’RE weak.

This morning, I got an email with a subject line of “Just Called”. Really? Nothing on my cell phone’s call history. Even though my work line automatically forwards to my cell, I glance over at the display on my desk – nothing there, either. So, you’re a liar. We’re off to a great start.

I open the email, and it’s two quick sentences telling me about how great their product is for digital marketing. They don’t explain what their product does or what problem it solves. They’ve clearly put no thought into the problems I may have on a day to day basis. This is literally, the person at the bar strolling up to me and saying “Hi, I’m great. Let’s do dinner.” Except they’re standing behind me and I can’t even tell whether they’re attractive. How do you expect that to work?

Here’s the lesson: FOCUS ON THE CUSTOMER.

What are the pain points of your target customer? Can you prove to them that you understand where they’re coming from? If you can do that, then maybe you can get to the point where you explain to them how you can help. Don’t make it about you from the very start. Just like interpersonal relationships, that’s not how this works. Empathy and showing that you care – or at least understand – can take you a long way.

Or at least buy me a drink first.

Also published on Medium.