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How to troubleshoot marketing automation campaigns?

Jun 29, 2018 Luna Shirley 3 min read

Let’s troubleshoot your marketing campaigns by honing into the most prevalent mistakes which online retail marketers often make while setting up their marketing automation scenarios.

The short answer would be to make sure you have a firm strategy in place, ensure clarity of reporting and be mindful of technical aspects as well as context while marketing to your customers.

Now, let’s dig deeper into it.

Missing Marketing Automation Strategy

Severity: High

Missing a firm a marketing automation strategy will cause you to waste your internal resources and often even alienate your customers by staying inconsistent.

What to do about it?

When starting with automated marketing campaigns, be sure to define your end goal, way to measure its success and define the easiest way to get there. But every time try to get into the shoes of your customers and think of how they feel if they are targeted with such communication – will it make sense to them?

No Lifecycle Campaigns

Severity: Low

The power of marketing automation campaigns lies within its ability to enhance your current campaigns with a broader context of your customers’ journeys. Failing to utilize lifecycle communication makes your marketing automation efforts underperform.

What to do about it?

Define at least the most basic customer behaviors during their lifecycle and set up automated marketing campaigns to identify these opportunities and act on them.

Some of the most common could be onboarding, post-first purchase, and reactivation campaigns or various customer satisfaction surveys such as quarterly NPS.

Using Marketing Automation as an Advanced Emailing Tool

Severity: Low

Far too often, marketers fall into the habit of utilizing only a small part of the marketing automation solution and as such their campaigns aren’t performing as much as they could.

This tends to be the most obvious with automated emailing scenarios which are often solving only the need to send the message to the customer without actually engaging in multi-channel communication with them.

What to do about it?

Try to think about your automated marketing as if it was a conversation when planning your campaigns. Make sure that you utilize your marketing automation solution for an end to the conversation around the expected customer behavior.

For example, when launching new products on your online store, notify your most loyal customers using a social message with a link to a hidden category, so they will get the head-start before everyone else.

The day after sending a newsletter about a new product line to the rest of the relevant segment of your customer database and if they’ve seen it, but didn’t interact with the newsletter, maybe it was just bad timing. So engage with them using a sponsored post on Facebook.

And if they visited your site just prior to engaging with any of your previous communication, give them the heads up using a web layer.

Failing to A/B Test Your Campaigns

Severity: Medium

This golden rule of marketing tends to be the one which gets broken far too often. Failing to A/B test automated marketing campaigns won’t give you insights that you need to optimize them.

Without A/B testing you will have no clue what to even say if your campaigns are already performing well or are too over-personalized, so they may be even driving your performance to the abyss by creeping out your customers.

What to do about it?

The minimum viable solution is to set an unbreakable rule for yourself to at least A/B test the automated variant against the control group which would be the most barebone version of the automated variant without any dynamic options.

No Global Control Group

Severity: High

Being able to tell how much your marketing automation actually generates for you as a whole, rather on a campaign basis, could give you the best understanding of the marketing automation performance.

Even if the single campaign could report a decrease in revenue, a combination of consecutive campaigns could actually generate a substantial increase in revenue. Without the global control group, you wouldn’t be able to find out.

What to do about it?

Define a small (ideally 5 – 10 %) global control group out of your customers who won’t be targeted by any automated marketing campaigns and use them to be your benchmark. This will help you to uncover, how or even if, your automated campaigns’ synergy generates value.

Scenario Logic Isn’t Optimal

Severity: Low

When setting up your automated marketing scenario logic, various aspects such as late data imports from 3rd party sources which could cause campaigns being triggered needlessly or scenarios with a long trigger cycle could contain customers which shouldn’t even be there anymore.

What to do about it?

What works for us is to draft the scenario on paper at first and think about various dependencies which could influence the scenario. In doing that, we try to plot at least two possible examples of how a customer can get into the scenario and if the end result is going to be relevant.


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