Use-Cases and Questions to ask when choosing B2C Marketing Automation Software Product

In the marketing automation space, there is no single product that dominates this category. It is a fairly level playing field where a myriad of companies compete with each other to catch the attention of the marketer.

Use-Cases and Questions to ask when choosing B2C Marketing Automation Software Product. Source: WebEngage
Use-Cases and Questions to ask when choosing B2C Marketing Automation Software Product. Source: WebEngage

The same cannot be said for some other categories. Take CRM, for example. Salesforce completely dominates this category and has CRM products that suit companies of almost all sizes and all industry verticals.

The same is not applicable to marketing as a category. This is perhaps due to wide ranging requirements of a marketing software for companies of different sizes and in different industry verticals. The marketing requirements of a company that streams media online is completely different from that of a company in the fintech space. The marketing requirements of a startup are completely different compared to that of a large enterprise. There is no one company that has a product that meets all these varying requirements. There is no one product that dominates this category.

This article aims to equip you with all the information you need to make the right choice among hundreds of marketing automation products available today. Read on this article to understand how you can rise above the clutter and identify the marketing automation software that is right for your business!

Content Summary

Event Tracking & Monitoring
Audience segmentation
Analytics (funnel, cohort, event trends)
Campaign creation and quality assurance
Omni-channel
Testing and conversion tracking
Conclusion

Event Tracking & Monitoring

Any kind of user interaction with your app (web or mobile) can be captured as an event. The event also has additional data, called attributes. The attributes give context to the event which become useful while analyzing the event or while creating a targeted segment.

Event Tracking

Event tracking lets you track user actions and inactions on your apps, which enables you to create segments, analyze behavior, run contextual engagement campaigns and everything in between.

Use-Cases

Track the behavior of users on your website and app.
This is the primary use-case of events. Any kind of action by the user like song played, item purchased, added to wishlist, installed, uninstalled can be recorded as an event.

Know which actions are most popular or least popular in your app.
Check the adjacent chart. We are seeing the visual representation of all your events in the decreasing order of total occurrence (or uniques) of those events. As we see ‘Checkout completed is the least popular event, while ‘Product viewed’ is its polar opposite. So, users are viewing your products, but aren’t purchasing them.

Know which actions are most popular or least popular in your app. Source: WebEngage
Know which actions are most popular or least popular in your app. Source: WebEngage
Key Questions To Ask Your Vendor

Can we change event name from the dashboard?
Conventionally, changing event name is carried from the backend which is not convenient. Hence, ask for this capability from your vendor.

What are the data points that get captured automatically?
Your MAP should automatically track some user actions which are normally called system events. They technically make life easier. Get the list of such events from vendor’s doc and compare it with other products.

Do you allow terminating an event?
Oftentimes tracking an event becomes futile. So it becomes a good idea to stop tracking it to keep the dashboard and reporting clean.

Do you allow terminating an event? Source: WebEngage
Do you allow terminating an event? Source: WebEngage

Can we group events?
There could be three distinct events like- purchase_byCOD, purchase_byCC and purchase_byNetB. However, for various reporting use-cases, you would want to group these three events under just- ‘purchase’, thereby creating the need for this capability.

Uninstall Tracking

Technically, it is difficult to track uninstalls. Because when an app is uninstalled the SDK of the tracking system, say WebEngage, embedded inside it obviously won’t run and hence it cannot track it. This makes Uninstall tracking a key differentiator for not all products provide it.

Uninstall Tracking. Source: WebEngage
Uninstall Tracking. Source: WebEngage
Key Questions To Ask Your Vendor

Can you track uninstall if the user has disabled push?
To track uninstall, the tracking system sends a silent push to the user’s device. If the app is uninstalled, the push isn’t delivered and the system treats it as uninstall. Question you vendor, what if the user has disabled push.

What happens if the user re-installs?
Do they create a new profile for the user in the system or the same old one is reactivated for him?

What if the device is turned off at the time of delivery of silent push?
It is highly likely, so understand the workaround that the product offers to address such instances.

Event Export

This capability is important in a sense that you would need to integrate with other products in your stack and also, you are going to eventually migrate. More importantly, the ability to export event data gives you total control over your user data.

Event Export. Source: WebEngage
Event Export. Source: WebEngage
Key Questions To Ask Your Vendor

How is the event export accomplished?
There are numerous ways- API, CSV or export to third-party service like Amazon S3. You would need this flexibility for you want independence to migrate to alternate product. Or, just access raw data to be able to use it on your own.

How does the export process look like?
Check how much complexity is involved in the exporting the data. Does it require the involvement of dev?

Audience Segmentation

To ensure that the user clicks, it is imperative that we are able to send him the message that is relevant to him. How do we manage that? By targeting the message to the intended user for whom the message has been created. Essentially, analyze the behavioral and demographic data of all the users and identify the right audience.

Behavioral Segmentation

Behavioral segmentation means creating segments on the basis of actions that users have performed, or not performed (on the web and mobile app or across any engagement channel). Basically, grouping users on the basis of their behavior on your app, website, email, sms, web message and everything in between.

Use-Cases

Create segment of users who reached checkout page but haven’t transacted for 30 minutes

Create segment of users whose birthday is in less than 10 days

Analyze a certain segment of users over days. Understand how a certain action is being performed by a segment of users over time.

Understand how a certain action is being performed by a segment of users over time. Source: WebEngage
Understand how a certain action is being performed by a segment of users over time. Source: WebEngage

In the adjacent chart, we are analysing “Users who signed up”. This essentially explains how ‘sign up’ action is being performed by users over days.

Key Questions To Ask Your Vendor

At what interval is the segment refreshed?
If you create and save a behavioral segment, find out at what interval is the segment dynamically refreshed.

Can I create a segment on top of data collected from external systems like CRM, backend etc.?
A system should be agile enough to fetch data from external systems like CRM, Backend, Warehouse etc and build segments on it in real time.

Do you allow the combination of boolean expressions in segment criteria?
Supposing A & B are two unique conditions, check if you can create the following combinations of rules for your campaign

Do you allow the combination of boolean expressions in segment criteria? Source: WebEngage
Do you allow the combination of boolean expressions in segment criteria? Source: WebEngage

Dynamic Segmentation

A dynamic segment is a behavioral segment based on time.

A group of users who did an action in a common time period, say, users who have done x event in

  • between last 15 & 9 days (Segment A) or,
  • last 10 days (Segment B)
Dynamic Segmentation. Source: WebEngage
Dynamic Segmentation. Source: WebEngage
Use-Cases

Create segment of users who have signed-up via display ads between last 1 week and 2 weeks.

Send a message 3 days after the X event.

Key Questions To Ask Your Vendor

Do you allow segmenting users on the basis of their last action?
You basically wish to create segment of users on the basis of their last event. Say, segment of users whose last event was “app_uninstall”, so that you could run a reactivation campaign.

Do you allow segmenting users on the basis of their last action? Source: WebEngage
Do you allow segmenting users on the basis of their last action? Source: WebEngage

Do you allow segmenting users on the basis of their first action?
This is the exact opposite of the previous case. For instance, segment of users whose first event was purchase in the last 30 days.

Do you allow segmenting users on the basis of the exact time of performing a certain action?
Say, you want to create a segment of users who ‘played video’ between 9-10 am. This way you know the best time to nudge them to perform ‘play video’ event via push notification.

Analytics (funnel, cohort, event trends)

Analyzing Cohorts, Funnels and Event trends are intrinsic to any Marketing automation solution meant for consumer businesses. They are the fundamental capability so they individually don’t stand out as a differentiator. So, the key leverage is in the granularities and the nuances that the platform is providing on top of these key features.

Event Trends

Event trends or event analytics is the study of the events performed by users on your app and engagement channels. Or just any medium where you are able to capture user actions in the form of ‘events’.

Use-Cases

Breakdown of app installed by countries (analyzing events across single dimension)

Breakdown of app installed by countries (analyzing events across single dimension). Source: WebEngage
Breakdown of app installed by countries (analyzing events across single dimension). Source: WebEngage

Breakdown of account creation on the basis of countries and devices (analyzing events across two dimensions)

Breakdown of account creation on the basis of countries and devices (analyzing events across two dimensions). Source: WebEngage
Breakdown of account creation on the basis of countries and devices (analyzing events across two dimensions). Source: WebEngage

What are the top performing events weekly, monthly, daily etc

Distribution of ‘app crash’ occurrences across device types

Key Questions To Ask Your Vendor

Can you analyze events across two dimensions?
If you go through the use-cases again you would observe a couple of things. In Use-Case #2 we are analyzing the same event that we did in Use-Case #1, but against two dimensions.

Can you analyze events across two dimensions? Source: WebEngage
Can you analyze events across two dimensions? Source: WebEngage

Can you add filters to users while analyzing the trends?
Say you want to carry out an analysis for a particular segment of users who have subscribed to your newsletter. Now, can you ‘analyze the breakdown of account creation over countries split by referral campaigns’ only for this segment? See if your solution provides that.

Funnel Analytics

It is the retroactive analysis of the set of events arranged in a certain order. It essentially lets you visually track how users are dropping out along the way towards conversion, thereby giving you an idea of the bottlenecks that need to be fixed.

Use-Cases

How to optimize the checkout flow?
Consider the following hypothetical funnel Email Clicked->Add to cart->Order complete We are seeing that a significant chunk of users are dropping off at the ‘Order Complete’ stage clearly suggesting the problem area which needs optimization.

How to optimize the checkout flow? Source: WebEngage
How to optimize the checkout flow? Source: WebEngage

What is the average time taken by users to complete all the steps toward conversion?
Funnel analytics gives us the average conversion time. Say, you are in VOD business like Netflix and you wish to know the average time taken by users to watch video post install.

What is the average time taken by users to complete all the steps toward conversion? Source: WebEngage
What is the average time taken by users to complete all the steps toward conversion? Source: WebEngage
Key Questions To Ask Your Vendor

Do you provide side-by-side visual comparison of two funnels?
You would want to compare multiple segments against a common funnel. The side by side visualization of the two funnels gives an understanding of how the two segments are performing and where we need to put in some work.

Do you provide side-by-side visual comparison of two funnels? Source: WebEngage
Do you provide side-by-side visual comparison of two funnels? Source: WebEngage

How do you account the users whose flow is bit out of order?
As in, instead of A->B->C->D (the defined funnel order), suppose the user traversed through A->B->C->A->D. The flow is not strictly linear according to the definition. Would he still be counted in the funnel?

Do you show the median ‘time to convert’?
‘Average time to convert’ is misleading. It is tampered by users who have very high or very less average time to convert.

Cohort Analysis

Cohort Analysis is the cornerstone of retention analytics. It helps us analyze the behavior of a certain group of users over time.

At its most basic level it tells you how well your users are sticking with your product over the span of, say, 30 days. The inferences you hear that X% of users uninstall the app after Y days is the product of Cohort Analysis. Follow the use-cases below to understand the nuances right.

Use-Cases

Retention trend of users split by acquisition campaign

Retention pattern of new users from different OS

Analyze the Android cohort in the above to see the day wise trend of all the Android users

In the above cohort chart we are tracking 1-2nd reorder rate. Source: WebEngage
In the above cohort chart we are tracking 1-2nd reorder rate. Source: WebEngage
Key Questions To Ask Your Vendor

Can we add filter to the user while creating the chart?
Ability to add filters that we discussed in funnels is highly relevant here as well.

Can we analyze the retention pattern by different attributes?
For instance, in the adjacent chart, we are checking the purchase pattern of new users by country over a 7-day period and then finding out their distribution over countries.

Can we analyze the retention pattern by different attributes? Source: WebEngage
Can we analyze the retention pattern by different attributes? Source: WebEngage

Campaign Creation and Quality Assurance

In this chapter, we are going to look at the specifics of campaign creation and its quality assurance. You would be able to relate to this chapter if you are involved with marketing operations.

Channel

It is imperative that your marketing automation software provides you the channels through which you engage or market to your audience. For instance, if you are B2B product, it is strictly email. If you are totally mobile based then push and in-app are must, and if you are a media business then web-push is mandatory.

Besides, the need to engage the user in the omnichannel fashion means that you have the flexibility in terms of channels.

For instance, the WebEngage product provides 6 channels:

  • Email • In-app • Mobile push • Web push
  • SMS • Onsite messaging
Key Questions to Ask Your Vendor
  • Do you allow same degree of personalization across all the channels?
  • Can we combine campaigns across multiple channels to create a multiple channel experience
Channel. Source: WebEngage
Channel. Source: WebEngage

Templating

You need ready-to-use templates of push notification, email, in-app and web messaging to instantly create your campaigns. Look out for them in your current solution. A large number of industry-specific templates will be the icing on the cake.

Key Questions to Ask Your Vendor

Can we create, edit and save templates for future needs?
You need to ship things fast and the ability to manage templates on the dashboard is a strong plus.

How efficiently can we add rich media to the content?
A right marketing automation solution should give you a simple way to add rich media to the message without relying on the dev team. Eg- WordPress.

How efficiently can we add rich media to the content? Source: WebEngage
How efficiently can we add rich media to the content? Source: WebEngage

How compatible are the email templates with different email clients?
Make sure that the templates that are provided work seamlessly across all the email clients and not just optimized for Gmail.

Content Personalization

A good marketing automation software should enable you to effectively leverage any piece of information about the user. Any data that you are tracking should effectively be available for use in a message.

Use-Cases

Pop a notification with a discount voucher if the user abandons the checkout page

This message from TAJ Hotels contains the offering on the SAME hotel that the user had abandoned a while ago.

Pop a notification with a discount voucher if the user abandons the checkout page. Source: WebEngage
Pop a notification with a discount voucher if the user abandons the checkout page. Source: WebEngage

Send an email that leverages the search query of the user

Goibibo sends a hyper-personalized email based on the user’s search history. For instance – this email was sent to users who had searched for Mumbai-Delhi flight.

Send an email that leverages the search query of the user. Source: WebEngage
Send an email that leverages the search query of the user. Source: WebEngage

Automation Triggers

Automation means having the capability to activate a campaign as soon as the user satisfies a certain condition. The most popular automation use-case is probably ‘welcome email’, i.e. getting an email as soon as you subscribe to a newsletter.

Use-Cases

Last event: If the user’s last event was a purchase 6 months ago, run the reactivation campaign.

Have/have not done a custom event: This basically facilitates behavioral targeting. At its core, the dynamic is simple – “if the user does this, do that”.

Have/have not done a custom event. Source: WebEngage
Have/have not done a custom event. Source: WebEngage

Geofencing: Send a push notification when the user enters the proximity of your physical store.

Geofencing. Source: WebEngage
Geofencing. Source: WebEngage

Occasion: Send occasion-specific messages, like on birthday, new year, passing of warranty period of the purchased product etc.

Occasion. Source: WebEngage
Occasion. Source: WebEngage
Key Questions to ask Your Vendor

Do you allow defining time gap between messages?
When everything is automated, it is likely that some campaigns get activated at the same time. They would, therefore, land on the user’s device one after another making it look spammy.

Do you allow setting frequency limit on recurring campaigns?
Suppose you are running a reminder campaign for users who do not renew their subscription. Now, you would need to stop the campaign after a certain number of times regardless of whether customer renews or not.

Omni-Channel

Siloed engagement means running campaigns across multiple channels where sending rules of every campaign are independent of the other. This extends along the user lifecycle and naturally results in an inconsistent experience for users. For effective omni-channel engagement, you would need a tool to connect these siloed campaigns and ensure cohesion to achieve a common goal.

Omni-Channel Engagement Engine

I am alluding to something that is similar to WebEngage’s ‘Journey Designer’. For the uninitiated, it is a drag-and-drop builder that lets you link multiple campaigns across multiple channels. It is like a Lego set wherein there is no limit to the ways in which you define the engagement with your users except your imagination.

Omni-Channel Engagement Engine. Source: WebEngage
Omni-Channel Engagement Engine. Source: WebEngage
Use-Cases

Journeys have infinite use-cases
As I said, it is like a Lego set. You think of your use-case and then try figuring out how you can solve it with a Journey.

Journey Designer is a remarkable tool to enable cross-channel engagement for your business. Its launch gave WebEngage a massive first-mover advantage, and leverage against other products.

If you are new to Journeys, check out this Gallery. Here we have shortlisted some prominent omni-channel use-cases and explained how we can solve it via Journeys.

Key Questions To Ask Your Vendor

What are the automation triggers for the Journey?
Basically, the actions that would trigger a journey for the user. They are similar to ‘Automation triggers’ for campaigns that we discussed in Campaigns.

How many channels do you support? Source: WebEngage
How many channels do you support? Source: WebEngage

How many channels do you support?
It makes a massive difference while building the workflows. WebEngage Journey supports 6 channels- Web push, mobile push, onsite messaging, email, text and in-app.

Can you fetch data from an external system via API in the Journey?

Do you allow tracking conversions for the Journey?
That means you should be able to create test/control group and accordingly be able to measure and compare the performance of each one.

Testing and Conversion Tracking

This chapter is the combination of two critical capabilities of a marketing automation platform:

  • Testing: The degree to which your marketing automation platform allows you to do hypothesis testing.
  • Conversion tracking: How much of the conversion can be directly attributed to your recent campaign? What was the conversion rate for users who weren’t treated with any campaign at all? What is the conversion rate of each variant? Conversion tracking answers these pertinent questions.
Conversion Tracking & Control Group. Source: WebEngage
Conversion Tracking & Control Group. Source: WebEngage

Conversion Tracking & Control Group

By setting up a control group (CG) you would be able to measure the conversion of the users who were treated with your campaign against the users who weren’t. This would essentially let you know the true impact of your campaign.

Use-Cases

What is the conversion uplift provided by your campaign
The difference in the conversion of the control group and campaign is the uplift provided by it.

Identify the best variation
Doing conversion tracking for multiple variants tells you the winning variation and also the one/s which is performing below average.

A/B Testing

When the list size runs in millions than it is important to have advanced capability to run tests. Again A/B testing is in vogue. It’s everywhere. Let’s look at some of the caveats that one should be wary of while analyzing the variant testing capability of the platform.

A/B Testing. Source: WebEngage
A/B Testing. Source: WebEngage
Key Questions To Ask Your Vendor

What is the maximum number of variants that we can create?

If the email campaign has more than one link do you provide the stats for each of them?
Aggregate CTR only gives the incomplete information. A solid email solution should be able to give you the heat-map view of the CTR.

How does the reporting UX look like?
Check for the reporting UX, as in how the overall campaign stats are displayed. It should be intuitive so that there is the least friction in comparing the metrics of all the variants.

Conclusion

None of the vendors in the market today can honestly check all the pointers mentioned in this guide. It’s just not possible. Marketing Automation space doesn’t have a Google or Salesforce.

Source: WebEngage
Source: WebEngage

At the broader level we may assume that we would need all the things mentioned here. In reality, we don’t. Or at least not to the same degree that somebody else would. For instance, a popular VOD app which is live streaming a Football match would need a solid ability to create analytics dashboard that gives them reporting on day/hourly basis. A Fintech product wouldn’t need analytics as much as the ability to cohesively engage their users across all channels. A new product with a small team, beyond everything, would need better access to training and support.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach that is in play. Focus on your problems. Ensure that the solution that you shortlist rightly address your use-cases. This article is essentially aimed to help you think in the right direction in terms of the marketing automation capabilities.

Hope it achieved what it set out to by some degree.

Source: WebEngage