This blog post is the first in a series regarding how to create the perfect customer journey. The goal is to showcase the best practice for creating intelligent and effective customer journeys in a marketing automating system.

Before you start dreaming big about personalised content, automated sends and a multitude of segments, you need to build a solid fundament, which includes the theme of this blog post: signing up and unsubscribing in an automated marketing system.

The data is key

First, consider your data structure. The complexity of a data structure depends on the available data as well as the amount of data you wish to use for marketing purposes. For machine learning, more data is always better but be careful not to drown in data when setting up automated marketing. We recommend mapping the data structure by listing each data point with the following information:

This type of data mapping allows you to verify that all the required data for marketing is available and is also a great tool for future reference.

Where do they sign up?

Once you have mapped the needed data points, all the existing customer data can be transferred to your marketing automation system. Next, you need to focus populating your database with new contacts. This is done by setting up one or multiple ways of signing up.

Typical ways of signing up:

  • Marketing sign-up form on a website
  • Sign-up form for Customer Service/Support during phone calls
  • Sign-up form for Clerks at physical stores
  • Sign-up via Social Media like Facebook, Google+ etc.
  • Required sign-up while making online purchase

The specific points of entry vary for each company. To establish the optimal foundation for growth in the database a user-friendly sign-up form is required, so mind the number of input fields and their requirement. To create personalised communication, you may crave a lot of data such as name, birthday, phone number, gender etc. However, if all these input fields are added to a form and made required, it can cause users to give up and not complete the sign-up. Put yourself in the user’s shoes and consider how much data you would be willing to provide to a company up front – and consider what data is actually essential to your campaigns, and what can be optional.

Ask for Permission

“It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission” does not apply to Marketing. While permission to communicate with recipients has an abundance of implications and potentials to be discussed in a whole different blog post, here is the short version:

For legal purposes always require Permission to communicate, when signing up. You may choose to have a single permission on a sign-up form which technically applies to multiple sub-permissions, which can later be turned off individually when unsubscribing. Make sure this information is clear to the recipients when signing up.

Let the unsubscribers go gracefully

Although the focus is on growing the database, your recipients should also be able to unsubscribe and withdraw their permission. Naturally, users unsubscribing isn’t considered a good thing, but always make the process easy and let the user go gracefully. If the process of unsubscribing is complicated it could cause people to give up and instead of unsubscribing, marking the emails as spam, something you want to avoid.

Please note, some countries may legally allow certain types of communications from a company to existing buyers or subscribers. The best practice is still to add permission to cover every type of planned communication, so it is possible for a recipient to shut down communication, without having to block an email-address or mark something as spam.

With the data structure, sign-up, permission and unsubscribe in place, you have the basics for handling recipients in a marketing automation system. Next step is how to design a welcome flow. More on this in the next post on The Perfect Customer Journey.

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