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How to Take a Data-Driven Approach to Your Marketing Automation Campaigns

Learn our best practices for creating data-driven campaigns with Acquia Campaign Studio's marketing automation tools.

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data-driven marketing automation

To kick off the inaugural MautiCon, I was delighted to embrace an open mentality and get into the real nuts and bolts of Acquia’s Campaign Studio’s marketing automation builder. In my MautiCon presentation, “Creating Data Driven Campaigns,” my focus was to drive home the impact that your own database has to create dynamic, personalized experiences, while also setting yourself up to capture new data points. 

The key takeaways from my track were understanding the differences between your data fields and how to create in-campaign queries to gather more pivotable information about your targeted audiences. I also explained how to use Campaign Studio to create personalized messaging. 

Planning a multi-touch, data-driven campaign begins with the trigger data pieces.  In other words, where are you getting the data to power your campaigns? It’s either profile-based or engagement-based. Am I looking at age group values? That’s profile-based data.  Or am I looking at who visited certain pages on my company’s website? That’s an example of engagement-based data.

Most campaigns are using profile-based data to drive their messages. They’re bucketing their records based on profile fields. Think of signing up for a new service like Hulu or Spotify. You might get asked your gender or age, and then get put into a bucket based on these profile data points using data you gave to the brand that helps them easily segment you. 

This approach is great for the marketers on the brand’s side. They can look at previous customer data or watch marketing trend reports to see  how their audience responded to certain campaigns. However, this data only represents one specific facet of the customer. Customers are interacting on your site all the time: clicking links, requesting information, purchasing, logging in, creating their own profiles separate from just the form information they provide when they sign up for a service for the first time..   

That’s why the idea of “engagement-based data” is so critical. This is an important aspect of creating campaigns and creating more data paths. You need to listen to what your audience is doing. 

If I signed up for Hulu, they might ask my gender and start giving me recommendations catered to a female audience before I even watch anything. However, maybe I only got Hulu for the children in my household, and they are the ones that will be watching kid-themed programming. After Hulu starts to capture these data points based on kids' TV shows, they can better understand who their real customer is and cater messages based on that engagement data. 

Driving your campaigns with both profile and engagement types of data is important. While marketers may only have profile data at the start, they shouldn’t worry! That’s what a platform like Campaign Studio can help you do -- create the engagement fields you need to launch intelligent, respectful and meaningful communications to your audience.

For the second part of my track, I opened up the door and went straight into creating the elements to help me grab these engagement data points. Campaign Builder is where you will actually be hitting “go” on your data-driven campaigns, but there are three other important elements to making sure you’re set up for success. 

1. Segments 

I launch most of my automated campaigns with Segments, this is a filtered list that captures everyone I want included in my campaign. 

What I like to add on is something I’ve penned as “Results Segments”. I can add questions throughout the campaign like “opened an email?” or “filled out a form?” and create new paths with them. Or I can collect those pieces of data in their own buckets. I recommend creating these before your campaign launches so you are setup to receive these records automatically. I can either create segment filters to ask questions and then records into segments or I can use the “Decisions”, “Actions” and “Conditions” options in the Campaign Builder. Doing this allows me to be extremely detailed in the data I collect, so that I can continue to create data-driven campaigns. Maybe lots of records are opening my emails, but no one is shopping. That is a new data point that I can collect and share with the team.

2. Custom Fields

Custom fields are very valuable in creating data-driven campaigns because this is where you collect data and filter it. A great perk of Campaign Studio is that you are not limited to the amount of fields you can put in your account. If you have an upcoming campaign think about what you want to learn from it. If you don’t have a field that will allow you to easily get this data, create one! For instance, I could create custom fields personalized to a unique campaign  like “shopped in Autumn 2020 campaign”. Using Campaign Builder, I could send everyone that purchased into a boolean field. This helps me understand for next season, or next year, who made purchases, and these people may get a personalized offer to refer a friend with a sign-up code. 

3. Dynamic Content in Emails   

Using dynamic content in Campaign Studio will allow you to create all your communications in one piece of an email. For example, using geolocation, I could create four different messages and include different imagery based on what region someone is in, but put it all within one email. Dynamic content will let me have less assets to put into my campaign, but have a better personalized customer experience. Building dynamic content off of my own custom fields is letting me be very data-driven in my approach to the build out of the campaign. If I’m trying to sell to my customers via an email message, I might want to talk to returning customers differently than new customers.  For the first touch, I would create one email, use a custom field that asks “has purchased before?” and put all my different messages into one email.  

Although Campaign Builder can allow you to branch and take different data paths, a great way to keep organized is by using features like dynamic content to keep your campaigns simple. Using these tools can help you have high impact campaigns, with fewer assets to keep track of. 

Utilizing these features of Campaign Studio can help you to collect and create automations that are data-driven. It can allow your strategy to really take off, instead of being bound to what your system will let you do. 
Since migrating Acquia from Marketo to Campaign Studio, we have opened ourselves up and have broken away from a rigid, one channel, one goal type of automated builder. Using Campaign Studio has allowed us to be more agile and more multichannel aware as we enhance our approach to marketing automation drips. Being data-minded is now the direction we can truly take ourselves in.