Learn how to create a marketing automation strategy for SaaS - Barcode Brand Consulting

Learn how to create a marketing automation strategy for SaaS

5 Huge Benefits of Marketing Automation
October 2, 2020
Getting Started with Marketing Automation – Munro Agency
October 2, 2020

Learn how to create a marketing automation strategy for SaaS

This extensive guide will teach you how to create a complete marketing automation strategy for your SaaS business. Let’s do it!

Marketing automation is everywhere.

It’s so ubiquitous today that it’s almost impossible not to do any marketing automation in your SaaS.

A lot of you are doing some automation without even naming it that way.

But even if you know you work with marketing automation, it can be hard to describe.


What the heck is marketing automation?

The use of marketing automation makes processes that would have otherwise been performed manually much more efficient, and makes new processes possible. – SearchCRM

In a nutshell, marketing automation helps you:

Deliver personalized messages.

On multiple channels: email, SMS, push, social media, direct mail.

At the right time.

Using software.

To attract, convert and retain more customers with fewer resources, more efficiently.

Marketing automation is not:

1. Blasting irrelevant spam emails

I hope if you’re reading this post you’re smart enough to know that purchased email lists don’t work in 2019.

If you start sending emails (or other messages) to a list full of prospects with a questionable quality you can expect high bounces, low open rates, and spam reports.

Most marketing automation systems are protective of their email reputation and have built-in spam reports. In other words, your account is going to get blocked.

For example, Encharge has baked-in Bounces and Spam reports:

What to do instead?

Focus on building solicited/inbound leads for your SaaS and nurture them through your marketing and sales funnel.

2. Email marketing only

Although email marketing is a massive part of marketing automation, it doesn’t all end there.

Marketing automation allows you to create holistic lifecycle journeys that connect multiple touchpoints and channels, including but not limited to:

3. Cold and impersonal

One of the main goals of marketing automation is to allow you to speak to an audience of one at a scale.

74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement. – eConsultancy

With marketing automation platforms like Encharge, you can segment your customer base granularly in order to deliver custom-tailored messages and offers.

4. Something that benefits marketing only

The goal of marketing automation is to ultimately improve the bottom line of your SaaS – increase MRR and CLTV. As long as your whole team is aligned on this object, marketing automation can benefit all of your departments.

5. Something that you set up once and forget

Feedback loops and metrics are a reflection of how effective your marketing automation strategy is. Whether a person converts, clicks through to your site, ignores the message, flags it as spam, or unsubscribes from your list, that tells you something about how the recipient felt about your message. – Angela Petteys, Moz

Similarly to how you use feedback loops when you validate your SaaS ideas, you use Build > Measure > Learn loop to execute and iterate your marketing strategy.

Metrics tell you how effective your marketing automation efforts are: Whether a user signs up, converts, ignores the message, flags it as spam, unsubscribes from your list or churns completely, that tells you something about how the recipient felt about your message.

Is Marketing Automation Right For Your SaaS?

The lower your ACV (average customer value), the more “automation” you’ll need to employ in your SaaS.

And vice-versa – if you’re a low volume/high price product you may get away only by selling through the phone and with very little automation.

Let’s look at the extremes:

Palantir is a “big data analytics” company with 2,000+ employees. Being one of the most secretive companies in Silicon Valley, it’s hard to say precisely how many customers Palantir has but it’s safe to bet it’s less than 100 or even 50.

Having just a few clients don’t stop them from being valued in the billions.

With clients like Ferrari, Airbus, and the FBI, you could imagine that most of the Palantir deals are made on the table breaking bread and drinking (expensive) wine; not through an automated email.

On the other end of the spectrum is WhatsApp – another company valued in the billions.

WhatsApp earns $1 per download on iOS and $1 per year on other platforms, and not even for all of their users.

Just lifting the phone for a single customer, would cost WhatsApp more than the total lifetime value of a customer. It’s literary impossible for WhatsApp to convert and retain customers without automating everything.

Since you’re not Palantir, nor WhatsApp, it probably means you’ll need to employ both Marketing Automation and high-touch manual processes in your marketing and sales.

The best marketing automation campaigns strike the perfect balance between scalability and personal touch.

Ask yourself if scalable, personalized marketing campaigns aimed at the right users, at the right time can improve your bottom line?

If you rely on product-led growth you should also definitely look into marketing automation.

If the answer is Yes, you’ll need to look at your marketing automation more seriously.

If you prefer a more systematic decision process you can complete this survey by Marketo to evaluate if marketing automation is right for your SaaS:

What Are the Benefits Of Using Marketing Automation For Your SaaS?

Here are some insightful statistics about marketing automation:

70% of people find improved targeting of messages to be the most important benefit of marketing automation.

Another one:

Business owners and marketers asked to identify the biggest benefit of Marketing Automation for them, say it is:

At the end of the day, companies care about the revenue marketing automation can bring to the table.

The most useful metrics for measuring marketing automation performance are Conversion Rate and Revenue Generated – say 58% of best in class Marketing Automation users.

Across all reports, high-performing marketers find marketing automation beneficial in:

In other words, it’s not just about being more efficient; marketing automation has a profound impact on your revenue.

Of course, only if executed well.

Marketing Automation Glossary

Before we dive into the actionable bits of marketing automation and how to execute a marketing automation strategy for your SaaS, I want to clarify a few definitions and how I use them in this guide.

Lifecycle Funnel (or Lifecycle Framework)

This is the process a person takes towards becoming a customer of your SaaS.

From the very first touchpoint with your business until they churn or stay as an advocate.

The lifecycle funnel is broken down into multiple stages. The person progresses from one stage to the other until they reach the very end of the sales funnel or exit the funnel (i.e. churn).

An example funnel is:

Customer Lifecycle Journey

The customer journey is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. Instead of looking at just a part of a transaction or experience, the customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer. – SurveyMonkey

A customer journey example:

As you can see the Customer Journey and Lifecycle Funnel (In that case: Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Action) are intertwined. Every single customer experience moves the person through the funnel.

Customer Journey Map

A customer journey map is a visual representation of the process a customer or prospect goes through to achieve a goal with your company. With the help of a customer journey map, you can get a sense of your customers’ – their needs and pain points. – HubSpot

You can visualize a Customer Journey Map in different ways:

Marketing Automation Platform

A marketing automation platform is a software tool that enables users to design, execute and automate one or more time-bound marketing workflows (or flows). Usually, the software provides some sort of a visual interface or a drag and drop interface that is used to design the automation workflow.

Marketing Automation Workflow or Flow

Workflow or just Flow is what is usually referred to as the actual marketing automation flow you create in your marketing automation platform.

A flow has at least one Trigger and one Action.

A simple marketing automation workflow:

In a broader context flows are used to streamline work processes and activities.

User or Customer Segment

A Segment is a group of users or customers grouped by common characteristics so you can market to each group effectively and appropriately with targeted and relevant messages at the right time.

Create Your First Marketing Automation Strategy for Your SaaS

In the following chapters, I’m going to help you design a complete Marketing Automation and Lifecycle Journey Strategy for your SaaS.

This is our action plan:

We’re going to use the worksheet below to design your marketing automation strategy, so make sure to download it before we start:

Let’s get to business.

Step 1: Decide on a Lifecycle Funnel

As mentioned in the previous chapter the Lifecycle Funnel is the process a person takes towards becoming a customer of your SaaS.

It’s a framework that helps you understand how your business is performing at different stages of your customer journey. From the first customer touchpoint with your product until the moment they become loyal customers.

There are dozens of lifecycle funnels (or frameworks) out there.

Just to name a few:

Or you can use something completely different.

For example, the team at Metrilo is using:

On top of that, the Metrilo funnel is different for each of their Personas:

Similarly, you may need to create different funnels for the different personas that use your product.

My advice is to start with your primary persona or the persona you’re most familiar with and define your Lifecycle Funnel stages only for that persona.

Once you’re done with that, make sure to fill-in the stages in your worksheet.

As an example for this guide, I’m going to use a simple Lifecycle Funnel – the AIDA funnel/framework that has 4 stages: 1. Awareness | 2. Interest | 3. Desire | 4. Action

Important note: Use this guide and the examples in the worksheet as a framework. Please do not blindly copy my worksheet input without understanding your customer persona and customer journey.

If you need help with setting up or improving your marketing automation, I’d be more than happy to help – just drop me a line at [email protected]

Step 2: Define the Metrics You’re Going to Track at Each Stage of the Funnel

There’s no way to know how good your Marketing Automation is performing without tracking metrics.

Each funnel stage deserves its own metric or set of metrics.

In my previous post, I’ve explained how to set up a Tracking Dashboard for your marketing funnel.

To get your brain juice flowing, here are some ideas for metrics to track at each stage of the funnel:

1. Awareness

2. Interest

3. Desire

4. Action

Other metrics to track:

Make sure to know the difference between causal and correlated metrics and track only the things that move the needle for your SaaS.

Once you’re done with this step, your Marketing Automation Strategy Worksheet should look something like this:

Step 3: Map Your Lifecycle Customer Journey

To understand your customer journey, you must put yourself in your customer shoes.

What are the specific actions and set of activities (or scenarios) a person needs to complete in order to become a customer of your product?

Try to map these actions on a separate file/board.

You may also want to include what are their: goals, feelings, and the touchpoints.

An example customer journey map:

For our Marketing Automation Strategy Worksheet we only need to list the actions/experiences that the person is doing at each stage of the funnel.

For example:

Alternatively, you can list touchpoints instead of actions:

Or both. Whatever makes you understand your customer journey best.

Mapping these actions or scenarios will greatly help you when you’re brainstorming and building your actual marketing automation flows.

Step 4: Build Your Marketing Automation Workflows

The most exciting step of creating your SaaS marketing automation is building the actual workflows.

This is where you put the theory into practice and execute like a badass marketer!

It’s also the step that requires the most legwork.

You’re going to:

Automation workflows are not for newbie marketers. However, I’m going to assume that if you’ve reached this point of the guide you’re not satisfied with the basic untargeted Mailchimp blasts that your average SaaS marketer is sending out.

I have to praise you for not skipping straight to this chapter. My observations show that marketers usually skip the first 3 steps of this process and jump straight to their marketing automation software.

I get it. It’s not sexy to sketch and map funnels and customer journeys.

Thing is if you don’t see the whole picture, you’re building your automations in the dark. It’s like drawing on a computer without sketching on paper first; coding without knowing what features to code; building without having a blueprint.


Let’s get to building your marketing automation workflows.

I’m going to ask you to list and outline the workflow automations you plan on building. Again, the exact medium doesn’t really matter. You can use pen and paper or a low fidelity sketching tool like Balsamiq.

I, also, love to have the actual copy of my messages (emails, in-app messages, push notifications, etc.) written before I start building the workflows. As you probably know, whatever I do in marketing, I start with the copy.

For OutreachPlus, one of my previous SaaS clients, I used a simple Google Doc to outline the workflows before building them in the marketing automation tool.

As you can see below, I had my messages copy written as a part of that outline.

You can use automation flows for everything:

The possibilities are literary endless and are only limited by the features of your marketing automation provider and/or your product.

To make your life easier and jumpstart your brainstorming process, in the next chapter, I’ve compiled 30 marketing automation flows for you.

30 Marketing Automation Workflows Examples for SaaS

This chapter is a playbook of 30 marketing automation workflow examples or recipes.

Every flow has a Trigger and Action. (Check the Glossary section to understand what are Triggers and Actions).

Some of the flows also have a Filter. Filters check whether a person meets a specific characteristic. For example “Has responded to Typeform form” or “Is on plan Premium”.

Each flow is accompanied by a low-fidelity chart that visualizes how the flow works.

I used Balsamiq to design the charts. Hence they’re completely software-agnostic. (Update: Encharge is now live, so you can create a ll of these flows in Encharge!)

Encharge.io is now live and we have the majority of these templates pre-set and pre-populated waiting for you. Register a free trial account with Encharge and start creating a new flow using our one-click flows.

Pick the flows that are relevant to your product and assign them to the appropriate stage of your lifecycle funnel in the Marketing Automation Worksheet.

1. Capture Leads With a Lead Magnet and Send a Nurture Sequence

Description: When a person downloads an eBook, cheatsheet or another lead magnet through a form on your site: 1. Tag them 2. Send them a nurturing email sequence.

Goal: Convert a lead to a trial.

Metrics: Lead to trial CR.

Tools: OptinMonster, Email.

2. Remind a Person to Download a Lead Magnet

Description: When a person leaves their email for a lead magnet on your website but doesn’t click on the Download link in the confirmation email, remind them with a follow-up email.

Goal: Get a person to download your lead magnet

Metrics: Email click rate.

Tools: OptinMonster, Email.

3. Double the Open Rate of a Newsletter Broadcast

Description: Send a follow-up email with a different subject line to people who haven’t opened your first broadcast. That way you’re going to drastically increase the open rate of the broadcast with almost no extra efforts.

Goal: Increase open rate for an email broadcast.

Metrics: Email open rate.

Tools: Email.

4. Send Targeted Messages to Different Segments Across All Channels

Description: Send a relevant email, SMS, push-notification and in-app message to the right segment.

Goal: Improve targeting of messages across channels.

Metrics: Email open rate / clickthrough rate / response rate

Tools: Email, Twilio, PushCrew, Intercom.

5. Capture Leads From a Form, and Segment Based on Value

Description: Capture lead information in a form and segment leads based on their Budget input. Send low-value leads an automated email sequence. Assign high-value leads to a sales rep and ask them to book a demo.

Goal: Convert a lead to a trial or paying customer.

Metrics: Lead to trial CR / Lead to demo call CR

Tools: Typeform, Email, HubSpot, Calendly

6. Send Profiling Emails to Understand and Segment Your Audience

Description: Better understand who your audience is. When a user clicks on a specific link in an email, that way showing interest in a topic, add a relevant Tag. You can later use the enriched data to deliver personalized content and experiences.

Goal: Enrich your users’ data

Metrics: Email open rate / Email click rate

Tools: Email

7. Serve Customized Landing Pages Based On Data from Your Marketing Automation Platform

Description: Use a tool like RightMessage to change anything on your website using the information you already have in your marketing automation tool. Connect your ESP/CRM/marketing automation tool to fetch data into RightMessage.

Goal: Convert a lead to a trial or paying customer.

Metrics: Lead to trial CR / Lead to demo call CR

Tools: One of the supported Right Message integrations, RightMessage

8. Follow Up On Pricing Page Visit

Description: If a user visits your pricing page, show them an instant in-app message and send them an email.

Goal: Convert visitor to trial or paying customer.

Metrics: Visitors to trial CR.

Tools: Intercom, Email.

9. Identify a Hot Lead and Act Proactively

Description: If a person visits your pricing page more than once, check the email of that person: If an email is recorded -> send a Slack notification in your #sales channel to get a sales rep to follow-up manually via email. If no email is recorded for that person, send an in-app message to book a demo.
Goal: Convert visitor to trial or paying customer.

Metrics: Visitors to trial CR.

Tools: Segment.com, Intercom, Slack, Email.

10. Identify Sales Opportunities In Pre-sales Live Chat Conversations

Description: Turn your support team into a leads generating machine. When having a conversation with a person on live chat, a representative may identify a hot lead. By tagging the person in Zendesk, that lead gets pushed automatically to a Facebook audience and added in your Pipedrive pipeline for sales follow-up.

Goal: Convert a lead to trial/paying customer.

Metrics: Lead to trial CR/customer CR.

Tools: Zendesk, Pipedrive, Facebook.

11. Follow-up With Offline Leads

Description: Import leads from a CSV, send them an “It was nice meeting you” SMS or email, and assign them to a sales rep in your CRM.

Goal: Convert a lead to trial/paying customer.

Metrics: Lead to trial CR/customer CR.

Tools: Twilio, Email, Pipedrive

12. Push Unfinished Registrations to Complete Sign-up

Description: If a user has completed step 1 of a sign-up process but hasn’t finish steps 2 and 3 -> send them a reminding email.

Goal: Convert a trial to a paying customer

Metrics: Visitors to trial CR.

Tools: Segment.com, Email.

13. Convert Your Trial Users With Targeted Onboarding Campaigns

Description: Send Trial users the most relevant content for them with the help of user data that you’ve collected through the sign-up process AND product usage.

Goal: Convert trial users to paying customers.

Metrics: Trial to paying customer CR

Tools: Stripe, Email.

14. Engage Your Important Trials on Facebook

Description: Add users that have signed up for a trial for a bigger plan to a Facebook audience and engage them with Facebook Ads.

Goal: Convert a trial to a paying customer.

Metrics: Visitors to trial CR.

Tools: Stripe, Facebook Ads.

15. Re-engage Expired Trials

Description: When a trial ends, but the user didn’t convert, update a record in your CRM and assign to a sales representative. If the user doesn’t respond to the sales rep’s calls, send them an automated re-engagement email sequence. Also, for all users that didn’t upgrade to premium show Facebook ads with a successful case study of your product.

Goal: Convert a trial to a paying customer.

Metrics: Trial to paying CR.

Tools: Stripe, CRM, Facebook Ads, Email.

16. Cart Abandonment for SaaS

Description: If a user goes to the checkout page, but doesn’t complete the order, send them an email nudging them to finish. Also, assign to a sales rep to follow up manually.

Goal: Convert a trial to a paying customer.

Metrics: Trial to paying CR.

Tools: CRM, Email.

17. Start a Mini Educational Course When a Customer Visits a Page On Your Knowledge Base

Description: When a customer visits a specific page on your knowledge base, send them a relevant mini-course.

Goal: Educate customer.

Metrics: # of support tickets (aiming at the reduction of tickets).

Tools: Email.

18. Deliver Proactive Support

Description: When a user has searched your knowledge base 4 times or has visited more than 4 help pages, send a follow-up email “Need help? Did you find what you’re looking at?”

Goal: Educate customers.

Metrics: # of support tickets (aiming at the reduction of tickets)

Tools: Segment, Email.

19. Revive Dead Leads

Description: If a prospect is older than 60 days and not converted, send “Are you still looking for a marketing automation solution?”

Goal: Reactivate customers.

Metrics: Trial to Paying customer CR.

Tools: Email.

20. Prevent Inactive Customers From Churning

Description: If a customer is not active for more than 30 days, send “Do you need help?” email, in-app message via Intercom and start showing them successful case studies via Facebook ads.

Goal: Prevent churn.

Metrics: Churn Rate.

Tools: Email, Intercom, Facebook Ads.

21. Alert The Team When a Customer is About to Churn

Description: If a customer has not used a key feature X and feature Y, alert your team with an email and Slack notifications.

Goal: Prevent churn.

Metrics: Churn Rate.

Tools: Segment, Stripe, Email, Slack.

22. Delinquent Churn Prevention

Description: Follow up on failed payments to prevent churn.

Goal: Prevent churn.

Tools: Stripe, Email.

23. Nudge Customers to Upgrade from Monthly to Annual Plan

Description: Entice customers to upgrade from a monthly subscription plan to an annual plan by sending “Get X months free of ProductName” email and a push notification.

Goal: Up-sell and expansion.

Metrics: ARPU / CLTV.

Tools: Stripe, Email, Push Crew.

24. Send an NPS Survey Before a Trial Ends

Description: Better understand trials sentiment towards your product Send a Delighted NPS survey 3 days before a trial ends.

Goal: Get customer feedback.

Tools: Promoter.io.

Learn more: 8 other types of surveys you can send to learn more about your customers.

25. Win Over NPS Detractors

Description: Get critical feedback from unhappy users who replied with a score of 1-4 on your NPS survey and invite them to book a consulting session on how to get the best from your product.

Goal: Get customer feedback.

Metrics: NPS.

Tools: Promoter.io.

26. Ask NPS Promoters for a Product Review

Description: Ask promoters who replied with a score of 8-9 for a testimonial or a review on Capterra or G2Crowd.

Goal: Get positive product exposure.

Metrics: Reviews earned.

Tools: Promoter.io, email.

27. A/B Split Test Different Email Subject Lines

Description: Increase the open rates of your email newsletters by running an A/B Split test with different subject lines.

Goal: Increase email open rate.

Metrics: Open Rate.

Tools: A/B Test, email

28. A/B Test Different Google Ads

Description: Increase the Conversion Rate and Return On Ad Spend by testing multiple Google Ads. Simply create 2 different Google Audiences to test.

Goal: Increase CR and ROAS

Metrics: Ad CR / ROAS

Tools: A/B Test, Facebook or Google Ads

29. Score Your Leads

Description: Set up a scoring system. Increase and decrease score points when a user visits a page, submits a form, or completes an event in your app.

Goal: Qualify leads, users and customers for sale and up-sell opportunities

Metrics: MQLs.

Tools: Scoring system

30. Add Features Requests to Trello Board

Description: Create a new Trello card when a user completes a “Feature Request” Google form.

Goal: Collect and act on customer feedback.

Metrics: NPS.

Tools: Google form, Trello.

Conclusion: Executing Your Marketing Automation Strategy

Once you choose your workflows, don’t forget to list them in your Marketing Automation Strategy worksheet and bucket them in their appropriate funnel stage.

Note: You may need to create a separate column for workflows that are relevant across the entire customer lifecycle like the Scoring flow, for example.

Your completed Marketing Automation Strategy worksheet will look something like this:

That’s it!

You’re ready to execute your marketing automation strategy now. Jump to your favorite marketing automation tool of choice and make these workflows work for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Call Now!
WeCreativez WhatsApp Support
Our customer support team is here to answer your questions. We shall be happy to assist you :)
👋 Howdy...