Cameron Park, CA, July 10, 2019 (Newswire.com) – Tactical Marketing Automation, LLC., a digital marketing agency specializing in marketing automation consulting and services, has announced the release of Unity List Aggregator (ULA), a Software as a Service (SAAS) application designed to augment the list capabilities of Act-On Software’s marketing automation software.

The ULA application is designed to connect to an Act-On Software customer account using their standard license credentials and extracts all marketing lists in the account. Through a proprietary design, the application allows a user to identify list columns that contain the same data types and then generates a complete master list containing all contact data for that Act-On instance. Furthermore, the application automates the management of adding new contacts to the Act-On Master List.

Tactical Marketing Automation’s CEO, Philip Easley-Bosley said, “Having a master list is a critical component to advanced Act-On marketing automation strategy. In the last year alone, we have worked on nearly 150 different Act-On projects that required creation or management of a master list. With ULA (pronounced yoo-luh), our customers will be able to effectively manage their master lists without investing dozens of hours into the custom process development currently required.”

Shane Wooten, lead developer and co-owner of the ULA application, commented on the product saying, “I’m excited to bring ULA to market, and just as excited about its product road map. We’re really just getting started and already working on our next iterations.”

More information about ULA can be found here.

Tactical Marketing Automation does not represent that ULA is part of the Act-On Software application nor that it is in any way a product affiliated with Act-On Software. As a separate application, Act-On Software provides no support for the ULA product. Act-On Software has not reviewed or endorsed this press release in any way. More information about Act-On Software can be found here.

About Tactical Marketing Automation, LLC.

Tactical Marketing Automation is a full-service digital marketing agency that specializes in marketing technologies, including marketing automation platforms. It focuses on developing strategic marketing plans and tactical marketing plans to enhance its customers lead generation, lead nurture, marketing qualification, and sales efforts. Tactical Marketing Automation also provides enhanced reporting services to help its customers turn data into actionable insights and improve business decisions.

Contacts
Philip Easley-Bosley | Tactical Marketing Automation, LLC. [email protected] | Office: (530) 350-8857
Corporate website – http://www.tacticalma.com

Safe Harbor
This press release contains statements, which may constitute “forward-looking statements.” Those statements include statements regarding the intent, belief or current expectations of Tactical Marketing Automation, LLC. and members of its management team as well as the assumptions on which such statements are based. Such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties, and that actual results may differ materially from those contemplated by such forward-looking statements. The Company undertakes no obligation to update or revise forward-looking statements to reflect changed assumptions, the occurrence of unanticipated events or changes to future operating results.

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From time to time I like to geek out on tactical marketing topics, and this is an uber-nerd topic relating to my favorite Marketing Automation Platform, Act-On Software.

Also, for some reason, I use caps like an old person. It’s late. I’m old. Leave me alone and let me pontificate.

Real Marketing Automation

When most people say “Marketing Automation” they are typically referring to its simplest form of “Email Automation” which is essentially a trigger for a set of scheduled messages. While this has some amount of utilitarian value, if that is all you get from your Act-On Marketing Automation efforts, the idea and potential value in marketing automation will soon lose their luster.

As most of my readers know, I had the privilege of working at Act-On for just shy of 5 years and was honored to serve as the Lead Marketing Automation Strategist for much of that time. In this capacity, I was afforded substantial amounts of time to research trends in Act-On and identify opportunities for Act-On customers to enhance their use of marketing automation. It’s no surprise that a significant amount of this time and energy was invested into researching and developing Automated Programs.

Having worked directly with more than 2,000 Act-On accounts and nearly 10,000 Act-On users, I often found myself explain “Marketing Automation isn’t just scheduling email, it is automating your marketing processes so you have time to do more valuable things.”
You see, Act-On isn’t just for scheduling emails. It manages your marketing lists, improves your data, facilitates reporting, and interacts with your human resources.

How? Allow me to share…

Form to Master List Management

Act-On Forms write to selected Form Submission lists. We very often want to track how many people registered for our Spring Event, so they must go to their own submission list.  But I ALSO want them to go to my Non-CRM Master List.

I could configure a new List Maintenance Program (LMP) every time I build a form, but that is tedious and painful.  Also, the LMP will keep overwriting the original submission data to my Master List every time it runs (e.g. they submit “PHILIP” as their First Name. You scrub the data and change this to the proper case “Philip”.  The LMP will keep overwriting the bad data.)

This one is easy. Use an Automated Program! All you have to do is add your Form Submission List to a single Act-On Automated Program.

May have mentioned this… any time an event should occur one time, you should always use an Automated Program. In this case, the logic is simple:

Automated Program Source List:
Each new Form Submission List

AP Workflow:
Copy to Non-CRM Master List

Marketing Stage or Sales Stage Management

Many people use List Maintenance Programs (LMP) for this, and that’s just inviting disaster. For example, imagine a lead hits a target Marketing Qualified Lead Score of 40 points. They enter a segment and an LMP sets their Sales Stage to MQL. Job done, right?

Except sales takes the lead and sets the Sales Stage to “SQL” because they are pursuing the opportunity. That night, your LMP changes the Sales Stage BACK TO MQL!

Anytime an event should occur one time, you should always use an Automated Program. Again, simple logic

Automated Program Source List:
Segment: MQL (Lead Score = 40+)

AP Workflow:
Change Field Sales Stage to MQL

Reporting Augmentation

This one is similar to Stage Management but serves an entirely different purpose.  At Tactical Marketing Automation, we believe “Everything is a funnel.” Call us old school.

Marketing = Funnel

Sales = Funnel

Prospecting = Funnel

Going to lunch? FUNNEL.

In our workflows, when someone enters a funnel stage they start a stream of emails designed to move them through that stage and advance them towards qualification. We typically have 3 stages before MQL.

Here’s the problem, I like reports. I use them to make better decisions. Act-On doesn’t do that.

(Before someone comments about the native “Funnel Reports” – it’s an abomination.  You don’t know what you’re talking about.)

So the fix is easy.

When someone enters one of my email workflows, I set their current stage in a field.  I also note this as their “Previous Stage” immediately before they leave. Now I’m tracking what stage are they in, and what stage did they come from. To get even slicker, I create counters that increment by 1 each day which gives me the ability to track exactly how long they were in that stage.

Then I create reports like this… Well, I don’t, Mike does.  He’s cool like that.

I believe that most things are possible in Act-On. I regularly solve “impossible problems” in free consulting calls. I can admit it, I’m better at marketing automation than I am at sales (that’s why I have Stu).

Act-On is not perfect but damn, it’s powerful, and I love it.

 

About Phil Bosley

Philip, CEO, has nearly 20 years of marketing experience and has served as a consultant, advisor, and resource for thousands of companies like yours.

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As a former Technical Solutions Engineer at Act-On, I loved how much our customers loved us. It was normal for a TSE to help 20 customers each day, and we always prioritized the customer experience.  My leadership had a very clear directive on the limits of how far we should go, summed up in a single word mission statement: “Help.”

 At Act-On Support, I would help with anything a customer needed; but I knew that some requests I was not a good resource for.  Now, being part of Tactical MA,

I realize these are things that you would be better served working with an agency on, rather than calling Tech Support.

Planning Campaigns

There are two things that a Support Engineer who just picked up the phone lacks that are vital to strategic consulting: experience and ownership.  I had neither of these, so it was never in your best interest to ask me to guide your strategy.

I was frequently asked to help design strategy or plans for customer campaigns at Act-On.  While I had a lot of experience working with the software, I had little to no experience in developing a strategy.

I was trained in how the software functions and how to solve technical challenges, not how to design campaigns.  At best I could share ideas I had seen, or even refer the marketer to the Strategy Guide, (authored by the CEO of Tactical MA) but that was it.

Why you should contact an agency instead?

If you need help planning out a strategy, working with an agency is a far better path to take.  Marketing agencies have experience building out and managing proven strategies.  They take ownership of each client or partner and work to get the best results in the long term.

The best analogy I’ve come across for it is to look at your marketing as a ship setting sail.  Your strategy is the path you plan to take and the navigation along the way.  For that, you want a navigator who has handled plenty of ships and gotten them where they’re going.  You want to save the phone call to tech support for when the boat springs a leak.

Creating and Managing Content and Automation

In a similar vein to the point above, support staff cannot create or maintain your content for or with you.  This includes the building of automation, the design or creation of content, and any follow-ups to make sure things are running properly.

This goes back to experience and ownership.  Without alignment to your company goals, this experience was highly transactional, and I was laser-focused on defining and solving a problem.  Automation requires ongoing monitoring, response, and revision.  I always wanted to help to the best of my ability, but the nature of any support person’s job is to open and close cases; this is not conducive to the type of help you need.

As a technical resource, it was always unwise for you to gamble that I had the marketing experience needed to properly advise this process.

Why you should contact an agency instead?

The keys to content creation are time and expertise.  The best way to guarantee that someone with expertise is spending the appropriate time on developing your content or automation is to contract with them for it.  Content design and development is one of the key services offered by a good agency, and they have decades of experience that you can leverage to make your content or programs awesome.

Integrated Systems

Due to the connected nature of marketing automation, there are a lot of systems working together that need to be made to “play nice.”  This means that the lines of “who should be supporting what” get blurry, and many times I was asked to help with customization to systems outside of Act-On.

While I could have helped with native connectivity to Act-On, I had limited exposure to CRM functionality, your WordPress plugins, or any system outside of Act-On.

As Act-On Support, I had thorough training and complete access to your Act-On account, but I was totally blind to the settings, configuration, and use case for any of your other systems.

Why you should contact an agency instead?

In this case, there is an issue beyond time and expertise that matters most: liability.  A Support Engineer is limited in what they can personally do by the fact that they represent the company they work for.  This means that they are not able to accept or use your login credentials to work in your other accounts or platforms.

Good agencies specialize in data, integration, and technology. If you provide them with login credentials, they can jump into your systems and do what needs to be done.

One of the most liberating parts of my transition to working with a marketing agency was being able to log into all of the relevant systems for a project and set things up myself.  As a member of Support, I had to provide the information related to our platform and hope that the customer’s team could get things set up properly.  I have since received extensive training in many systems, and I work with experts across multiple platforms.

If there is setup or work that you need to be done in your CRM, website or another third party system that is beyond your team’s current understanding, reaching out to the right marketing agency can be a massive help.

In Closing

I can’t stress enough that Technical Support, especially the team I worked with, is often a highly motivated, talented group of brilliant people who want to help you solve your problem; but they are limited by regulations and experience for their specific product.

Successfully resolving your current situation boils down to the question, “Who is the best person to help with this?”  If the marketing automation software you’re using is not broken, Tech Support is not the right answer.

A specialized marketing agency like Tactical MA is often the answer you’re looking for.  The best part about Tactical MA is they are a premiere Act-On partner, staffed with former Act-On employees, and provide free consultations. Feel free to browse our site and see if we are a good fit.

Helping you is what we’re here for!

This article was written by an excellent former member of the Tactical MA team, Morgan Nail.

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Before starting at Tactical, I worked as a Technical Solutions Engineer at Act-On.  When I worked there, the TSEs were the first line of support for Act-On’s customers and handled the majority of technical support issues.  If you have called the support line and spoken to someone or submitted a request online and worked with someone via email, you were working with a TSE. The volume of issues and requests we were exposed to was, naturally, much higher than most people would see.  This meant that we had a lot of experience working in Act-On, learning its ins and outs and oddities, and helping our customers to solve problems. I’m going to dig into some of the most common technical requests I saw in my time as a TSE, and how they can be resolved.

Message Validation Failed

You’ve built out the perfect email, you have the recipients set up, you click on Send Now and… 

act-on message validation failed

 When a message is sent by Act-On, the system checks for a number of things to ensure the message is okay to send.  The list of these things can be found in the Review tab of the message composer, along with the current status of each: 

act-on message validation

 The errors that show here aren’t necessarily very intuitive, so I’ll give a quick breakdown. The symbols indicate the status of each part of the validation.

  • A green check mark indicates that a condition is fulfilled.
  • A yellow triangle serves as a warning that something needs attention, but will not prevent the message from being sent.
  • A red X indicates that something is wrong and will prevent the message from sending.

The most common error encountered here is “HTML & Text Opt-Out Link (CANSPAM)”.  What this means is that Act-On cannot find the URL of the current Opt-Out link for the account anywhere in the message. The Opt-Out Link is automatically updated to the most current one when using the Default Footer, but if you have set up a custom email footer or are building a message from custom HTML code, you may need to update it, especially if the custom marketing domain for the account has changed. To insert the correct Opt-Out link, you can edit your current footer and use the personalization tool to add the current version from the Header/Footer Link tab. 

act-on edit footer
act-on insert opt out link

 Once the Opt-Out link is inserted and styled appropriately, you will want to update the text version of your footer to reflect the changes as well, using the “Generate from HTML Version” button. As a final note, the warning for “Sender Name & Address (CANSPAM)” will not prevent your message from sending.  This just means that Act-On is not seeing the personalization fields it uses to bring this information in, which are {{Account.COMPANY}} and {{Account.BIZ_ADDRESS}}.  As CANSPAM law requires that messages include the name of your business and a physical address, you will need to make sure it is included in your message, either through Act-On’s personalization or by typing it out manually.

Message Did Not Send to All Recipients

So you’ve sent your message and you’re following up on the response when you notice that it wasn’t actually sent to everyone on the list you chose.  The list had 2,000 contacts in it, but Act-On only sent to 1,500.  Or, worse yet, it shows that it sent to 0! There are a number of reasons that a message might fail to send to specific contacts, even if the message itself was able to launch.  Fortunately, Act-On provides the list of records it failed to send to and the reason it failed.  With this information, we can piece together what happened so that we can fix it and possibly re-send our message to those contacts. To start with, we want to navigate to the message report.  For a message sent normally, this will be under Outbound>Sent Messages.  For messages that are responding to form submissions or part of an automated program, it will be under Outbound>Other Messages>Triggered Messages. You can open the message report by clicking on the message name, then navigating to the Report tab.  Here you can see your message reporting, including the number of unique email addresses sent to as well as the number who were not sent to. 

act-on message report

 By clicking on the number next to “Not Sent/Suppressed”, we can view the full list of records who were suppressed from the send, along with the reason they were not sent to. 

act-on not sent suppressed

 As an example, the report above shows that the record I failed to send to had no data in a column titled “firstname”, which I used for personalization in the message. In this case, the actual column name is “First Name”, with a space, so the system was looking for the wrong column.  This message also would have failed if I had the right column name, but that contact had no data in that column. Some other common reasons for message sends to be suppressed are that the intended recipient is on the Opt-Out or Hard Bounce lists, they are missing an email address, or they have met the fatigue rules set in the account. Looking into the reasons for these suppressions can help you to explain and resolve these issues quickly and make sure your messages are being sent.

Form Submission Data Did Not Push to CRM

If your Act-On account is connected to a CRM such as Salesforce, you have the option to push data submitted on your Act-On Forms into your CRM.  Sometimes, we will see a submission occur which should have pushed data into the CRM, but not see the data show up there.  There can be a number of potential explanations for this, so we have to do some troubleshooting. The first thing we want to check is that the submission was stored by Act-On.  To do this, we can navigate to the form submission list under Contacts>Other Lists>Form Submissions and make sure that the submission created a record there. If it did, we will then want to look at the form settings under Content>Forms and see how we’re set to push data.  In the classic composer, it will be under the Settings tab and look like this: 

act-on classic form push to salesforce settings

 In the Labs composer, the setting will be in the Properties tab and look like this: 

labs_form_push_to_crm_settings

 Some common settings issues for failed data pushes were:

  • The form was not set to push
  • The form was not set to update existing records, and the email address of the submission already existed in the CRM

It is also possible that there was an issue pushing the data into the correct field.  When Act-On pushes data to a CRM, it is usually trying to push the data into the CRM field whose label matches the column name for the data in Act-On.  This can be seen in the Finish tab of the classic form composer: 

act-on classic form finish tab

 Or in the Field Mappings area of the Labs composer: 

act-on labs composer field mappings location
act-on labs form field mappings

 In this area, you’ll make sure the column name matches the relevant field name in your CRM exactly.  It’s not uncommon for an extra hyphen or underscore to cause this data not to push. The final piece to check is whether or not the data provided by the form is enough to create a new record in your CRM.  It is not uncommon for a form push to attempt to create a new record and fail because the CRM settings require a field that is not included.  This would have to be checked on the CRM side of things, though. As a final note here, if you are connected to Salesforce, you can check for specific errors from your form pushes by finding your form under Content>Forms, opening the menu on the far right of the form’s name, and selecting “View Salesforce Push Errors”.  This will bring up a list of all errors provided to Act-On by Salesforce for failed push attempts. 

act-on form push errors sf

Wrapping Up

I hope this helps with some of the more common troubles people run into while working with Act-On.  It is a machine with a lot of moving parts, and keeping track of all of them can be fairly intimidating at times, but if you follow up on your work and keep a level head, you can usually find what’s out of place when something goes wrong.

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