In 2020, many marketers battled with (and lost to) Gmail’s spam filter. As a consultant, I had the experience of fighting with Gmail’s algorithm in about 15 different company architectures and cultures. The results could not have been more different. Some of my clients ended the year with ~40% open rates in Gmail. Others suffered banishment with below 1% rates. The difference? The choice between using a marketing automation strategy or clinging to the old ways of “batch and blast.” Those that effectively segmented, metered, and targeted their messages were wildly successful at high volume. Those that clung to old ideas of “email as direct mail” suffered severely.To understand this, we have to first recognize that “email” doesn’t have a universal set of rules. Well – ok, it does have a universal set of rules (like DKIM, SPF, etc.) BUT not all email providers use ALL of the same rules. What Yahoo mail finds acceptable, Microsoft Exchange might block, and what Microsoft Exchange might accept, Gmail will block, and so on and so forth. Of all of these players, Gmail consistently stands out as the most dynamic and most aggressive player in email filtering. It’s no surprise; just consider their model. Gmail is one of Google’s core free services they use to attract users to their platform. In attracting billions (with a B) of users to their free service, they can collect deep personal data on all of these people to sell to advertisers. It is therefore in their financial interest to keep their free users very happy and satisfied.

Man Vs. Machine

What pisses people off the most when they check their email? SPAM. Of course, the email you send is not SPAM. It’s a valuable information update about the products and services the buyer needs to solve urgent problems. However, your competitor is definitely sending unsolicited commercial emails that should be blocked from the inbox. The marketer needs to get product information relevant to the buyers’ need into the target inbox. As a service provider, Gmail wants to prevent this in order to protect the user experience, so they have developed an algorithm that scans message headers and content, and tracks user opens or clicks to determine what types of emails their users want. This pits the marketer against the algorithm, and the marketer usually loses. Why? Because Gmail HATES you. You represent literally everything it is trying to combat. You’re facing off with one of the most powerful machine learning engines in the world, and it was built to stop you from doing your job. To make matters worse, Gmail colossally goofed last summer, and a glitch allowed significant amounts of NSFW Spam into the user inbox. By July 4, they had resolved the issue. In the understatement of the year, they commented saying, “We have identified and since fixed the issue of a small number of promotional emails and spam being incorrectly sent to users’ primary inboxes.” I suspect they upgraded the robot brain significantly because Gmail messaging shifted from “a little tricky” to “go F yourself” around that time.

How Does Marketing Automation Help?

To start with, let’s define “marketing automation.” Marketing automation is not an email application that lets you schedule message send times. It isn’t an email application that lets you schedule a bunch of messages in sequence. Those things are “email automation,” and they are not what we’re talking about. Marketing Automation is an advanced technology that facilitates automating marketing processes. With good software, I can easily sync to CRM, query data based on field information, previous engagement, website visits, form responses, lead scoring, etc. Using these queries, I can create a target audience based on indicated funnel stage and dynamically send an email, SMS, or ads to these persons based on a strategic content marketing approach. (For example, I use Act-On.) Email tools are cute, and I love that MailChimp has automated sends, but that’s not what we’re talking about.

Control Your Volume

Volume will kill you with Gmail. They are proactively monitoring for bulk email; therefore, a large number of messages from a sender at any given time will immediately flag your message for review. Tuesday at 8 AM is a great time to send email unless it’s Gmail. With Gmail, you have to use marketing automation features like “send overtime” or automated workflows to trigger specific messages based on user behavior in real-time. This will break the volume into manageable “chunks.” The lower your volume with any send, and the lower your volume on any day, the more success you will have finding the inbox. Inversely, if you are spiking high volumes at gmail.com addresses, you will almost immediately find your messages sitting in the SPAM folder.

Follow the Signals

I’m a big advocate of email marketing. I have no problem taking a cold lead list, cleaning it, and sending content marketing prospect emails to it. However, I’m also not stupid, so I know that 50% of that purchased data will never engage with me, no matter how clever my marketing is. With Gmail especially, you have to take a hint. If you have been sending “[email protected]” emails for the last year and they have never opened it, there is less than a 1 in 100,000 chance they ever will. Just stop. You have to proactively target, monitor, adjust volume, change frequency, and suppress email to Gmail address. It’s a good idea for any domain, but you must do it for Gmail. If you don’t, then you are sending signals to the robot brain to terminate your emails on receipt. With marketing automation, these controls can be designed into your workflows. You can query and segment audiences based on response conditions so that you are automatically making these adjustments. Gmail built a computer to stop you; you need a computer to beat Gmail.

Choose Wisely

With Gmail, you have to pick your battles. Gmail addresses make up about 83% of all B2C addresses, and 25% of companies use Gsuite (their domain over Google servers). Like it or not, Gmail is your adversary. You have to accept that you just can’t “spray and pray” to these inboxes. You have to get strategic, which means you need content. You can’t send product catalogs or a “Do you have 15 minutes?” email. You have to develop a content strategy that is heavily focused on email opens. This sends signals to the algorithm that users want to see your messages, which makes Gmail more likely to put you in the inbox. Marketing Automation makes this easier because it takes the guess work out. I use Act-On to create segments of buyers based on personas, their indicated level of interest, and then I target people who have opened in the past. This sends a bunch of signals to Gmail that users want my content, then I push messaging to unengaged recipients over time. With this strategy, I’m always adding to my core of engaged readers, allowing me increased volume with every send. But if you choose to ignore this advice, please understand – Gmail will know. Gmail will know and put you in the penalty box. Once you’re there – good luck. You’ll spend a year doing all these things anyway just for a chance to get out of the box, a chance that may never come because Gmail already hates you.

Download our Tactical Methodology infographic to learn more about how we target content.

 

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Download our Tactical Methodology Infographic to learn more about the psychology of our marketing plans.

I read an article this week titled “Why 67 Percent of Strategic Plans Fail, Strategic planning is great, in theory, but more often than not, it fails. Here’s why.” It outlined that 74% of executives report not having faith in their company strategies, and 67% of strategic plans fail. The author then continued to outline three steps to resolve this:
  • Think from the outcome realized and work your way back
  • Master enrollment conversations
  • Ensure quality is present
The article read like fluff. As a business owner, I hate this kind of advice. Many consulting firms live in this world of gray advice that could just as easily have been generated by fortunecookiemessage.com. It’s not that the advice is necessarily wrong; it’s just not practical. What I read is, “Is your strategic plan failing? Try developing a strategic plan about it.” There is a stark difference between “strategic plans” and “tactical plans.” A strategic plan focuses on macro initiatives and objectives; a tactical plan gets things done.

Strategic plans are easy. Tactical plans are hard.

In marketing, we see this problem in our everyday lives. It’s easy to construct a marketing strategy for most organizations. It always sounds clever and goes like this: Personas, lifecycle stages, targeted advertising, retarget nurture, sales stage, onboarding.

And now I’m a marketing genius.

This is very much like a general who orders an army to “take the hill.”

General: “Take the hill.”

Captain: “Fantastic. Great. Neat idea, General. Sergeant, take the hill!”

Sergeant: “The enemy has machine guns, tanks, and razor wire fortifying their position. How exactly do you think we should take the hill.”

Captain: “That’s your problem. Follow your orders, sergeant.”

The hard part about marketing isn’t about knowing what to do; it’s knowing how to do it. Let’s break down “Targeted advertising.”

This is “lead generation” and often the area most focused on by our customers. Some campaigns work, others don’t, and most often, people have no idea why. The truth is, there is a world of specialization in this one step that requires numerous nuanced tactical plans. Some of the many components include:

How many different ads should we have? What marketing channel? What marketing source? What is the theme or topic of the ad? What is the incentive for the buyer? What is the frequency of the ad? What is the expected metric of the ad? What is the rate of delivery of the ad? What is the cost of the ad? What is the evaluation period of the ad? How will we know if the ad is working?

And so on and so forth.

Once you’ve answered any individual question, it spawns new questions. When this process is unfocused, everyone is trusting their gut instead of making informed decisions, and bad things happen. Copywriting gets overwhelmed, Design can’t keep up, Sales isn’t getting fed, and everyone starts blaming each other. Suddenly, instead of “throw it against the wall and see if it sticks,” you’re throwing everything against the wall and hoping anything will stick. At some point, the CEO asks for an ROI calculation, and it’s chaos as everyone tries to put together a cohesive story, knowing the real answer is “Aaaaaghhhh! We’re on fire!” Then people get fired, and we start all over again. Fun times.

Strategic plans fail without tactical plans to support them.

Tactical plans use mind maps and flow charts to think through every scenario before we even start. They don’t always work out the way we expect them to, but each step informs the next. Each roadblock has a defined alternative, and companies are able to pivot at each stage. Most importantly, you can see trouble coming and avoid it.

Tactical plans are long, boring, and incredibly effective.

Here’s my 6 step process for developing a tactical marketing plan:

1. Create a mind map

2. Create a flow chart

3. Create a dashboard

4. Write it all down

5. Execute

6. Adjust

 

Create A Mind Map

Define your stage objective, break it down into all of its components, then break those components down into sub-components. Nothing can be considered done until it has at least three layers.

Think through everything, especially the pieces that don’t feel important. As I was writing this article, I decided to draw a quick mind map for lead gen — an exercise I have done a million times — only to realize I was running out of whiteboard space for everything I needed. As each bubble became its own budget and department, I remembered: our job is hard and complicated. But oh, so worth it.

(Disclaimer, I stopped before I finished. It was just supposed to be an example.)

Create a Flow Chart

Flow charts identify each step that needs to be implemented for the action to be complete. In flow charts, there are three key symbols that are important to remember: Decision. This step identifies where a true/false, yes/no decision can be made. The most common error: “What happens if false?” When we document existing processes for our customers, the most significant gap is that false conditions have been overlooked. Example. If the person engages with the email campaign, send them to sales. What do you do if they don’t engage? Process/Step. Break your process down into each granular, linear step. This will very commonly identify any gaps. Certain things must happen for the next step to occur. When combined with Decision symbols, they will also expose redundant or recursive inefficiencies that can be streamlined out of the process. Predefined Process. Sometimes a series of steps occur that are represented as one “step” in your diagram. These need to be represented differently than single steps because it assumes that the “other” process is optimized and efficient. Example: Using a software application to segment an audience into lead gen, nurture, sales, and customer groups can be represented as “Segmentation” because it has its own set of rules and logic flows to govern it. When we see these together, the contrast between a poorly thought out flow chart and a correctly built flow chart becomes very obvious.

Create a Dashboard

Anything worth doing is worth doing right. If you are planning to run social media ads, invest in PPC, or send email, you need to research and define expectations. Once you have defined your expectations, you should clearly articulate how these components will be measured and assemble the pieces to track, measure, and improve performance. For example, you are using social media to promote your service or products. Post performance metrics are great, but the native reporting doesn’t tell you much beyond vanity metrics. Ideally, social media results in website visits, which lead to form submission, follow-up email, sales opportunity, and/or new customers. Correlating this data for reporting requires defining how it will be tracked and measured in advance. This will help you define what tracking pixels need to be placed, what UTM or other parameters need to be appended, and what hidden fields need to be in your forms to collect and measure performance accurately.

Write It All Down

In 20 years, I have yet to meet someone who actually had all the pieces in their head. Brilliant marketers cannot possibly have simultaneous mastery over the 87 specialized disciplines that make up our field. Even a one-person marketing team will need to communicate with executives, salespeople, and contractors. Most importantly, if you are building a tactical marketing plan correctly, you will need to communicate with your future self because you will forget.

The shortest pen is better than the longest memory

Execute

You’ve planned the work: now work the plan. It’s tempting to chase shiny, new things. If people like me are doing our job right, we will distract you with our marketing for some shiny new software, some great new tool, some “low hanging fruit” that you are missing. Once you have written your plan, it is imperative that you stick to your plan. Anything new can go into the next one.

Adjust

If your dashboard is working, you will see progression to your goals on the timeline you have established. If you’re lagging, then something isn’t working, and it’s essential that you follow your flowchart to find the broken step. To quote Ben Horowitz, “There is no silver bullet that’s going to fix that. No, we are going to have to use a lot of lead bullets.” Average marketing is easy. Good marketing is hard — it takes a lot of planning, a lot of work, and a lot of optimization. At the end of the day, it is all just math and flow charts that lead to your outcome. This diagnostic approach requires that we monitor and adjust to keep the leads coming and deals closing.

Teddy Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.”

Tactics are the mechanics by which we implement a strategy. Tactics are messy, gritty, sometimes boring, and the difference between finding success or failure. I waste no time listening to the fools who give generic strategic feedback. “Make it more scalable,” “use micro-targeting,” and “really drive to the CTA” are at best objectives, not plans. At worst, it’s bullshit masking ignorance. It’s an attempt at plans that rely on the magic of positive intentions. The reality is, if your plan requires magic, it’s a bad plan. I live in a world built on empathy for other marketers. Often the expectation is to accomplish the impossible with limited resources. I chose this life because it is hard and because I like solving impossible problems. I see my strategic plans work (most of the time) by making very good, very granular tactical plans that don’t have silver bullets or magical outcomes.

Download our Tactical Methodology Infographic to learn more about the psychology of our marketing plans.

 

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Does your sales team need training on using Act-On without a CRM? In this quick video, CEO Philip Bosley demonstrates how your sales team can utilize Act-On Contact Lists to prioritize your marketing qualified leads (MQLs).

 

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2020 has been quite a year.

The world around us has changed how we go about day-to-day life. Holidays and other celebrations, too. So, what can we do to secure a fresh start in 2021?

  1. Share the positive things that took place in 2020 with your employees. So many businesses did not survive the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. If your company did, then first be thankful. Secondly, let your team know how much you appreciate what they contributed during a very tough year. Countless businesses had to close due to the Coronavirus, only to learn that they would not ever be re-opening. Many other companies survived enough to re-open but could not bring back their entire staff. If your business was in neither of these categories, it’s likely either because employees could work remotely or did a fantastic job following the recommended precautions. That is a reason to be grateful. Bottom line is, 2020 taught us that we can survive if we watch out for each other. Reflect with your employees, give thanks to each other, celebrate together, and instill in everyone that 2021 will be a better year. Sharing these positive things together will make you all stronger and closer as a group.
  2. Generate some excitement with your customers by giving something away. Send all your customers a special 2020 survival gift to symbolize how much you appreciate making it through a tough year together. Try a small custom plaque, trophy, or paperweight; something that can inspire the whole office during difficult times. This will not only show appreciation for their business but also create a bond with them. Send the gift with a thank you note or card signed by the CEO, letting your customers know how much your whole company appreciates their business during one of the most challenging years in our lifetime. At the end of the day, we all want to be recognized for the work we do, showing your employees that you see their efforts will go a long way towards building a lasting relationship.
  3. Support a cause that is near and dear to your customer’s heart. Through the course of the year, maybe you had a conversation with your customers that revealed a cause they believe in or are affected by — make a donation in their name. Not only is this a nice gesture of appreciation, but it shows that you are listening to them. Customers like to be heard, and this is a great way to show you are listening.

However you choose to kick-off the new year, bring a little joy and gratitude with you, and start the year out right.

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Understanding your customers’ needs is the basis of an effective and comprehensive marketing automation strategy. Marketing automation is more than scheduling email sends; it’s segmenting audiences, targeted messaging, social media scheduling, advertising, measuring marketing effectiveness on and offline, education and nurture-focused strategy, and strategy execution.

As of 2020, 68% of businesses are using automation for some aspect of their marketing, whether that’s lead generation emails, video distribution, social media posting, lead segmentation, or any other use. Marketing automation is expected to grow by 31% each year.

Benefits of Marketing Automation

Efficiency

Marketing automation improves productivity by 20% (Nucleus)

Expectations on marketers are high, and no marketer has spare time to let slip away. Marketing automation takes on the tedious and repetitive tasks that take up much of a marketer’s day so that they can focus on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Many time-sensitive tasks can be automated, including initial follow-up emails, marketing qualification, messaging or chat programs, as well as automated answering services for the phone. These all fall under the heading of marketing automation and can streamline essential processes.

Better Reporting = Improved Sales

80% of marketers report an increase in leads due to automation. (Business2Community)

Marketers rely on data to inform decision-making, and automation simplifies how you view that data. Reporting is how digital marketing reports are planned, executed, and updated. The information collected is presented (often with visual aids) in an accessible way. Generally, these reports update regularly and automatically send to those who need them. Again, automated reporting removes a time-consuming task, creating more time to focus on other assignments while providing the opportunity to expand the scope of reporting and reducing error. By segmenting reports by persona, funnel stage, or project, they can offer more value than a standard report.

Improved Accountability

80% of marketers credit their success to marketing automation (Lenskold Group)

Since automation tracks KPI’s and trends, it becomes easy to identify problems in the marketing funnel. If the progression from one funnel stage to another isn’t providing the expected results, you can investigate and develop a solution. With this clarity comes a sense of ownership that allows teams and individuals to ensure they are on track before the problem evolves into something more serious.

Nurtured Leads

77% of marketers report an increase in conversions due to automation. (Business2Community)

Personal, immersive lead nurture requires significant attention to detail. Fortunately, the information that is interesting to a lead is predictable and can be automated to show up exactly where and when they are ready for it — whether that’s their inbox, onsite recommendations, or ads.

Increased Revenue

Automated lead nurturing converts 15-20% of customers to sales. (Protocol80)

All of the above examples exist to increase revenue. Automation can help you craft email campaigns that hit all the sweet spots at just the right time, implement personalized marketing, and automate follow-ups. These tactics help create more leads, convert more prospects to buyers, and maintain relationships with current customers. A marketing automation strategy allows marketers to reduce human-error in their processes and free-up time to put toward other projects. If you’re looking to make the most of your time and energy, check out your current processes to see where automation can improve them. If you find yourself needing help, reach out for a free consultation with our team. We’re happy to help! Content in this article was also sourced at https://funneloverload.com/marketing-automation-statistics/. Tactical MA is not affiliated with Funnel Overload and thanks them for their consistent contributions to the marketing community.

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No one on the internet is searching for second-rate content.

People want content that answers their questions directly, thoroughly, and concisely. Quality content fulfills these requirements while also staying true to a brand’s style and tone. To rank on Google or another search engine requires a balance of keywords, readability, and classical writing structure. To connect with an audience and have them coming back for more takes an excellent understanding of personas and decision-making.

Even the most skilled content creator needs time to make that happen.

Time has always been an imposing restraint on content creators. To make the most of the time you have, you should focus on creating the right kind of content to connect with your audience, rather than merely creating more for more’s sake.

Create Something Great

When it comes to content creation, first determine how much content is needed to support your marketing and business goals. Then create just that amount and no more: instead put that time into improving your other pieces. In the same way that creating more content is not always better, improving a piece of content doesn’t always mean adding more to it. On many occasions, you may find that good editing will make written content shorter. Learn to be okay with that.

Use It Well

The point of content creation isn’t only to create content; it’s to nurture potential clients, re-engage former customers, keep current customers, or add credibility to your business. Focus on creating content that supports these goals, then make the most of it.

The point of content is to use it.

If a potential customer has seen a content piece once, they probably haven’t noticed it at all. You need to give your content the best chance it has of being seen and consumed. That means sharing it across social media, in newsletters, even directly through emails. Once you’ve created a great resource, come back to it again in campaigns or on social.

Great content deserves attention.

Repurpose

Unless you’re just starting out, you probably have some content sitting around; old blog posts, old interviews, videos with so-so production. At this point, you don’t necessarily need to start all of your content from scratch. Revisit content from a few years ago and give it a new touch, something more aligned with current goals and values, add new perspectives you’ve gained since then. If you didn’t create the specific piece, edit it for flow and form. Get creative with what you already have to drive some of your content creation. Improve what you have. Make the most of it. Quality content is made with a balance of practical knowledge and writing finesse. With the time restraint that most content creators work with, limiting your production schedule can help you develop better content, and content that’s worth promoting. Revisiting these content pieces over time allows you to keep things relevant and aligned with your current values and goals. Try narrowing your focus to creating quality content, instead of straining to create more.

Make something great, make the most of it, and repurpose as-needed.

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Many people have many different opinions when it comes to the best email marketing practices, from length, to CTA’s, to color palette, but what’s the point of optimization if you can’t see how well it’s working?

The question you need to be asking is, “What is the ideal outcome of this email?”

Your ideal outcome can be multifaceted or simple, but you need to know either way. For each outcome, different metrics will be more or less helpful to track.

Open Rate

Open Rate tells you what percent of people open the emails you are sending. This way, you know how many people get past the subject line to actually see the email’s content.

Open Rate is best when used to compare emails sent to the same list, or as a general indicator of email success, as it tends to be somewhat unreliable — emails are not counted open unless the images are downloaded, and many who use an email client have image downloading turned off by default.

Clickthrough Rate

Clickthrough Rate, or CTR, is often considered more valuable than the Open Rate. It indicates how many of those who received your email actually interacted with it by following a link. This can be calculated with either total clicks or unique clicks, depending on your preference.

Clickthrough Rate tells you how much your list is engaging with your content, clueing you into who may be interested in your product or services.

Conversion Rate

Conversion here means to complete a specific and desired action, like filling out a lead form or downloading a white paper. Conversion Rate is the percentage of those who receive an email who follows a link and then complete a desired action.

The goal of email marketing, as with any marketing, is to generate leads and secure sales. Conversion is a vital step in this process, and therefore commonly considered the most important metric of email marketing.

Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate measures the number of emails that aren’t being successfully delivered to inboxes. There are two kinds of bounces that are important to know; what we call “soft” bounces and “hard” bounces.

Soft bounces are the lesser of the two problems. Soft bounces are temporary problems, usually an issue with the recipient’s server or a full inbox. These emails might be delivered once the problem is resolved.

Hard bounces are emails that cannot be delivered at all and result from closed or non-existent email addresses. These can affect your status as a reliable sender, perhaps getting you labeled as spam mail. Each metric has it’s own value, and are best when used in conjunction. Regardless of your end-goal, be sure to keep an eye on these metrics to ensure your campaign’s success.

If you’re unsure about your numbers or want to know more, feel free to reach out for a conversation. We’ll be happy to help.

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What exactly is the Act-On Beacon? What does it do?

The Act-On Beacon is the primary retargeting mechanic of Act-On. It is a relatively simple JavaScript tracker that places a cookie into the visitor’s browser cache and records when that cookie is recorded on the tracked page. This data is sent to Act-On’s Fact Database and recorded for use in the Act-On Contact Report. To download a PDF of all of the information presented here, click below.

How Can The Beacon Help?

1. Marketing Target Definition

Using data collected from the Act-On Beacon, marketers are able to target messaging based on specific tracked behaviors.  Through Act-On’s native segmentation, marketing is able to create audience segmentation based on the number of page visits in a time range, or visits to specific pages on the website.

For example, Tactical MA could target users visiting this blog post, then our About Us page, and then our Contact Us page who don’t submit our Contact Us form. I could then nurture these persons with Automated Programs in Act-On.

2. Act-On Lead Scoring

Once a person is being tracked by the Act-On Beacon, the next step in the process is the “Known Visitor Conversion”. A person becomes known to Act-On when they click on an Act-On email or submit an Act-On form. Act-On associates the cookie ID it has been tracking to the individual’s email address which enables Lead Scoring for that individual. Because all tracked behavior is now associated with the person’s email address, any list that person is in now has a universal Lead Score it can reference based on your configuration. Additionally, if you are using an integrated CRM like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, or SugarCRM, these lead scores and behaviors are visible directly in CRM.

3. Sales enablement using Act-On

When you pick up the phone to make a sale you want to be confident the person on the other end wants to hear what you have to say. There is nothing worse than guessing wrong and being lit up because of it. The Beacon provides Sales with direct insight into the prospect’s activities, research, and interest areas before they initiate any outreach. When combined with effective views, this also provides enhanced prioritization based on Lead Scoring or specific indicators. The typical impact is a ~50% increase in sales productivity.

4. Create alerts and triggers

Using the Beacon in concert with alerts and automated programs transforms Act-On marketing automation into a control panel for insight and awareness. The Beacon is the core of audience insights that can be used to configure automated alerts based on page visits, qualification levels, indicators, or specialized follow up. Advanced uses cases for this included monitoring for specific sets of behavior (e.g. alert the assigned Salesforce owner if [email protected] visits our website) or the absence of behavior (e.g. alert customer support if [email protected] has not visited the login page in the last 30 days).

What are the risks?

low
PERFORMANCE RISK
The Beacon is extremely lightweight.
The total run time for all events associated with this script is approximately 150 ms. When placed in the footer of the website, it should have no measurable impact on page performance.
low
SECURITY RISK
No known security risks exist for the Act-On Beacon.
The simple script uses common cookie tracking technology. Examples of similar technology include Google Analytics, Facebook, and LinkedIn advertising scripts.
medium
PRIVACY RISK
The Beacon is intended to collect, store, and track user behaviors for marketing purposes.
While its data collection is limited, consideration should be given to governing and regional authorities.

Where do I configure the Beacon?

Act-On Beacon configuration The Act-On Beacon is configured in your Act-On account. Simply navigate to Settings-> Other Settings-> Beacon Settings.  Here you will see the current status of the Beacon, as well as your configuration options. Once configured, simply copy the Beacon code to your clipboard and add this to the footer element of the page or site you want to track with the Act-On Beacon. Full Act-On documentation for the Beacon can be found here.

Too Complicated?

The road to good marketing automation begins with a single step. We believe that the Beacon is an essential tool for unlocking all sorts of practical automation. Not sure where to start? Contact us today for a consultation and we can help round out how to get the Beacon set up on your site and feeding you data that you need.

To download a PDF of all of the information presented here, including a flowchart of the Beacon’s technical process, click below.

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*(data-ogsc) (data-ogsb) only partially works for Outlook.com

If you are building emails, I am sure that you’re well versed in designing for various clients. I am also fairly certain that you have run into issues when designing for “Dark Mode”. By using the following CSS you can target many email clients using dark mode.

@media (prefers-color-scheme: dark)
Similar to the way a block of styles inside an @media query works in Mobile Responsive view. The difference here is the CSS block, which targets all user interfaces that are in Dark Mode.

[data-ogsc] and/or [data-ogsb]
Used to target the application version of Outlook. While it may look like a minute market share, simply copy the @media (prefers-color-scheme: dark) styles you already used and add the proper [data-ogsc] and/or [data-ogsb] prefixes to each CSS rule.

With all of that said, there are always exceptions. (see right)

The Code

Enabling Dark Mode in the Email Client

Including this metadata in your <head> tag, to ensure that Dark Mode is enabled for all subscribers that use Dark Mode:

<meta name=”color-scheme” content=”light dark”>
<meta name=”supported-color-schemes” content=”light dark”>

Support that metadata: add this CSS.

<style type=”text/css”>
:root {
color-scheme: light dark;
supported-color-schemes: light dark;
}
</style>

Dark Mode for @media (prefers-color-scheme: dark)

For Apple Mail, iOS, Outlook.com, Outlook App (iOS), Outlook 2019 (MacOS): embed the following in your <style></style>.

Example:
@media (prefers-color-scheme: dark ) {
/* Shows Dark Mode-Only Content*/
.dark-img { display:block !important; width: auto !important; overflow: visible !important; float: none !important; max-height:inherit !important; max-width:inherit !important; line-height: auto !important; margin-top:0px !important; visibility:inherit !important; }

/* Hides Light Mode-Only Content*/
.light-img { display:none; display:none !important; }

/* Custom Dark Mode Background Color */
.darkmode { background-color: #f3f3f3 !important; }

/* Custom Dark Mode Font Colors */
h1, h2, p, span, a, b { color: #ffffff !important; }

/* Custom Dark Mode Text Link Color */
.link { color: #91ADD4 !important; }
}[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Duplicate Dark Mode Styles With [data-ogsc] and/or [data-ogsb]

For the Android Outlook app.

Example CSS:
/* Shows Dark Mode-Only Content*/
[data-ogsc] .dark-img { display:block !important; width: auto !important; overflow: visible !important; float: none !important; max-height:inherit !important; max-width:inherit !important; line-height: auto !important; margin-top:0px !important; visibility:inherit !important; }

/* Hides Light Mode-Only Content*/
[data-ogsc] .light-img { display:none; display:none !important; }

/* Custom Dark Mode Background Color */
[data-ogsc] .darkmode { background-color: #272623 !important; }

/* Custom Dark Mode Font Colors */
[data-ogsc] h1, [data-ogsc] h2, [data-ogsc] p, [data-ogsc] span, [data-ogsc] a, [data-ogsc] b { color: #ffffff !important; }

/* Custom Dark Mode Text Link Color */
[data-ogsc] .link { color: #91ADD4 !important; }[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Apply Styles to Your Body HTML

Ensure that your HTML tags have the necessary Dark Mode classes.

Example HTML:
<!– start HEADER_LOGO –>
<a href=”tacticalma.com” target=”_blank”>

<img class=”light-img” src=”tacticalma.com” width=”163″ height=”60″ alt=”TacticalMA” style=”color: #ffffff; text-align:center; font-weight:bold; font-size:36px; line-height:40px; text-decoration: none; margin: 0 auto; padding: 0;” border=”0″ />

<!– The following Dark Mode image is hidden
with MSO conditional code and inline CSS.
Revealed once Dark Mode is triggered –>

<!–[if !mso]><! –><div class=”dark-img” style=”display:none; overflow:hidden; float:left; width:0px; max-height:0px; max-width:0px; line-height:0px; visibility:hidden;” align=”center”>
<img src=”tacticalma.com” width=”163″ height=”60″ alt=”TacticalMA” style=”color: #ffffff; text-align:center; font-weight:bold; font-size:36px; line-height:40px; text-decoration: none; margin: 0 auto; padding: 0;” border=”0″ />
</div><!–<![endif]–>

</a>
<!– end HEADER_LOGO –>[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Don’t know what HTML or CSS means? Pass these tips on to your developer or agency and save yourself a struggle.

A final note:
ALWAYS TEST YOUR MESSAGES BEFORE YOU SEND THEM

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“This is amazing. It’s so obvious now that you’ve pointed it out. We’ve been struggling with this for months, and now it just makes sense.” These words are incredibly validating and also commonplace in our customer conversations. This year alone, Tactical MA has provided nearly 600 hours of process development consultation to our customers. At the end of the day, process development is no different from any other troubleshooting effort.

 

This is not a different camera angle; it’s the same picture side by side. The brain simply doesn’t accept this truth.

Consider This Troubleshooting Story:

We were recently integrating Gravity Forms on a WordPress site with Act-On Software through a standard JavaScript method. However, a very talented developer had become stuck when he did not get the expected results from the script deployment. He called me into his office as a sanity check and explained the situation,

“I pushed the data to Act-On successfully. I added one parameter to the query string. It failed, so I removed the parameter to the previous successful test, and it also failed.”

Stuck.

It’s important to understand that I have absolute confidence in this developers’ WordPress and JavaScript skills and regard them as one of the world’s top ten Act-On experts. This wasn’t a training issue.

So I had him walk through the process with me. Show me the code, push the code, load the form, submit the form, validate the result.

It became quickly evident the JavaScript wasn’t actually running on the page, which I pointed out, to his frustration. He responded, “I know, but there is nothing in the code that would break the script. It is built exactly right; you just watched me do it.”

So I asked him to show me the page source code. He glowered at me, explaining why he was certain everything was correct as he navigated to the page source code.

And there it was (or wasn’t) plain as day. The script he had written was not on the page. He refreshed the page, still no script. He quickly returned to WordPress and republished the GravityForm and WordPress page – still no script.

He explained that we must be looking in the wrong spot; the code had to be there. I smiled and had him change and push the copy of the Gravity Form response page.

And it was confirmed. The saved and published changes were not showing up on the public page.

Experienced WordPress developers and users can already see exactly what the problem here was. The CDN was caching the page, and the version we were seeing wasn’t updated. His mistake was believing his own brain. He had pushed the button to update the page and made the assumption the page had been updated.

I couldn’t have told you why it wasn’t working at the start, but I followed the golden rule of troubleshooting.

Don’t trust your brain; test every assumption.

Applying These Lessons

The way we apply this lesson to process development is direct and parallel.

  1. Define All Objectives
  2. Collect All Facts
  3. Document
  4. Review and Brainstorm

1. Define All Objectives

The first step is to collect and define all objectives. Suppose we are developing processes that impact the sales and marketing teams. We should interview the sales and marketing stakeholders to understand what, specifically, they are trying to accomplish. If we’re told, “IT always makes things difficult,” then we also interview IT. By understanding the objectives of all stakeholders in the process, we can establish clear rules and boundaries for our solution.

The process must accomplish X and cannot impact Y.

2. Collect All Facts

This is where refusing to trust the brain is critical. We interview stakeholders and participants, but we also review the technology. For example, clients will often tell us how lead assignment rules work in CRM, but this only tells us how this person thinks they work. When you explain a technical process to us, we will absolutely open that process in your website, marketing, or CRM to verify it for ourselves. Once we look at the technology, we find that approximately 60% of processes are explained to us inaccurately.

It is imperative that every fact be conclusively tested before being accepted.

3. Document

The third step of effective process development is to document everything in its current state. I’m not talking about taking notes in a notebook, I mean formal process documentation; flow charts with a granular step by step workflow. Take everything we will touch and articulate exactly how it works right now before any changes are made. (See Below) There can be no assumptions in this process. While documenting processes, we commonly encounter gaps in our discovery process, places where steps must occur, but we do not know how they occur. This documentation is extensively marked up and will serve as the data source for all additional discussion and development.

If it’s not documented, it doesn’t exist.

4. Review and Brainstorm

The final step of effective process development is to review the existing workflows and imagine something better. It’s the magical piece. As one of my team members often says,

Instead of doing the dumb thing, do the smart thing instead.

This is why I likened the practice to troubleshooting. Once you have identified the problem, it’s usually plenty easy to define a solution. The hardest part (solving the problem) becomes the easiest part.

Because we have already mapped out the process end to end and defined every single gap, contradiction, or redundant step in the process, producing an optimized process is very simple. Plug the gaps, resolve the contradictions, and eliminate redundancy. The remaining process is seemingly a work of genius.

Really, it’s just a strict adherence to fundamental troubleshooting.

Impact

We know that this type of thinking is not common, nor is it easy. We spend our lives trusting our perception, and learning to think radically different doesn’t happen overnight. That is where the impact of a third party comes in. We can facilitate change within an organization, and we become a powerful force for soliciting buy-in to new ideas.

By following this process, we have solved hundreds of “impossible” problems.

We have integrated systems that cannot be integrated, developed workflows that could not be made, and, most importantly, generated many thousands of leads and many millions in revenue for our customers.

The ability to look at the same data and reach different conclusions is the advantage of an outside consultant. We don’t have the same bias, pressure, or experience with your company, affording us objectivity in our evaluation. Because we get an incredibly detailed view of your process with zero context, our questions are detailed, often redundant, and frankly, we can ask the stupid questions that would be political suicide for an employee of the company. We don’t risk our jobs by challenging the CEO. We don’t make enemies by critiquing the status quo.

The way we stay impartial is by following simple guidelines, like the steps we’ve discussed here. The commitment to honest and analytical thinking often makes us invaluable to our customers.

If you’ve enjoyed this article – don’t forget to sign up for our Newsletter at the bottom of this page so we can share more with you in the future!

 

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