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Choosing the Right Charts for Your Custom Marketing Dashboard

Choosing the Right Charts for Your Custom Marketing Dashboard

Data Visualization is the creative side of reporting. It’s the pretty charts and graphs that your colleagues “ooo” and “aww” over in your team meetings, and if done right, you can set the standard by which other departments are measured.

However, many marketers are not also data analysts and therefore struggle to develop effective data visualizations for their reports.  Consider this example:

Mary wanted to show the revenue generated from her marketing campaigns with an emphasis on which campaigns had contributed most significantly to accomplishing their companies quarterly revenue goals.

She had tracked and measured the data, but the monochromatic bar chart she used just didn’t seem to tell the story.

After a brief consultation, she realized that since her goal was “to compare the success of campaigns” a visualization highlighting comparison was more appropriate, in this case, a pie chart.  While either would work, the pie chart is more effective and helping others understand the data by representing the relative contribution visually.

So what graph should I use?

There are many, many ways to visualize data and what you should use depends largely on your audience and the meeting context.  Many marketers have had their data challenged due to a lack of granularity, and many have had ignored because it was too specific or jargony.  The most important thing is that your data visualization be effective!

Here are some basic considerations* for determining the type of chart you should use:

Line graph

Line graphs are used to track changes over short and long periods of time. When smaller changes exist, line graphs are better to use than bar graphs. Line graphs can also be used to compare changes over the same period of time for more than one group.

Pie Chart

Pie charts are best to use when you are trying to compare parts of a whole. They do not show changes over time.

Bar Graph

Bar graphs are used to compare things between different groups or to track changes over time. However, when trying to measure change over time, bar graphs are best when the changes are larger.

Area Graph

Area graphs are very similar to line graphs. They can be used to track changes over time for one or more groups. Area graphs are good to use when you are tracking the changes in two or more related groups that make up one whole category (for example public and private groups).

X-Y Plot

X-Y plots are used to determine relationships between the two different things. The x-axis is used to measure one event (or variable) and the y-axis is used to measure the other. If both variables increase at the same time, they have a positive relationship. If one variable decreases while the other increases, they have a negative relationship. Sometimes the variables don’t follow any pattern and have no relationship.


We hope this information has been helpful.  Data Analysis and Visualization are an entire field on their own.  We have not tried to be exhaustive.

As always, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

*Source: https://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/help/user_guide/graph/help_menus.asp

Using Salesforce Campaigns to Create Custom Lead Score Rules in Act-On Marketing Automation

Using Salesforce Campaigns to Create Custom Lead Score Rules in Act-On Marketing Automation



This article is an advanced use case for lead scoring using Act-On Marketing Automation.  Here we will explore the use case where a company is conducting multiple live events every year, and these events are being tracked through Salesforce Campaigns.  Act-On provides an out of the box feature called “Custom Touch Points” that allows a user to upload an event list and apply scoring based on this.  However, for companies that do many events, the manual process of uploading data is a tedious waste of time. In our use case, we want Act-On to apply lead scoring based on event participation without adding steps to the process after every event. This is an excellent use case for Act-On as true Marketing Automation and not just email automation.

A note for those not using lead scoring

Lead scoring is perhaps the most valuable, least used feature of virtually all Marketing Automation Platforms.  According to MarketingSherpa, “Organizations that use lead scoring experience a 77% lift in lead generation ROI…”  If you aren’t using lead scoring yet, this article won’t help you, but Act-On’s Marketing Automation Strategy Guide will!



While Act-On has native functionality that allows users to load event lists and apply scoring, organizations with many offline or untracked activities can find this cumbersome to manage. When using integrated Salesforce CRM, many organizations use the Salesforce Campaign feature to track and manage this activity. The Salesforce Report serves as a data source for any custom scoring model using Act-On Marketing Automation.

These are the types of creative solutions Tactical helps our customers with every day!



Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Step 6

Step 7

 Step 1 – Create a Salesforce Report

Configure your Salesforce Report to include all relevant Campaigns and the appropriate fields and Campaign Statuses.  Once you are satisfied with the contents of your report, save your work to the Unfiled Public Reports folder.

Additionally, make sure you configure your report to automatically refresh itself using the “Schedule Future Runs” option. (SF Article Here)

In this example, these Campaigns will have three custom Salesforce statuses:

  • Registered
  • Attended
  • Booth Visit

Remember to include the Contact ID and Email Address on these reports or Act-On will not be able to recognize the records!

 Step 2 – Sync the Salesforce Report to Act-On

Act-On’s native integration to Salesforce equips you to Import these reports in the Act-On Marketing Lists dashboard.  When you select “Import,” a complete list of Salesforce Campaigns and all Reports in the Unfiled Public Reports folder will be visible in alphabetical order.  If you have many such objects, the browser find function (Control + F on PC, Command + F on Mac) will help you locate your specific report easily.

 Step 3 – Configure the Recurring Report Sync

Once you have imported the Salesforce Report into Act-On, you need to schedule a recurring sync on the Report so it remains updated.  This sync will typically be scheduled to run once per day, and usually outside of business hours.

 Step 4 – Create Salesforce Fields for Your Custom Scoring Criteria

After you have defined what your custom criteria are, you will need to create fields on the Lead and/or Contact record to store this data.  In this example, we will use three custom Salesforce statuses:

  • Registered
  • Attended
  • Booth Visit

These three criteria will be created as the new Lead and Contact fields “Registered,” “Attended,” and “Booth Visit.”

We will populate these later in our workflow with True or False values.

Remember to add these new fields to your Salesforce Lead and Contact syncs, and to your Standard Field Names!

 Step 5 – Configure Segmentation

Now that you have your Salesforce Report and the appropriate fields, navigate to the synced Report in Act-On.  Configure segments that meet the criteria for your custom scoring requirements. Each criteria should be a subsegment of a general category.  For example:

Top level segment – Event Date is after 90 days ago

3 Subsegments:

  • Status = Registered
  • Status = Attended
  • Status = Booth Visit


This can be done using Act-On’s native “Profile” segmentation and relative date functionality:

 Step 6 – Configure Automation

Now that you have the appropriate segments, create an automated program that will manage updating your Salesforce fields automatically.

The Source List for the Automated Program should be the top level segment you created “Event Date After 90 Days Ago”.  If you would like contacts to reenter the program, Act-On Support will need to enable “program reentry” functionality.

Now add your conditional segments to the program:

Configure the program logic to update the Salesforce Lead or Contact field as True when a contact meets the program criteria. The program should look like this:

 Step 7 – Configure Scoring

At this point, all events are being captured in a Salesforce Report and this data is being synced to Act-On. Using an Automated Program, we have updated relevant Salesforce fields to hold the scored values, and when the scored behavior expires, the scored behavior will be updated as false. All that remains is to apply the Scoring Rule.
In the Scoring Rules section, configure a “Profile” Score Rule based on the value of your Salesforce Field.
In our example, we will score Registered as 5, Attended as 10, and Booth Visit as 40.

The Profile Scoring rules are configured as follows:

If you do not see your custom fields, it is likely you forgot to add these to the Standard Field Names as outlined in Step 4. Otherwise, your scoring should now look like this.

Based on the automated rules we have configured, Contacts will now be scored the given points for 90 days at which time the score will decay like any other behavior.

Podcast: What Makes an Act-On Customer Successful?

Podcast: What Makes an Act-On Customer Successful?

I had an opportunity to team up with my friends at Act-On Software to discuss the findings of a data study.  In this study, we evaluated Act-On customers and their success or failure relating to various features and found that certain features can result in 90% likelihood of satisfaction with the software.  We also found a few simple mistakes can almost guarantee failure.

An excerpt from the transcript:

“We asked the question, what makes an Act-On customer successful?

A lot of us, myself included, expected to see that it was our users that were doing sophisticated automation or sophisticated segmentation, or using these really advanced aspects of the program. And what we found, …it wasn’t the use of all of the advanced tools, pushing the system to its max, that made customers love Act-On. It was adherence to the Fundamental Three. Those three are simple, they’re in reach of every customer.”

It boils down to three questions:

  • Do you track website visitors with the Act-On Beacon?
  • Have you integrated your web forms with Act-On’s forms?
  • Are you regularly sending email through Act-On?

If you answered “no” or “I don’t know” to any of these questions, it’s likely you have a problem waiting to happen.

Curious to know more? Check out the podcast here!

As always, I invite you to get in touch and let’s see how we can help!

Make Your Marketing Memorable: Why We Forget and How to Make Things Stick

Make Your Marketing Memorable: Why We Forget and How to Make Things Stick


That Awkward Moment

You know that awkward moment you meet someone for the first time and you go to call them by name; but its gone.  You’re embarrassed.  Then you spend the next hour calling them “hey you,” “girlfriend,” “dude,” “chica,” or “buddy.”

Or perhaps someone asks you to do the simple task of “remember this number” or a list of items, and how much work it can be to hold that information in the forefront of your mind?  These simple yet easy tasks can be tricky at times, why is that?

Before I can answer that question, let’s develop a basic understanding of the first two memory functions.


Your Brain Builds Blind Spots

Every day we are constantly surrounded by imagery and noise, however, we are not necessarily aware of all that is happening around us at every given moment.  Stop and listen to the sounds around you.  Were you aware of those sounds before being told to consciously listen?

Take your nose for example.  Your nose is a part of your visual field but you do not go around consciously thinking about your nose unless it is brought to your attention. The brain is a complex machine and likes to perform at high operating speed and will focus on what it deems as important in that current moment of time resulting in nixing out any information that is not necessary, like your nose or background sound.

The first intake of information goes through the sensory store then into the short-term- store (STS) section of memory.  This STS is capable of holding onto information for a brief period of time.  On average will hold onto information for about 12 -18 seconds before decay takes place; especially with information that you are receiving for the first time.

Short-Term Store also has the capacity to hold onto 7 pieces of information plus or minus 2 on each side.  However, the more you are exposed to information the deeper the information is encoded into your Long-Term Memory Storage.

For something to “stick” to your memory, the information needs to be accompanied by another piece of information that is either important, emotionally charged or repetitive.  This is why tricks like chunking or rehearsal are effective.

Memory Hacking – “Chunking”

Chucking is when we take a list of information and rearrange that list by grouping the items based on similarity or pattern.  For example, read this list twice (only twice) and then try to recite it back:

“Shoes – Brush, Socks – Elephant, Hair – Trunk”

Pretty difficult wasn’t it?  If you try to remember that list in that order you might have to apply some effort and study.  However, if you were to arrange the list differently, in pairs, it’s much easier to retain.  Try this one:

“Shoes – Socks, Hair – Brush, Elephant – Trunk”

See how much easier that was?!

Because the brain prioritizes efficiency, it’s ignoring certain information, it literally does not take in all of the information that surrounds us at all times.  As a result, you only encode the gist of a situation in your memory.

This is why we forget a person’s name when we first meet them, our brain is overloaded with information – there’s too much interference! While you are being introduced you are most likely thinking about what you are going to say next. Your brain is most likely busy trying to process and filter all the new sensory information that is taken a place around you.  Receiving new information and thinking about other things simultaneously bogs down the brain’s cognitive function which then interrupts processing someone’s name.

Because the brain likes to pair information with imagery thus tricks like mnemonics are successful tips for memorizing information.

Pro tip:

The next time you are introduced to someone new; consciously be aware of their name and pair it with something meaningful.  Whether that something is what they are wearing or an adjective of choice; Example, Red Russell, Tall Tim, Anxious Aaron or Beautiful Belle.

This should work like a charm and you don’t have to feel embarrassed the next time you go to “say” their name.

Make Your Marketing Memorable

The brain loves efficiency.

This is why  alliteration and other mnemonic devices work well and are critical to your marketing message.  Because information is chunked together in a nice little memory package for your brain, the likelihood of your audience retaining your marketing message skyrockets.    Alliteration is efficient, even if it’s sometimes cheesy, it’s easy to recall.

I still think to this day of the poster I saw in all my classrooms growing up in the 90’s, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  I even bet if you take a moment you will be able to recall many alliterated sayings that you have heard before.  That’s good marketing!

Brand strategists, journalists, and studios all use alliteration, just think about it!

  • Back in Black by AC/DC
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Coca-Cola
  • Best Buy

And the list goes on.  But remember the one critical rule:

Alliteration is always awesome as long as it’s not abused.

Knowing this, why not see if you can work some memory tricks into your next blog title, your next subject line, or your next PowerPoint training?

Master Marketing Automation Like a Game of Chess with Phil Bosley

Master Marketing Automation Like a Game of Chess with Phil Bosley

I was recently featured in an Act-On Software podcast discussing the parallels between chess and marketing automation strategy.

Act-On wrote:

“In this episode of the Rethink Podcast, we chat with Phil Bosley, a Marketing Automation Strategist at Act-On.

Phil is a chess enthusiast. In this conversation, he shares with us how playing chess is a metaphor for implementing your marketing automation strategy.

What does that mean? Listen to find out, and let me know if we’re off the mark with the metaphor.

Enjoy the conversation, and we hope you can get one or two takeaways that you can bring to your business.”

Check out the full post and podcast at Act-On.com

Inbound vs Outbound: When did the world become Black and White?

Inbound vs Outbound: When did the world become Black and White?

I’m often asked, “Should I use an inbound or an outbound strategy?” Inside my own head I always have the same response: “Seriously?!  What kind of question is that?”

This is then followed by the more rational complete response of “If the goal is to Attract the largest audience to your message, why not both?”

The BigBlog Advocate will tell you to go Inbound.  To disarm the outbound argument they will tell you that buying a list and sending email to it is illegal.  Then they will point you to a link saying, “Well, sort of.  If you do it illegally its illegal, but you can totally do it legally, but you shouldn’t cause the boogeyman will get you.”

The EmailEveryone Advocate will tell you to go Outbound.  To disarm the Inbound argument they will tell you to be aggressive and start sending email; then money will rain from the sky.  Then you’ll go through training and they’ll say, “Well, sort of.  If you Spam everyone you’ll get blacklisted and never get another email through ever.”

You see, this isn’t a 1950’s sci-fi flick where the good guys wear white and the bad guys wear black.  It’s the 21st Century, the space is crowded and noisy, and whoever has the most effective marketing wins.  No single tactic is the trump card.  No one product is the clear winner – otherwise there would only be one product.

Here are 5 key points to developing a comprehensive digital campaign using Inbound AND Outbound marketing tactics:

1. Understand your audience, including THEIR Buyer’s Journey
Most marketing departments have figured out that their content needs to be “buyer oriented.”  We’ve mastered the skill of pitching value, ROI, and benefits for the customer.  This method is excellent, for the BOTTOM of the funnel.

However – for true top of funnel content, the buyer has not even begun to consider what options are available, much less which option is best for her.  The key to effective “Attract” campaigns is to forget your value positioning.  At the true Top of the funnel, the Buyer is only aware that they are uncomfortable, in pain, or disrupted.

Consider this idea – All humans go through a process when they make a decision – ANY decision.  It looks like this:

2. Categorize your marketing funnel by the Buyer’s Journey
So what does this mean for marketers?  It means that if we understand the journey our buyer is on, we can tailor our message to our audience based on the needs and criteria of the stage they are in.  So in understanding our buyer’s journey, we gain the framework for our marketing funnel as seen here:

3. Create “funnel appropriate” Content
Now that we have a framework in place, we head back to the white board.

In the Top of Funnel content, we ask “What causes someone who will buy my product to need my product?”.  In Middle of Funnel content, we ask “What does someone who needs my product need to know about my product?”.  In Bottom of Funnel content we ask, “Why would they choose my product over their other options.”

Answering these questions will give you the topics needed for truly engaging messaging at every stage.

4. Leverage appropriate Media
Every content message can be used in multiple media assets.  A great LinkedIn article, for example, would also likely be a good blog post, whitepaper, and landing page.  Media is the container in which we put our content, and broadening the number of potential touch points is key to Attracting, Capturing, and Nurturing an engaged audience.

5. Distribute on “funnel appropriate” Channels
Inbound or Outbound?  Nope – Destination Bound.  We distribute content to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, our website, and our blog, and launch banners ads, retargeting campaigns, emails, trade shows, phone calls, and text messages. (Inbound and Outbound)

You see, if our content is right, it’s not a decision about Inbound or Outbound.  No one channel will reach our entire potential audience, ever. The key is to make sure that our funnel appropriate content is launched via funnel appropriate channels.  An email to a cold list asking them to “buy” something is a quick way to the Spam folder, and a social media or blog post with a demo invite is a great way to get ignored.  Top of Funnel blog posts are the wrong place for closing messages, and Bottom of Funnel emails are the wrong place for “10 Quick Tips”.

All marketing efforts are about getting the right message, to the right person, at the right time, so be selective and deliberate about how you deliver your carefully crafted message.

BOOM!  Real digital marketing done right.  No more Inbound vs Outbound BS – Just effective results, sales pipeline, and probably a pay raise.

Good Luck!

Feel free to reach out with any questions and leave your comments below!