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?

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.
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.
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;

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>.

@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; }

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″ />

<!– 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:

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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.”


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.


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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Google makes updates to Chrome’s policies on third-party cookies.

What’s the Hype?

Google has announced its intent to phase out support for third-party cookies over the next two years. Although most browsers already offer cookie-blocking extensions, many are making moves to disable third-party cookies entirely in the face of privacy concerns. This shift will affect marketers, advertisers, and others in the business of marketing analytics.

What You Need to Know

  • The first steps of this transition rolled out in early February.
  • A Google spokesman says that the company is planning “workarounds” in response to industry concern, but we have yet to see what these will be.
  • Mozilla and Apple have launched tools with similar effects on their web browsers, Firefox and Safari.

Steps to Take

  1. Secure your marketing domain with an SSL certificate, including any vanity URLs.
  2. All links must be secure, beginning with https:// including links to images, forms, and gated content.
  3. If you are using a Marketing Automation Platform, check with your CRM for updates to their integration.

We’re Here if You Need Us

If you’re unsure about one of these steps or have any other questions, please reach out! We’re always here to help.

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Most marketers agree that segmenting audiences is an intuitive practice that yields undeniable results. Commonly this is seen in advertising campaigns where audiences are selected by demographic factors like location, age range, or gender. As with most common practices in marketing, the difference between the good and the great is how well they understand and implement its nuance. The saying goes: a novice knows what to do, a journeyman knows how to do it, and only a master understands why. In this article, we explore some of the “why, what, and how” of psychographic segmentation.

The Why: Psychology of Personalized Experiences

Humans are social creatures by nature, literally; it’s in our biology. We are communal creatures sorting the world into ours and theirs, friend and foe, safe and unsafe. It’s in our nature to trust the familiar and, by extension, trust that which seems to be like us. It’s the same instinct that makes us want our “usual” server at a restaurant or feel embarrassed to forget a coworker’s name. We are social. We want to belong.

As marketers, our goal is to impress on our chosen audience the idea “this company gets me.” We want to create comradery with them. In our ideal case, prospects see our products and think, “it’s like this was custom-made, just for me.” We aspire to brands like Apple, with lines of people willing to wait hours for our newest release, or Forbes’ whose authority over definitive content goes largely unopposed.

The pinnacle of marketing is a buyer’s desperate desire to be part of our culture. It’s a bad look when we’re begging to be a part of theirs.

Regardless of who is a part of whose culture, the buyer must feel connected to our brand, our messaging, and our content. “Marketing that attempts to connect with everyone connects to no one,” this means being specific and personal. Great marketing teams are careful to single-out an audience for whom their service is a perfect fit, then personalize the customer journey.

Psychographic segmentation focuses on the latter, “personalizing the customer journey.”

For more about identifying a target audience, check out our article on personas: Do You Know Who You’re Talking To?

The What: Personalized Lead Nurture With Psychographic Segmentation

We’ve discussed before how demographic attributes are foundational when building personas and identifying markets. When it comes to lead nurture, however, demographic segmentation quickly breaks down. Selecting the right audience allows us to target the right people, but nurture needs to be more personal. Effective nurture requires observing and measuring how each individual responds to our messaging.

Psychographic attributes measure behavior, inferring interest and views from that behavior, including held values, political beliefs, perceptions of brand, and how a message resonates. Psychographic attributes are far more challenging to collect than their demographic counterparts and are, in turn, far more challenging to develop campaigns around. They are, however, far more personal and practical in the current marketing landscape.

The How: Marketing Automation Decreases Funnel Leaks

As we’ve discussed, buyers gravitate toward companies whose messaging reflects their own values, beliefs, and perceptions. What converts one lead will often nix another. Historically, marketers have run A/B tests to find what converts “the most,” and the rest are counted as a loss. But there’s a better way.

With marketing automation tools, we can attain those powerful psychographic insights and immediately put them to work. For example, a recent campaign we ran for a client had two audience targets. We knew that one of our audiences was “gritty” and another more “professional.”

We tested a theory that one audience may respond better to Rich Text Only marketing emails rather than the full HTML versions our client had been running exclusively up to that point. The results were fascinating. After our very first send, we noted the “gritty” audience responded in an overwhelmingly positive way to the Rich Text nurture email, and our clickthrough rates tripled from that same message in an HTML form. However, our “professional” audience showed a massive 85% drop in engagement.

Using profile and behavioral segmentation, we built the mechanics of this division into all nurture campaigns going forward, ensuring that subscribers are on the correct path based on their demographic and psychographic traits. We are now maximizing results in both audience segments, and using marketing automation (Act-On Software in this use case), we were able to automate these campaigns without the need to manage lists or individual sends going forward.

We launched two very successful (and very different) campaigns to these audiences. The campaigns performed 800% higher than those tried by a previous agency.

Additionally, by translating all psychographic and behavioral markers into a lead score formula, we configured an automated alert system for the sales team. Anytime there’s a spike in interest level from a lead, or a lead reaches the set threshold, our client’s sales team is pinged, thus accelerating the progress of MQLs through their marketing funnel.

Demographic segmentation is useful, but it’s a very 1950’s way of thinking about marketing. Marketing in a global world requires knowing your audience and knowing when to act; otherwise, they’ll fall for the next company vying for their consideration. With the array of marketing technologies that exist in the world today, we can leverage powerful insight to know what resonates with our audience without expensive focus groups or market research. Measuring and interpreting the data correctly is key to reading audience signals, and marketing automation technology gives us the ability to segment these data signals and build incredibly powerful marketing campaigns.

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Email development can be one of the most frustrating parts of a marketers day-to-day life. Let me make it easier by solving one of the most common issues that affects many emails rendered in Outlook: The Broken Button.

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before.


It’s 8 A.M.

Your prized email campaign has just launched across 4 different time zones to 500,000 prospective customers.

You’ve done it.  You’ve spent hours of pixel perfect detail work, spent a week reworking copy, sent 25 test messages, looped in other team members for feedback, and even completed a subject line A/B test.

You open up your laptop to see it in your inbox. Right on time. You’ve worked tirelessly for weeks to ensure that this piece of intricate automation delivers your message of marketing gold to every person you can muster. 

Then your sales team complains that the message looks bad

You tested it, you proofed it, you’re whole team looked at it!  What is going on?!

And someone shows you that your beautiful call-to-action (with just the right shade of purple) looks like this in their Outlook inbox:

        What It Looks Like

           What It’s Supposed To Look Like


The Problem is Outlook on a PC

Before we can know the solution, we have to know the problem.

To an email client, your “button” is just a table. This can be present in any tables, including Act-On’s Bullet Proof Buttons. 

Outlook is notorious for ignoring styling within table cells, though it usually works fine on a Mac.  Since most creative teams are Mac users, these issues can be invisible until it lands in an Outlook for PC inbox  (Here is a great article by Litmus on Outlook render issues). In this case, our button is rendering with too much padding on the bottom. It looked sleek and slim in your WYSIWYG editor and on your Mac, but now it is all kinds of sideways. The issue you see above you is caused by a simple issue: Line height.

Line height controls the space around any rendered text. Your call-to-action does in fact have text in it, and that spacing around the text causes what you see.  That table grabs the padding and styling, including the line height. Because the text is telling the table it needs a certain amount of space to exist, the table accommodates by pushing itself way farther out then we actually want the table to be. 

So how do we fix it?

1) Fixing it with native Act-On CSS styling

 In Act-On, Line Height is controlled by the Line Spacing option in the Message Styling tab. Line Height and Line-Spacing are generally coupled together by default.

This issue only appears when the Line Spacing of an email is set to 1 ½ or higher. This is essentially the break point for the button displaying properly in Outlook and can solve the issues in many other popular email clients.

Make sure it’s not set to Default. This can be higher than you expect it to be and cause all sorts of issues.

2) Fixing it in HTML

What if you need a specific line height for the rest of your email? 

In-line CSS allows us to set the line-height for this specific element. We want to set ours to 1.

An example of the code looks like:

<td style=”line-height:1;”>

But it’s never that easy. You can’t just drop that code randomly into your html. You’ll want to make sure the line-height is present on the <td> level. Below is the code for Act-On’s Bulletproof button. (This can be seen by clicking the HTML button in the Rich Text Editor.)

<td class=”aoButtonTable” style=”padding: 10px 20px; text-align: center; background-color: #967bb6; color: #ffffff; border-radius: 0px; -webkit-border-radius: 0px; -moz-border-radius: 0px;”><a class=”aoButtonAnchor” style=”word-break: normal; word-wrap: normal; text-decoration: none; color: #ffffff; font-size: 14px; font-weight: bold; font-family: Arial;” href=”http://” target=”_blank”>SAVE MY SEAT</a></td>

The important bit for our purposes is that <td>. This is the Table Data. If we look to the “style”, we can see all of the styling that is present in the button. There, we can drop our line-height: 1. The end product will look like this: 

<td class=”aoButtonTable” style=”line-height: 1; padding: 10px 20px; text-align: center; background-color: #967bb6; color: #ffffff; border-radius: 0px; -webkit-border-radius: 0px; -moz-border-radius: 0px;”><a class=”aoButtonAnchor” style=”word-break: normal; word-wrap: normal; text-decoration: none; color: #ffffff; font-size: 14px; font-weight: bold; font-family: Arial;” href=”http://” target=”_blank”>SAVE MY SEAT</a></td>

Elements that are styled in-line have priority over styling present in the overall page. If the line-height is set 1 on the <td> level the button will render properly, even with higher Line Spacing. It may need to go on a higher level, but that is very rare.

The great thing about this solution is that it’s marketing program agnostic. This will fix it at the email client’s DNA level.

Side-by-side you can easily see the difference:

         Now it looks right!

        This will never happen again!

Voila! A beautiful button to align with your beautiful messaging!

Now, those two images are taken from my Desktop and were rendered by Outlook.  Did it work on mobile? The only way to be certain that this worked is to test in email client after email client. Even with everything I said, nothing can beat rigorous testing. There’s a litany of services that allow you batch test these things, and I can’t recommend them enough.

Knowing is half the battle. – G.I. Joe

Breathe easy. Now your button has some backbone and can withstand the depths of different email clients. You know that every detail is important to your customers. Make sure your buttons reflect that as well.

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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.

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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It’s been 7 years since the Fournaise Group published a survey stating that “80% of CEOS admit they do not really trust, and are not very impressed by the work done by Marketers.” It’s an old article that I find immensely insightful in my everyday work and life. In my career, it focused me on the right priorities, making sure that every marketing activity was aligned to the priorities of the CEO.  I had no idea that this simple change would one day lead to the formation of my owner marketing agency and consulting company.

However, just saying “marketing should be aligned to the business objectives” is stupid obvious and very unhelpful.  I’ve never met a marketer who said: “I don’t care about the business I just want to make pretty pictures.” In fact, every marketer I’ve worked with throughout my career has been extraordinarily passionate about their work, the results of their work, and the positive impact it has on the business.

As I take a moment to reflect, I think about some key influencers on my path. Great marketers like who not only taught me skills, they challenged me to be better and think differently. They were passionate about their work, committed to the business, and celebrated by the Sales team. Until the company missed a sales number – then it was their fault. As silly as this is, every marketer has been there; we all know that marketing can sometimes be a frustrating, disheartening, and thankless job. If marketing was easy, there wouldn’t be an entire industry dedicated to it.

It’s my experience that the biggest reason marketers “miss” is because they didn’t know what they were aiming at.  They are told to find leads, and they do, but they aren’t the right people. They are told to find the right people, and they do, but they aren’t converting. They are told to create better-qualified leads, and they do, but it is taking too long.  On and on it goes, such is the nature of poorly defined goals that are not part of a well thought out plan.

So how do we take the statement “Marketing should be aligned to the business objectives” and make this more practical? How do we turn a platitude into a plan? 

1) Executives Set Data Driven Goals

Every successful marketing organization has clear, actionable marketing objectives and it is the role and responsibility of a company executive to set these goals. You don’t have to know how to make it happen.  It will be the job of the marketers to figure out how to do “it”, but it is the executive’s job to define what “it” is.

We have invested a considerable amount of time unpacking this concept substantially in our new whitepaper – Aligning Marketing to Your Business.  The feedback has been excellent and we trust you will also appreciate the insight. DOWNLOAD WHITEPAPER

2) Form a Sales and Marketing Covenant

Neither of these organizations can function without the other.  It is a symbiotic relationship consisting of two partner organizations working together to accomplish the same goal. With the executive goals set, the leaders of these organizations should agree to a strategic marketing plan, a tactical marketing plan, and a specific timeline of execution.  If either party deviates from the plan, they should be proactive and provide this information to the other the way we would in any other healthy relationship.

3) Apply the Science of Marketing

Marketing is to Psychology as Engineering is to Physics.  Humans in a given culture behave predictably, and great marketers know how to use this. Great marketers always define their target audience, always define their buyer’s journey, and always develop tactical marketing plans to target each stage of this journey with relevant content to keep them moving.  When done right, marketing is predictable. Lead generation, opportunity conversion, and customer retention become statistical norms that can be counted on and invested in.

Write it down.  

Formalize the expectations, the strategic plan, the tactical execution plan, the timeline, and the signoff.  These formalities create accountability and unity among companies. If I have helped you, I’m happy, if I have engaged your mind, I’m glad, and as always, if you’d like to entertain hiring Tactical Marketing Automation as your agency, I welcome the call.

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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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Data Visualization is the creative side of reporting. It’s the pretty charts and graphs that your colleagues “ooo” and “aww” over in team meetings. When done right, you can set the standard by which others 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. The best tool for your purposes 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 it for being 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.


Visualization in Data Analysis is an entire field of its own. This specific post is not meant to be exhaustive (that is to come), but, as always, feel free to contact us for a free consultation!

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

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