Adventures with email - Wordtracker and the next big thing

Posted by Owen Powis on 25 Nov, 2015
View comments Marketing
The Wordtracker team has been busy working with our sister company Mailflow. Find out all about what we’ve been up to and just why we believe automation is the future of marketing.

You may have heard the term ‘programmatic advertising’ before. In fact we’ve talked about it on the blog before. It’s the direction that marketing is immutably moving in. This drive towards automation and data driven campaigns doesn’t just stop at paid media though. Email is moving forwards too.

Powerful doesn't have to be complex

Here at Wordtracker we use email to keep people informed and updated, both about our products and the wider world of SEO. Email is a vital part of our sign-up process. When you sign up for a trial we use email to message about the product and use what is called an on-boarding sequence.

In order to message people effectively we’ve had to use 4 different services to send emails. That’s right, 4 services:

  1. Mixpanel : Messaging based on user actions
  2. Mailchimp : Bulk mailings, newsletter etc
  3. Recurly : Account notifications
  4. Stripe : Receipts and refunds

Wouldn’t it be great if there was just one service which handled all of these tasks? Sometimes it’s not about creating a massive, complex platform, but actually about simplicity and flexibility. One incredibly powerful platform that’s easy to use and understand.

Making email beautifully automated

There are lots of different ESP’s (email service providers) already out there. Through Wordtracker we have repeatedly found these solutions fall short when it comes to automation. It’s not about the features - there are lots of solutions that offer these - it’s the level of difficulty involved in implementing and properly organising campaigns.

Email sequences are at the core of automation. These are a chain of emails sent in a specific order, so a sequence. Where it gets really interesting is when you start providing multiple options within the sequence depending on the action the recipient took.

So here’s a straightforward sequence:

That looks good, but we also know that lots of people sign up for Wordtracker who are looking for new niches to exploit. So maybe we want a sequence which catches these people as well:

So let’s say we send someone an email about keyword research and they don’t open it, so are not responsive. Instead of sending another email which probably won’t interest them we try a different email targeted at a different type of user.

This is where it gets really clever. Suppose you could tag all those users who ignored the “keyword research” email and opened the “niche” email with say, “Niche hunters”, while all those who opened the “keyword research” emails are tagged with “Researchers”. Now you’ve stored this information so you can use it in any later campaigns. You can send your messaging only to the people you know it will be most relevant to.

What we need is a solution which can simplify the process without taking away from the functionality we need. It’s not hard to see that with three or four stages and different email variants it soon becomes complex. Here’s how Mailchimp shows you a sequence:

 

It’s really difficult to understand what’s going on as everything is displayed vertically, the connections between the email emails aren’t visually shown and it is just really difficult to make multiple variants.

Here’s our sequence in Mailflow:

 

Now I can see what’s going on much more clearly, and it’s also clear there are a couple of improvements I could make. For instance what about people who don’t open the first ‘Welcome to Wordtracker’ email.

 

Now I’ve added in a couple of extra emails, for those that don’t respond to the initial email and an extra email to capture those who don’t open either of the follow-up emails. It’s amazing the  difference it makes having the emails mapped out clearly and visually so you can think through what people are going to receive and when.

Integrating everything else into email

Mailflow is about making email beautifully simple, but powerful. The way to do this isn’t by creating a large bloated platform but by creating a flexible solution that can be easily plugged into other services. One of our core requirements in Wordtracker is to cut down from those four services we are sending emails from to just the one.

Tags are a very powerful feature within Mailflow. They allow you to trigger emails automatically as soon as a tag is applied. This means that you can automatically trigger an individual email, or indeed a whole sequence of emails, by any action which generates a tag.

Mailflow uses Zapier to achieve integration with 400+ other platforms. This allows you to tie actions from any of these to tags within Mailflow. So for instance we could trigger our new on-boarding sequence directly from Stripe when a new customer is created.

Mailflow will also support a number of direct integrations. The two which are going to be launching soon are Stripe and Mixpanel. This will allow a much closer level of integration than through Zapier and will unlock a wealth of customisation. At this point we’ll be able to cross 2 of those 4 platforms off the list.

Better campaigns need better numbers

Understanding the data from email campaigns has long been a bit of an arduous affair, usually involving exporting data to excel (where that’s even possible), crunching the data and trying to make sense of it.

Where we’re missing out most is when campaigns are in action - being able to see problems as they happen and quickly react to them. If you’re sending out a campaign to 100,000 people you don’t want to know about any problems after the event.

This is where live analytics come in - being able to see the numbers update as the campaign rolls out. So we have the opportunity to jump in and make changes before it’s too late. It’s proactive rather than reactive.

Analytics within email typically has a top-down approach. Everything is lumped together in a report you can download or maybe in an analytics section. You can then dig through the data to drill down into it and get the insight you need.

What’s needed is contextual analytics. So the data is not only displayed in summary but also within the context of the email it’s referring to. This is exactly what Mailflow does:

Wordpress

Our long standing favourite CMS is Wordpress. We use it to run our Get Traffic courses. You can create a custom solution, like in our case a delivery mechanism for courses, that’s a professional grade service without building it yourself.


It’s hard to ignore Wordpress with 25% of websites running it. It’s also very popular amongst small businesses, entrepreneurs and those at the heart of the Wordtracker audience. Luckily enough, connecting your Wordpress site to Mailflow couldn’t be easier.

With the email automation plugin by Mailflow you can have your Wordpress installation taking to your Mailflow account in under a minute. And it doesn’t stop there; using the Plugin unlocks a whole new level of functionality.

Tags can now be added whenever a member of your site visits a page. So for instance if you have an ‘Upgrades’ page, when that page is visited a tag is set against the contact in your Mailflow account. That triggers the ‘Upgrades sequence’ and the contact is sent the email ‘10 amazing reasons to upgrade your account!’.

Most email plugins force you to use their forms. This is a major pain if you, like us, use a membership plugin. You want to keep your existing forms and sign-up sequence but also pass all those emails to your email platform. Mailflow allows you to do just this, meaning you can pass those contacts automatically from your site’s admin area, tagging them however you want along the way. Keep all your existing forms, add the plugin, you’re good to go.

The email platform we all want

As Mailflow is our sister company, we’ve got a bit of an exclusive. Mailflow has been in pre-launch mode for a while, accepting a limited number of sign ups and also giving people who join Wordtracker to chance to sign up.

On the 2nd December Mailflow will be launching to the entire Wordtracker audience with their new pricing plans. To be clear, these are not yet available, they will only be available on launch day.

* Additional sends will be available for $10 per 20,000 so you can scale up your plan as you need

We want to get input from all our audience. We want you to try it and critique it but also tell us what you need to make it more useful for you. Everyone in our audience should benefit from this partnership. Let’s make this the best email platform we can for all of us.

We will be emailing all our newsletter subscribers on launch on the 2nd December with a coupon for not only a month free on Mailflow, but in addition, up to 100,000 sends to play around with. So make sure you’ve signed up for the Wordtracker newsletter to guarantee you get the offer, it won’t be available anywhere else.

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