August 22, 2018

The concept of personas in marketing has been around a while and some companies are quick to point out how great they are about creating these various “buyer personas.” Some like to get cute with their naming conventions and they use catchy little titles like “Marketing Mary” or “Sales Sam” or “Buyer Bob.” But at the end of the day there is a massive and fatal flaw with this ridiculous and incredibly time-consuming busy work. And the overworked marketer suffers.

A rose by any other name

Creating a persona is nothing more than a marketer wasting their valuable time to create a segment for their marketing campaigns. They are attempting to do the exact opposite of what they should be doing as a marketer. And the overt, egregious trumpeting of the elaborate process of creating personas as a pinnacle in marketing automation is a travesty. No flashy website with cute animations and the ability to change a background color makes up for this embarrassing display of antiquity.

Working backwards

These brands which herald the buyer persona as “the hot exciting thing” and tout the benefits of creating multiple buyer personas for their audience using some kitschy web app are doing nothing but slowing the progress of marketing automation. They misunderstand not only how to use modern technology but they fail to properly encourage marketer’s in their knowledge and understanding. Don’t get sucked into their trap. If you stumble upon one of these SaaS companies claiming to work in “marketing automation” and offering this type of service…run away.

You see the problem here is these companies fail to understand the very concept of marketing automation. They may have pivoted from other products and services to focus on marketing automation because the trend is hot and the space is growing…but they have not shifted their thinking fully to embrace the true meaning of marketing automation.

Personalized Marketing

Of course the idea of personalized marketing is a common one and these faux-marketing automation brands would have you believe you can use persona and personal interchangeably when considering marketing automation…but there is a massive difference. A persona groups everyone together by a “bucket” mentality and then allows you to market to the entire group as a single persona.

I understand their thinking but disagree with the conclusion. Personalized marketing should allow you to target the individual, not the group. Personas might give you an idea how to market to a group and help you segment an audience, but please, please don’t consider this the solution to your marketing efforts. And please don’t consider this to be personalized marketing automation.

Look forward and think different

Rather than focusing on shiny new terms for old methods let’s consider the future of marketing automation. Let’s put the power of marketing automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and everything else in today’s modern marketer’s toolkit to work to create a better future. Let’s think proactively about how marketer’s can maximize their talents. Don’t waste time doing mundane, outdated, repetitive tasks which could be completed by an intelligent marketing automation platform. Let the machine do the work of learning your audience and personalizing the experience. The intelligent platform can create individual experiences, not grouped, bulk, one-size-fits-all persona experiences.

Because let’s be really honest – The future is personalized marketing not persona marketing. 


I should conclude by saying there is nothing inherently wrong with personas. In fact, they are valuable tools if you have no idea who your audience is and you need a thought exercise to help you analyze who your target market should be. But don’t consider this your solution when implementing marketing automation. Personas serve a vastly different purpose.

August 13, 2018
Mautic is not your average JOE

Mautic has always been a strong marketing automation platform, but one thing I’ve continually pushed for is the ways in which Mautic will be leading the way into the Martech future. We have the opportunity now to set the bar for what marketing automation software looks like in the future. I’ve already talked about a few of the technical ways in which Mautic is creating the next big thing in marketing automation with the 3rd release of our software. But I haven’t talked as frequently about the ways we believe marketing should be done differently from the perspective of the marketer.

To be clear, this is a topic which I have spoken on more than a dozen times and shared with hundreds of people, but I think it is important to also post a written description of how I believe it will function as well for those who prefer to have something in writing.

Mautic’s campaign builder

The current campaign builder in Mautic is powerful and robust and incredibly flexible. In fact, we’ve won UI awards for our campaign builder and others have copied the layout and functionality more than once. It truly is a remarkable part of the Mautic platform. And yet, if you were to ask me what I think of the campaign builder I would tell you it’s broken. The layout isn’t necessarily broken or how it works (it does a wonderful job of allowing a campaign to be manually built and each outcome path to be defined and then created step-by-step). No, what is broken is the thinking behind the campaign builder.

Side note: Before I go further it is important to mention that in order to be able to create the future of marketing we had to begin with creating a marketing automation platform which offered feature parity with existing tools. This meant even though we knew it could (and should) be done differently, we couldn’t start with something so uncommon.

When I say the thinking is broken I mean the way in which campaigns have been historically thought about and built is wrong. But as with everything this is just part of the natural progression of things. Computers used to take up entire rooms. No one imagined you could take something so big and shrink it to the size of a desktop…or fit in your pocket. And yet now we have phones with magnitudes more power than those early computers. I said early on we would see this same exponential leap happen in marketing and I’ve said it to the point of annoyance to those closest to me that the current way of managing campaigns will soon be laughable. What antiquated thinking in an age where uniqueness and individuality is sought after and praised so highly.  To think that every one should be grouped into a segment and then sent the same messages at the same time on the same channel is asinine.

Mautic’s future campaigns

There is a better way. There is a way which changes how marketing automation is done and where the marketer is empowered to spend their time on better parts of their job. Marketers shouldn’t be stuck dragging messages across a canvas and connecting outcomes and decisions and messages with little arrows and lines and setting up a path which everyone must follow. What a waste of valuable time and intelligence.

Marketing automation should truly be automated. Marketing automation should take advantage of technology to blend the power of marketing intelligence with the power of the marketer’s skills. Let each do what they are best at doing. And at the same time create a unique and personalized experience for every single individual.

Marketing automation campaigns should be unique experiences. A marketer should never have to attempt to create a special path or journey for each person, but every person should have a unique journey. That’s where marketing automation becomes relevant. The marketer can craft the right messages and the right content and create the elements for the journey. The marketing automation software should orchestrate the experience. The software should build out the journey for each person unique to them based on their learned and expected personal profile.

Gaining wider attention

This concept is one which is finally beginning to gain wider attention and interest from others in the marketing automation space (not necessarily by service providers – other than Mautic) but rather by those analysts and individuals who are able to see what are coming next. Those prognosticators of marketing automation are pointing to this concept of a journey orchestration engine as the future of marketing automation.

David Raab, founder of a leading marketing research firm, has coined this term journey orchestration engine, or JOE, as the label by which to refer to this concept of an adaptive, learning, and personalized marketing journey. He speaks about the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence to accomplish this goal. And I could not agree with him more. He has very accurately described the exact solution I foresaw; and agrees with the rather primitive current marketing automation campaign builders. He describes what Mautic has already been proclaiming is the future of marketing automation.

Mautic 3 changes everything

This is why I am so excited about our next version of Mautic. No longer are we stuck in the old days of marketing automation software demanding hundreds of hours of tedious data entry and campaign creation. We are no longer forced to use a behemoth system taking up a veritable room. Instead we have the speed and power of an agile marketing automation platform where marketers create the elements and the platform orchestrates the journey. And with the amazing Mautic mobile interface it’s quite literally all held in your pocket. Mautic 3 accomplishes all this and much more. Interested in learning more? Follow my blog to be notified when I share future posts on the subject.

August 3, 2018
Marketing Salt

I make a mean breakfast omelette. I don’t claim to be much of a cook or a chef, but I will say I know how to make a good breakfast. This has partly come from practice. Lots of practice. Given the strict diet I have chosen I end up eating a lot of eggs and breakfast always ends up being an omelette of sorts. Now I know you’re not reading this post because you are particularly interested in my breakfast habits or my diet. (Although, if you’re interested I’m happy to write up a post about why I eat what I do.) No, I don’t believe you’re here for the food. So let me draw the relationship and relevance to marketing.

Distracted? Yeah, sometimes…

As I was saying, I make a mean breakfast omelette, but some mornings I’m a bit distracted. As many of you know and would also relate to, I have a lot going on. This means my mind is usually working on a couple different things at the same time. And as you have heard before, there is no such thing as true multi-tasking. We are fast-switching between our mental apps. Well, this morning I wasn’t switching quite fast enough. My brain got stuck in the middle of a Mautic app and the result was a failure to add an important ingredient to my omelette.

The Missing Ingredient

You’re probably already aware of the ingredient given the title of the post, and you’re correct. Salt. I left salt out of my eggs. Now, I added  a good bit of other seasonings (this is one of my secrets…lots of flavor!) but I neglected the salt.

As I sat down to eat I was instantly and acutely aware of this failure. And as my brain tends to work I immediately related this to the app my brain seemingly was still stuck in the middle of processing – Mautic. Or less specifically, marketing and marketing automation.

Related to marketing and its evolution

Marketing automation continues to evolve, marketers are growing in their understanding and use of this software and how it can be implemented to improve their marketing practices. I enjoy watching this growth (and I really enjoy seeing how Mautic contributes to this growth in exponential ways). In fact, I think we start to see a shift from simple automation to more advanced personalization and that’s a very important and interesting advancement.

Marketing salt

Let me explain now how my brain works and how I saw the relationship. I think of these exciting new marketing techniques to be a lot like salt. More specifically, I’d consider personalization to be the salt of marketing. Get it? It’s quite simple once you start to think about it. I can sum it up in two opposing sentences.  Too much and it’s terrible, it ruins the dish,  and it’s very noticeable. Too little and the result is bland, unappetizing, and easily discarded. See what I mean now?

Just as with salt, if you have too much personalization in your marketing you start to sound creepy, your personalization becomes very easily noticeable almost to the point of obnoxious, and it ruins the entire marketing effort. In similar fashion, with the absence of personalization in marketing the result is a generic, uninteresting and more easily forgotten marketing effort. Personalization makes it interesting and … dare I say … Personal. People remember things that are relevant to them.

The greatest chefs and marketers

And so, much like a chef must carefully recognize and implement the correct amount of salt in their dishes to highlight the flavor of the food without drawing unnecessary attention to the seasoning itself; in the same way a great marketer must carefully recognize and implement the correct amount of personalization in their marketing, highlighting and improving the marketing without drawing unnecessary attention to the personalization.

Thankfully I believe I’m a much better marketer and technologist than I am a chef…unfortunately I must now end this post and return to my omelette which is now salt-less and cold. But maybe I can remedy that…

July 23, 2018
The Art of Marketing

We’re all familiar with those catchy songs, you know, the songs you hear one to many times. The “ear worms” which tend to stick in your head and you can’t seem to escape their lyrical lasso no matter what store you enter or what elevator you ride. We also tend to recognize those brands who have subtly placed their logo or brand-mark within the purview our daily lives. Some of these brands we begin to associate with familiarity and appreciation. What an interesting dichotomy arises here. On one hand we have repetition leading to annoyance, and on the other we have a sense of comfort and happiness. What leads us to appreciate one and despise another?

Art or Science

This question and others like it are the constant subject of marketers everywhere. This study and understanding of these seeming “quirks” in human nature tend to make us believe there is more art than science in this pursuit. But this art is one which can be mastered. Just as the painters of each generation created masterpieces worthy of our contemplation and the subject of careful study by others, so too marketers today can become master artisans of their craft creating works of art which others can appreciate.

This art of marketing, however, is deeply founded in an understanding of human behavior and psychology and a better recognition of the reasoning behind why humans do the things they do. As a supporting case, let’s explore in greater detail the question posed in the opening paragraph. Why does repetition cause desire or disgust with seemingly undefinable contradictory results? Let’s start by understanding what forms this repetition can take.

Focused and Unfocused Repetition

Upon closer observation we can legitimately segment this repetition into two distinct categories: focused and unfocused. That might sound confusing at first pass so here’s a brief explanation. A focused repetition is one where the repetition is the object of the consumer’s attention. They are focused specifically on the thing being repeated and their attention is drawn to the subject, and perhaps even to the fact of its repetition. In this case the consumer is acutely aware they have seen or heard something one time, two times, etc…

The second type or repetition we’ll call unfocused. This is those items which are repeated in the background. The consumer is relatively unaware of the repetition as their focus is on something else. Maybe the song plays in the background of the Uber, or maybe the advertisement shows up in the television above the bar during happy hour. Regardless of the how or where, the unique quality of this manner of repetition is the lack of direct attention and focus given the item by the consumer.

New vs Old

Now with that understanding it’s important for us to consider how repetition works in the human brain. By nature humans are fearful of the new and the different. A natural sense of self-preservation keeps us from appreciating or drawing close to something unfamiliar. We are wary of potential danger. By this same token we feel comfort with those things we know and we find an equal and opposite sense of “safety” with those things we know. This brings us to our first challenge as marketers. We must find a way to make the unfamiliar familiar. We must make our “new and exciting” product something “old and familiar” at the same time. But this is harder than simply making new things seem old. This is hard because of the “dopamine effect,” a concept which by now many are quite familiar with.

The dopamine effect is the sense of euphoria which arises when a person discovers something new and exciting…in a positive way. The result is a sense of accomplishment and a sense of pride. A joy which is not too dissimilar from a high one might get from a drug (hence the symbolistic reference to a ‘dopamine hit’).

Are you starting to understand the difficulty present? A marketer must understand these competing forces exhibited by a positive “high” emerging from something new and the familiar comfort wrapped up in something old. How does a marketer manage this intricate balance? The difficulty of this problem is often what causes many to believe the art of marketing is more black magic than a direct science. But there is great news for aspiring marketers. The truth is found more in science than art and better understanding of these principles means marketers can learn the skills to make their marketing more effective.

The Art of Marketing: An Applied Science

We should return now to the idea of repetition. We spoke previously about the focused and unfocused nature of repetition. When we now consider the question regarding new versus old and human behavior in the light of focused and unfocused repetition we can start to see how the science of marketing can be applied to the situation and make our marketing more effective. Let me explain what I mean.

If we understand that repetition when presented in an unfocused and indirect manner can become familiar without being obnoxious or intrusive we can begin to understand how we might be able present a new idea in a familiar way. Rather than a focused repetition of a marketed brand message thrown in someone’s face which can be disarming or off-putting because it’s new and different there’s a more subtle means of sharing a brand message slowly and thoughtfully which can lead to a familiar and positive feeling by the consumer. But this is only the beginning into this study of the art of marketing. It’s a fascinating subject and one I think worthy of further discussion.

I trust you’ve found this post interesting and relevant and hopefully shed some light on the truth of the science behind the marketing. I know I’ve only begun to touch on this fascinating topic and I plan to share more thoughts and insights in future posts. I know I’m certainly learning as we go and I believe we’re all in this together!


July 21, 2018
Blindfolded Marketing

“Have you tried our app?” This was the opening line I recently received from a local grocery store chain. Innocuous at first glance and if you didn’t know any better wouldn’t be given a second thought. A quick keystroke and the email was deleted forever, never to be thought about again. But I did give it a second thought, and a third. Because I realized the painful truth about what had actually just happened. I understood what this seemingly inconspicuous email represented.

This simple marketing email spoke volumes to me about the marketing and internal workings of this grocery store. It told me a tale of broken and disconnected company struggling to understand their customers and yet failing to have any level of visibility into their lives. This one message said even more though. It told me they didn’t know who I was, where I was, or what I was doing in their store. In truth it told me their marketing department was tasked with an impossible undertaking – identifying and growing a customer base…all while being blindfolded. 

We all know how difficult it is to perform tasks with a blindfold on and as far as I know there’s only two times when this blindfolding is a good thing, playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey at a birthday party, and when considering lady justice. Marketing departments didn’t make the list.

In fact, marketing should have the best possible insights and understanding into their users because this is how they are able to market effectively. But with a single email on a Saturday morning I realized just how difficult this is for many companies to understand. Broken tools, multiple separate systems all leading to disconnected datathis is the true life of a marketer today. How completely sad, and how overwhelming for the person simply trying to do their job.

Curious how I know this and what led me to this conclusion? Simple. I visited the grocery store, discovered savings available for “members only” on a variety of product stickers and proceeded to go to the App store to download their app, from within this app I created my account, setup my profile, selected coupons, added items to my shopping list and then used the app during the in-person checkout at the register. See the problem? If it hasn’t dawned on you yet, re-read the first line of this post.

The future of martech and how to do marketing automation

June 25, 2018
Making Marketing Automation Productive

I can’t help but look forward constantly to the future of MarTech and what the world will look like. At times I have an incredibly clear vision of what needs to happen and what our ever-expanding abilities with technology will allow us to do. At times I am faulted for ignoring the past and not living in the present quite enough. With abashed hesitation I must accept the slight truth in the statement. I have a deep desire to see Mautic lead the way into the exciting new opportunities which lay just beyond the MarTech landscape today. I believe our open source community and product is capable of reaching points other software platforms simply cannot attain.

But it would be ignorant of me and reckless if I never stopped to remember the goals, consider the past, or explore the present situation of marketing automation as I prepare for the future. I hope you’ll join me through the following short paragraphs as I take a moment to reflect on these three areas (and then of course dive back into a quick chat about what’s coming next!).

Marketing automation’s goal

In any retrospective subject of thought it’s helpful to start by gaining perspective. This perspective typically comes in the from of reviewing the motivation and goals behind a particular course of action or in the case of a product, the problem it attempts to solve. Marketing automation is a solution to a problem (or rather, it is supposed to be). The problem which marketing automation intends to solve is the overabundance and proliferation of personal relationships maintained across a constantly growing set of social media and digital communication channels. 

The goal for marketing automation software was simple. Make the marketer’s life easier by automating the communication and day-to-day relationship nurturing which had quickly become an unwieldy,, impossible mountain of tasks. Marketing automation sought to alleviate this stress without losing the personal touch of a handcrafted email delivered at just the right moment. 

There’s a couple key ideas in that last sentence. Marketing automation was meant to automate sending a multitude of messages to a growing number of potential customers. But this wasn’t the only focus, the idea existed that these messages should still be personal and feel unique to each potential customer.

Now, that goal has shifted a bit as the technology and society has changed, but we’ll return to that notion a bit later.

Marketing automation’s past

The first marketing automation tools were weak and unimpressive, but that’s not to say they didn’t solve a part of the problem. And there’s nothing wrong with this approach. As is often the case software evolves over time. Companies intent on ‘scratching their own itch’ built tools to be used internally and then discovered others might also benefit from these same tools. So they began to sell them. They created a product to meet a perceived need. And they did so hoping to realize the goals we shared in the beginning.

Practically speaking this mean we saw marketing automation tools which handled processing a lot of contacts and sending them email messages. The “fancy” tools went a step further and allowed these messages to be customized with mail-merge type of functionality. The final piece of this marketing automation past occurred when these tools allowed those messages to be delayed and sent at dates in the future. Now we’ve got the concept of automation. Of course today we would scoff at this idea of marketing automation but at the time this was revolutionary.

Marketing automation’s present

As time passed the companies built to help the lives of marketers slowly grew the concepts and ideas of marketing automation into a superior vision. Today, marketing automation could be better defined as follows:

Marketing automation automates the sending a multitude of messages across a wide number of unique channels to a growing database of potential customers all while making each message personalized and relevant based on the comprehensive digital online profile of each individual.

Marketing automation has come a long way! It’s exciting to look around and see what marketers are able to do now as a result of the current marketing automation tools. Well, maybe I should set the context on that phrase a bit more precisely. Marketers are able to do some incredible things now. Tools, like Mautic, give the ability to send relevant messages based on an individual’s digital footprint very specifically and effectively. Unfortunately, the vast majority of marketers have not yet taken full advantage of these features.

Practically speaking this means much of marketing automation has not evolved beyond mass email sending. Many still use these marketing automation tools just as they did in the past and have not grown at the same rate as the software. This tends to suggest the marketers need either more training and education, or the tools should adapt to be easier to use and understand. Either way, the marketing automation implementations of today are not living up to the potential of the software tools available.

Marketing automation’s future

This realization of the current usages of marketing automation tend to overshadow and intimidate our ability to look ahead at the future of the product and the technology. Recognizing the hurdles we still have to overcome to use today’s software effectively limits our ability to chase the future from a technology standpoint. We need to double-down on understanding, learning, and improving our use of marketing automation as marketers. Only once we are using today’s technology to its fullest are we free to explore what comes next.

But (you knew there was going to be something else, right?) this does not mean we should limit our thinking about the future. We cannot ignore the future and the advancements in technology occurring all around us. Mautic is devoted to seeing and creating the future of MarTech. We are the future of MarTech. My point is merely that we have an obligation to our community and marketers everywhere to do this in the right way. As I share my thoughts about where marketing automation is going and what we are creating in order to lead the way we must continue to educate and help marketers do marketing automation better.

I am extremely excited to share something later this week which demonstrates this belief in continuing the advancement of marketing automation today. Mautic is continuing to bring people together around the world and improve the lives of marketers everywhere. Stay tuned if you want to learn more!

June 4, 2018
3 Success Factors of World-Class Marketers

How to be the best marketer ever

Questions that ask for a specific number of answers or bullet points are always harder for me to answer because at times it can be quite difficult to narrow down a veritable multitude of possibilities into whatever random discrete number of points is required. However, at the same time I appreciate the somewhat “forcing” nature of the question as it requires thought and intentionality over which factors (in this case) are of ultimate and penultimate importance. This style of question requires a greatest to least measure of success and in theory this isn’t all bad. (Just keep in mind that in practice there are many more criteria which may prove to be required for a world-class title!).

Understanding what makes a marketer world-class

As always when beginning a response like this it is important to consider what criteria we are using by which we measure success. There are certainly a variety of metrics that marketers are held to depending on their position, industry, and audience. It would be unfair in one instance to judge a marketer’s success on adoption rate of a product if the product has a free level offering as the barrier to entry is relatively low. On the flip side it’s also unfair to judge a marketer’s success on public visibility of a product if that product maintains a very niche market (such as government customers).

Understanding therefore the criteria by which success is measured requires a bit of case-by-case recognition and evaluation. As such, in this response I’ll highlight instead what I believe are 3 common success factors which can be seen predominantly across all marketing professionals and which are clearly evident in the marketers that many consider to be capital marketers.

1. The ability to listen to the audience

Okay, I’ll probably ruffle feathers with my first suggestion here due in part to the recent tweet storms that have been brewing around this individual. And although many would not immediately consider Elon Musk to be a world-class marketer I would suggest that in fact he exhibits many of the traits of one. This includes his ability to listen to the audience.

Almost everyone is aware of Elon’s proclivity to tweeting and his often rapid-fire responses to customer questions and suggestions. While his primary role may not be one of a marketer, his ability to listen to the audience and tailor his marketing message (or company direction) as a result is easy to spot and hard to deny its success.

I could go on here but I think you get the point. Regardless of your current opinion of Musk’s tweeting, there is no denying he listens to his audience.

Reasoning: When a marketer listens to their audience they are better able to tune their messages and improve their marketing strategies.

2. The ability to empathize with the audience

The second aspect of a world-class marketer involves their innate ability to connect with and subsequently empathize with their audience. Now, you may notice I called this an “innate” ability but that’s not really the complete truth. This is not so much a natural gift as it is a finely-tuned by-product from successfully listening to their audience as described in the initial success factor.

Notice though, the act of listening, while valuable, is more than just “hearing”, this second success factor implies that the listening results in action. The ability to understand the thinking behind the voice of the audience. This discerning nature is the second characteristic of a world-class, top-shelf marketer. We’ll talk about the specifics of that action in the final factor below.

The example I would share with you for this point is the Ogilvy marketing campaign for Dove, entitled, “Real Beauty”. This decade-old campaign only grew more powerful in time and in less than a single month after launching the Dove Real Beauty Sketches it became the number one viewed online video ad of all time. There’s a whole host of blogs, publications, and write-ups on analyzing this campaign, why it was successful and the marketing genius behind it. I’ll leave that for you to explore later.

Reasoning: When a marketer empathizes with their audience and speaks to them in their “language” or otherwise tells “their story” they are able to truly connect with the audience in a meaningful way.

3. The ability to offer value to the audience

The final point in this top three list for cream-of-the-crop marketers I have to give to the ability of the marketer to add value to the audience. This in essence is the culmination of the previous two factors and a host of others not mentioned here. Adding value means you have listened to your audience, you have empathized with them, and you have strategically determined the appropriate time and method to share your message with them in a way that provides real value.

Too often in marketing their is a semi-prevailing (frequently denied) practice of automated bulk messaging to entire audience segments without regard for proper understanding and intelligent messaging. Unfortunately the advent of marketing automation tools has only caused this abuse to grow more evident.

The final real-world example of marketing done superbly well relevant to this point I’ll suggest is Jony Ive from Apple. Although, as with our first example, some may consider Jony a polarizing character, his style getting frequently parodied due to overuse — it’s hard to fault him for remaining consistent in his work and subsequent marketing. Jony consistently draws the audience to more than just another product. He focuses on the message surrounding a product, he emphasizes the value of what he’s doing as it relates to the audience!

The notion of how Apple markets their products is certainly one you will find discussed incessantly on marketing and product blogs the world over. I’d recommend researching the ethos behind their messaging if you haven’t done so already. They don’t focus on features they focus on the customer’s experience and how their product adds true value to a person’s life.

“It’s a way that you demonstrate that you care for the people that you are making these products for. I think we see ourselves as having a civic responsibility to do that. It’s important. It’s right. It’s very hard to explain why.” — Jony Ive

I recognize this is by no means a comprehensive list (I was forced to choose only 3) and I’m also aware that there may be disagreement on the top 3. As I stated in the beginning there is an almost innumerable set of factors which when all working together complementary create a world-class marketer. However, regardless of the exact ordering, I think you will find it difficult to create a case where these three factors are not present in the world’s best marketers.

This post originally written as a response to a Quora question.

Marketing Automation MIcroservices

May 30, 2018
Filling In The Marketing Gaps

One of the biggest features and benefits of an open source platform like Mautic is the extreme amount of flexibility and customization that is possible. Open source gives incredible power to each business to create a tool that works for them (rather than the business working to fit the tool). Marketing automation historically never had this level of flexibility before Mautic was created and so in that sense I’m excited to see how quickly the marketing landscape has been improved by Mautic.

The crazy part of this Mautic journey personally is the feeling that this has been both instantaneous and interminably long at the same time in achieving this milestone. In reality we’re probably somewhere in between. Mautic has progressed from an alpha release, beta, a stable 1.0, and then a number of releases to the Mautic 2.x series. Along the way we have educated the world about the powers of open source marketing automation and learned a great deal about how to create a world-class marketing automation platform.

Current Status of the Mautic Platform

Today, I am excited to see the widespread acceptance of open source marketing automation as a natural and significant advancement for the MarTech “Forest” (a concept I’ve written about previously). Open source uniquely allows businesses to create campaigns, workflows, integrations, and processes that match their unique requirements. I’ve had the privilege of hearing story after story from those who have found success in a software tool that fits their needs. It’s extremely rewarding to know Mautic is empowering these individuals to do things the way the want to.

Looking Ahead at Marketing Technology

As I consider the landscape today and look ahead at what the future of MarTech looks like I realize there are still ways we can help marketers do even more. What we have done so far is the first step in my opinion. We cannot stop at this point and rest in our success. We cannot pause our forward momentum and progress and consider ourselves to have achieved our goals. This is the beginning. And we must always be looking at what comes next.

The Next Step in the Mautic Journey

I’ve shared the next step recently when I discussed, announcing Mautic 3, and then I shared both technical advancements (yes, I’ve heard this is a highly technical post), and business benefits, timeframes, and even more suggestions based on what I believe is coming next in the marketing space.

There is one particular aspect though which I inherently feel we should focus in on as we discuss marketing technologies, and what moving forward actually looks like. I believe Mautic changed everything by offering an open source flexible platform. I believe being flexible, integrating, and supporting marketers in whatever tools they choose to use from the “MarTech 5000”. This belief compels me to continue to refine and improve what open source marketing automation means. This is some of the reasoning behind my thoughts on Mautic 3. Let me explain with a graphic. This is a sneak peek from an upcoming blog post but I think it perfectly outlines my point.

The future of martech microservices

I love this graphic because it provides a visual representation for a rather abstract concept. In fact, it also provides a picture for the title of this post as well. Mautic fills the gaps between the various and disparate systems in use by a marketer. Mautic does this with the ultimate in flexibility. By no longer existing as only a monolithic platform Mautic is able to fill in the space, adding value, and connecting marketing tools and more across the organization.

Flexibly Adding Value

I highlighted the key phrase in that last paragraph. Adding value. You see, by focusing on filling the gaps Mautic does far more than just connecting various tools in a blind or “dumb” connection. Rather, Mautic enriches the data, adds value, creates additional knowledge, simplifies processes, and improves the marketer’s intelligence into their audience.

Open source gives Mautic the uniquely powerful position in being able to offer this level of customization and separation. Separation in the sense that you can use some of those services without others. I referred to this in previous posts with a term, microservices, and this leads me to the eventual concept and drive behind some of my philosophies for Mautic 3 and marketing automation microservices.

Important: While Mautic 3 has the ability to provide various functionalities as microservices, there is also a full Mautic 3 marketing automation platform as well. (Not to mention an independent robust API platform and an incredible independent UI as well)

Even as I write that I realize there is so many more things I want to share with you on this topic. But I hope this post at least whets your appetite for learning more about Mautic 3 and the reasons behind why what is being proposed for this release is so important. I’ll be writing much more on this topic as well as sharing a full slide deck that highlights the various relationships in more detail. The image above is only one slide in this forthcoming post and I’m very excited to share it with you. Mautic is once again improving the way marketers work and interact with their tools. Stay with me, things are about to get good.

Finding the power in microcopy

May 24, 2018
The Power of Small Words

First, small words doesn't necessarily refer to size, or even length. Consider a different interpretation, eg. brevity, or conciseness. Second, I have a very strong affinity for all things user-experience related; in fact I consider the ability to make a beautiful user-experience paramount to a successful product. I have always considered the UX (user-experience) to be solely-focused on the design and the process flow of the app, product, or website. This week I believe I was corrected in that somewhat erroneous thinking.

I recognize that normally Friday is the day of the week I usually share what I’ve been reading and this week will be no different, but today (Thursday) I simply have to jump into a topic on which I have been reading a significant number of articles recently. A topic which has not only held me captive but also caused me to return to the concept repeatedly throughout the week. Curious? Let me give you a few more hints before we talk more about this particular topic (no peeking ahead!).

First, small words doesn’t necessarily refer to size, or even length. Consider a different interpretation, eg. brevity, or conciseness. Second, I have a very strong affinity for all things user-experience related; in fact I consider the ability to make a beautiful user-experience paramount to a successful product. I have always considered the UX (user-experience) to be solely-focused on the design and the process flow of the app, product, or website. This week I believe I was corrected in that somewhat erroneous thinking. Or better said, not that this thinking was wrong, but it was incomplete.

You’ve got to be at least slightly inquisitive now as to what I may be referring, have you gotten any ideas? I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. This week I have been thoroughly overtaken with the concept of UX Writing.

This idea of UX writing as an area of expertise was something I may have inherently understood and recognized at some level, but this week it was defined, exemplified and emphasized in a whole new way. This mental awakening was both eye-opening and thought-provoking and I simply had to share my thoughts on the subject with you. I hope if this is something you haven’t heard of that you find it equally compelling. if you are already aware of (or better yet implementing) UX writing in your business then I commend you for your forward thinking. Regardless, I hope you’ll find value in my highlights below.

Google Gets UX Writing

The first example I want to share with you was from a Medium article I read which gave several great real-life use-cases for UX writing. I would encourage you to read the full article if you find this topic interesting (and honestly, by the time we’re done — you should). In my opinion whenever I think about good end-user documentation I think of the work Google has done.

Google has come to realize the best way to see something adopted is to provide documentation and guidelines for what they believe to be best practices. This is what they have done in the past with Material Design, Android UI, and a wide variety of other projects. As a result their documentation is rich with examples and real-life implementations (including specific do’s and don’ts) . The best way to explore UX writing then is a specific example as Google defines the topic

Google Uses UX Writing and Microcopy

This single example perfectly outlines what Google believes is at the heart of good UX writing. Good UX writing is clear, concise, and useful.

Wait, back up, what is UX writing

I gave you the Google example at the start of the post for two reasons, first I thought this was so informative and useful regarding a practical application I simply had to share it first; second, I believe learning by example is one of the best ways to understand a difficult topic.

Here’s a good definition of what UX writing involves:
The topic of UX writing consists of three major components: the UX design & usability, wire-framing, and user interfaces. But this isn’t the only three specific areas. Influencing each of these areas and critical to UX writing as a whole is the ability to relate these concepts with the essentials of behavioral psychology and human decision-making. (Remember my post from last week? Interesting tie-in here).

The core principle is similar to what you’ll find in the work of UX design. The goal is to enhance the user experience, to make them feel delighted, and ultimately, to make them feel knowledgeable about your product (even if they’ve never used it before!) Anything that distracts from that goal is a problem to be addressed.

Microcopy: The concept of microcopy is at the heart of much UX writing, it refers to the short multi-word phrases or sentences that appear throughout a website, app, or product. Button text and links are the most common types of microcopy and the types most marketers typically focus on in A/B testing. But there are many, many more usages of microcopy all around us. And these little words are incredibly important.

Another example of UX writing, in the form of microcopy comes from Airbnb, who does the following on their homepage:

Airbnb Microcopy and ux writing example

The search bar prompts users to “Try Boston.”  This addresses 4 key concepts of microcopy as defined by Adobe XD. It is short (brevity), provides an example (context), encourages a search (action), and speaks to Airbnb’s brand (authenticity).

But, should I really care

I know you’re thinking to yourself, but is this something that really matters. Let’s be real, how big of a deal can something like this really make in the scheme of things? I’m glad you asked. I have read post after post throughout this week highlighting specific conversion increases as a result of proper UX writing. Examples like:

  • Changing Book Room to Check Availability lead to a 17% increased CTR
  • Changing Request a Quote to Request Pricing lead to a 161.66% increased CTR
  • Changing button text from Almost done to Review Order lead to a 39.4% increased CTR

Each of these two-word changes lead to massive increases in the Click-Through-Rate and eventual conversion of a site visitor to a sale. What a massive difference can be made by simply paying attention to the words we use. As I believe Google so aptly stated, clear, concise and useful.

Very quickly, let me add that these specific examples are not prescriptive (don’t go changing every “request a quote” button to “request pricing” and expect to see a CTR spike!) But they are indicative of the value found in good UX writing.

Now what

As I said in the beginning, my objective was to simply share a topic I have been fascinated with over the course of this last week and found resonated deeply with the UX goals I value. I hope if this is a new area for you it has also excited you and maybe encouraged you to dig in a little deeper into the topic and how it may help you. If you are already aware of these benefits, I hope this serves as a refresher for you and you’ll step back and look at ways you can continue to improve.

At the end of the day, I believe the best user experience occurs when all of the extra distractions are removed, the user is empowered, confident, and feeling good about themselves and the product. Just as I want to share things which excite me so businesses can find ways to be better, I want to share an experience with end-users that give them that same sense of power and control. Sometimes, those two little words, as small as they might be, can be the difference between a sale and a visitor.

marketing automation and segmentation

May 22, 2018
When Marketing Automation is Done Wrong: A Case Study

How do you know when marketing automation is missing…or done completely wrong? This is the type of question that many may wonder about. Well, thankfully this week is the absolute perfect week to explore the successes and failures of businesses with their marketing automation.

How do you know when marketing automation is missing…or done completely wrong? This is the type of question that many may wonder about. Well, thankfully this week is the absolute perfect week to explore the successes and failures of businesses with their marketing automation. Why this week? I’m glad you asked. Because this Friday is the Y2K of the digital marketing era. What we are about to experience is potentially one of the most calamitous or greatest non-events in digital marketing history. I am of course referring to the GDPR legislation which goes into effect this Friday, May 25.

Not what you think

But what does this have to do with marketing automation? Contrary to your first thought I am not discussing the reasons why marketing automation is adversely affected (or even positively affected as some companies attempt to put a positive spin on losing their precious data). Instead, I’d like to focus on a different aspect of GDPR and how you can use this week in particular to determine if the companies you know and love are, first, using marketing automation, and second, using marketing automation correctly. Let’s go exploring.

What is GDPR


Okay, I’ve written about this previously on my own blog, and there are approximately 1 billion additional articles written on this topic from every major (and minor) company on the planet. I am absolutely not going to get into that defining and discussing aspect in this post. I don’t know about you, but I simply can’t handle yet another post on the topic. Here’s the shortest definition I can find:

GDPR gives residents broad rights over how data is handled, including the right to ensure that data is collected in a manner that’s accurate and secure with appropriate levels of consent. Individuals also reserve the right to have data erased, a.k.a. “the right to be forgotten”, and the right to data portability – meaning that data subjects can request their personal data in a commonly used and machine-readable format in order to give it to another data controller, and where feasible can require you to transmit it directly to the new data controller – Source

If you handle European Union residents’ personal data, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements apply to you.

Okay, make it through that? Or better yet, did you skip it because you already read it somewhere else? I’m okay with either answer, to be honest, and I don’t blame you. But read the bold text. That’s what we care about. In fact two words in there jump out: European Union.

My Exemption Clause & Personal Indemnity

Before I go much further I just need to put this little aside in here. I’m not claiming this to be an adamant statement or even that all companies are misapplying things in this way. There are of course some nuances, various circumstances, and reasons for these emails. That is not within the scope of this post and I absolve myself from blame in those cases.

My supposition is that in spite of all the possible excuses there are many companies misusing or inadequately implementing marketing automation due to either their interpretation/understanding of GDPR, their marketing system shortcomings, or their incorrect usage of this software.

The Error in Marketing Automation

There are two types of GDPR emails that people are receiving as I hear about them. First, I hear quite a bit of noise from people getting notifications of Privacy Policy updates, and second is the ugly one, the email that lies at the heart of a major problem in marketing automation.

PSA, We’ve Updated our policies

Privacy Policy emails are system-wide and affect everyone, regardless of location, citizenship, residency, or any particular legislation. Of course these updates are occurring due in part to GDPR implications, but that’s beside the point in this instance. Privacy Policies for the most part are defined once for everyone and thus everyone should be updated when they are changed. If this is the email you receive, it gets a free pass, not a problem (although the sheer volume of them is a bit of a nuisance).

The Bad Breakup

The second type of email is the real problem, by now you probably have seen one (or a dozen) and you will quickly recognize it based on the subject lines that read as follows:

“Let’s Stay Connected!”

“We need to talk, let’s not lose each other.”

“Are we breaking up?”

“The clock is ticking”

“Make sure you’re on the list”

“Can we keep in touch?”

Okay, I just can’t handle writing any more out. Needless to say they run the gamut from pleading to threatening in their tone. Tongue-in-cheek, they sound almost like a bad breakup with an unstable ex. This second type of email is where there’s a problem.

If the business is effectively using their marketing automation software then there is tremendous value in the concept of segmentation. This is a feature which lies at the heart of many aspects of marketing automation and demonstrates the true value of the software in the sense of automating personalized marketing messages. If a business is not properly using segmentation and personalization of their marketing messages…well, they’re doing it wrong. And when they do it wrong, the result is email spam. Lots and lots of email spam.

SPAM: unsolicited usually commercial messages (such as e-mails, text messages, or Internet postings) sent to a large number of recipients or posted in a large number of places
– Merriam-Webster

You know what this means? Marketing automation is not being done right. Businesses should be segmenting, personalizing, and sending appropriate messages to their audiences.

Please, again, read my caveat, there are valid reasons for mass-sending of the now infamous GDPR email; but there’s also mass abuse of this as well and the result is SPAM. If a business has the capabilities and the right marketing automation software to properly segment their customers and contacts, the result is targeted messages with relevant information for interested audiences.

And that’s the real solution here: proper segmentation should allow a business to send the correct GDPR message to the part of their customer and contact base that is most affected by the regulations and changes. Not everyone needs to get blasted with the same email — particularly when it doesn’t affect them.

The unfortunate results

There’s a couple of unfortunate results which come from this behavior. First, the business is far less likely to get people to click on their email and as a result there is a higher likelihood of removing completely unrelated contacts from their database (unrelated = untouched by GDPR regulations). But perhaps second, and even more important, this SPAM messaging approach gives a less than ideal customer experience and makes the recipient think less favorably about the business. I don’t know about you but each time I get one of those emails now I look twice at who sent it. In many cases my view of the business is diminished as well.

Marketing automation is powerful stuff. Used correctly marketing automation can make the marketer’s life easier and the customer’s life better. However, if used wrong it has the exact opposite effect. And that’s not good for anyone. If you use marketing automation, use it wisely, if you don’t use marketing automation, consider this a strong reason why you should.