Tomorrow…The Next Evolution in Email Marketing

Marketing automation is the future of email marketing. That used to be debatable…I think at this point the debate is over.

Over the past 18 months, since Drip pioneered lightweight marketing automation by becoming the first email marketing tool to add dead-simple tagging and automation at a sub-$50 price point, there have been many fast-followers.

Since then, most of the major email marketing tools have announced some kind of email automation.

A few smaller competitors jumped on the bandwagon that we began, copying our lower-cost, lightweight approach, ease of use, our trigger/action interface, and even the words we’ve used to describe our features and other offerings.

But the problem with fast-followers is that they’re followers. Their idea of innovation is to look at what’s working for someone else and copy that company’s features, approach, pricing, and user interface.

But the one thing they can’t copy…is innovation.

We’re happy we made it here first, and that we played our part in moving the industry forward. We want everyone’s email marketing to get better, and if that happens through pushing our competition to pick up the pace…all the better.

The Next Evolution in Email Marketing
But the moment we launched automation we asked ourselves: what’s thenext major innovation in email marketing?

And the answer, months in the making, will be live inside Drip tomorrow.

While I can’t yet tell you what it is, I can give you a few hints.

A Few Things That Infuriate You About Your Email Marketing Tool
I’ve spoken with hundreds of people about what bothers them the most with the software they use. Here are the big ones:

No Tags or Automation
Oy. If your software doesn’t allow you to tag subscribers based on their behavior, and perform even simple automations (move someone from one campaign to another based on a link click), make your escape and make it quickly.

As I mentioned above, most of the popular tools now have this functionality. Some are far better than others in terms of how hard they are to actually configure, and the scope of their triggers and actions (some have 3 or 4, some, like us, have 15 or 20).

But tagging and simple automations are, at this point, table stakes for email marketing.

The List-based Approach
This is a fundamental limitation of older email newsletter systems. If your subscribers are siloed into lists, you are:

  1. Paying for the same subscriber multiple times
  2. Unable to link an email address to a person, resulting in a total lack of visibility into subscriber actions and incomplete analytics
  3. Often sending the same email to the same subscriber, multiple times

This is another no-brainer.

Friends don’t let friends use lists. Move to a system that doesn’t use them if you want full visibility and analytics on subscriber actions.

Rats Nest of Automation Rules
Creating automation rules is awesome.

Every point, every click…makes your life easier.

Until you’ve created 50 of them. Then comes the point where you ask yourself: “How does all of this tie together?”

Rules link to rules and on to other rules, but you can’t visualize the relationship. Multiple rules firing from the same triggers…can wreak havoc on your brilliantly planned campaigns.

Individual automation rules are great for isolated tasks (and in Drip, Automation Rules aren’t going anywhere). But when one rule feeds into the next, you need a way to see how they interact.

Tomorrow…we solve this problem.

Buggy Visual Campaign Builders
Visual campaign builders are awesome. They solve the problem of not being able to visualize how rules chain together by showing you a visual display of email campaigns, delays, tags, and other actions.

Visual builders for the win!

Except when they’re buggy. Visual is great. Visual with bugs…not so much.

Keeping a drag and drop web interface bug free is very challenging over the long-term since this code is complicated and browsers are constantly changing. Every drag and drop visual builder we’ve used has been broken in one (or more) browsers at any given time.

If you’ve used one, you may have found yourself saying: “This is really powerful, but it sure has a lot of little bugs.”

Tomorrow…we solve this problem.

Diagrams That Are Ugly or Hard to Maintain
The other problem we’ve heard over and over is that people find themselves spending almost as much time trying to make their diagrams look pretty as they do getting work done.

Straightening lines, moving boxes so they’re in alignment…it’s like doing your taxes. It needs to get done, but it doesn’t move your business forward.

So we asked ourselves: why can’t a visual builder “manage itself” and always look amazing?

We planned, and worked, and coded, and tested, and re-coded. And we built something great.

Tomorrow…we solve this problem.

Because let’s be honest, if your visual builder allows you to build diagrams so confusing and unattractive that you’re ashamed to show them to your mother, something has to change.

No “Goals” For Interrupting Campaign Flow
There are a handful of visual builders for email automation; 4 or 5 depending on how you count.

But only one of them (Infusionsoft) has a way for you, as a marketer, to interrupt the flow of a campaign when someone performs an action. Infusionsoft calls them goals, and they are deceptively powerful.

If someone makes a purchase, you’d prefer they “jump ahead” in your flow, being pulled out of all previous marketing campaigns, likely being tagged as a customer and subscribed to your campaign for customers where you can nurture and upsell.

Without a construct like this to interrupt the flow and jump subscribers ahead to a specific point…your visual builder is lacking a crucial building block for effective marketing campaigns.

If you’ve ever found yourself hacking a solution to work around your visual builder’s lack of goals…

Tomorrow, we solve this problem.

In Addition to Several Others…

Logic “Tucked Away” Inside Icons — The problem with using small icons to represent campaigns, decisions, delays, and tags is that half the time you have no idea what’s going on inside the little boxes. Clicking every box is inefficient at best.

Going “Visual” Everywhere — Visual is great for chaining actions together. But for building email campaigns…it’s pretty bad. Re-ordering emails, inserting emails, trying to update several delay timers at once, maintaining a readable document, or having 100 emails in your sequence…all are painful in a visual editor.

Tomorrow…we solve these problems, too.

Until Then
We’ve spent nearly a year researching, dissecting, and studying the best aspects and biggest shortfalls of the current email marketing tools.

And just as we brought lightweight automation to you 18 months ago, what emerges from the Drip vaults tomorrow is going to dramatically change the way you interact with your subscribers.

If you’re already a Drip customer, all shall be revealed in the morning (Pacific Time).

If not, you can always try us out free for 21 days here, and be one of the first to experience the next evolution in email marketing.

Until tomorrow…

This article was originally published on the Drip blog.

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