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Businesses spend a ton of money acquiring leads, but not many really focus on optimising the return from all those leads. Instead, they focus on acquiring more leads at a higher cost. This is a massive waste. It’s a very fine balance between acquiring more leads and optimising the conversion rate from lead to sale.

It can take a lot of energy for a business to manually move customers through the lead funnel. It’s also risky. Errors are easy to make and emails are easily missed in the ‘ever underwater’ inbox! Manual does not scale either!

Most businesses quickly mess it up and get things wrong, even if tactics are found to work, it just gets too much to manage!

To avoid this, businesses need to have a slick marketing automation process. It saves time and money and it’s really not hard when you know how.

This article is all about marketing automation. Our goal is to make sure you understand how crucial marketing automation is and the key role it has in generating ROI for your business.

We will also walk you through a basic flow automation which any business can get stuck into. The bigger challenge is linking all these flows together to create a seamless user experience, but this is something we can cover in a more detailed post later; let’s start with the basics first.

We will be going through:

1. What is Marketing Automation?
2. The importance of Marketing Automation

a. Does your business have a solid marketing automation stack in place?

b. When does marketing automation start?

c. The marketing channels (briefly)

3. Autopilot – one of Rebel Hack’s favourites
4. Building an email marketing journey on Autopilot
5. Conclusion

1) What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is pretty much like it sounds. Automated marketing. It makes your life so much easier as it means less manual work, less repetitive tasks and importantly, it means consistency for you and your customers.

Successful marketing automation means improved ROI for your business. It’s when you find a set of predetermined, automated processes that support your marketing activities throughout the entire customer journey.

No manual work is needed at any point as everything just happens like clockwork. One step triggers the next and so on.

A super basic example would be:

1. Company sends an email to Juan.
2. Juan opens email but does not click on the main CTA.
3. Marketing automation moves Juan to another bucket for those that did not click the link.
4. Business then sends another email tailored for users that did not click the last CTA.

2) The Importance of Marketing Automation

Lead acquisition is important but Marketing automation should NOT come second.

Why is Marketing Automation important?

  •  It allows you to capitalise on your lead and user acquisitions
  • It will boost your ROI
  • It will improve your marketing funnel
  • It’s cheaper than acquisition
  • It helps you understand more about customer behaviour
  • For database enrichment
  • It saves you time and money
  • Increases customer lifetime value

Does your business have a solid Marketing Automation Stack in place?

In the intro we explained what marketing automation is. Marketing automation includes a bit of everything. As we mentioned, it involves anything that can help you follow up with website visitors, leads and customers. This includes:

  • Email
  • Sms
  • Retargeting campaigns,
  • Web & push notifications
  • Retargeting
  • Social media advertising

…and more.

It’s all about bringing those customers back to your site again and again, providing easy access to the content to help them in their journey to purchase.

When does Marketing Automation start?

Marketing automation is something that should be happening throughout the whole user journey, not just at any one point. It should start the very moment a visitor lands on your site and continue well after they leave – up to purchase, and then to repeat purchase.

Let’s say someone is browsing your site for the first time. They have clearly shown an interest in your product/service, however, they have not converted to a lead or customer yet. This scenario is your first clear opportunity to start with marketing automation.

For example, remarketing would be perfect at this stage of the customer journey. Let’s briefly run through some of the main marketing automation channels/tactics you could also be leveraging.

The channels (briefly)


Remarketing campaigns on Adwords and/or social media paid platforms push users back onto your site after they’ve visited. Remarketing campaigns can be used at any stage of the customer journey. As we mentioned, not only can you target visitors who have just visited your site once, you can also target users throughout the entire customer journey with relevant content on the right channels.

Automating this is often called Lifecycle Marketing, where businesses aim to deliver the right content on the right channel to support where the potential customer is in their research and consideration journey.

How can you use remarketing on customers who have visited your site or application? Thanks to cookies and pixels! Cookies and pixels enable you to build custom audiences from actions that people have taken on your site or in your app, including pages they visited.

  • Examples of Audiences could be:
  • All website visitors
  • Visitors of the blog page
  • Visitors of one page that have not visited another page
  • Visitors who have added to a cart but not completed the checkout
  • As many combinations as you like

When we add users into different buckets based on their actions it’s because we assume they have different intentions. Therefore we want to serve different content to them to make their experience relevant.

See a couple of examples below:

  • If they visited the blog they might be interested in content (you can retarget them and serve them more interesting content to get them to come back).
  • If they got to the cart page but have not checked out, they might need a little nudge to buy (offer them a 5% discount or remind them of the product/service).

Web notifications: These are messages that will pop up on the site for returning visitors (however these would trigger only once the visitor actually returns to the site). Once a user has visited your site, a cookie will be dropped on their browser and that will enable you to show a “heads up” message once they are back on the site.

Thanks to amazing tools such as Autopilot you will be able to manage heads up notifications and much more (Autopilot is our favourite tool for marketing automation). (No, they’re not giving us commission!)

In this specific case, heads up messages will enable you to display a targeted message to specific visitors and you can hit them at any stage of the sales process.

A heads up message would look like something like this:


Push Notifications

Not again! This is so annoying! (this is one of the most frequent reactions to push notifications)…why? Because usually, the notification has not been thought out.

Push notifications are good or bad (there is no scale of grey here). You either get it right or wrong. If you get it right then you achieve ROI. If you get it wrong you’re going to p**s people off.

If you have an app, push notifications are a must. They have a huge potential and they can be extremely effective. Find out more about how effective push notifications can be in one of these 2 articles:

So how do you run effective push notifications for your business? We won’t go into detail but you need to think of the following parameters for testing:

  • Timing
  • Frequency
  • Messaging
  • Event based (ie what events trigger what messages)
  • Notification format

All we can say now is that you need to find the optimal mix between all of this, and yup – it takes a lot of testing. If you get this right, you’re off to a great start.

Email Marketing

We love how effective email marketing can be and this is most probably a must for your business. Whatever business you are running, please, please make sure you are doing this right.

Email is still strong, every year there’s articles talking about the future decline of email… this is just not happening. Email is still there, right at the top of the table.

So, how can email still be performing so well?

  • It’s cost effective
  • Customers like to be kept informed
  • It’s personal and targeted
  • People check their emails 6 to 20 times a day on average
5 interesting emails facts below:
  1. Transaction emails have 8 times more opens and clicks than other emails and generate up to 6 times more revenue.
  2. Personalising the subject line of an email will increase chances of getting opens by 26%.
  3. Email is 40 times more effective than Facebook or Twitter at acquiring leads.
  4. Email drives more conversion than any other marketing channel.
  5. 205 billion emails are sent every day (growing 3% every year).

3) Autopilot – one of Rebel Hack’s favourites

Choosing one main tool for your marketing automation is not easy.

There are multiple tools you could use. Examples could be; Autopilot, ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp, Drip and other more expensive tools such as Hubspot.

We have tried most of them but our firm favourite right now is Autopilot.

Autopilot allows you to automate customer journeys and it creates great visibility throughout that journey. It’s a drag and drop tool. Easy to configure, it allows you to create medium to complicated journeys.

Hey @autopilotus, @RebelhackHQ is doing an amazing job at promoting you guys… are you really this good? Click To Tweet

Check out the video below to have a better idea of what Autopilot can do:

4) Building an Email Marketing Journey On Autopilot

Let’s assume (we’ll be assuming a lot of things from now on) that you have a landing page. Visitors can fill in a form on this landing page to request more information about your services. You are acquiring 50 leads a day on average (let’s also assume you are collecting email and first names only).

2 Questions:

Now that you have leads, how do you follow up?

Let’s now assume a lead in this case is not generating ROI for your business at this stage. However we know that there is clear potential if you can “upgrade” to a paying customer.

What action do you want the lead to perform next?

Let’s say you want to push the lead further down into the funnel and that your ultimate goal is to get them to sign up to one of your services (signup = increased ROI)

This is where Autopilot can help, let’s create a very basic journey together…

Steps to follow to create your first journey (beginner’s journey)

  1. Establish a goal
  2. Create a new journey
  3. Select a trigger
  4. Select an action
  5. Select a condition
  6. Be creative

The goal is to convert leads into paying customers. In order to become paying customers they will have to be pushed to a specific page of the site and fill in a form to sign up to your services/product.

  1. Navigate to the journey tab and click on “create a new journey” (see images below)

a) Click on the journey icon

b) Click on the create journey button in the lower right corner (it looks like a + sign)

2. Create the journey

You will be able to drag and drop and create your personalised journey by using: triggers, conditions and actions.

a) Triggers:

b) Conditions:

c) Actions:

d) Example of a journey:

e) Let’s “read” the journey together (from left to right)

List trigger: Each time a lead enters the list in Autopilot through the landing page, it will trigger the journey and the email will get pushed into the flow (the form on the landing page will have to be integrated with the autopilot list so that each time there is a form submission the lead gets pushed into the autopilot list).

Delay: The contact will then be pushed into a delay (minutes, hours, days).

Send Email: You can design, write and save emails and then add them to the flow.

Update field: Once the email is sent the field “email 1 sent” will update to “true”, fields can be managed from the contact section on autopilot – this is not necessary but could help organise the database for future sends

Condition (in list or segment): This condition will check if the email is present in a list (let’s assume that the customer opens the email, they click on it and go to the website page and sign up to your service/buy your product). By filling in the form they would be sent to another list on autopilot called “customer applied”, which would mean that the email worked and converted the lead into a customer. If the email is present in the list then they would eject from the journey.

Eject from journey: This will eject the customer contact from the journey, meaning they will not proceed further.

If the email is not in the list then another email will be triggered (making a second attempt).

The above is a simple journey with few shapes but it should help you understand what kind of tool Autopilot is and what you could potentially create with it.

5) Conclusions

Marketing automation is a must for any business as it will improve your sales funnel and also increase your ROI. It’s relatively cheap compared to acquisition and if you find the right combination of channels, as well as timing and frequency, it will save you time and money in the long run.

At Rebelhack we are passionate about growth marketing and we strive to help our partners maximise their processes and find new efficient ways to grow their business.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss how we could help you grow your business.

Love, Giovanni @ The RebelHackers!