by Guy Marion, CMO & Head of Business, Autopilot HQ

12 Customer Journey Hacks for Growing Faster With Autopilot

Autopilot is a killer app for driving growth – and it’s a lot more fun if you know some of the hidden tricks. Today we’ll take a quick peek into a few of our favorite hacks to increase open rates, reduce unsubscribes, improve productivity, or provide better visibility into revenue.

1. Suppress competitors and hard bounces

Create lists of contacts your messages do not send to. You can do this based on email domain name (e.g. [email protected]) or by excluding hard bounces. Suppression lists are a simple way keep your rivals from stealing your secrets.

Suppression list example

2. Reduce unsubscribes with multi-unsubscribe lists

Reduce unsubscribe rates by 20% or more, by using two unsubscribes rather than one. For example, “Unsubscribe from this list” | “Unsubscribe from all”. To do this, add a UTM link to both options so that when clicked, the unsubscriber is added to a smart segment that removes them from that particular list. This method will allow you to drive down your unsubscribes and grow your contact base. Get all the details here.


Unsubscribe from this list example

Examples of email lists that you may wish to segment from your master email list include Product Updates, Community News, or Event Invitations.

3. Work faster with group selection of shapes

Autopilot’s visual interface actually makes automation fun – but it can get tedious when building out that 200 shape nurturing machine whopper. Did you know you can group select, then drag and drop? Game changer.

Group select shapes in Autopilot

4. Customize your journey-naming convention

Everyone has a different way of working, but Autopilot is easy enough to use that multiple users or teams can create automated journeys. Stay organized by creating a folder structure numbered or listed through the stages of the customer journey. For example, create “Form Capture” journeys, “Onboarding” journeys, “Nurture” journeys, and even retention journeys, and number your journey categories for simplicity.  

Journey naming conventions

5. Track results in real time using the canvas Live View

Live View gives you an intuitive (and addictive) way to monitor your audience’s progress through a live send or journey. The left number indicates the number of contacts who have reached that shape, and the right number indicate the number who have not yet completed that step (i.e. are “stuck”). If your contact base is clean (i.e. you have excluded bounced email addresses), this right number should drop to 0 after an email send. If you are using a Condition, like below, then the right number will indicate those who did not meet the condition and therefore progress to the next step.
Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 10.59.45 AM

6. Edit HTML emails directly in Autopilot

Another nice element of Autopilot is having the flexibility to use email templates imported from a range of sources, including email editors or HTML designs that you create in-house. Just know that to be able to edit these templates, you need to add editable tags to your HTML that wrap the content you want to edit. Check out these examples of adding editable areas to your emails.

7. Send sales-outreach emails at appropriate weekday times

Avoid credibility-destroying “personal” outreach emails that are clearly automated and sent during non-working hours (like 2am on a Tuesday). To avoid this, add a 1-minute delay step after a lead fills out a “contact sales” form, triggering a follow-up journey, then use Autopilot’s “time and day” feature on the Add Delay action to ensure the follow up email, SMS, and/or Headsup messages to limit responses to specific hours or days of the week. At a minimum, this shows a basic level of sophistication in your automation capabilities, and drives higher response rates.

Delivery windows

8. Modify and add shapes to your journey after publishing

If you’re like most people, you probably didn’t have time to create every email and asset needed before kicking off a campaign (e.g. a 6-weeks lead up to a trade show). Here’s a nice trick: add a delay shape as the last step in your journey, Publish to get started, then as long as you additional emails or other actions before contacts finish the Delay step (and re-publish), then contacts will proceed to the new actions, even though they were added post-journey launch. Learn more in this support article.

Add shapes after publishing a journey

9. Use the A/B splitter to test engagement strategies

Autopilot’s A/B splitter allows you to do more than check the performance of an email (as shown below). You can even branch users down completely different engagement tracks.

Say you wish to assess the impact of sales engagement on your free trial conversion rates – you might route 25% of users down an “A” path, which includes actions like assigning Salesforce leads to reps, sending sales outreach emails, and displaying an in-product headsup offer to demo. Then route the other 75% of users down a “B” path that only offers email and in-product assistance. Add users who enter each track into an “A” or “B” List (using the Add to List action), then update a Salesforce “Test Treatment” field value as “A” or “B” to assess impacts on conversion rates and revenue.

A/B split test in Autopilot

10. Market based on lead source with UTM-based segmentation

Engage and nurture users based on how they find your site using the UTM filter in Autopilot’s smart segments. This enables you to track ad campaigns from Google AdWords, Facebook, etc., or from referring sites like press links, contributed blog posts, or affiliate partners, where you have added UTM tags. First, you’ll see contacts and their source in Autopilot’s activity feed.

UTM based segmentation

Then, add contacts into source-specific journeys or campaigns. These might include sending all Facebook referrals a Facebook feature release alert, or nurturing all leads from an ad group that targets the retail vertical with retail-specific content, or inviting all referrals from a partner site to a co-hosted training event.

Finally, attribute sales and revenue to the appropriate lead source by cross-referencing paying with the UTM-based segment. Note: this is “any touch” attribution, since Autopilot will UTM segment a user if they they click a link at any time (not just first or last touch).  

11. Track leads, purchases, and revenue automatically in Salesforce

Autopilot’s integration with Salesforce enables you to create and update Leads in Salesforce, create Opportunities, and bi-directionally sync standard and custom field values. Combine these elements to build rich dashboards for tracking leads, conversions, and revenue.

For example, when a customer triggers a new trial journey (e.g. by filling out a tracked form),  assign a lead in Salesforce either to a rep or an admin user (if your model is self-service), and update a lead source to “Trial Signup”. You can now build reports of new leads (trials) by day/week/month, or by rep, lead source, etc.

Track leads, purchases, and conversions in Salesforce

Now say the trialist buys. By firing a “purchase” event into Autopilot, you can trigger a “new customer” journey that creates an Opportunity in Salesforce, automatically converting the existing Lead. Map in a revenue value from Autopilot (or a subscription billing service like Recurly, also integrated with Autopilot), and you now can track sales by purchase date, create date, or slice and diced by any field values you map into Salesforce (e.g. demographics, web behavior, product usage, etc.). Schedule your dashboard to be emailed around each day, and enjoy having automated daily KPIs for your business.

12. Schedule email and marketing performance reports

Send yourself and your teammates a marketing report with all your juicy results – open rates, click rates, and more. Just hop over to the Reports tab in Autopilot, click the clock in the top right, and setup is a cinch.

Schedule marketing performance reports

Now it’s your turn. Are there any customer journey hacks you’d add to this list? Let us know in the comments.

Author Guy Marion, CMO & Head of Business, Autopilot HQ

Guy is the CMO & Head of Business at Autopilot HQ and is a revenue-focused leader interested in the shift towards all things cloud & SaaS, customer journey automation, and the consumerization of Enterprise software.

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    • Great article Guy.

      I especially like number 2 – why have I never thought of that before!!! It would be good if you could expand on number 1 a bit more, is there another article on that?


    • How do you send the same journey to multiple lists? Do you have to duplicate that journey for each list or can you create multiple triggers in a single journey?

      • Tibor Szűcs

        I often use multiple triggers in the same journey, and that works fine.

    • Tibor Szűcs

      Great article, thanks, a lot of useful ideas.

      Maybe you have an idea how to make it possible to usubscribe from a special list and then let the contact resubscribe to the same list at a later time. For example they want to get notified about our actual courses every monday, but, for a while they want to turn these notifications off.

      The Smart Segment method with UTM parameters doesn’t work, because it can be used only once.


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