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Marketing Automation with EXM

Marketing Automation in Sitecore

With 3 more days to go before the end of 25 Days of Sitecore EXM, Day 22 takes a break and puts a little focus on Marketing Automation (MA). Introduced in with Sitecore Experience Platform 9, MA provides the ability to create simple or complex workflows that drive visitor automation and engagement through a marketing campaign. Akin to the old Engagement Plans, which were not as useful, MA connects the dots between channels. Combined with the power of xConnect, customer experiences can be connected through web, email, IoT, and many other channels.

In Sitecore 9.1, in addition to overall improvements in Marketing Automation, several automation campaign templates were added to provide an example on the various types of automation plans that you can create.

These templates are just an example. You can also start from a blank slate and create your own plans or templates that can be reused. For this blog post, we’re are going to review the Welcome acquisition template.

EXM and List Manager in MA

When we talk about using Marketing Automation in EXM, what we are really saying is that we’re using Marketing Automation to manage lists (in List Manager), sending Automated Campaign messages to a single contact using EXM, or using Goals and Rules from Sitecore (including EXM) to enroll into plans.

All Marketing Automation is does is drive the orchestration of these activities. In summary, the activities are described in detail below:

  • Enrolling into MA Plans
  • Managing Lists in List Manager
  • Sending Automated Campaigns

Enrollment: Goals, Events, Outcomes, but mostly Rules

Every Marketing Automation plan has to start somewhere, and that is what we call the Start node. There are two options for enrolling into a plan:

  1. Selecting from a predefined Goal, Event, or Outcome
  2. Using the Rules Editor to create a rule that is evaluated

If you saw EXM Live! you were introduced to two MA plans that I used. One entered you into a campaign based on the triggering of a goal. In the image above, this goal is Register.

The second MA plan I used in EXM Live! was specific rules. In that case I was using a rule based on whether you opened an email that I sent via EXM.

From EXM Live! and Corewarts

Interestingly enough, I have found rules to be more helpful, simply because this allows me to create very specific MA plans that keep my plans small.

Multiple Enrollments

Marketing Automation allows contacts to be in enrolled in multiple plans. However, once a contact is currently in a plan, it doesn’t enroll again, even if the rules match. In Sitecore 9.0.X, even if a Contact exited a MA plan, They wouldn’t be allowed back in to that specific plan ID. You would have to duplicate the Marketing Plan (which creates a new plan ID), activate it, and THEN a Contact could re-enter it, because it was a new plan.

In Sitecore 9.1+, Marketing Automation now has settings for managing how many times a contact can re-enroll. These options can be set in the Campaign Details.

Available in Sitecore 9.1+

This allows the marketer to get creative on how many times they want a plan to be executed for a contact. It could be you have a marketing message that you only EVER want to send once, and never again to that contact. That’s when you would set Maximum Enrollments to 1.

Managing List Manager Contact Lists

One of the more unrealized potentials of Marketing Automation (in my opinion) is the ability to augment contact lists that are used for Regular EXM Message dispatches. Marketing Automation ONLY sends Automated Messages out of EXM. However, imagine a MA plan where based on rules, a contact qualifies themselves to receive a special promotional email that is scheduled to go out in two weeks through Email Experience Manager to a specific List Manager contact list. As actions occur on the website, we can add (or remove) users to these lists.

In this example:

  1. We are capturing a Contact that has registered on the website (maybe through a Sitecore Form),
  2. Add Contact To a List.
    1. This is a list of users that we know have Registered, but have no progressed through a generated an Outcome yet.
  3. We send an automated campaign to the contact
  4. Wait for 2 days to pass
  5. We send a follow-up automated campaign to the contact
  6. Wait 7 Days to determine if the Outcome is registered.
    1. If Not:
      1. We Unsubscribe from List.
        1. This removes the contact from a Contact List ONLY. (It does NOT perform the actual Unsubscribe in EXM which could generate an Unsubscribe message.
      2. Move the Contact to a different campaign, maybe another Acquisition campaign.
    2. If Outcome is registered
      1. Add Contact to a Different List.
      2. Move the contact to a different campaign, most likely a Nurture type campaign.

Using Contact Lists in Regular Message Dispatch

As explained early on in 25 Days of Sitecore EXM on Day 6, Regular Messages are Dispatched to a collection of Contact Lists out of List Manager. By using Marketing Automation to curate these Contact Lists, gives the marketer a huge advantage towards manually curating lists. To me, this is the real benefit of using Marketing Automation to adjust lists.

Sending Automated Campaign Messages

As shown in our example acquisition plan above, we have two EXM automated messages that we send. Selecting a message to send in Marketing Automation is extremely easy. The hard part to the marketer is that before you can choose a specific email to send, the Automated Campaign Message has to be created and activated in Email Experience Manager first. Once the message is created though, adding to a plan is as simple as dragging the Send Email marketing action out of the toolbox and into your workflow, and then selecting the correct message to send.

Once changes are applied, the toolbox appears and your email action is complete. Be sure to save your plan!

At this point, when the plan is executed and a contact reaches this step in the workflow, MA tells EXM to dispatch the Automated Message to the contact. From there, all of the standard Sending Limits, Opt-Outs, and Consent settings are checked to ensure we aren’t sending this email to someone who does NOT want it to receive it.

In the event that the Contact does NOT receive the email message because of suppression or consent, the Marketing Automation plan will still continue, as if the message HAD been delivered.

MA Possibilities are Endless

The possibilities really are quite endless when it comes to how to use Marketing Automation. While this post only covered the actions that are important for Sitecore EXM, there are many other functions, listeners, and decision points that can help shape whatever plan that you are trying to create. Explore, test, have fun with it.

3 Days Left in 25 Days of EXM

With only 3 days left before we wrap up 25 Days of EXM. Tomorrow we bring everything together, to see how we can leverage personalization through Experience Editor to elevate the experience a customer has on your website based on emails opened, clicked on, marketing automation activity, and List Manager lists.

Did You Miss EXM Live!?

You’re in luck!  You can now view EXM Live! On-Demand on YouTube!

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Categorised in: EXM, Sitecore

2 Responses »


  1. 25 Days of Sitecore EXM | Sitecore Hacker
  2. Tutorial: Send email based on field value using EXM, Forms, and Marketing Automation – João Neto's blog

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