Netflix, along with Black Mirror, created an interactive, choose your own adventure movie about the main character building a choose your own adventure Atari game. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, go watch it because there be spoilers ahead!

In the movie, the main character tries to create a game with lots of options and paths and soon goes insane trying to give it enough complexity in choice as well as tie up all the loose paths from the plethora of options. Similarly, the buyer’s journey through your marketing can be a bit of a “choose your own adventure”, and you can interact and guide the user’s journey if you use marketing automation. Some marketing automation professionals go too far with their first deployment of marketing automation and get lost in options and logic.

Rather than taking a drug-fueled psychedelic trip to get out of “the hole”, we’ve got some recommendations that’ll be better for both your sanity and career. Note: The tips below work best to personalize marketing for prospects after they’ve given you some sort of signal.

 

Which path gets me into the baton fight?

What’s the Ending you Want?

Before you start crafting your “choose your own adventure”, you should understand what you want your users to do. What’s the end goal you have in mind for them, and what are the common places where they’ll get held up that you can help with? By starting with SMART goals for your users and keeping those in mind as you build your automation, you’ll ensure you’re helping them move in the right direction and not just build for the sake of building.

 

Start with Simple Signal->Response Groupings

Good marketing automation works just like a human would, to a point. Good automation nurtures a prospect the way a salesperson would nurture a prospect, but at scale like an invisible hand helping the prospect with appropriate content and messaging to move them along in their adventure. So look to coding your first few interactions as simple cause and effect interactions. Example signal -> response groupings.

Signal Response
User clicked on the Platinum product, but still hasn’t bought We advertise the Platinum product to the user
User clicked on the careers section or came from Indeed.com We advertise to the user about how awesome it is to work here
User clicked on case studies but hasn’t bought We advertise to the user to get them to check out our newest case study

We recommend grouping signals by what you think the user is after: Platinum Product Prospect Signals

  • Clicked the Platinum product ad from Facebook or Google
  • Platinum product interest manually set by a salesperson in CRM
  • The customer said “Platinum” on a recorded phone call with a salesperson

It might be worth mentioning which signals you don’t consider strong enough to take action on. ie: “saw a platinum product banner on our website” might not be enough to personalize their marketing for the platinum product. Take time to define the exact signals you’re going to trigger off here as it’ll make it easier to build into a signal group. Some of these signals might line up really nicely with a persona, some might not. Don’t try to blindly ram your users into a persona if you can’t. I love persona-based marketing, but I think too many marketers try to ram users into a neat persona profile too early and end up making something too complicated.

 

Prioritize Signal Groupings

What if your user clicked the platinum product, and careers, and case studies??? It’s entirely possible, some buyers like to see if the company they’re buying from is healthy and growing. We need to prioritize which signals and marketing efforts take priority over others.

Build a simple list of priorities to implement in your marketing automation logic.

  • Priority 1: Prospects interested in the platinum product
  • Priority 2: Prospects who have taken the time to review case studies
  • Priority 3: Hiring

 

Define Marketing Channels & Concept Pairings with those Signals Groups

Now that we’ve prioritized signal groupings, our marketing planning has got a little complex. You could either build out a table that defines signal groups and pairs them with appropriate channel+concepts or build it into a document. You can group your signals or personas together and then build channel-concept pairings for each group like this:

Platinum Product Prospect Signal Group: an example of channel+concept pairing

Channel Concept
Facebook Display Ads Platinum product free shipping offer
Dynamic Content Blocks on Website Urge users to call a toll free number about any questions about the Platinum product
Email Newsletters Feature the Platinum product at the top with a 5% off newsletter discount

Try to provide reasonable options for your users to complete their adventure: buy online, call a salesperson, or start an online chat to ask product questions.

Reduce

If you move on to layering additional lenses of personalization without reducing, you’re going to have a bad time. Going overboard on personalization makes for a setup that’s difficult to manage and troubleshoot, without the benefit of generating that many more leads.

  • Look for similarities between personas: maybe you have very different groups that would be fine getting the same marketing
  • Look for similarities between marketing messages and channels
  • Ask yourself if the pairing and personalization will be much more effective
  • Ask yourself if you’re guiding your user appropriately and

When we went through our own reduction, we found that using personas was the wrong approach. Instead, we found that keying off the users CRM in use was the most effective marketing we could do for prospects, and that methodology worked across many personas. This was an important step for us and was where we found most of our impact. Had we gone “full Bandersnatch” too early, we would have missed out on this key insight and built too much infrastructure without knowing the most important paths that are key. Note: you may need to re-prioritize after reducing.

Layer on More Personalization

Now that we have a solid core of personalized marketing based on user signals, we can start layering on additional personalization. In order to do this, you’ll need a good amount of signals from your users and prospects. This is where you’ll need to start building tables to show how messaging changes based on user lens, but never forget the insights you picked up from the reducing stage. You have to know what personalization is key before you start adding additional paths to your choose your own adventure marketing.

Platinum prospect signal group: example lenses based on persona

Channel Corporate VP Corporate lackey Small business user Yoga Studio User
Facebook Display Ads Focus “Platinum level is better for compliance” “Our Platinum product will impress your boss” “Saves you money over the long run” “Saves time”

What Ending Did you Get?

Most importantly, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting great personalized marketing for your company or agency. While we’ve given some tactics here to help you craft your own choose your own adventure marketing experience, you know your clients and prospects best and you need to deploy the best experience for them. If you see the value in doing this level of personalization, but you’re “in the hole” and still need help, check out our implementation services. We can help you build the 5/5 masterpiece you deserve.