Do you ever feel that you need to do more in less time?
With the recent growth of Customer Success, this pressure for efficiency is making a significant appearance in the daily lives of Customer Success Managers. The obvious starting point for improvement is to automate a large volume of the interactions a CSM conducts with their customers. For a CSM, it is crucial that automated outreaches maintain that purposeful and personalized touch.
Marketing has automated tools that achieve personalized outreach to a large number of customers through campaigns. But is marketing automation the right tool for Customer Success teams, and if not, what other tools are available?
Earlier this year, Gainsight announced CoPilot, a new capability that enables Customer Success teams to launch automated emails from within Gainsight based on customer attributes such as health score, product usage, survey results and lifecycle stage.
Since we launched CoPilot, many of our customers have taken advantage of these capabilities and have sent hundreds of thousands of emails for a variety of use cases, including:
Welcome emails for new customers
Product release notification and overview
NPS survey emails
Reminders of upcoming Renewals or Quarterly Business Reviews
These email campaigns are defined and owned by the Customer Success or Account Management teams. These two teams will typically inform the Marketing Team of these campaigns. In almost all cases, the Marketing Team has also purchased a scaled communication solution such as Marketo, Pardot, or Eloqua, and many times the question comes up:
Should I use Gainsight CoPilot or one of our Marketing Automation Tools?
It’s a good question. Both solutions offer a core suite of features:
Powerful intuitive WYSIWYG email editor
Ability to create dynamic customer lists based on a variety of attributes
Schedule or send emails based on behavior triggers
Provide follow on actions
Luckily, finding the answer is fairly straightforward. Despite the overlap, both solutions offer unique value.
Use Gainsight CoPilot to send emails when it’s part of your broader Customer Success initiatives. Typically these emails are sent to existing customers to increase adoption or gauge success.
Use marketing automation when the customer communication is part of a multi-step marketing campaign targeted to prospects. Typically these are for referral programs or marketing events.
Six Questions to Help You Decide
Let’s take a closer look at the use cases where you should use Gainsight CoPilot to manage your automated customer communication:
Do you want to send an email and initiate another Customer Success action?
This action could be updating a health score, setting a reminder for a CSM to call, or requesting an executive to review product usage data. These actions could happen simultaneously or a certain number of days after the email is sent. They can also be applied to all customers or only those that open (or do not open) an email or click on a link.
These actions are similar to the nurturing campaigns created by marketing automation tools, but the point here is these follow-on actions are unique to Customer Success and are not relevant (or available) in marketing automation tools.
Do you, as the Customer Success team, need to have ownership and management of the email contents and schedule?
Your awesome Marketing organization is likely executing on a large number of marketing
campaigns with limited resources. Rather than fitting into their marketing calendar, you may want to control your own destiny. Manage the final content, define your own schedule and move quickly from idea to execution for customer communication, such as inviting customers to product release webinars or sending out your newly designed quarterly NPS surveys.
Do you want to support a semi-automation use case?
The core use case for both marketing automation solutions and Gainsight CoPilot is to create campaigns that automatically send emails at a specified time. However, with Gainsight CoPilot, you will soon be able to schedule a campaign that, instead of sending an email to customers, sends a notification to a CSM that owns the account. The CSM then has the option to review and edit the email before releasing it to be sent to their customers. This functionality is especially useful for higher-touch CSMs where efficiency is less critical but personalization is more critical.
Do you want to encourage your CSMs to develop email campaigns to send to their customers?
There are typically a small number of Marketing Ops team members managing multiple marketing automation campaigns across a wide customer and prospect base. While CoPilot is also typically centrally managed by a Customer Success Ops team, individual CSMs can also easily create automated campaigns to send to just their customers. The CS Ops team can ensure a CSM has the right level of power through a handy Permissions Module within Gainsight’s Administration page.
Do you want the highest deliverability to ensure your customers are getting important email?
It’s pretty bad if an email about an upcoming renewal or a security alert regarding your platform doesn’t get to a customer’s inbox.
Both marketing automation vendors and Gainsight have invested in building a reliable deliverability infrastructure. It’s a core competency.
However, the difference in the use case can make it easier for Gainsight to gain a higher deliverability reputation. Since our platform only supports sending emails to customers (paying customers), it is less likely to have emails bounce or be marked as spam (both of which reduce your deliverability). In contrast, marketing automation platforms have customers that are often seeking to aggressively expand the funnel and get unqualified leads through the funnel. This can result in risky practices and lead to lower deliverability reputation across the board for all customers.
Do you want to include surveys or reports that are available natively in the Gainsight platform?
Gainsight offers a powerful survey solution out-of-the-box that focuses on NPS surveys. If you use Gainsight surveys, you can use CoPilot to distribute them. With surveys in CoPilot, you can:
Easily drag and drop surveys into the email template
Seamlessly associate responses to Survey Recipients or Salesforce Contacts
Dynamically input identifying information about that Customer into the email to obtain higher survey response rates
Gainsight also provides powerful ad-hoc reports on the rich customer data that is stored on our platform. An example report could feature a line graph illustrating a customer’s usage of your product over time. You can now easily automate sending such reports to each of your customers. Simply drag-and-drop the report into the email template; it is automatically filtered so each customer sees just their own data.
On the flip side, if the 6 points above are not relevant, continue using your marketing automation solution. There are numerous instances (e.g. send email if someone downloads datasheet or sophisticated drip campaigns) where marketing automation solutions are the preferred solution.
Like most things in life, you’ll have to use some judgment, but hopefully this blog and these 6 guidelines can help you more easily decide.