This is more of a discussion point rather than a question, and I'm interested to get peoples views on topic. It's brief as I don't want to make it unreadable and please excuse the rushed ramblings and stream of consciousness.
I've been blogging bits and bobs along our journey with CiviCRM and WordPress and I've been drafting something on how one could approach marketing automation with CiviCRM. It's an area I've worked on extensively within the private sector and I've been attempting to deliver a mature solution for the Charity that I Chair where we are running CiviCRM.
Marketing Automation is a broad term that can include many different activities, but I'm focusing on email marketing automation as this has the highest conversion rates in modern digital marketing.
I classify email marketing automation as the following activities that are 'software-enabled':
- Building marketing campaigns that can be delivered across multiple 'channels' (but primarily email).
- Lead generation, segmentation and tracking
- Landing Page creation with form integration to collect lead details
- Drap & Drop email design for different types of emails inc but not limited to newsletters, announcements, product launch, transactional etc
- Create automated workflows, triggers and email sending
- Hosting of downloadable assets such as eBooks, Whitepapers
- Creation of a marketing funnel/sales pipeline that links up with some kind of 'sales process'
I'm hoping someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but there doesn't seem to be a 'community standard' way to approach this for Civi. It can be solved in a number of different ways, all with tradeoffs:
Solutions that are CiviCRM native or extension based
- CiviMail: Standard email functionality
- Mosaico: Email template builder
- Chassé and/or CiviRules: Email journey workflow builder
- CiviCRM profiles/Drupal Webforms/Caldera forms: Collection of lead data
My personal experience has been that although these tools work well as single-point solutions (eg Mosaico works fantastically for email template design), building a functional marketing automation flow with different components working with each requires development and a reasonable financial investment. For example:
- Create a landing page with a working form in WP with Caldera Forms and register all the 'lead' details in CiviCRM as part of one's marketing funnel
- This triggers an asset an eBook download hosted on cloud storage such as Google Drive
- Then trigger a 5-part email welcome series workflow using Chassê and account for the different scenarios of the user/lead downloading it (eg are they already an existing member or donor)
- Trying to visualise and report and account for potential errors on those different stages
3rd party apps with integrations
- MailChimp: Handles pretty much all marketing automation needs and has group syncing functionality with a CiviCRM extension but as your email list grows, so does your cost.
3rd party apps without integrations
- Mautic: Handles pretty much all complex marketing automation needs with a good UI. It's free and open-source with an established dev community and is owned by Acquia (who also own Drupal). Mautic does have weak points most notably it lacks the ease of use template builder that Mosaico and MailChimp have.
Mautic does seem like an obvious strong partner for CiviCRM, and a google search shows that at one point an integration did exist? It doesn't look like it does anymore.
Is anyone using Mautic with CiviCRM?
This definitely isn't an exhaustive list, just what I've come across so far. I'd love for anyone to jump in and tell me what other options I've missed and maybe would consider partnering with me to produce a 'how-to guide' on the different approaches.
In the wider market, depending on the price point, there seems to be either all integrated solutions for the enterprise that wrap the CRM and Marketing Automation together (Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Dynamics 365 or tools like Hubspot) or in midmarket business, cheaper independent point solution tools have API integrations eg Mailchimp(marketing automation) integrates with PipeDrive(CRM).
You could say CiviCRM is following a similar vein with both native and integrated solutions but I'd like to pose a few questions of whether there should be a greater community focus on a strategy for these tools and rather than going off in different development directions...
The two functions CRM and Marketing Automation should be part of any organisations digital strategy and I think this should be part of The Community Council conversations, and would ultimately add to the CiviCRM value proposition and increase adoption of new customers.
- Should there be such a focus on point solutions that work well independently, but are costly for organisations that begin to have more mature marketing requirements?
- Could there be a 'roadmap' or 'matrix' that exists that helps end users decide on which marketing solution to use based on their requirements?
- Should there at least be a greater focus on an MIH for Mautic integration? or at least an initial assessment through what is achievable maybe via GSoC?
Should there be an investment into more general extensibility like Zapier or Piesync?
This is one persons perspective so I'm interested to hear how others feel and their experience.