Setting up a marketing automation system

Marketing automation migrations, Pt. 2

As we’ve discussed before, migrating domains to new servers can be a lot like moving from one marketing software to another. It can be cumbersome, even if you’ve got experience. When executed properly, you’ll have better, cleaner and more actionable data. On the flipside, you may end up losing valuable contacts, measurable revenue and long-cultivated subscriber lists. If you’re thinking about or have been tasked with moving marketing efforts to the most advanced of systems – the marketing automation system – this is one way to do it.

Before you get too far into these steps, be sure to read my last post, “Getting started with a marketing automation system.” All caught up? Great.

Migrating a marketing automation system

Now that we’ve decided on our new marketing automation system, and inventoried the content and data we’ll be migrating, it’s time to begin deployment. Knowing we can plug Mautic into Amazon Web Services, we’ll begin our deployment with Amazon Web Services (AWS). If you don’t already have an Amazon account, you’ll need to create one now and set up your billing information.

After signing in, locate SES, a simple sending and receiving email service:

  1. Validate your identities under “permissions.”
  2. Set your domain to your sending domain.
  3. Enter your domain name server (DNS) records.

Pro tip: If you want other identity policies — such as DKIM, DMARC, etc. — you’ll have to configure them via your DNS. The general best practice is to have some kind of interception service. CloudFlare, for example, offers free and paid versions, You’ll want it in front of your website and email, so hackers and malcontents are generally intercepted at the nameserver level. This means they can never physically reach your website and CRM.

Next, download your DNS as a CSV file and copy/paste the different keys in the DNS and the places they point. Once you have your domain set up, enter your email address.

Keep in mind, you’ll need SES sending credentials to actually send things out using Mautic. After you’ve obtained your SES credentials, you have the option to set up rule sets and filters, and color codes.

Configuring a marketing automation system

I’ve decided to have my marketing automation system host the server, so the first step is creating an account and provisioning the server with your desired settings. I highly recommend checking places like Google and RetailMeNot to find discount codes. If you’re using GoDaddy and Bitnami for the hosting, you’ll find some great opportunities to get started.

Open a new text window and load the previously downloaded credentials into a separate screen. Once you’ve logged in and tested the connection to ensure you’re happy with the basic defaults, you’ll need to get your Google Tag Manager account set up. Tag Manager lets you do Twitter and Facebook tracking, among many other things.

Pro tip: I also recommend you install the Google Tag Assistant plug-in for Chrome, as it’s extremely helpful for diagnosing what’s running inside tags on any webpage.

From here, we’ll want to look at the API.

In Mautic, you’ll find this in the API settings. Turn on API and apply an access token lifetime of 60 minutes. The API is important for adding plugins to the system. In Mautic, go into the web hooks, which are a way for other applications to send web data into Mautic. This will be very valuable for connecting third party form packages.

Fun with form fields

Now that you have the infrastructure established, it’s time to set up your first form. In this example, I’ll walk through how to create a newsletter subscription, which will be a new lead event.

Here’s how you walk through the steps of the form field creation in Mautic.

  1. You will eventually use a redirect URL, but for now use a dummy URL.
  2. Create a new category called Newsletter.
  3. Enter the appropriate information in text fields, such as your first name, and validate the new label.
  4. Create another text field for Last Name, and then match to the last name and validate.
  5. Follow this process to create new text fields for Email, Job Title, Social Handles, etc.

Keep in mind, these steps are going to set up the template behind the scenes, where you’ll feed your formfill data. We’ll walk through creating the form itself for your website later in the post.

I often recommend you set the form as not required, given some people may not be comfortable sharing personal information. The same will be to be true for company name and Twitter handle, but we’ll still want to match up those items in our system, so we’ll include them here as well.

To help encourage full submissions, you can choose to include a quick description noting, “To qualify for premium content, please complete all fields.” Save the newly created form in HTML so you can eventually wire it into your website’s forms.

Lists and landing pages

Now, let’s get into the guts of the system. Mautic separates email addresses into a couple different categories, including lists (i.e. mailing lists) and leads. First, we’re going to create a new list and import your subscribers.

Note: If you are using a Mac, you will need to convert your form into a Unix format. At the bottom of your file, find the menu to change to UTF-8, and also change it from Windows Format to Unix Format.

In my list I do not have a lot of fields, as I’ve found I don’t need them. However, you will need to note creation dates in order to be spam compliant in the United States. While importing to the database, the next thing we have to tackle are the forms.

More fun with forms

In Mautic, as with any marketing automation system, forms are built in. Some important forms include email templates, welcome notes and confirmation forms. Gravity Forms is a helpful form-assist tool for WordPress that collects data up front and passes it to the marketing automation software. This can be helpful if the service were to go down for any reason while someone was trying to subscribe.

First, you’ll want to create a new confirmation for when someone submits the form.

Remember, we’re using the newsletter subscription as an example. Be sure not to turn off your old confirmation form in case something goes wrong as you create your new one. To do so, go into the form editor and click Redirect, and then input the URL where you’ll be redirecting.

Redirect Marketing Automation System

Comb through the form to locate the input boxes, which tell us what the field IDs are. Use your field builder to populate the strings, as show below.

Populating Marketing Automation System

Save and preview the confirmation to see what data will get beamed back into your marketing automation system once the confirmation form is sent.

Lead scoring and tracking codes

Lead scoring, if you’re not familiar with it in marketing automation, is a way to evaluate the quality of any given lead.

If a lead does something special, it should get more preferences.


Eventually, the idea would be to send the lead different business communications based on their lead score. For example, we might offer new eBooks to people with the highest lead scores because they’re the most engaged.

UTM tags will come in handy here.

Determine what kinds of actions you want to assign for scoring. For example, an action such as Read the newsletter would be great to consider if you’re sending out newsletters, and you could assign 10 or so points to that action. Create an Email Marketing category without any limits to create that action-based point system.

Something else we’ll want to do is track people who are on the website. We haven’t previously discussed it, but this is central to every major marketing automation system.

Mautic offers multiple ways to track people. I will typically clean the javascripts tag in Text Editor before using Google Tag Manager to get the tag ready.

Customizing tags

In the tag manager, you’ll see the running tags you’ve already created. Create a new tag called Mautic and do a custom implementation. Copy just the script section and customize it with the URL.

Remove the HTTP and see if there is anything else you need to customize. Now we have our tag! Take the tag back into the tag manager, add and name the tag, and then publish it. Using Ghostery, you’ll see a pop-up when you refresh. If you’ve done everything correctly, you’ll see your tag listed.

Tagging Marketing Automation SystemAfter you confirm the tag is running correctly, it’s time to check your container by viewing the published version. If everything looks good, go back into Mautic and add a new point for Website Visits.

I’ve decided that when a website visits a specific page URL, I want to assign a wildcard point to it, which is done under Points > Manage Actions, as seen below.

Managing Marketing Automation System

From here, you can add tags for additional products using the Mautic tag in order to track potential buyers. Do this by creating the new tag category eCommerce, load the tag for each product page, save and close. Going one step further, you could consider setting triggers that would send specific leads email when users reach certain point thresholds, such as browsing three product pages and filling out a separate form.

Templates for your marketing automation system

The last step in getting our system up and running is to create a “thank you” email template (to be sent post-sign up) and to set up the associated processes. We’ll need to manage and create the email itself, create the trigger, assign the points, and then perform the action.

To begin, go back to your initial backups, locate the welcome email, and then open it in a text editor to update the text and code as needed.

For example, I cleared out the style sheet, delete the subscription notice, removed a link to my Google+ account, and so on. If you don’t currently have either a strong text editor or Adobe Dreamweaver, you can download BlueGriffon. I’m comfortable editing in straight HTML but if you’re not, BlueGriffon may be a great, free, open-source, cross-platform alternative for you.

Once you are comfortable with your email HTML, go back into your marketing automation system to create a new template. Inject the raw HTML into the new template email, and then do any final cleanup that might be necessary. Save the template as Welcome Email, which falls under your previously created Email Marketing category.

Setting up triggers

Next we’ll need to set up triggers. For example, if someone fills out an email subscription form, they’ll be assigned a dedicated number of points for that action. And that will cause something else to happen, i.e. a “thank you” email will be sent automatically from our marketing automation system.

Here’s how I set up my trigger:

  1. Create an event, such as someone filling out an email subscribe form.
  2. Assign a dedicated number of points to each action.
  3. Specify you want the “thank you” email triggered after a lead submits a form.
  4. Click Publish.

Moving forward, anyone filling in the newsletter subscription form will be assigned 10 points. That will automatically trigger a “thank you” email. You can continue to add additional triggers and assign points to them, such as Opening the thank you email for an additional 10 points.

After launching the trigger, you can fill in things like the description, change lists or tags, push notes to your CRM, etc. You can (and should) also update your “thank you” email frequently with fresh links to keep this communication timely.

Sold on the idea of a marketing automation system? Make sure to check out the final post in this three-part series.

Image by: iluvgadgets via Compfight cc

Christopher S. Penn
VP of Marketing Technology at SHIFT Communications, Christopher S. Penn is an authority on digital marketing and marketing technology. A recognized thought leader, author and speaker, he has shaped three key fields in the marketing industry: Google Analytics adoption, data-driven marketing and PR, and email marketing. Known for his high-octane, here’s how to get it done approach, his expertise benefits companies such as Citrix Systems, McDonald’s, GoDaddy, McKesson and many others. His latest work, Leading Innovation, teaches organizations how to implement and scale innovative practices to direct change. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.