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Guide to automated campaigns

Your Guide to Building Automated Campaigns with Integrated Data

The purpose of integrating data with your marketing automation platform is to help you personalize the content subscribers receive to increase engagement.

I’m a big fan of 80s fantasy films. In the movie The Princess Bride, one of my favorite scenes is when Inigo starts to question Vizzini’s grasp of the vernacular after hearing him use the word “inconceivable” multiple times to describe things that were clearly coming to fruition anyway. He gives Vizzini a puzzled look and says “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Refresh for those of you who are having a very Vizzini day:


Defined as not capable of being imagined or grasped mentally; unbelievable.

When you hear the term “integrated data,” what comes to mind? It may not mean what you think it means.

Integrating your marketing automation platform with multiple data sources

At its core, the term ‘integrate’ is defined as combining one thing with another so that they become a whole. Integrated data refers to the way different software can connect with varying data sources (your online community, AMS/CRM, etc).

The purpose of integrating data with your marketing automation platform is to help you develop a digital behavioral identity for each subscriber, with the goal of personalizing the content they receive to increase engagement. The more data you collect, the fuller your subscriber’s identity is, the more relevant your campaigns are.

Here are some examples of different types of integrations you can use with your marketing automation software:

  • AMS/CRM – Is the database tracking things like a subscriber’s membership renewal date, events they registered for, or even basic profile information? It all helps tailor their personalized path through a campaign.
  • Email activity – Which mailings did they open, and did they click on any links? This data will shape their experience in an automated campaign.
  • Online community – Do you know how your subscribers are interacting within it? Segment your lists even more by using this data in your marketing automation platform.
  • Social media accounts – Does your platform integrate with your social media accounts? Access to this data tells you when subscribers have liked, shared, or commented on your content.
  • Web tracking – Does your marketing automation platform give you the ability to view the subscriber activity on your website? You should be able to pull in data on which pages they view and which interactions they perform on the site.

Opportunities abound when you collect data from all these sites and funnel it into your marketing automation platform.

Creating effective campaigns with integrated data

So, how can you create more effective campaigns using integrated data? Surely it’s not manual – poring over all your data points and sending out personalized content to each subscriber one-by-one would be a time-suck and a nightmare.

Fortunately, the whole point of automation is that you can create logic rules based on the data you’ve collected from the above tools, which allow the platform to manage everything for you in real time.

When building a campaign in almost any type of platform, you are really working out an elaborate truth table by developing logic rules. The visualization and user interface can vary from platform to platform, but you’re creating a bunch of “if/then” statements.

Every single piece of data that you’ve collected on your subscribers is a point that you can hinge a logic rule on.

How it works: Making your subscribers’ journey more relevant

Creating multiple pathways within your campaign allows you to personalize and customize each subscriber’s journey. Two subscribers can enter a campaign at the same time, but when you set up logic rules for both action and inaction, you create a split in the path. One subscriber may have performed the actions that will take them down one path, while the other subscriber who didn’t act will be sent down a different path. Now both will have two unique experiences.

Best of all, the platform manages all the pesky details and sends subscribers on their merry way.


Example campaign 1: Focusing on action

Let’s look at an example of a “Save the Date” integrated campaign for an event.

Step 1: Identify subscribers.

First, decide how a subscriber enters a campaign. For the sake of argument, let’s say that you want this campaign to be really targeted. So instead of creating a list of people to invite yourself, let their behavior tell you whether they might be more interested in an invitation. Through web tracking, identify subscribers that have visited your website’s event page.

Step 2: Set up a logic rule.

If your web activity is integrated with your marketing automation platform, set up a rule that automatically adds anyone who visits that page into the campaign. Then, add them all at once on a specific date, or over time with a drip campaign.

Step 3: Observe online community interactions.

Once they have been added to the campaign, look at things like their online community interactions. If you have a community thread set up for the event, use that information to customize their journey in the campaign. The same goes for the social media integration, and any actions taken in your mailing.

Sample Logic Structure:
  • If a subscriber visits the event page on the website
    • Then enter them into the Save the Date Campaign.
      • Then send the subscriber an email with event details, registration instructions, and information about how to access a community thread for the event.
    • If a subscriber posts in the thread for the event
      • Then send them another email that gives them some additional community discussion ideas, promotes the hashtag that will be used for the event and suggests that they follow the organization’s Twitter account.
    • If they then like or share anything from the organization’s Twitter account
      • Then start sending them emails that include Click to Tweet links that will allow them to assist in the promotion of the event.
    • If the subscriber registers for the event, and now appears in the list in the AMS or CRM that tracks event registrants
      • Then send them a confirmation email for the event with a link to hotel information.
    • If the subscriber clicks on the link for hotel information
      • Then send an email that provides additional information on parking for the area.

Example campaign 2: Focusing on inaction

Remember: Nobody likes being bombarded with emails that aren’t relevant to their current interests. The example above is largely focused on actions that were taken by the subscriber. Another huge benefit of integrated campaigns is that you can use data on actions that your subscribers didn’t take as well.

Sample Logic Structure:
  • If a subscriber has been added to the Save the Date campaign and they did not open the first email
    • Then send them the email again, but with a different subject line.
  • If they visited the registration page on the web site, but did not register
    • Then send them an email reminder to register after 3 days have passed.
  • If they have also not posted in the community
    • Then send them an email that details the beneficial information that can be found in the community, suggesting that they can interact with event attendees and the organization on social media as well.
  • If they do not follow the relevant social media accounts
    • Then send an email that tells them how to become a follower.

Download the Engagement Trends Report 2020

Multiple integrations strengthen your campaigns

Integrating multiple sources of data will ultimately make your automated campaigns stronger. Your subscribers’ digital behavioral identity will be stronger and lead to more personal and pertinent content for them. If you can tie everything that you have working for you together, your subscribers will see a noticeable difference, because everything you send them suddenly becomes more relevant and less generic.

Now all your data can finally live happily ever after!


It can take a little practice to put together the workflow for a marketing automation campaign, especially when you’re trying to factor in integrated data, so don’t get discouraged!

Shayna McGroggan

Shayna is a former Marketing Automation Manager at Higher Logic. In her role, she provided automation strategy for clients, while developing campaigns and assisting with persona development. She delivered quality coaching in marketing automation strategy to a growing list of at least 7 individual organizations, acting as a subject matter expert by providing guidance on the creative design of client emails/landing pages and the integration of email, web tracking, community, and CRM data for campaigns.