Automation Rules vs. Member Journeys

The majority of automation rule systems I’ve seen are an exercise in wishful thinking. They assume members are far, far, more interested in the community than they are (and don’t receive dozens, even hundreds, of emails per day).

More critically, they assume:

  • Members want to go through a journey (and not just get information and leave).
  • Members open emails they receive.
  • Members read the emails they open.
  • Members click the link to take action based upon the emails they’ve received.
  • Members take the desired action after they’ve clicked on the call to action
  • And members remember the emails they’ve received.

Looking at a couple of onboarding journeys at the moment, the click-through rate of a single email seems to vary between 0.5% and 3%. The odds of anyone successfully completing a 5+ email onboarding series are minuscule. Put simply, they’re not worth the time.

A better approach is to begin by mapping out the current journey (or journies) most members have (here’s an example). Now systematically go through each phase of that journey and look to optimise it stage by stage. The things that have the biggest impact are often in the areas you least expect.

In my experience, the biggest wins are in places like:

  • Improving the technical SEO of the site.
  • Reducing information required on the registration form (while adding affirmation messages).
  • Ensuring members receive a fantastic response to their first post.
  • Quickly ensuring newcomers find the most useful content in the community after joining.

It’s far better to improve the experience members are currently having than persuading them to have a different experience.

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