Goals Feature In ActiveCampaign - The Active Marketer Podcast with Stephan Hovnanian

TAM 058: Goals Feature In ActiveCampaign

TAM058 Goals Feature In ActiveCampaign

In episode 58, we cover the new Goals feature in ActiveCampaign.

I chat with Kelly O'Connell the customer success manager at ActiveCampaign.

As the name implies Goals allow you to specify a goal (or goals) for any Automation in ActiveCampaign. You can turn just about anything into a trackable conversation event.

Want to know what percentage of people from your upsell automation turned into buyers? Or maybe what percentage of people moved to the next Stage in your sales pipeline. If you can think it up, you can track it with ActiveCampaign's new Goals feature.

And if that wasn't enough you can you can also use the achievement (or lack thereof) of a Goal to trigger other Automations. Pretty groovy stuff.

We Chat About:

  • What Are Goals
  • What to track
  • What not to track
  • How to get started
  • How to split-test goal conversion

Check out this little demo

The video above is an excerpt from a live training call inside The Active Marketer Academy, a private sales funnel and marketing automation community for smart business owners and marketers. Check it out here.

Links Mentioned In The Show

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Announcer : Welcome to the Active Marketer podcast where we talk about how to design, automate and scale your business to the next level using sales and marketing automation. You can find out all the tips, tactics and techniques you need to get more customers and sell more stuff over at theactivemarketer.com. Now here's your host, Barry Moore.

Barry: Welcome to the Active Marketer podcast, the podcast that's all about sales, funnels and marketing automation. I'm your host Barry and this week we're going to be talking a little bit about one of the latest features in Active Campaign that really is kind of a game changer in how you might go about designing your automations. It has been out for a little while and the more I play with it, the more I really kind of think, “Wow, I need to go back and redesign all my automations because this is pretty cool stuff.”

I'm talking about the goals feature inside Active Campaign. What the goals feature does in a nutshell is it allows you to control the flow through your automations a little bit better and also track the effectiveness of your automations at a higher level. You can set a goal. You can say, “The goal of this automation is to get my contact or my customer or my lead to do X.” Once they've done X, we can a number of things. We can stop the automation that they're in. We can move them to a different part of the automation. We can continue the automation. We can stop the automation.

It's really kind of a different paradigm in how you design the automations, how they go to together and how you might actually break them apart, in some cases, to make them a little bit more effective and it also gives you a statistical overview of how effective that automation is. If you've got automation A you can see if my goal is to get them to buy product A, you can say, “Right, well automation A has an effectiveness of 57 percent.” 57 percent of the people that went through the automation achieved the goal that we set for that automation. It's pretty cool. It's pretty nifty. There will be a lot more information in the show notes.

To go a little bit more in depth into the feature and how it works, I invited on Kelly, the customer success manager over there at Active Campaign, so have a listen in on this episode about goals and how you might use them inside your automations.
All right, I'd like to welcome to the show Kelly, customer success manager at Active Campaign. Welcome Kelly O'Connell.

Kelly: Hi, how are you?

Barry: I'm extremely well. How's things in Chicago today?

Kelly: Things are cloudy and rainy as usual, but it's warm, so we'll take what we can get.

Barry: It's beautiful and sunny on the beach here in Australia.

Kelly: That's fantastic.

Barry: But it's winter and winter here means you have to put on a long-sleeve shirt instead of a short-sleeve shirt.

Kelly: Goodness, how horrible.

Barry: Yeah, it's pretty hard to take. We got Kelly on today to talk about the relatively new feature inside Active Campaign called goals. Goals are pretty exciting because they basically kind of almost entirely rewire how you can build automations in Active Campaign. Rather than me going on about it, lets have Kelly tell us a little bit. What are goals, Kelly, and why did Active Campaign decide to come out with that new feature?

Kelly: Goals are really a way of tracking conversion on something, essentially, you want your contact to do
within in an automation. It can be anything that you specify, but sort of the best use cases essentially are, “I have a series of e-mails and I want someone to purchase” or “I want someone to register” or “I want someone to visit a specific site on my page.” That would end up being your goal, the essential thing that you want that contact to do after the series of messages or within the series of messages. A tonne of users really want to know that conversion metric. There were ways to get around it before. You could sort of say, “Okay, everyone that's in the automation that got this tag and I know that this tag signifies that they did this thing,” but it was a little bit cumbersome. You had to build a segment and in the automations you had to build a lot of if/elses.

The goals aspect really just streamlines the operation completely and so you can just build out your series of messages of things that you want contacts to do if they don't convert, but then essentially when they do convert they sort of just bypass all of the extra messages. It does flip your mindset a little in how you're building out your automations. I've worked with a lot of customers on tailoring their automations back to using goals and sort of flipping the script on how it's done. It really does streamline a lot of work instead of building out these long and wide automations with a tonne of if/elses. It makes it a lot easier.

Barry: Yeah, and I think for those of us who have using Active Campaign for a while, we were kind of doing that informally, as you said, by when someone gets this tag, that means they've converted to whatever we wanted that automation to get them to do. It's not like you couldn't do this before, but this really just kind of formalises it and gives you reporting that you didn't have before, like if I went to look at an automation to wonder how effective this automation is at getting people to visit my sales page or sign up to my event or whatever, I could see how many people had that tag, but I couldn't get a percentage, that 75 percent of the people signed up.

Kelly: Exactly.

Barry: It really kind of formalises something you could do anyway with tags, but now it's much more simplified and much more visible and much more reportable because you get those reporting metrics right in your automation. Right there on the automation screen it tells you, hey, boom, 35 percent of the people converted to a goal.

Kelly: Yeah, and what I really like is you still get the control of what you define as conversion. We're not saying this is what conversion means for this automation. You still get to say, “This is my end goal that I want my contact to do,” and you get to have full control over what you deem as conversion, which is really important for a business because you guys are the ones defining your metrics and what you want your customers or contacts to be doing.

Barry: Yeah, for sure. I have come across those … Why I'm laughing is because I think it, not forces you, but really focuses you on what is this automation for? Why is this automation even here? Because I have had customers before or clients before where they're like, “I want to send out this five email sequence.”
And I'm like, “All right. Why? What's the goal for this thing?”
And they're like, “Well, what do you mean?”
I'm like, “What do you want the customer to do at the end of the sequence or throughout the sequence?”
And they're like, “What do you mean?”
I'm like, “What's the next step in the chain you want them to take?”
It does actually focus you on what is the goal of this automation, why am I doing this in the first place and what action do I want my contact to take throughout this automation.

Kelly: Something I've noticed is we are so used to building out automations in the happy path mentality, like I know that my contact is going to read this email and do this thing and then I'm going to send this email and I'm going to do this. We sort of almost forget about the nurturing aspect of marketing. Goals allows you to really think, “Okay, well what am I going to do if they aren't doing this and how do I sort of nurture them to do that?” Because if they do take that action, great, I have really great follow-ups and things that I can be doing and I can be tagging them and throwing them. It really focuses you on, okay, if they don't achieve this though, how can I more fully engage with them or better engage with them to get them to achieve that? I think you hit the nail on the head. A focus on, really, a goal for your automation is huge. I'm glad that it's focusing people on really thinking about the intent of what they're building out.

Barry: I like the fact that you mentioned before that a goal isn't necessarily a purchase or a conversion to signing up for X. It can be whatever you want it to be and you get to define that within the goal itself. As you said, nurturing is a part of this. I always use a train line analogy where Grand Central Station at one end of the train line, that's your signature product, your event, your big ticket thing and then the far end of the train line is out in the sticks where coal traffic where nobody has ever heard of you before. You want to get them on to the train line. The goal isn't necessarily first to get them to Grand Central Station. We just want to get them to the next stop on the train line.

Kelly: Right.

Barry: There might be 10 stops before we get to Grand Central Station so the goal can be let's just move them from Station 1 to Station 2 to Station 3 to Station 4. That could be the goal. The goal can be anything you want, which I think is the really cool bit.

Kelly: Exactly. Having those multiple goals and now with the reporting on conversion of those goals, you're more able to see where does the train slow or stop. Where are people getting off the train and how can I fix that? Can I change my content? Can I change my frequency? Can I change my segmentation. Seeing, okay, they hit one, two and three fantastically and we're getting great engagement, but between three and four we're losing a lot of people, what's happening in there? What am I doing differently? It gives you that visibility so much more easily than having to go and run segments and really figure that out yourself.

Barry: Yeah and I like the fact that you brought up that happy path mentality. This is the path that my customer is going to take through my business and every time I tell them something they're going to say yes and they're going to move to that next train station, but we know that's not true. This will allow you to build out not only the yes path, but also the no path and the not right now path, which I think is what everybody else ignores.

All right, so let's talk a little bit about how you would use them in a strategic sense and then how you actually use them in the how do I go and so this, I want to get off the phone calling and put my first goal in place and mechanically how do I do that? How would you use them … We kind of talked about it a little bit, but how are you seeing people use them other than just tracking a purchase, for example?

Kelly: Yeah, of course. Really, it differs from what everyone is doing and it's going to differ from automation to automation, but the biggest thing is to focus on what is the main thing that I want people to do? In a welcome series, maybe someone just comes on my list, maybe the main thing I want them to do is really come back to my website and engage again. That's my biggest goal is keeping them engaged or maybe even clicking something in one of those welcome emails. You want to think about that main thing. Purchases, obviously, is a huge one, but I've also just seen small little things of when someone comes in my first stage of the CRM, my goal, ultimately, with my nurturing is to get them to that second stage.

The ability to say the goal is the deal exists in the next stage and seeing that conversion from stage to stage is huge. It doesn't have to be purchases or registrations. It can be just small actions within a message, they clicked the specific link that I've really been wanting them to click, maybe it's a live event that I'm having in their region or something like that. I think the key thing is really tailoring down on what is that main thing that I want them to do. You probably have a lot of links and a lot of information you're giving them and a lot of places they can go, but what's going to really provide the best value? It's usually visiting a specific page on your site or clicking a specific link or signing up for something or downloading something, but just thinking about what the main point is is going to be the biggest key to really succeeding with goals there.
Barry: And goal can be multiple criteria, right? You can stack the criteria. It doesn't have to be just one thing like you're clicking on this one link. It could be they've clicked on this link and they've got a lead score of 25 or higher and they visited our landing page. Is that right?

Kelly: Exactly. Yeah, the goal criteria is the same exact interface and functionality of when you're building a segment. You have all of the and/or functionality and the ability to have multiple conditions. Exactly right. You can build the goal as complex as a grouping of conditions as you need or just one tag being applied.

Barry: That's a good point. What kind of criteria can you use as a trigger for a goal?

Kelly: You can use anything that you have in the system. You have all of your contact details, your custom fields being a specific data value. You have your e-mail activity, so clicking on links, opening campaigns, forwarding, sharing. You have all of your site and event data, so they're visiting this page or they visited it multiple times or X amount of times or they've achieved this event, essentially. Everything that you have in the system to build a segment on, every single data point, both demographics explicitly stated as well as activity, behavioural, you have to build a goal on, your scores and everything. It's not limited in what you can say, “I need these five things to happen in order for it to be considered a conversion.” You have all of the data points that Active Campaign houses.

Barry: Very cool. Very cool. And can have more than one goal for an automation?

Kelly: You can. You can, which is really fun. I built out an automation I think with three goals in it, which is really cool because you can jump down from goal to goal and you're building out one big automation. Before, when you were building out something with so many pieces it sort of was easier to build it in multiple automations so you could keep track of what was happening. That way you could say, “Okay, well if they get to this next spot, I can end that nurturing automation and move them into the next one.” But since you can have multiple goals in one automation, it actually makes it a little bit simpler to build it all in one and then you'll have conversion tracking on all of those. You'll see on your automation screen how many percentage achieved a goal and if you hover over it, you can actually see all the goals within that automation and the conversion stats on each one of those.

Barry: Which kind of begs the question that probably doesn't have a right answer, you can build your automations to try and cater for every scenario, the yes, no, the not now and everything all in one automation or you can chop them into smaller modular automations that [pane 00:15:31] contacts off between the two. What are you seeing out there from your customers as to which is kind of the preferred method or which works best or is there one that works best?

Kelly: It's pretty evenly split. I think it really comes down to visually what works for people. Some people really like seeing the full picture and know absolutely every step that's going to happen. I personally prefer to chunk-ify it. That's what I call …

Barry: Nice, chunk-ify, trademark Kelly. I like it.

Kelly: I just prefer it because even in reports I can really see the engagement per automation. If I know this is these first three train stops, if I'm going to steal your analogy and this is the next piece and this is the next piece, I can really focus on where am I losing people along with the help of the goal conversion. I prefer having it in small little pieces. That way if I need to go and modify anything or add some segment conditionality or maybe branch it out a little, I'm not modifying this huge automation. It helps me organizationally. I think if it's a smaller team and there's not too many people in the automations, chunk-ifying it out makes a lot of sense, but if there's lots of people that are working in it, it might be helpful to see it all in one big picture so that everyone is aware of the causality or what happens if I change something, I can sort of see what's going to be affected.

Barry: Yeah, I must admit I prefer the smaller chunk-ified ones myself. It's easier to keep straight in your head and it's easier to update as well. If you've got to come back and update this thing, I don't have to dig into the middle of this giant automation to find the e-mail that I'm after.

Kelly: Right. That's what's nice is goals being achieved can also be a trigger. While it can be sort of the end of your automation, once they hit this goal they jump down to the end, it can also trigger a new automation. They can be related in that way but it helps you break those apart a little so that you're not looking at one big massive automation.

Barry: Yeah, for sure. Practically, if I want to as soon as we hang up here, I want to put a goal in place, how do I do that? What are the steps I need to action?

Kelly: Sure. You will see … The rest of the automation, think about building it like you normally would if someone were not doing anything. I know that when someone comes on to my list or whatever start trigger you have, I'm going to send them these three e-mails to try and get them to convert, whatever that conversion means. You'll find as one of the actions now under the conditions and workflows little tab, there's this new bright yellow goal. When you add that in, you're able to give the goal a name. You define what the goal is an that's where that goal editor comes up with the segment criteria. This is what my goal means. They've done this action or they have this tag or they have this set of conditions. That's where you're really defining this is what conversion means.

Then there's the ability to sort of jump to this goal when the contact is or when it's below the contact, meaning I have one pathway of four emails and if, in the first email, the contact converts, does the action I want them to do, I want them to jump down to the goal, I want them to bypass the other three. You also have the ability to jump to it when it's anywhere. That's really helpful if you have lots of different branches in your automations. People can be sort of all over the place depending on how they fit into the mould, but you have this ultimate goal, this ultimate conversion, you would want the contact to jump to it if it's anywhere.

Then there's some … If the contact hits the goal, meaning they hit that step in the automation but they haven't achieved it, what do you want it to do? Do you want it to end the automation? They just don't convert and the automation completely ends. Do you want them to wait until conditions are met? I would be really wary of that because they will live in there forever until they hit that goal.

Barry: My OCD streak doesn't like that. My OCD streak wants them to be either in or out.

Kelly: Yeah. There's wait until conditions are met. They will wait in there forever. Then there's continue anyway, so if a contact doesn't meet a goal criteria but they hit that goal step, they can continue anyway. Usually if you're going to do a continue anyway, immediately after that goal you're probably going to have an if/else was the goal achieved or was the goal not achieved so that you're able to close that loop. They didn't hit the goal, it's the end of the automation, do I want to send a last ditch effort or do I want to tag them in a specific way that they didn't achieve the goal or something like that. You have a few options there as far as what you want the end of that automation to look like, but again, it's just in conditions and workflows, a huge yellow button you'll see named “goal.” There's a few options in there of how to use it.

Barry: Cool, and the other cool thing is not only is it an item in the condition workflow, but it's now also a trigger to start an automation, is it not?

Kelly: Exactly, yeah. Now you can say when the goal is achieved, trigger an automation. Someone can be in an automation and hit all the way down at a goal and then as soon as they achieve that, it triggers a separate automation that maybe has another goal at the bottom of that.

Barry: Now you're just getting crazy.

Kelly: Ha ha ha. Series and series of goals. Yeah, it's a new trigger. I think we have 20 now. It's really out of control how many start triggers we have. New trigger, you'll see a little trophy, I think, with stars all over it called “goal achieved.”

Barry: I can't remember, but does that come up on the contact's activity stream if they've quote unquote “achieved a goal.”

Kelly: I don't remember if it comes up on the contact's activity stream. I can easily look that up for sure. You do have it, and the ability when you're going to search or segment contacts, there's some new conditions such as goal achieved, waiting on goal, skipped goal. I think there's one more. You're able to actually go and segment on people, I want to grab everyone who has achieved this goal of X and then send them a campaign or throw them into another automation or something like that.

Barry: Or even more importantly, some people who haven't achieved that goal, you still might want to follow them up with something else, yeah?

Kelly: Exactly. Exactly.

Barry: Very cool, very cool. Any kind of common mistakes or things people are getting wrong when they start doing this that they can avoid?

Kelly: Yeah, the biggest thing I would think of is don't … I wouldn't go crazy with goals. I've seen some people say, “I want them to click this and I want them to open this campaign and I want them to view this website,” and these are all goals. That's true, these are all things that we really want people to do and we want to track that engagement, but, again, focusing on what is the ultimate conversion? If I want them to click through this link , a goal probably isn't opening the campaign. That's a step towards the goal and I care about if they opened it and I may use that to segment my automation workflow based on if they opened it or not and send different followup messages, but my ultimate goal would be them clicking that link or getting to that webpage. I wouldn't go crazy with the goals immediately. I would really think about what's my ultimate conversion? What's my ultimate thing that I really, really want them to do? And let's make that the goal and then maybe over time we can start adding in the pieces if you see that, oh, there's a natural pathway to getting towards that ultimate goal and what are those chunks and how can I signify those along the way?

Barry: For sure, and maybe think about it, would I give somebody a tag just because they've opened an e-mail or would I give them a tag just because they've clicked on a link? Probably not, so it probably doesn't need to be a goal either.

Kelly: Exactly. Exactly, yeah.

Barry: You certainly could go crazy. I can see how you'd do that. All right, very cool. Any tricks, tactics, techniques for how you map out these goals, what should be goals and what shouldn't? We talked about what shouldn't be goals. You've got a big business and it's like [pshoo 00:24:12], what do I make a goal? Any guidance there?

Kelly: Yeah, I really think it's going to come down to your ultimate use case, but anything that moves a contact along. If you know that if they do this thing, they're a warmer lead or they're farther along in the purchasing process or they're more engaged, that's going to be a really good goal for you to measure conversion on. When someone new comes into my list, that's great, I send them a welcome series. Maybe I run some coursework or I really need them to fill out a profile on my website or something like that. I really want to track the conversion on that because as soon as someone comes in, that's the most engaged they'll ever be. I don't want to lose them. I really want to track conversion from them hitting that next step.

Same with event marketing. You're sending a series of e-mails to get people to register. That's the goal right there, registration, and then after registration a huge goal would be attendance. Thinking about those big pathways that people are taking and then using segments and conditions in between to tailor the message is going to help you the most. You don't need to see conversion really on everything. We have ways to segment and follow up with people and tailor our marketing, but that conversion is going to be really big actions that you want them to take with your company.

Conversion could be purely operational. Like I was mentioning before, it doesn't have to be the contact really doing something. It could be something like the contact is clicking a bunch of links and viewing my website a bunch and viewing the pricing page and that's affecting their score, so maybe my goal is really that their score is hitting a certain threshold. It's not necessarily that the contact is purchasing, but they're doing enough things that they're really converting and they've moved from a warm lead to a hot lead. Then what does that goal do? That notifies the sales person or throws them into a different stage in the CRM. It can be a lot more behind the scenes conversions than it needs to really be focused on a purchase or something like that.
Barry: Yeah, I like it. We kind of glossed over it a little bit there, but if you have that multi-stage pipeline, you get your CRM pipeline set up and you want to know if people are moving from stage one to stage two to stage three, yeah, perfect place for goals. Oh, at stage three we seem to be losing a lot of people so maybe go back and do whatever. The other little nugget of gold there is not only can these goals be kind of customer facing, but they can kind of be inward staff facing as well you said. Our goal is to get people to engage with our content or engage with our sales message and once they go over whatever it is, 50 points on a lead score, that's a goal that will now notify me to call them or one of the sales staff to call them, to reach out to them or do whatever. So, yeah, they don't always have to be customer focused. They can be kind of inward business focused as well, which is pretty cool.

Kelly: Yeah, and one thing, I was talking to Milosz, our COO, the other day and he was saying we don't even necessarily need to think of them as positive. Maybe we want to view conversion on something negative like someone viewing a cancellation page or something like that.

Barry: Those bastards.

Kelly: Yeah. Maybe even thinking of I need to see the conversion of maybe when someone hits this risky stage or their lead score drops down because of inactivity, what does that conversion look like? It's really … Then it just opens up a whole box of ideas of, oh man, we could be viewing conversions on all sorts of spectrums. Again, I think the key is, and this happens all the time in marketing automation, is your head sort of explodes with all of these ideas. They key is focusing in on I know immediately right now that I really want to track this, let's implement that, let's analyse how that's going and then let's grow from there. Yes, you could go into the system right now and build 30 goals. It may not be the most effective way to do it. I really suggest figuring out those key conversions that you want to look at and then analysing how those are doing and seeing maybe, oh, we could throw one in there, one in there over time and then growing it out. It's a lot easier to grow out than it is to reduce down.

Barry: Yeah, for sure. Chunk-ify, baby, chunk-ify. I like it. It's almost like anti-goals though, those other things. That's kind of cool.

Kelly: Yeah. Yeah.

Barry: One last question and we'll wrap up. Let's say you do have the series of five automations that we've chunk-ified that are moving someone from cold to hot traffic and we see that number three is not doing the job. The conversions are the lowest on the third automation, for example, and we want to split test that by changing the copy in the emails or something like that. Would the best way to do that so you don't mess up the goal conversion would be to maybe clone that automation, change the copy, turn off the first one, turn on the second one so that you can kind of almost split test those out and say that the old one had a conversion rate of 27 percent and this one has a conversion rate of 45 percent? That would be the best way to do that?

Kelly: Yeah. That would probably be the best way. That way you'd have separate goals that you can really track conversions on. The other way would be sort of adding a tag that's applied at the very beginning of stage three and then if that tag exists, sending a different message and then in the reports just seeing how that different message relates engagement-wise to another one. If you're looking at conversion of the goals, for sure I think it would be duplicating it, making sure that that second phase is related to the new third phase and then viewing that goal conversion on both of them and seeing which one is most effective.

Barry: Yeah, very cool. All right, Kelly. We might wrap it up there. I want to thank you so much for coming on and explaining everything.

Kelly: Yeah, it's been great.

Barry: You guys are just killing it over there at Active Campaign. Every time I turn around there's new features coming out all the time. I love it.

Kelly: We are having a tonne of fun over here. There's more to come, trust me. I was talking the other day about how great it would be to have something, you'll see it soon, but how great it would be to have something and a developer turned around and said, “Yeah. That's coming out.” It's really exciting here. We hope that you guys are loving it. All of your feedback, you guys are awesome. You give the best feedback. Keep it coming. We're here to build a platform out that you guys really enjoy working with and that provides value. Hopefully we're doing that and we continue doing that.

Barry: Well you certainly are doing that. It's really great to see that when you put in feedback or feature requests in a reasonable amount of time, almost before you know it, they're in the product. It's very, very cool.

Kelly: Yeah.

Barry: All right, Kelly. Thank you so much for coming on and enjoy the rest of your evening.
Kelly: Thank you. You too.

Barry: I hope that gives you a greater understanding of what the new goals feature is all about and some examples of how you might use it in your automations and in your business. If you want to find out more about goals and have a bit of a walkthrough on what it looks like to use goals and how you might put them into your automations, head over to the show notes at theactivemarketer.com/goals. There will be a little tutorial there to help you out. If you want some more in depth training on how to lay out your automations, how to create your sales funnels, how to use goals, goals is a feature we just covered in our Live Mastermind calls that we do twice a month over at The Active Marketer Insiders, the private community for entrepreneurs and business owners just like you who want to learn more about sales funnels and marketing automation and how to put those powerful techniques and tactics to use in their business. You can find out more about The Active Marketer Insiders and how to join over at theactivemarketer.com/members.

Until next week, get out there and design, automate and scale your business to the next level using sales and marketing automation. See you, everybody.

Announcer : Thanks for listening to The Active Marketer podcast. You can find the show notes and all the latest marketing automation news over at theactivemarketer.com.

Barry Moore

Entrepreneur, aviator and former eCommerce and technology executive, Barry Moore is the founder of TheActiveMarketer.com. When he isn't geeking out about how sales and marketing automation can help your business, you can find him in the surf or in an airplane.