I've sent you an email. Open it and I'll trigger another one. Jump through that email hoop, and I'll send you an offer for a free trial. Ignore that, but click on something else in the email, I'll automatically send you another series of emails. Sound like fun? Unless you love marketing emails, probably not...

If-then logic is one of the most powerful concepts in computer programming, and it's the foundation of most marketing automation software. But, sometimes, if-then branching logic can lead to a snarl of over-communication with only a loose relevance to the recipient's true interests and needs. Think about it: Does one click sum you up?

As marketers, we shouldn't rest on the laurels of automated email flows. Just because we can build a complex branch of if/then statements for every possible action doesn't mean it's the right thing to do, or that it's going to get us any closer to understanding our leads.

Instead, we ought to challenge ourselves to bring a customer-centric approach to marketing automation. Marketing automation should make our lead- and customer-related decisions easier, not more cluttered.

Understanding Customer Personas

Since a single click doesn't approximate a complete view into the interests and motivations of a given lead, let's start by focusing on what does.

In B2B marketing, a lead first becomes known to you usually by completing a form of some sort. It could be an inquiry form, a content download, or any similar opt-in. The information gleaned from that first conversion gives you a foundation on which to build an understanding of that lead's persona. Depending on your form fields, you'll know things like the lead's industry, company size, and role.

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image of Meghan Keaney Anderson

Meghan Keaney Anderson is VP of marketing at HubSpot, a provider of inbound marketing software that includes lead nurturing, marketing automation, and email marketing tools.

Twitter: @meghkeaney

LinkedIn: Meghan Keaney Anderson