In the course of your work as a digital marketer, your task list more or less looks like this
- Create a content calendar and publish blog posts regularly
- Optimise your website for search, which is more commonly called SEO
- Create and manage email campaigns
- Manage several social media profiles
- Manage several paid advertising campaigns
- Study reporting and analytics to understand how your activities are faring
You probably also have a process when a visitors signs up for your newsletter. Not only will you add them as a lead into your contact database but change how you communicate with them.
Imagine you have to do all these tasks and workflows manually. This is the prompt for marketing automation. It makes some big promises like
- More leads
- More conversions
- More sales
And all this with less work. Autopilot promises exactly this. It’s a marketing automation platform for businesses of all sizes. It allows you to automate your marketing efforts across multiple channels with a visual and easy-to-use customer journey mapping visualisation tool.
In 2012, Autopilot was launched in Sidney, Australia. They boast high-profile clients like Lyft, Microsoft, and CrunchBase.
Pros and cons of Autopilot
If you only look at Autopilot’s core components that are part customer relationship management (CRM) and part email marketing service, you’d lump it into “yet another Mailchimp” category.
But Autopilot works a bit differently in that it centres around customer journey: It maps customer buying journeys and provides insights into interruptions in journeys, segmentation, and targeting, personalises communications and sales team engagements.
- Powerful and versatile automation features
- SMS marketing, Facebook, and Google ads make it a multi-channel marketing solution
- Email list segmentation
- Many integrations
- Many journeys and email templates to help you get started
- Live chat support
- If you want to integrate with the Salesforce CRM, you have to opt into a separate subscription add-on
- The learning curve can be steep, especially for building journeys
- It’s a confusing that you’re taken to a separate web application to build and send your campaigns
Who is Autopilot for?
No matter if you’re an individual with your own business or working in a marketing team, and want to automate some of your marketing activities, Autopilot is a good candidate. That said, you do need deep(er) pockets since it doesn’t offer a free plan.
As its name suggests, autopilot gives you a “cockpit” in which you can automate all of your email communication with existing customers and prospects alike. If you’re already managing your contacts with a tool like Salesforce or Pipedrive, Autopilot may look like a dream come true.
If you’re operating an online store, you rely on automation to nurture and grow a loyal audience. Knowing this, Autopilot has a library of automation templates to help you send the right message to the right person at the right time.
Autopilot user interface
After completing the signup process, you’re taken to the journey canvas with Autopilot’s user onboarding journey displayed. You first need to set up a journey so that you can build campaigns and auto-responders as well as track a customer’s buying journey. You can liken a journey to the automation workflow that you find in other automation solutions such as Moosend.
The user interface is well designed with clearly labelled elements and understandable icons. It doesn’t feel cluttered and everything is placed so that you can get the task at hand done smoothly.
When you click on the campaign icon, you are taken into a separate web application that handles individual and newsletter emails. Setting up a campaign in Autopilot is a 5 step workflow Setup> Audience> Template> Design> Review.
After you’ve determined the basics like sender name, sender email, email subject in the setup step, you select the list or segment that you want to address.
Autopilot provides you layouts as well as themes for your newsletter in the template step. You customise the chosen template in the design step with a drag-and-drop editor. Before you send your newsletter, you review it in the last step.
List management, segmentation, and personalisation
Just after signing up, you first have to add contacts one by one or by importing them. Its CRM is quite powerful, allowing you to sort by name, company, email, source, status, and creation date.
To send personalised emails and campaigns, you need to segment your list. You can set triggers that automatically update a field for smart segments.
The journey canvas is where you set up a workflow that is automated with triggers and followed by conditional steps or actions. You find automation templates that you can use as starting points which can give you ideas on how to communicate with your audience.
Autopilot boasts a ton of integrations. You can integrate it with Ad platforms, CRM, ecommerce, and much more. Autopilot even offers a REST API so that you can build your own integration.
Autopilot’s reasoning behind offering this great number of integrations is to not limit your choice and existing workflows. This means for example that they don’t offer a landing page, so that you can connect to any tools that you’re already using.
This has is upsides and downsides. The upside is obvious: it doesn’t disrupt your established workflows and tools already set in place. The downside is that you have to hunt for the integrations and a landing page builder yourself if you’re starting out.
To assess your marketing efforts, you can find the data in the reporting tab and the heads reports. A journey is also closely tracked so that you can find its data in the insights tab.
Sending a text message is similar to sending an email in a journey. You need to add the “Send SMS” action into the journey. The text message can be personalised.
You likely find Autopilot has a learning curve with its many features especially with the breadth of logic it offers for setting up a journey. There’s a well organised help centre offering guidance from getting started to the integrations with videos.
Since Autopilot’s features are quite powerful and versatile, you may find there is a learning curve. To ease you into all the tools and features, there’s a well-organised help centre. https://help.Autopilot.com/hc/en-us
You can reach support via email, phone, and live chat. The support team is competent and responsive.
Autopilot bases its pricing structure on how many contacts you have. Depending on the number of contacts, you select their silver, gold, or platinum packages and then you can send unlimited emails. If you have more than 10’000 contacts, you’ll need to ask for a quote.
Is Autopilot right for you?
If you’re looking to scale your marketing activities and save wasted man-hours, Autopilot is a solid choice. You can then use the saved time to study analytics and work out new campaigns and optimise existing ones. Autopilot comes with some useful features to improve email output, time management, ROI, and customer base.
The main point is the customer journey in Autopilot. You can design a simple journey and grow it to a multi-step complex workflow. That said, you need to understand the basics of “if this happens then do that” that can grow to “if this happens then do that else do something else”. That is to say, you need to be a bit technical. If you’re comfortable with logic flows, you can set great levels of customisation and build a system that precisely matches your needs. That said, its pricing is at the top end of this market.
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