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Had coffee this morning with the COO of an about-to-be-big startup in Boulder, and he shed some light on the innovations happening right now in enterprise tech that might be applicable to campaigns looking to innovate in new and creative ways.

As most of us have read, one of the main things the Obama campaign did to be effective was A/B test everything. In fact, they would run up to 18 variations of an email to test which was the most effective before sending the best one out to their entire list.

This sounds great, but larger companies are now using software that lets them test 100s of variations using marketing automation technology.

Marketing automation is the fusion of data, content, and code scripts that allows the user to more accurately send the right message to the right person at the right time.

Here’s how it works:

1. The user uploads a list of potential customers, or other prospects

2. They map out paths to conversion, determining what means “success” for the campaign. This could be getting the person to download a white paper, signup for a demo, or make a purchase. You can certainly see the application for politics.

3. Then they write several emails for each step in the conversion process.

4. They link these steps together in a workflow. IF someone is a prior customer, send email X. If they are not, send email Y. If they’ve never opened an email from us before, send email Z. There are multiple variations of X, Y, and Z so they can test effectiveness at each step of the workflow.

5. They create multiple landing pages, each with different colors, layout, and content.

6. They set the automation in motion.

The system then begins working — automatically. Over time, it learns who is a prior customer, who downloaded a white paper, and who only opens the occasional email. It then send the appropriate email for that scenario.

The system learns — automatically — which landing pages are most effective, even which are most effective given certain criteria. It begins to automatically churn out communications with individuals based on their own preferences and history. It creates scores for contacts automatically as well, so users can see who is really a strong lead and who is not impressed.

The user’s role now is to continue adding data, content, and reference points. Over time, an administrator can build a very efficient, very effective, and very predicable way to bring in new contacts.

The role for marketing automation for campaigns and advocacy organizations is immense. Not only for fundraising, but grassroots engagement as well.

Have you used marketing automation software for a political campaign or group? What other innovations do you see enterprises adopting that campaigns aren’t?

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