Message Types are a foundational concept in marketing automation. In the ActiveCampaign working definition, a message type is a communication that is personalized based on target audience, method of communication, and intended goals.
While many of our guides touch on the how of ActiveCampaign, this will focus on the why – the purpose is to help you get clear about your audience, your messages, and how to make the most meaningful connections.
We’ll share some tips and tricks about how to organize your ActiveCampaign account around these messages after exploring the message types later in this guide.
Types of Messages
A vital step to getting started with marketing automation is to determine what types of messages you send to your audience. This is also a good step to re-visit periodically, to take a pulse of your marketing campaigns. As a note, B2B and B2C companies will have some overlap, but there will be times where they differ.
To begin, most companies will have messages targeted to two audiences: customers and prospects. There is overlap here as well, because some messages will be useful for both groups. However, message types go beyond these two audiences, and target what they’re interested in gaining from your marketing.
It may be helpful to imagine your various audiences within a Venn diagram; messages will be sent to overlapping members of lists from time to time, but the goal is to send the right message to the right people at the right time. Creating lists or tags and saved segment groups in ActiveCampaign that correspond to message types can help you save contacts from unsubscribing from all communications, and instead, select the messages they want to receive.
We will cover the following basic message types: Announcements & News, Sales, Educational Content, and Events.
Announcements & News
Announcements & News is a large portion of communications – it can often serve as a catch-all for what you’d like to share with your entire contact base. But be careful to not abuse this channel, or people may unsubscribe quickly.
Announcements include relevant updates about your business. New locations, new product lines, and special events are relevant messages. These general announcements can also be leveraged to push contacts down a deeper path, opting in to other message types.
News can differ greatly in the B2B versus B2C space. In B2B marketing, it may be common to announce new employees, new partner programs, and offer a monthly newsletter. While some B2C shops will have a monthly newsletter, they will more commonly opt out of sending general news updates in favor of targeted sales messages (which we will expand upon in the next section).
Announcements & News message types are grouped together in order to emphasize the importance of targeted, timed message sends. Be careful to only send your most relevant, interesting and important information to your audience.
Sales messaging covers communications that have the potential to result in positive revenue-driven results. Sales messages may include:
- Limited-time promotional emails: “20% off through Friday!”
- Coupons: “Buy $75 in product, get $100 in savings!”
- Subscription offers: “Subscribe now for 25% off the annual price”
- New product offer: “We have something new; buy and try today for half-price!”
The intent behind sales messages is to get a contact to buy. They may purchase a new product, or a product related to something they’ve purchased in the past. Promotional offers may include special deals or bonus offers as part of a purchase.
Even if you have multiple products and product types, Sales Messages can be grouped under one umbrella. You can employ conditional content or tags to segment groups and send them the most targeted information, and avoid creating a list for every individual product. Personalization of your sales offers are key.
Educational messages include content that teaches people about your product, use cases, best practices, and the like. It is more narrowly focused than general announcements. As such, the audience size will likely be smaller.
You can use automations to infer what type of content your more engaged contacts are interested in receiving. For example, if a contact clicks on a link in an email about a particular product, they may be interested to learn more about that line. This could include:
- A skin care education program sent to contacts who express interest in a particular facial soap
- Educational content sent to realtors who have expressed interest in learning more about staging homes
Creating a list, tag group, or saved segment around your educational content will help you share your message to a more engaged group of contacts. With an increased interest in authentic content as opposed to marketing updates, this has the potential become one of your most engaged audiences. If you share solid educational content, it has a greater chance to prove your value, and inspire your contacts to share your insight.
Educational content can drive traffic, highlighting you as a thought leader in your space.
Creating a message type around Events can help you to reach out to a broader audience than your every day communications. If you host online events, in-person events, or attend any style of conference, ActiveCampaign offers several ways to capture that contact information.
Event emails may include:
- Registration Promotion: “RSVP Today; only 20 spots remain!”
- Major Event Reminder: “Our annual conference is next month; Join us again!”
- Webinar: “Register today for our webinar!”
Using forms on designated event landing pages, SMS options, or capturing emails via webinar program can help you create a list of people who have registered for and/or attended your events in the past. These contacts may be more interested in attending related events or follow-up events.
Using Lists to Send Messages by Type
If you have a limited number of message types, or are generally more comfortable working in lists, you can easily create lists for every message type.
In this example, we will create lists for Announcements & News, which will serve as our master list. We will then create lists that will house the more targeted communications for Sales and Educational Content. We will send coupons and educational updates to previous customers of a particular product. And lastly, we will create an Events list, so people can sign up and express their interest on the go. Our list names are: Announcements & News, Educational Content, Events, and Special Sales.
Using these user-friendly names will allow us to sort people into various lists based on their actions. Contacts can exist in more than one list at a time, but only count once against your overall contact limit.
If Announcements & News is the master list, we can create automations to add contacts to other lists. For example, if a contact becomes a customer, we can give them the tag for “Message Type: Customer” and subscribe them to the Special Sales list. We can also send a quick thank you email with a discount code.
Now, all customers are on both the Announcements & News list, as well as the Special Sales list.
You can easily subscribe people to multiple lists in this way. And, in order to prevent people from unsubscribing from all communications if they choose to opt out of one email, simply utilize our guide to managing unsubscribes, which involves creating a customer-facing form that allows them to select their subscriptions.
Using Tags and Segments to Send Messages by Type
If you’d like to employ more flexibility and conditional content, or are more comfortable with tags, the same effects can be achieved by utilizing tags and saved segments. In this instance, you only need to create a master list, as opposed to several lists per communication type.
To keep things clean, we’ll continue to use Announcements & News as the Master List, and we’ll create tags around our message types. Under the Contacts tab, simply create new tags for your message types.
When creating automations, you can start them with the trigger “Tag is Added” to start them down a new path of communications. For example, if someone purchases a book from you, you can send them additional educational content about that topic with the “Message Type: Education” tag.
As seen above, you can create simple, targeted drip campaigns that send content at a timed interval, in response to an added tag.
The concept of Message Types is a complex topic that can be modified for any business. Using lists and/or tags, you can send well-timed information to your most interested and engaged topics.
What types of messages do you send? Do you employ lists, tags, or a hybrid solution? What else would you like to learn about message types? Let us know in the comments below.