Marketing automation is firmly linked to the use of personal data. Companies with little or no usable data usually prioritise building their database and postpone the topic of marketing automation. But building the much-discussed 360° customer view is not realistic for many companies. Complexity needs to be reduced. Even simple marketing automation use cases with no or little data can be very successful.

Companies that rely on marketing automation have 53% higher conversion rates and 3.1% higher annual revenue growth than companies without marketing automation (source: Aberdeen Group). These are just two of the many facts that show the potential of marketing automation. It is therefore worthwhile to start as soon as possible with marketing automation use cases that fit your own business model. Even if you have little or no usable data on your customers, you can start immediately, quickly achieve initial results and successively optimise your marketing automation use cases as your data base grows.

Here are three examples of successful marketing automation (almost) without data.

1. After-sales communication

Do you run an online shop or any other business model that involves digital transactions? Then there are numerous touchpoints after this transaction where you can use marketing automation to generate additional revenue, increase customer loyalty or acquire new customers, for example. And all this with only two data: Time and type (i.e. product purchased) of the transaction. With this data, you can implement the following marketing automation use cases, for example:

  • Transactional emails: Transactional emails include, for example, order confirmations, shipping confirmations, invoices and other emails that contain service information about a transaction. Very few companies understand transactional emails as marketing automation campaigns. Most of the time, the emails are ugly, sometimes incorrect, contain only the most necessary information and are sent from an inflexible system. Yet transactional emails enjoy the highest attention with open rates of over 80 %. Use this attention, for example, to generate further sales through additional offers, to reduce returns and complaints through service options or simply to score points in branding through a high-quality design.
  • Reviews: Ask your customers to rate the product/service they bought or ask about their satisfaction. This way you will receive reviews in your shop or on rating platforms as well as valuable insights for optimising your offer.
  • Recommendation: If you receive a positive review, ask the reviewer to recommend you on social media, e.g. with a simple click on a Share-With-Your-Network button in the email. This way you increase your reach without any effort on your part and can attract new customers.
  • Thank you email: Thank your customers for their feedback (whether positive or negative), recommendations, loyalty (for existing customers) or simply for making a purchase. A personal message of thanks has a positive effect on customer loyalty.
  • Welcome email: Was it the customer’s first transaction? Then welcome them. Use the welcome email, for example, for a welcome gift in the form of a voucher, a product sample or another exclusive offer. Or explain your offer to the customer, e.g. your shop range, the benefits of your insurance, the features of your software, etc.
  • Cross- and upsells: Use the after-sales communication to offer the customer additional products that match the transaction (cross-sell) or a higher-quality version of the purchased products (upsell). Even if your data does not allow you to customise the suggested offers, you can use cross-sells. For example, simply suggest the currently hottest products or most successful services. You don’t have any other suitable products but, for example, interesting magazine content? Then recommend it. You will have something that could interest your customers and offer them added value.
  • Birthday: Birthday emails are a marketing automation classic, but few companies use service/product birthdays as a touchpoint for communication. If a customer has bought a long-lasting product (e.g. a car), congratulate the product on its birthday. BMW, for example, uses this occasion for cross- and upsells. You can do the same with insurance contracts or subscriptions, for example, if they have been running for a year.
BMW sends birthday wishes for cars

BMW sends birthday wishes for cars

You can not only use transactions as triggers for marketing automation communication channels, but also every action of your customers where you receive an email address. Other examples are the download of a whitepaper in the B2B sector or the registration for an online platform. Whenever there is a trigger, there is also potential for marketing automation.

2. Event promotion

Do you organise events? This also includes events that are not part of your business model (such as a concert or trade fair organiser), i.e. webinars in B2B, promo events for customers, special campaigns in shop branches or product launches. Anything that has a fixed date can also be an event that can be accompanied with marketing automation.

  • Confirmation: First send a confirmation email directly after registration/ticket purchase. Communicate the essential information about the event again (e.g. date, schedule) and send the participants a date for the calendar tool. Surprise the participants by announcing an additional service on the day of the event (e.g. free consultation, welcome snack, product sample, etc.). In this way, you increase anticipation right from the start and demonstrate a high quality of service.
  • Reminder: Increase the participation rate of the event by sending regular reminder emails, e.g. one week and one day before the event. At artegic, for example, we were able to increase the participation rate of our webinars by about a third through high-quality, informative reminder emails. Use the reminder emails again for important service information, programme updates and cross-sells and upsells if applicable.
  • Invite others: The webinar might interest the rest of the department? Rather go to the promo event with friends than alone? Ask your customers to invite others to the event. Also make it possible to share the invitation to the event on social media with a click. Depending on the event, you can also incentivise the invitation, e.g. by offering discounts that increase with the number of people or exclusive VIP access for larger groups.
  • Additional content: Do you have additional content that fits the event? A white paper on the topic of the webinar? Videos of a performing musician? Fashion tips for a fashion event? Use the event to suggest additional content to your customers. In this way, you not only increase the anticipation and thus the participation rate, but in the best case even create occasions for cross-sells and upsells.
  • Follow-up: The event is over, but the marketing automation communication continues. Thank the participants. Send non-participants a recording of the event, for example. Ask them about their satisfaction. Send invitations to further events. Offer consultations after a B2B webinar. Promote the products shown at the event. Depending on the nature of the event, there are numerous possibilities.
Duolingo sends daily reminders for language lessons

Duolingo sends daily reminders for language lessons

3. Enrich data with marketing automation

Even if you can already implement successful marketing automation use cases with little data, personal data is an important basis for individualising and thus optimising your marketing communication. Use marketing automation to obtain this data. Automatically ask your customers via email explicitly for data you need.

  • Data completion: Check at regular intervals which data you are still missing from a customer and explicitly request this data. Do not overwhelm the customer, but choose a gradual approach and only ask for one date per email. Important: Explain why you need this date and emphasise the added value for the customer, e.g. more accurate offers or discounts for a local shop branch.
  • Data check: You would like to know whether a customer’s data is still correct (perhaps he or she has moved, for example)? Ask him or her, e.g. once a year, to check his or her own data again and change it if necessary. In the course of this, you can also motivate him or her to add data that is not yet available.
  • Preference centre: In the best case, you offer not only a simple form but a complete preference centre. In a preference centre, your customers can not only fill in data such as address or (in B2B) company name, but also, for example, specify concrete interests, choose favourite brands, give information on their lifestyle, subscribe to and unsubscribe from newsletters, set the frequency with which newsletters are sent, etc. This gives you much more data on the customer and allows you to address him or her in a much more individualised way. With a preference centre, you also give your customers the feeling that they can determine their own communication with you and thus prevent unsubscribes.


Even if you do not yet have any or only very little customer data, marketing automation offers you numerous potentials for e.g. sales growth, customer loyalty or data enrichment. Make use of this potential. Start with use cases that are easy to implement (e.g. from this article) and gradually increase the complexity. There is no business model for which marketing automation does not work.


This is a use case from our Whitepaper: Mobile omnichannel in digital dialogue marketing. With the help of 9 further exciting use cases, we will show you how you can expand and optimise your digital dialogue marketing with mobile channels.

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