What Does The 80/20 Principle Have To Do With Marketing Automation?

You may not know this about me, but I’m a maths guy. I have an engineering degree. If there’s one subject of study I had to choose, it would be maths.

Why do I love it? Because mathematics can be seen in everything you look at. Another thing I love about mathematics is that quite often a mathematical equation will have only one possible answer. It is precise. It is logical.

It is therefore predictable and it helps us to make sense of the universe, nature and to create and build.

I recently read Perry Marshall’s book 80/20 Sales and Marketing. As you can imagine, with it being a book that looks at sales and marketing in mathematical ways, applying logarithmic relationships to absolutely everything out there, it had me hooked from beginning to end.

Truth be told, as soon as I finished the book, I turned the page right back to the very beginning and started reading it a 2nd time, immediately. That was the first time that has ever happened in my life, and it shows how much valuable content is inside of its covers.

Like many who read this book, I look at everything in terms of the 80/20 principle recently. And seeing as a huge part of my life is focused on marketing automation and email marketing, it got me thinking:

20% of your email subscriber list have 80% of the desire to hear from you.

The other 80% of them have only 20% of the desire.

If you’re emailing everyone the same message you’re making a huge, huge mistake.

of the 20% that have 80% of the desire, 20% of THEM have 80% of the 80% of the desire, or rather:

20% of the 20% (in other words, 4% of your list) have 80% of the 80% of the desire (in other words – 64% of the total desire).

This power curve gives you a relationship between desire to read your emails and the percentage of your email subscribers (in this case) that looks something like this:


Some people want to hear from you every single day.

Some of those people want to hear from you more than once a day and can’t get enough.

The majority don’t want to hear from you every single day.

Many of them want to hear from you less than once a week.

This is a fine example of where segmenting your list comes into play.

And in order to segment your list so that you can identify the 20% of the list who have the 80% of the desire to hear from you, you need to segment based on actions taken:

  • emails opened
  • email links clicked
  • website pages visited

There is also the recency factor to consider:

Many people who started off as highly engaged prospects, who were eager to consume lots of your emails, articles, videos and other content, are gradually losing the desire to hear from you as frequently as before, while new people are joining your list every single day.

As you can see, segmenting each email subscriber on your list based on his or her behaviour (or lack thereof) is no easy task, and is close to impossible if you’re still using a basic autoresponder like MailChimp, Aweber or GetResponse.

This is possible to a much higher degree of accuracy if you’re using a marketing automation platform like Ontraport, InfusionSoft or Active Campaign, which can segment your list based on their actions.

These sophisticated systems tag each person on your list, based on actions they take or don’t take, within timeframes that you specify.

Any number of tags can be applied to one contact, so you will not have separate lists of contacts, full of duplicate records (and get charged for those duplicates by your autoresponder company). No sir!

Instead, you will be able to maintain one list of contacts, where each contact can be put into different groups based on any tag or combinations of tags you desire.

Based on the tags given to a contact (automatically tagging people based on the actions they take or don’t take), you can then set up rules, or automations, to carry out further actions automatically when a tag is applied or removed.

So actions (or lack of them) can trigger responses, or reactions.

action reaction

Such actions may include adding or removing a contact to or from a follow up sequence, a re-engagement sequence, a reminder sequence and so on.

Other actions may include notifying a team member in your company so that they can follow up by phone, or sending a contact an sms message. There are infinite possibilities and as a result you can build unique experiences for your email subscribers.

You can identify the people who have not opened any of your emails in the last 30 days for example, and possibly tag them as being an ‘unengaged contact’, so that you know not to include contacts with that tag in every single newsletter.

If another contact click the link in every email in a sequence, you can set up a rule or automation to give that contact another tag called ‘highly engaged’, so that you know to include him or her on all of your newsletters, or better still, move that contact onto a sequence of frequent emails (ideally on topics that match this contact’s interests).

There are many ways to skin a cat as they say.

By the way, if you haven’t read Perry Marshall’s 80 20 Sales and Marketing book yet, I highly recommend that you do so at your earliest convenience (like right this minute)… You will not regret a thing.

About The Author

Luke Ward

Luke Ward is the founder of AutomationXL.com. He is an Ontraport Certified Consultant and sales funnel specialist. Please contact Luke today if you're looking for sales funnel builds, marketing automation advice or migrations to Ontraport from other systems.