Autopilot Leverages Twilio Integration to Power SMS Marketing Automation

Autopilot, a provider of visual marketing automation software, today unveiled tools that enable companies to build out text-message based customer communications using drag-and-drop functions. Powered by Twilio's SMS technology, the capabilities aim to help marketing professionals streamline the process of capturing new customer data and sending tailored responses by cutting out the need for technical expertise.

Autopilot's marketing system aims to help companies automate their customer journeys, as it can capture leads and increase the chances of converting and retaining them by improving connections with customers.

The new software alters the current marketing landscape, in which marketers have traditionally had to consult software developers to automate the complex aspects of SMS messaging, according to Michael Sharkey, CEO of Autopilot. The new features aim to help them generate leads, capture customer feedback, and activate personalized responses through a user interface that his hooked to existing technology stacks.

Using Autopilot's SMS capabilities, marketers can activate a text-to-opt-in function, which enables customers to text a keyword, such as "hello," for instance, to a phone number or short code to initiate a conversation. Companies can use the technology to set up automated message sequences, streamline responses to common questions, or set up the appropriate follow ups. If a customer indicates that he prefers to be contacted via voice call, for instance, an integration with Salesforce.com can assign the task to a sales rep who can then respond via that channel. Companies can also collect additional information about contacts, such as their email addresses to be filed with their customer profiles, by asking questions. Marketers can use the information collected to update lists and lead scores.

And although marketers hardly think of SMS as a channel through which to grow lead databases, there are "plenty of situations where SMS would come in handy," Sharkey says. "Take speaking at a conference for example. You are on stage presenting your latest and greatest insight, and at the end you ask attendees to visit your website in hopes that they'll opt-in and stay in touch. There are too many steps required to do that—people have to go to your website, look for a form, put in contact info, and click submit. SMS is a personal and conversational way to shortcut the process."

With the Twilio and Autopilot integration, users can ask attendees to text "join" to a phone number and instantly capture them as a lead. This allows companies to offer a "fun and personal follow-up SMS experience that doesn't feel like marketing," he says.

An early adopter of the technology is Seedsheet, a gardening supply company. The company is using Autopilot's SMS capabilities to market its products, allowing users to opt-in with a code and instructions printed onto their product packaging. According to Cam MacKugler, the company's CEO and founder, this has allowed Seedsheet to create better experiences for customers on "the channel they use the most."

"First-time gardeners can sign up to receive real-time tips, tutorials, and recipes that follows their garden's growth from seed to supper," MacKugler said in a statement. "So far, these text messages have helped our customers grow thousands of gardens."

According to Sharkey, Autopilot will continue to focus on making it easy for marketers to automate the best-of-breed tools they're already using. "We recently integrated with Typeform and Facebook Lead Ads, and in the near future we'll be launching more social media and onsite messaging integrations," he points out.

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