Autopilot Review: Beautifully visualise and automate customer journeys

19th June 2020

TL;DR

Autopilot beautifully maps your customer journeys, then carefully guides your customers through them with targeted, timely messages based on the actions they’ve taken. Once setup, everything is automated for scale, speed and ease. With its collection of website tools, Autopilot can start tracking and converting leads from the moment they show interest in your company.



Loved

  • Easy-to-use visual journey builder
  • Ready-made templates
  • Proactive Headsups
  • Entry level pricing of core features
  • Beautiful, custom dashboard

Loathed

  • Tricky onboarding process
  • Small but growing number of integrations
  • Pricy to connect to Salesforce

The Story

What is Autopilot?

Autopilot puts the power of marketing automation at your fingertips to show up at customers’ moments of truth.

Use Autopilot to create workflows for just about any scenario on your website and inside your app, and let it take care of tasks such as conversion and lead handling, customer onboarding, retention and upselling.

The artistry of Autopilot’s visual journey builder and wizardry of its messaging tools are game-changers for anyone currently relying on too many manual processes. Heck, it’s even a joy to use!


The Sharkey Brothers

Meet the Maker:
The Sharkey Brothers

Similar to so many Surges maker stories, Autopilot started life as an in-house tool built to solve the maker’s own problem.

Three brothers (Chris, Mike and Peter Sharkey) were consulting on the back of selling their previous start-up, a top Australian rental booking site.

In using various tools for clients, they soon realised that there were no solutions for connecting customer data across multiple platforms. Longing for a single view of the customer, rich in actionable insights, they set about creating a visual tool that would illuminate and support every step of the customer journey. And so Autopilot was born.

The Product

How we tested Autopilot

I’ve been working with marketing automation software for my marketing agency and its clients for over 10 years.

In that time I’ve tested just about every major tool on the market and stayed loyal to a few including HubSpot, Marketo and (to a lesser extent) Zapier. Autopilot has been on my radar and its 30-day free trial was the perfect opportunity to put it through its paces.

Great marketing automation is built around the evolving needs of leads and their activity across all your marketing channels and inside your product. Autopilot promised to do all this and more. So far, so good. But is it worth your hard-earned money and a cherised spot in your marketing stack?


Getting started with Autopilot

Autopilot comes with a free 30-day trial. There’s no requirement to enter your card details too – bonus!

I’ll be honest, Autopilot’s onboarding goes a bit downhill from there. You’re immediately thrown into the deep end, as you’re faced with the customer journey builder and no step-by-step walkthrough. There’s a lot going on and the journey canvas isn’t responsive, meaning you have to scroll more than you’d like. Demos and training are offered but they’re by appointment – an overview video here would be far more user-friendly or Autopilot could direct the user to the account setup checklist found on the dashboard.

Because access to many of their support resources is restricted, it does that a lot longer to master the tool than it really should. An easy win for Autopilot if they sort this out!

Autopilot does make up for this with templates. Its template library is full of readymade journeys – pick one and click on ‘use this template’ to open it up in the visual builder. Installing the tracking code is also very easy.

Features you’ll love

  • 🗺️ Visual plots of customer journeys

    Autopilot’s USP is its unique visual canvas. It plots a given journey’s selection criteria, the path a customer takes and what happens every step of the way.

    Autopilot calls these ‘Triggers’, ‘Actions’ and Conditions’. Every journey starts with a Trigger (e.g. submitting a form, downloading content), which leads to an Action (e.g. move from a list, send an email/ notification, assign lead), assuming the user meet certain Conditions (e.g. is on a list or segment, or failed to act previously).

    Autopilot makes creating and customising these super simple with its famous drag-and-drop interface. Each has its own shape for rapid scanning of a workflow.

    Autopilot   visual marketing automation

    This canvas might not seen overly radical but the alternative is often boring flow diagrams and rigid setups that lack any control. With its drag-and-drop functionality, the ability to add emoji stickers, screenshots and annotations for teammates, Autopilot have succeeded in creating something that’s as engaging for the builder as it is for the customer is serves.

  • 🖇️ Integrates with top tools

    Autopilot has a small but growing list of integration partners. You can collect feedback with the NPS Delighted integration. Add Trello cards or Slack messages as follow-up reminders. Automatically update Recurly subscriptions in Autopilot. Schedule sales outreach in Pipedrive. Connect Twilio for SMS messaging. Register attendees with Typeform. And automate transactional emails based on behavioural targeting with Segment.

    Autopilot   Templates for marketing automation

    Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, you can install the template with the click of a button.

  • 📋 Jam-packed templates library

    Journeys can come in all shapes and sizes but chances are Autopilot has a template for it.

    Autopilot’s impressive template library enables you to adopt tried-and-tested journeys to get your automation adventure off to a good start. The ever-expanding list of templates includes: Sending gated content; Follow-up new leads from Typeform; 30-day trial nurture; Reach out to hot-leads who visit a pricing page; Pro-actively contacting dormant users at risk of leaving, and so much more. Autopilot’s templates also extend to the style of communication you send, meaning your emails look great and can reflect your branding.

  • 🤼 Lead capture and scoring

    No more leaky funnels. Autopilot turns to anonymous visitors on your website into leads with embedded forms and pop-up live chat (called Proactive Headsup), and then goes about converting them with personalised, automated engagements.

    Autopilot review   Surges   Forms

    Leads can also be scored according to their status and potential to convert, so you not waste resources pursuing time-wasting prospects. The scoring system is really quite clever and can spot when customers follow-up on earlier interest, such as repeat visits to your pricing page or checking out testimonials. In counting these visits you can flag the hottest leads to reach out to.

  • 📊 Dashboard

    Assuming you’ve set everything up correctly, the Autopilot dashboard is rich in insights.

    On the right is a timeline of individual activities. On the left, more space is given to your active funnel featuring the number of people entering and taking each journey, and your other key insight cards.

    Add/remove cards with a single click and the dashboard will reorganise itself to give a beautiful overview of your entire operation. Get a glimpse of what’s driving conversions, any trending journeys and the messages that are making the biggest impact. If only more marketing software dashboards were this good!

Things to consider

  • Multi-channel marketing

    Many marketing automation tools deal exclusively in trigger-based emails. Autopilot’s integrations open up more channels, including Headsup messages on your website, SMS, and social retargeting.

    I have a love/hate relationship with retargeting. However, you can’t deny it works. Use the drag-and-drop canvas to add and remove contacts from your Facebook audience and once a lead has initiated a trigger you can set them on your chosen journey to automatically close the deal.

  • Less is more

    If you obsess with what you could do, you forget to ask whether you should.

    Poorly designed, overly eager marketing automation leads to message fatigue. This poses huge issues, not just for retaining customers but also for deliverability. Autopilot makes it easy to insert delays into your customer journeys or to let your customers take a break with opt-down - pausing email sends for all but your most important comms for a set period. Hugely underrated features if you ask me!

  • Real world use cases

    Autopilot’s marketing understandably leads with its digital lead capture, however it has offline potential too.

    For example, with its Twilio integration, you can turn ambient media or trade shows into powerful lead generation activities with SMS. Then, based on their level of engagement with your follow-up, you can nudge them to book a call with your sales team or retarget them on social media.

Autopilot Pricing

from $49 per month

2000 contacts, unlimited emails

Autopilot’s pricing is very competitive. Pay only for what you need based on your contact database size and tag on extras such as: VIP support; Salesforce CRM integration; real-time activity streams; and a dedicated IP address. Annual subscriptions come with a 20% discount.


Autopilot Alternatives

Autopilot’s main competitors are Intercom, Userlist, Woodpecker and Customer.io. Each offers a similar toolkit and possibilities due to their reliance on integrations to work to their full potential. If Autopilot can sort out its onboarding it would seal the deal.

Also, the visual journey builder of Autopilot and Woodpecker are a world away from Userlist’s dropdown interface – personally I can work with either, but can understand why others would prefer to see journeys brought to life on the screen.

However, most people will be upgrading to Autopilot from manual outreach or drip campaigns. The step up will really open your eyes as to what’s possible with automated, personalised messaging at scale. Well worth paying $49 a month for.

Autopilot Support   👍  or   👎

Chat and email support is available on every plan as standard.

Enterprise customers wanting to jump the queue can do so for $199 extra per month. This gets you priority support 24 hours a day, 6 days per week. You can also pay an Autopilot specialist help you configure your account for a one-off fee of $1,699. Out of my price range but a drop in the ocean for others.

The Verdict

Surges score

84%

Autopilot is a power-up for acquiring, nurturing, and growing leads that might otherwise be lost. It knows the secret to any relationship is good communication, bringing you closer to each potential customer with automated, personalised customer messaging.

The range of engagement possibilities with Autopilot are impressive. If somebody is browsing your pricing page, jumping on a live chat, responding to a Facebook advert or taking an in-app action, you can make sure they enter the journey that’s right for them. And with templates for every situation and a growing army of integrations, no lead should ever go cold or customer feel unloved.

Ultimately you get out of Autopilot what you put in. The obstacles intentionally put up when trying to familiarise yourself with the tool can make it hard to navigate initially but stick with it. The visual journey builder is your friend when it comes to mapping out improved customer experiences and better outcomes for you both. I also bet you’ll get addicted to the actionable insights Autopilot generates, as you find the perfect marriage of conditions, triggers and messaging. Nothing beats the thrill of well thought out conversion coming true!

If you’re looking to add speed and scale to your sales and marketing, Autopilot promises to do the work of multiple people. Set it up, sit back and be smug as it gets to work growing your business and pleasing your customers.

Its 30-day free trial is the perfect excuse to finally take the leap into marketing automation. We’re certain you won’t look back.

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