Email has become a staple of the marketing strategy for many businesses. It's a cost-effective way to stay in touch with your customers and prospects, reaching them directly with your marketing message. Plus, it delivers a great return on investment and is highly trackable. If you're already realizing these benefits for your business, and you want to take things to the next level, you might be ready to make the leap to email marketing automation. Let's take a look at some of the basics of this strategy.
What is email marketing automation?
Email marketing automation is a marketing strategy that automatically delivers the right message to your prospects and customers at the right time based on a schedule you define. That schedule is tied to specific triggers, like dates or actions that are taken. When you use this strategy, each email your business sends is customized to the needs of the person receiving it. Utilizing email marketing automation makes communicating with your audience more efficient and effective, saving you time so that you can focus on other important aspects of your business.
What are the benefits of email marketing automation?
One of the greatest benefits of email marketing automation is right in the name: it’s automated! Taking the time to put some of your marketing efforts on autopilot can lead to greater efficiency, leaving you time to spend on other important tasks related to running your business. You can also track the effectiveness of your marketing efforts more easily once you’re using automation. You’ll gain greater insights into how well your campaigns are working and how email is impacting your sales funnel.
Automating emails also lets you personalize the way you communicate with your prospects and customers based on their relationship with your business. Research shows that personalized emails have higher levels of engagement and deliver a greater return than emails that aren’t personalized.
Don’t worry--personalizing your emails doesn’t mean you need to send a unique email to every one of your contacts. We’ll dive into more detail about personalization once you start building your strategy. First, let’s take a look at how to decide if you’re ready for email marketing automation.
Is email marketing automation right for me?
Email marketing automation is a relatively advanced tactic. If you’re already emailing your customers and prospects consistently using an email service provider and you want to get more personalized with your strategy, you might be ready for email marketing automation. If you’re not using email marketing for your business yet, or if you’re just getting started, check out Send Marketing Emails Effectively to get started. Come back to this post once you’re feeling good about your email strategy and ready to take it to the next level.
How to build your email marketing automation strategy
Email marketing automation might feel daunting now, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are five steps to you get started.
- Identify your audiences
You may have multiple audiences you want to automate emails to: your current customers, prospects that you are in touch with, or vendors you work with, just to name a few. Take a look at how you are keeping track of information about your audiences. If you have audience segments in your email service provider already, you’re off to a good start. Make sure you are categorizing your contacts based on their relationship with you, so that you can segment them and send them relevant messages. If you need help getting your email list segmented, check out A Beginner’s Guide to Email Segmentation Strategy.
- Determine the automated emails you want to send
Some of the emails you send may be tied to ways that your audience already interacts with you. For example, if you have an email sign up available on your website, you’ll want to have a thank you email that goes out whenever someone new signs up for your email list. That’s one automation you will set up. You might also want to consider adding some new touch points to help you build your relationship with your audience.
Other automated emails to consider:
-A customer appreciation email once a year with a special offer
-An email that asks a customer to leave a review for your business or product after a recent transaction
-New product launch announcements
-A reminder email when it’s time to schedule an appointment
-Re-engagement emails to subscribers who haven’t opened your email in a while (Get more re-engagement ideas here)
It may be helpful to map out your ideas for automated emails with an old-fashioned pen and paper, especially if you are creating multiple emails in a series.
- Outline the content for each email
It’s important that automated emails feel personalized. You can keep it simple--research shows that the most effective marketing emails have between 50 and 125 words. That’s not much, so make sure each word counts and is relevant to the reader’s needs. Think back to the audience segments you identified in step one and put yourself in their shoes. What do they need to know? How does your business help them solve their problems? Besides what you’ll write for each email, consider what images to use and what links to include. If a particular page on your website is relevant to the email content, make sure you include a link to it. If you don’t have a relevant website page to link, consider setting up a dedicated landing page.
- Build your first automated email campaign!
The process for doing this will vary depending on the email tool you use. Each of the triggers you identified in step two will need to be added to the emails you build. If you’re a salon sending an appointment reminder for your clients every six weeks, you’ll need to have the date of each client’s appointments in your email system, then trigger an email six weeks later. This step may take some time, but it will be worth it in the end!
- Measure your results, test and adjust
Take a second to pat yourself on the back--you’ve just saved your business a ton of time by automating your email marketing! But, just because it’s automated doesn’t mean you get to forget about it and never touch it again. It’s important to pay attention to what’s working and what’s not. Take note of a few key email marketing metrics, and track them over time:
-Open rate: how many of your emails are actually being opened?
-Click thru rate: how many of those who opened your email clicked through the one of the links you included?
-Deliverability: Are your emails actually making it to people’s inboxes?
-Unsubscribe rate: Is your content relevant, or are users choosing to unsubscribe from your emails?
If you notice trends in any of these metrics, whether they are positive or negative, it’s time to do some digging and see what you can learn.
Email marketing automation is not easy by any means, but the results are worth it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider starting with just one automated email. You’ll learn a lot from that first one, and soon you’ll be adding more. Over time, you’ll realize all the benefits that this marketing strategy can offer!