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Email Marketing Automation 101

Even if it is one of the older online marketing channels out there, if not the oldest, Email marketing remains a fairly viable tool. If done right, you can use email marketing to establish a relationship of sorts with potential audiences and strengthen what you already have with existing customers. Stepping further, with Email marketing automation we shall see just how efficient it could make your business.

But giving personalized marketing experiences is not possible if you do it manually. There are just too many people on your email list that you have to personally respond to but you still have to communicate with all of them on a regular basis.

This is where an Email Marketing Automation system comes into play as it can make the process easier and be rewarding for you. With the right setup and focus, you can not only create emails that are compelling but you could also make your audiences and customers look forward to hearing from you in the future.

In order to do that, it is important that we cover some of the basics first.

Why Would it Matter?

The most basic definition of automated emailing is that it serves as your way of personally corresponding to people in an email list without having to actually create multiple personal emails for each person.

In contrast to email newsletters and one-time campaigns that you create and send to those people in your email list, automated email is something that you set up once but you can use for as long as that compelling reason to engage is active. In essence, it automatically sends email to an individual upon the activation of certain triggers.

For instance, you want to thank a person for signing up to your email list or having been subscribed to you for quite a while now. The system would then automatically send an email to that person welcoming them to your business or thanking them for their continued subscription – Not to everyone else who would not be interested in those emails.

That is the basic concept of automating your email. However, the question that you would want to have answered is this: why should I even bother automating my email marketing.

The answer lies in one word: Time.

You have to understand that an email list can be comprised of hundreds of email addresses. This means that personally creating unique mails for each of those addresses or directly responding to whatever actions those people make in response to your offers is next to impossible.

An automated email system can do all of that at a rate faster than what you could muster. Through the use of certain triggers, the system can create mail that is timely, personalized, and relevant to the reader. In fact, it can create hundreds of bespoke emails for different peopel on your email list all at the same time.

And if you do need further convincing, here are some of the more practical benefits from having your email marketing automated.

  1. Quick Response

In relation to the time element, you have to understand that your brand will technically operate on a worldwide scale once it goes online. This means that you will have to deal with people who live on a different time zone than you.

And here lies the problem: how can you respond to an action if you can’t be online 24/7? And even if you do happen to notice that they have performed something, it takes time to create a message acknowledging that action.

With automated marketing, all actions made by a subscriber will be acknowledged at the instance that it was performed. This should increase the chances of that action initiating a dialogue between you and that subscriber.

  1. Faster Lead Generation

The point of marketing is not just to funnel traffic to your pages but to convert that traffic into paying customers. After all, it is customers that consume whatever you have to offer while audience members merely receive information without acting on it.

With automated email systems, you can make your marketing campaigns even more successful. How this works is quite simple: automated systems can identify the kind of person that the subscriber is. By looking at how that person’s behavior activates time and event-based triggers, the system would know what kind of marketing message it needs to send to compel that person to act.

As a matter of fact, automation systems do not treat your email list as this one long, continuous database. It divides it into different groups based on demographics, behaviors, and other qualifiers. By doing so, the system can make sure that whatever it sends to a person is always timely and relevant.

  1. Customer Relations Management

Converting people into customers is just the start. Retaining them is where a lot of marketers face challenges as not every customer is bound to return for another transaction. And then there are those that started a transaction but, for one reason or another, did not complete it.

An automated system can quickly identify these people and send out messages that can retarget them. Offers like special discounts and sneak peeks into yet-to-be-released content are just some of several ways to entice long-time subscribers and cart abandoners into performing another transaction with your brand. This way, you can maximize the sales potential for every lead that your brand converts.

How To Automate Your Email Marketing?

The concept might look intimidating now but automating your email system is actually quite simple and easy to follow. Here are the steps that would help in automating your Email Marketing campaigns.

  1. Building the List

First and foremost, you have to get the leads that would form the base of your subscriber list. To do this, you can do some list-building activities on your part. This includes:

  • Hosting an event on social media.
  • Optimizing your website for opt-in subscriptions.
  • Inviting people to subscribe to your upcoming list.
  • Set up giveaways.
  • Direct mail.
  • Telemarketing.
  • Blogging
  • Other social media activities.

To successfully build on your list through any of the mentioned strategies, it is important that you direct people to somewhere that they can sign up to your email list at. You can create a sign-up sheet on your website or a dedicated page through your Google drive.

You also have the option to buy your email list from a listing service. However, this is never recommended for automated email marketing. The people that you will be sending automated emails should have come to know of your brand through natural means. If they were in the mail list by their own volition, that person will be a bit more responsive to what you will have to offer to them.

Next, you have to pick an Email Service Provider. There are quite a lot of them in the market right now but you should pick the one that is easy enough for you to understand and master and has a subscription fee that you can manage on a monthly basis.

  1. Segmenting Your List

A common mistake marketers often make with email lists is that they don’t bother to segment them any further. So what you get is one long email list that does not respect the diversity of needs and behaviors of subscribers. In the end, you will be sending the same message to everybody which may only be relevant to some and not taking full advantage of what an Automated Email Service can offer.

There are also some benefits to be had from segmenting your email list. This includes;

  • Boost Email Open Rates – The more relevant that email is to the person, the likelier they are going to open it.
  • Improve Click-Through Rates – If you put a certain link on your emails, the reader will be compelled to click through it provided that the email itself is relevant to them.
  • Decrease Unsubscription Rates – People tend to unsubscribe if an email provider continuously sends them email that they do not find to be valuable to them. By matching your emails to different specific subgroups of subscribers, you decrease the chances of your emails being seen as spam.

The goal with segmentation is to find out how that user became part of your email list. As such, your segments should look something like these:

  • Newcomers/New Subscribers – Emails in this class should be in response to a person becoming a new addition to your email lists.
  • Preferences and Interests – Some subscribers want certain kinds of notifications from. You can set some subscribers to receive only notifications for new sales or new content while others get notifications for everything. Aside from this, you can subdivide your subscribers according to what they like the most from your brand’s offerings.
  • Location – This classification is necessary for some event-based triggers. For instance, you might be hosting an event in a local area. As such, you can put your subscribers who live near the area in a group of their own.
  • Engagement – There are various ways that you can group your subscribers by how active they are in interacting with you. You can group them according to their open rates or their level of activity with the brand. You can also group them according to the number of successful transactions they have completed with you.
  • Lead Magnets – These are the offers that would compel the reader to do something for you. More often than not, this is used so persons will subscribe to your list.
  • Cart Abandonment – More often than not, you would rather group all those that failed to complete a sales process in one place. The reason for this is that you might want to create a separate and more compelling retargetting email for these people so they would start another transaction and, this time, complete it.,

These are just some classifiers that you can use to segment your email list. The point here is that you should diversify your email list so each person gets a message they will most likely respond to.

  • Setting the Automation

Regardless of the service provider of your choice, automation for email marketing always come in two forms:

  1. Time-Based
  2. Behavior-Based

Time-Based Triggers – This automation triggers are activated once a certain date or time limit is reached. For example, you can set a deactivation notice to be sent to your subscribers if they fail to renew their subscription within a set period like a month of a week.

Aside from notifications, you can use time-based triggers for what is called as Drip-Feed automation. In here, parts of a larger content are slowly being published via email at scheduled dates. You may have an online course, for example, and want to entice people to enroll in it. You can use time triggers to release the new course module by module using weekly, semi-weekly, or monthly triggers.

In either use, time-based triggers are considered to be the primary form of automation. It would be the first type of automation you would set up, building on it later on with the next type of activators.

A major element in time-based triggers is, well, Timing. You have to send those emails at the time when people are the most recipient to such. Any date at the opposite ends of the week have the least amount of open-through rates when it comes to email. This means that days like Mondays, Saturdays, and Sundays are not recommended.

However, mid-week and the days before the weekend are where people tend to do all their digital correspondence. This means that you should consider setting your time-based triggers on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Behavior-Based Triggers – Unlike time-based triggers which are reliant on the passage of time, behavior-based triggers are reliant on the performance of certain acts. As such, they are the smarter and more personalized form of automation as they ensure that your subscribers would get mail that is relevant to what they are thinking at that moment.

For instance, a person just subscribed to your email list. You can set the service provider to release a Welcome email to thank that person for subscribing. You can also use behavior-based triggers to send automated mail for other behaviors such as:

  • Completing a series of consecutive purchases
  • Failing to complete a purchase by abandoning the digital cart
  • Being inactive for quite a while
  • Renewing their subscription

You might think that this automation covers also transactional actions like just paying for an order or resetting a password. It is not. Behavior-based automated email differs in the sense that it is still a piece of marketing content. As such, your goal here is to reward the person for performing certain actions or encouraging them to do something for you.

Depending on the program of your choice, you should be able to set up different time and behavior based triggers for your emails. This way, the system knows what kind of message to send to a subscriber and when.

  • Crafting Your Message

An automated email can perform different functions such as reminding long-time subscribers of something new, asking subscribers to perform something for you, or reminding them of a deadline. As such, automated emails can have different content depending on the person that is going to receive them.

As such, here are a few tips that you can use to make your email content all the more engaging.

  1. Make the Subject Stand Out

Subject lines can make or break your emails which is why you should make them not only stand out but do so for the right reasons. When crafting the heading of your emails, there are a few psychological triggers that you can tap into.

  • Curiosity – Make your headline interesting enough to compel that person to open it but don’t be too clever. You want that reader to think about opening that mail but you can’t be too cryptic. Just give enough hints so the reader would get an idea as to what you are talking about.
  • Facts – Another clever trick that you can use is to appeal to the part of the brain that does all the logic and thinking. To do this, include some numbers on your heading. Whether it be dates or discount rates, numbers tend to draw the eye and make that person seriously consider about opening that mail.
  • Non-Threatening Nature – Obviously, you want that reader to not be too intimidated from clicking through. As such, you have to word your headings in such a way that it is not too demanding or pushy. Use words that are inviting, friendly, and conversational.
  1. Write to One Person

When writing your automated email, it is natural to think of the thousands of people that are going to receive it. However, it would be easier for you to write that as if you are writing to just one person only.

How do you this? If you know about Buyer Personas, then you can predict how people are going to react to your message depending on their mentality, age, and other demographic markers.

If you have no buyer personas in mind, then think about this: if exposed to that message, how are your potential customers going to react? More specifically, how are persons going to act on that message based on their values, what they like, and what they dislike?

You can even use your marketing data to get an impression of your audience’s general behavior. The point here is to always write your messages while keeping your audience in mind.

  1. Tone Really Matters

When writing automated emails, it is recommended that you don’t sound too corporate. The goal of email marketing is too build rapport with your subscribers and sounding like you are talking to other business executives or shareholders won’t do the trick.

For example, you want to tell them that you are offering price-saving discounts to customers. You don’t say something like “We are offering ways to help you save on your purchases!” because that sounds too disconnected and advertisement-like. Instead, use a phrase like “Hey, would you like to check this deal? You might like it”.

The latter sounds a bit more casual and personal. Of course, you can inject humor here and there since jokes can make you instantly connect with people. Just don’t make it sound forced so people won’t be repulsed by your entire message.

Remember that people nowadays are just looking for a reason to ignore emails. Do not give them such and make sure that you appeal to them on a personal level.

What Content Can You Make?

It goes without saying that you should take the time in crafting the message for your email automation system. So what, then, can you make for your automated emails? Here are several types of emails that any email service provider can send automatically.

  1. Welcome emails – This is sent to anyone who has just been newly subscribed to your email list. It should contain something along the lines of you thanking them for becoming a part of the list.
  2. The Lead Magnet – This type of email was designed to bring in more people to your email list. Lead magnets often come in series and in the form of challenges or mini-courses.
  3. The Sales Funnel – Automated email of this type is sent to people who have are about to convert into customers or have been long time consumers of your brand. It could be made up of a series of videos promoting your new content, a sales promotion, or follow-ups to something that a subscriber purchased from you.
  4. Up Sells and Cross Sells – This email is best directed for repeat customers. You should consider rewarding those that have been loyal to your brand by offering something that enhances their previous purchase.

If someone bought a videogame console from you, for example, you can offer a bundle pack with an extra controller or several games at a cheaper rate before their order is shipped.

Alternatively, you can predict when they are due for a next purchase and pre-empt them by offering a new offer in advance of everybody else.

It is recommended that you take the time writing these emails yourself. Also, you should revamp them from time to time to reflect whatever new offer you have. Once done, the service provider of your choice will do the rest of the work in figuring out what kind of message should be sent to a subscriber.

Monitoring and Improving Your Campaigns

Although automated email has made it possible to do your email marketing hands-off, it is a system that you should set up one day and fail to build on for the next few months. In order to get the best results, it is recommended that you monitor how your emails are performing and identify where they can be improved at.

When analyzing how good (or lacking) your email campaigns are, there are a few aspects that you should be looking at which are the following:

  1. Open Rates – As was previously stated, Open Rates are the number of times your subscribers would open the emails you have sent them. An automated service provider would give you the numerical data that would tell you exactly how many times a certain emails of yours was opened by their recipients.

And if the rates are low, you have to consider that maybe your subject line was not compelling enough or that your timing in sending the message was way off.

  1. Click-Through Rates – Upon opening the email, are your subscribers performing the actions that you need for them to make? For instance, you might have provided a link in your email. Is traffic coming from that email to your intended web page high enough?

If not, you have to consider the idea that perhaps the body of your message is not compelling enough to compel people to do action. Another problem maybe that the value or lead magnet that you are offering is either irrelevant or poorly worded.

Lastly, the narrative structure of the message might have some problems. The best ones do follow a sequence of an informative body followed by a strong call to action in the end. Of course, the link you want them to click through must be visible enough within the message,

  1. Unsubscribe Rates – What you have to remember is that you cannot fully eliminate the chance of people unsubscribing to your list. That is usually okay as those that would unsubscribe wouldn’t have been interested in what you offer anyway.

What you should be looking for, however, is a rather high unsubscribe rate. This is a clear indication that you are losing a sizeable portion of your potential customer base. If so, consider the following: Are you delivering on what you promise? Is the automated email they received relevant to whatever segment of the email list that that person belonged to? Is the value you offer too little? Are you sending too many at a time that it can be viewed as spam?

Once you have identified key problems in your automated emails, you could now easily do some corrections. Fortunately, the best automated email programs out there remember your corrections and would adjust the emails that they send to subscribers accordingly.

To Wrap Things Up

Automating your email marketing is something that should not be too complicated for you to follow. If done right, however, you can allow for multiple personalized experiences with each of your subscribers. The best part is that you are converting people to customers, most at the same time, without having to talk to them personally.

The key here is to set your automation up to a level where the program will do all the thinking on what to send, who to send it to, and when. If done right, you should have a self-sustaining email marketing system that would not only bringing in a lot of people to your brand but would keep them engaged for as long as possible.