The word ‘automation’ sounds both exciting and scary. Exciting as anything done automatically makes our lives easier. But add the word ‘email’ in front of it, and for us marketers, it becomes somewhat frightening. This is because, like we have seen in multiple industries over the years, we worry that we won’t have a purpose anymore. If all these marketing email platforms can churn emails out without us having to press the send button each time, then what do we do?
But fear not, I promise that this tool will in fact become your new best friend and if anything, will only enhance your role and future marketing strategies.
What is email automation?
To put it simply, automated emails are sent to contacts after they have set off a trigger, based on whether they meet or don’t meet certain criteria. An easy example of this is browsing an online clothing store, adding something to your basket but then leaving the site. You then may shortly afterwards receive an email telling you you’ve left something behind- and that would be an automated email.
That’s not to say that they’re only useful for reminders, although these small emails do save a tonne of time. You can use automated emailing systems to build some quite complex and clever triggers that can really impact how you are engaging with your database, and target those who you otherwise may be neglecting.
How do I set up automatic emails?
Most email marketing platforms allow for automated emails to be set up. Some are straightforward and simple to use with pre-built automation paths for you to work from. However, others are much more integrated and allow for intricate email flows to be built from scratch. It all depends on the business purpose. Is it for a personal blog, a start-up, or a large business with a well-established database?
As always in marketing, you need to have an end goal and establish what you want customers to do as a result of going through these automated email trails. Some good email platforms that offer automated emails are Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, Hubspot and Drip.
What can they be used for?
Whilst they can be used simply e.g. to push sales for e-commerce sites or to encourage subscriptions for online blogs, there really isn’t a limit on what you can get automated emails to do. Here are ways they can be used to benefit your business:
By entering rules for customers to trigger, their email experience will become more personalised and generate a better response, meaning you will grow the relationship you have with them.
Once you have set up automated email processes they can pretty much be left to do their thing. This means you can spend less time building those emails manually and focus on higher-value projects.
Each time a new contact subscribes to your website, it is always great to send a welcome email. This will help to promote further content/products and spark interest in the customer.
Did you know?
Welcome emails generate a whopping 320% more income than other promotional messages.
As mentioned, this can be to push abandoned carts. But, you can use them to remind customers that a particular event or product launch is coming up. These can help recover lost sales, giving people the kick they needed to complete their purchases. After all, people are forgetful and hate having FOMO. So, if you send an email to remind that an approaching event is selling out with a CTA to buy, they will be more likely to interact.
This can work for loyal customers or those who have hardly engaged with any recent emails. It is good to set up automated emails to filter out these customer segments and make them feel special. Loyal customer? Here’s a discount. Haven’t heard from this customer in a while? You guessed it… another discount!
Event specific campaigns
If you are working in events marketing, it may be helpful to have a series of standard emails already set up for email automation e.g. countdowns, exclusive discounts or line-up releases. Usually these are all incorporated into the marketing plan and aren’t built until last minute and can become rushed, particularly closer to the event. You can still go in and tweak these before, but it would certainly help to have these ready to go.
How can I apply the results to future marketing strategies?
The main benefit of email automation is that it helps gain a better insight into your customers and their behaviour. Once your automated emails have been running you can see at which stage in a customer’s journey they are dropping off, or what emails they are engaging more with. You can use these results when next planning a campaign or writing a marketing plan. For example, if you saw that an email sent 3 days after customers abandoned their shopping cart performed better than one sent 24 hours later; you know that holding off slightly longer is more effective. Depending on what platform you are using, you can see what demographics this applies to and build even more detailed automation processes.
Ultimately, email automation will enhance the bond you will have with customers. Like in any relationship, the more you understand them, the more you can cater for their needs and further strengthen the bond.