13. Email Marketing Automation

There is no doubt that email marketing requires constant attention. You should keep monitoring everything, even if the campaign is up and running. However, the process of sending emails involves communication on two levels. First, we have a one-to-one communication with a customer (or potential customer). It could be an inquiry about the software, request for a refund, collaboration proposal, etc. These emails require you to devote your time and address this specific issue. On the other hand, we have a communication on a large scale, where a lot of tasks can be automated.

What is email marketing automation?

The concept of automation in email marketing refers to the usage of software for automating a certain type of tasks, that use predefined forms and are caused by specific triggers. The tasks in this group are repetitive and time-consuming. In the purpose of being efficient and focused on other creative tasks, a lot of businesses nowadays use email marketing automation.

When you want to automate a certain task in email marketing, you will have to start with a tool. Choose a platform you want to use and define the tasks you want to automate.

Have in mind that automation is based on triggers. Triggers are actions that lead to a certain event. For example, when someone buys a product in your online store, they get a receipt to their email. This is an automated email, which was triggered by the act of purchase.

Here are a couple of automated emails along with their triggers:

Welcome email

A welcome email is triggered by a subscription to your blog. In this email, you take the opportunity to thank the person for subscribing and to introduce yourself and your blog to the recipient. Depending on the industry, you could offer instructions on how to find content on your blog, how to participate in the community, etc.

Daily (Weekly) digest

This is also a type of email that can be successfully automated. You could set a specific time for it to be sent and create an automated list of the latest blog updates. This solution is a good to keep in touch with your subscribers on a regular basis.

Re-engagement email

The main trigger for this one would be an inactive subscriber. Your idea with email marketing automation is to stay in touch with your audience through these messages, and if the inactivity trigger is set (by a lengthy absence from activity, website submission, etc.) you could send an automated message in an attempt to engage this subscriber.

Event email

When someone registers for an event you are organizing, this could trigger a set of event-related emails to be sent. First, it could be a confirmation of attendance (or a printable ticket). Then you could send the official schedule or perhaps instructions on how to get to the venue. And finally, after the event is over, you could follow up with a request for feedback, comments, suggestions, etc.

Abandoned shopping cart email

The purpose of this email is to remind the subscribers of the products they were interested in but have not bought. The trigger, in this case, would be the action when someone adds products to cart but leaves without completing the purchase.

Upsell email

This email is for the previous customers and with this type of an email, you are trying to recommend (or advertise) another product or service based on the previous purchases. It could be the same product with a special discount, it could be a product related to the one they have already purchased, etc.

Follow-up email

Follow-up email can be triggered by many different actions, such as a successful purchase or a download, an event attendance, the act of completing a survey or finishing a stage in your online course, etc. With this email, you confirm the action that happened and establish a connection with the subscriber.

These are some of the most common types of emails and their triggers, but there are other types and variations, that are mainly determined by the type of business you run. For example, there can be an email triggered by someone visiting a particular page, reaching the bottom of the sales funnel, based on the customer metrics, etc.

You should not consider all of them as a good way to go because the main purpose of the email marketing automation is to automate emails you would otherwise send manually. There is no need to use all of the ideas and set up numerous email templates and triggers because the main point of this approach is to nurture leads and stay in touch with the subscribers.

The importance of email marketing automation

As a part of email marketing, automation has a great importance. In fact, email marketing is a marketing sector that uses automation the most, and here is why.

It saves time

The main benefit of automation is the fact that it saves time. Emails are a necessary part of doing business online, and you have to include them in your strategy. Just imagine how it would be to send all those emails manually! If you had 10 subscribers, you would perhaps succeed, but you would have to be online all the time and act as soon as you notice an action that triggers a certain template.

With an automation platform, you will have three tasks:

  • Create email templates
  • Set triggers
  • Monitor

The first two tasks are essential for your email marketing strategy, but they are done once. Monitoring is something that requires constant supervision of how things are going, whether the templates need improvements or if the triggers are working well. These refinements help you improve your approach and design even more successful strategy. In the same time, you are staying in touch with the subscribers, without any daily effort from your part. Since a good relationship with the subscribers is a key to getting the most out of email marketing, you will discover a lot of benefits of email automation.

It keeps you organized

Your business might keep you occupied quite a bit. On top of all, if email marketing is only one of your daily tasks, apart from paid advertising, social media, etc. it is natural to feel overwhelmed and swamped by a lot of data. It is difficult to keep track of everything, which is yet another reason to use automation.

With templates and triggers in place, you are sure that relevant emails are reaching your subscribers, even if you are completely involved in something else. With marketing automation tool, you keep everything organized, and once you are ready to focus on the email strategy, you simply go over the data and analyze the effectiveness of your approach.

It improves the relationship

Having subscribers join your mailing list is only a part of the work. Your goal is to put this list in a good use, by engaging the subscribers in your community, increasing sales, getting website visitors, etc. To succeed with this, you will need to focus on your relationship with the subscribers and improve it. Regular communication which is based on automated templates is still better than no communication at all.

By keeping the subscribers informed about new content, events, promotions, etc. you keep their interest in your business. This way you basically remind them about your company and increase brand awareness. This is very important part of online marketing in general because there will be other competitors on the market, so you want to do your best to keep your subscribers engaged and happy just where they are. Building a successful relationship through email communication is a good way to work on subscribers’ loyalty.

It boosts your business

As a whole, email marketing automation helps you boost your business. This combines saving valuable time to be invested in other more demanding tasks, building a good relationship and optimizing your efforts. Together, these are the elements that help you take advantage of the full scope of email marketing allowing you to improve your business through this medium. When joined with other types of online marketing, such as social media marketing and content marketing, this is a strategy that will provide great results in the long run, from which your business will benefit.

Automation can help with increasing sales, as it reinforces this business-to-customer bond, so it is always great to have it as a part of your regular business activity. In terms of how email marketing automation can be related to other types of marketing, we should mention website traffic (SEO), content promotion (content marketing), and social promotion (social media marketing). Again, combining all these benefits will have a huge impact on your business in general.

Additionally, automation can help you learn more about your business. Analyzing the data will allow you to find out more about your subscribers, the way they react to your content, products, etc. You will find out what kind of an approach works better and how regular communication helps with building your online reputation.

Email marketing automation strategy

Email marketing automation strategy is an approach you design to use this option as a way to improve your business. Before you start, you will need to determine goals. The goals define what you are trying to do with email marketing automation. Do you want to improve the relationship? Do you want to increase sales?

Like with conversion, a goal is not the same for everybody, which is why you need to explore your business and determine what kind of opportunities do you think you can have with email automation. Eventually, the strategy should result in:

  • More sales opportunities
  • Minimizing the sales funnel
  • Increase of revenue
  • Minimizing the lost sales opportunities

Once your goals are defined, you will need to start preparations for email automation. This includes:

  • The choice of tool(s) you will use
  • Determining the metrics that are relevant to the goal achievement
  • Determining tactics for lead generation
  • Audience segmentation
  • Designing your first email

These are all tasks that have been further analyzed in separate chapters of this ebook, and they naturally follow the stages of creating a good email campaign, in this case, with automation in mind.

Finally, when everything is set, when the automation tool is on, a part of the work is done. As much as it is tempting to sit back and watch the results, monitoring is not a passive phase in a strategy design. In fact, monitoring is a stage where you need to keep an eye on the statistics, email performance, website traffic, etc. To make sure your strategy is a success, you will need to make sure the things are going as you have planned.

Besides evaluating automated emails, you should also evaluate the mailing list, and whether the segmentation is done properly. Also, a tool you are using might or might not offer all the features you need. As your company grows, so does the needs for handling your growing mailing list. If you see missed opportunities and need some additional data and features that could help you improve your strategy, perhaps it is time to think about switching to a new plan or even completely changing the platform you are using for email automation.

When not to use automation?

As much as automation is helpful to have in email marketing, there are situations where it is best to avoid it because it will do more harm than good.

Your subscribers are real people, and as such, they have real needs, request, doubts, etc. Although, a part of automation is to predict these and to use skillfully designed triggers for this purpose, sometimes it is difficult to predict everything.

When it comes to customer service, you might automate a certain portion of the email correspondence, such as how to apply for a refund, how to cancel the service, etc. but when you receive an email with an actual problem the subscriber has, you should not simply send a template, thinking that will solve the problem.

Email communication is a communication with people, above everything. When you overuse automation, you are going to start to seem like a robot, and this will completely destroy the bond you were so trying to preserve. Certain situations demand that you do respond personally, to take the time and write a custom answer to the subscriber, instead of going for the pre-made templates. It is in situations like these that you will seize the opportunity to improve your communication and establish a much deeper level of loyalty.

The bottom line is that email marketing automation represents a very useful addition to your email marketing efforts. It can help obtain so many benefits by simply keeping a regular connection with the subscribers. This connection is important for your business, because keeping the subscribers engaged, means they are interested in interacting with you, and eventually doing business with you.

Despite the fact that automation relies on the usage of templates for interaction, it should never lack personalization. In fact, a lack of personalization can seriously harm the performance of automation and thus lead to a futile strategy. Even though the emails are automated, make sure you personalize them by:

  • Addressing the subscribers personally, using their name from the database
  • Segmenting the audience to send only relevant messages
  • Finishing the email with your own name (signature, image, contact details, etc.)

Use these, as well as other tactics for designing better emails. This way, the subscribers will feel special when they receive an email from you, even if the message is automated.