Despite all the advances in the digital marketing space, email remains the most effective avenue of marketing online. People often wonder why bother with email when you have newer technologies such as Facebook ads, native advertising. Email marketing creates over 170% more conversions than marketing campaigns on social media. In other words, email is still king. In The Rate on Investment (ROI) for email marketing is $45 for every $1 spent. Interestingly, email is dominating on mobile as well with open rates close to 70%.
The best companies today are taking email marketing campaigns to another level by automating the process that is triggered with a user’s action. Why are more and more companies doing this? According to research conducted by HubSpot, “about 49% of businesses use some form of email automation”, because it’s proven to increase revenue. Also, companies whose email marketing campaign is automated create over 300% more revenue than with non-automated emails.
Now is the perfect time to include email automation into your digital marketing strategy. In this guide, I’ll cover all the necessary things you need to know to launch an effective automated email marketing campaign.
What is Automated Email Marketing?
Automated email marketing refers to the process of sending emails to your subscribers automatically based on a schedule, trigger or a pre-defined event. A well-known example is a welcome email that a user receives from Twitter after creating an account on the social media platform. This is completely different from a one-time campaign when you send an email to all the subscribers on your email list at the same time informing them about a new blog post.
How to Build the Machine?
The machine refers to the system of setting up a number of emails each of which has a particular purpose:
- Teach –Introduces your business to your new subscribers
- Engage – Convinces subscribers to make a purchase
- Ascend – Nudges them to make another purchase
- Segment – Find out what they’ll purchase next
- Win Back – Get them to come back
Each email that is sent is meant to move the prospect or existing customer from one stage to the next. You first need to introduce yourself before you can hope to convert the prospect into a customer; you need to engage your subscribers.
Now that a new subscriber has joined your emailing list, you have to present yourself and your brand to the prospect. This is a “welcome aboard” type of email. Thank them for joining your group, and outline briefly how you’ll help them develop their business.
You will also give the new subscriber useful information about yourself that will make them want to learn more about your business. This includes introducing yourself and your values to them. Next, outline what sort of information your subscriber can expect to receive and how frequently. Also, don’t forget to tell them what sets you apart from the competition. Add them a couple of buttons that link to your social media accounts so that they can easily follow you on the various platforms. Finally, end the email with a quick look at the type of content you’ll be sending next. The goal of this email is to have your prospect follow you on social media.
Typically, this stage of the process will demand a series of emails to be sent to ensure that the prospect has a firm understanding of your business. After you’ve introduced yourself, the next email should contain high-quality content. Remember, people agreed to receive emails from you in order to get something of value. Therefore, don’t disappoint your subscribers by sending uninspiring and generic content. The goal of this email is to have the subscriber check out your valuable content. After you’ve shown them some of your best work, add another P.S. that will have them looking forward to your next email.
In the follow up email, provide the content you implied you’ll send in the previous email. It too has to be some of your best content. It’s a good idea to include testimonials at this stage as well, in order to further build trust in your business. The goal is to build trust in the brand via social proof theory.
Finally, send an email that will give them in a glimpse into who you are as an individual. Describe to your subscriber how and why you started this company. Also tell them what you love about this industry. Your subscribers will absolutely enjoy learning what the early days of your business were like.
And that is how a typical series meant to educate the subscriber should look. By the end of the series, the reader should feel very familiar and comfortable with you and your business. The ultimate goal of this stage is to make the prospect like you and more importantly, trust you. At this stage you are laying the foundation of a strong relationship with your potential customer.
Second Stage – Engagement
At this stage of the process, the emails are meant to convert the prospect into a red-hot buyer. So, now you make offers to your prospect. Usually these types of emails are triggered by an action that the subscriber takes, like clicking on a link to read a compelling blog post. Based on data you’ve gathered from the subscriber, you can offer them a one week free trial to one of your services you think will be best suited to them. Outline in your email why your service will beneficial to them and how it will positively impact their business.
Once the subscriber is successfully engaged, it’s time to move to the next step.
Third Stage – Ascension
At this stage of the process, you’re looking to increase your sales. Always remember that there is a section of customers who are willing to make additional purchases after the initial one. You should send an Ascension series to every prospect who was converted in the Engagement process. For instance, if your subscriber contact signed up for a week long free trial, now is the time to upgrade them. Offer them a more comprehensive package that costs more but provides much more value. Again, use testimonials to nudge your subscriber to sign up for the “pro package”.
If for instance you run a charity, then send them an email detailing how their contribution has been spent. Then, ask them to make another, more meaningful donation or start their own fundraising campaign themselves.
But what course of action should you follow if your subscribers are unresponsive to your efforts to engage with them and then take them to the Ascension process? The simple answer is to restructure your offers and try again! Tinker with the content that you’re sending until you get a response.
We reach the 4th stage also known as the Segmentation stage. You segment your subscribers according to many different criteria including location, industry and whether they made a purchase from you.
The series of emails you send will help push your prospect to choose just what sort of content they’d like to receive from your business. When they inform you about their interest, then you’ll be placed on the relevant Engagement series of emails. The idea behind this stage is to send your prospects back into the previous two stages-Engagement and Ascension.
A good example of the Segmentation series is when a travel agency sends you an email with a list of various destinations available. Let’s say you’re a wine enthusiast and you click on an offer for a tour of southern France. This will segment you as a subscriber who has an expressed interest in wine tours and the Mediterranean. As a result, you’ll be sent back to the Engagement or Ascension part of the process offering you information and deals related to wine, France and the Mediterranean for an example.
Essentially, this process helps increase sales for businesses because now they have a more in depth knowledge of the desires of their prospects and existing clients. As a result, their content will be more targeted and therefore, more effective in converting.
Perhaps you’re wondering what you should do if subscribers are simply not opening or engaging with your emails. What should you do? Welcome to the Win Back Series or the Reengagement stage. At this stage your focus is to win back your subscribers’ interest in your business.
There are two vitally important reasons to attempt to reactivate your subscribers’ interest in your business. Firstly, it’s logical to try to initiate an autoresponder series that will remind disengaged subscribers about your business and hopefully lead them back to the Engagement or Ascension stages respectively. If you’re inactive about winning back customers, then you’re guaranteed not earn their business again. As the cliché goes, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!
However, there is another reason why you should try to win them back. By not removing disengaged emails and inactive users from your list, you are seriously damaging the deliverability of your emails. The best way to prevent your emails from going directly to the Spam folder is by trying to engage the subscribers who have seemingly become inactive.
That is why many large and successful companies send very compelling reengagement emails. LinkedIn, for instance, sends an email stating that the user isn’t on the company’s email list because they’ve been inactive for quite some time. However, they also include a button that’ll keep the user subscribed to their emailing list. This makes it very easy for the subscriber to take action. In addition to that, they include content specifically designed to suit the interests of that particular subscriber.
Netflix uses another tactic to reengage their users. They offer people who’ve unsubscribed another free trial valid for one month. The email also includes the latest and most popular TV shows and movies that the user can watch immediately by simply clicking on a link. Netflix makes it that simple.
Another important element to automated email marketing is the landing page. It really doesn’t matter how well written and formatted your email is if the user is then taken to an uninspiring or confusing landing page. It’s vital that the transition between your email and landing page is easy and smooth. That means making sure that the layout and the overall design match the email you’ve sent. Also, the content and call-to-action must be related to that found in the email. The idea here is to comfort the reader and assure the reader about the connection between the email you sent and the brand and the business. In a nutshell, you want the reader to feel good about engaging with your email.
Test & Analyze
A/B testing is not only for landing pages. You should also A/B test your emails and see which ones have the best conversion rates from your prospects and subscribers.
When testing your emails, pay attention to key performance indicators (KPIs) that will shed light on the effectiveness of the email. Take a look at the follow parameters:
- Rate of Views – The rate at which subscribers viewed the email.
- Open Rate – The rate at which subscribers actually opened the email.
- Click-through rate – This shows the rate at which subscribers opened the email and clicked on the call-to-action link or button.
- Conversion Rate – The most important rate, which shows how many prospects became your customers.
Start the Machine
Once the machine is properly tuned, you’ll be able to write an email, send it and marvel at the rate the sales are coming in. Many marketers haven’t yet adopted the system outlined in this guide, which gives you an edge over the competition. However, much like with anything in the digital marketing space, you need to test and analyze your results before you get everything just right. But once the machine is running smoothly, you’ll be maximizing the effectiveness and getting the most out of an already effective strategy; email marketing.