12 minute read time
It’s no secret that the strongest relationships are built on personal connections. Without a personal connection, relationships are usually short-lived and unfruitful for both parties. The same is true in marketing. According to SmarterHQ, “72% of consumers say they only engage with personalized messaging.” But how can you personalize at scale? Enter email marketing automation.
Email marketing automation is a series of triggers along the customer journey that will spontaneously send the customer a personalized email. Each email is curated specifically for each touchpoint, organically moving the customer along in the sales funnel.
Here at Campaign Monitor, we’ve found that automated emails create 320% more revenue than non-automated emails. What differentiates an automated email campaign from any other email marketing campaign is that it’s personalized to the consumer, rather than just a mass mailing with broad messaging. According to Accenture, consumers are over 90% more likely to shop with your brand when they have a personalized experience. So, if you’re wondering how you can use email automation to grow your business, you’re in the right place. Let’s dig in.
A common misconception is that automated email marketing is interchangeable with a drip campaign. The differences are subtle but significant. A drip campaign is predetermined but not in the same way automated email marketing is; both the approach and email content are different.
Drip campaigns are generic, blanketed emails that go to every customer no matter what their customer journey is. They are emails scheduled for regular intervals with broad messaging. For example, a drip campaign may include an email promoting a sale or a product launch. These are email messages every customer receives regardless of where they are in the sales funnel or their interaction with the brand thus far.
Automated email marketing, on the other hand, is an automated series of emails that are only sent when qualifying thresholds are met for each customer. These automated email series are personalized to each customer’s journey, tailored to their own unique needs and interests.
For example, if a customer abandons their shopping cart, an email is sent with a discount code and a prompt to complete the purchase. And, with a strong email marketing platform, it goes beyond just a generic “cart abandonment” email; it will offer personalized content for that user.
Here’s an email workflow showing how automation happens. A user takes an action or shows a particular interest, and the email that’s sent is tailored accordingly.
The foundation for your email marketing automation is the tool you use, so it’s essential to choose one with features that will give you the greatest success. Not sure where to start? Here are the key features you should look for in an email marketing automation tool:
A segmented subscriber list is foundational to everything else you’ll do when it comes to email marketing. You should create multiple list segments based on customer data like location, gender, interests, or devices used.
Ideally, your email automation platform should allow you to create custom fields and integrate them with your ecommerce platform and CRM for dynamic segmentation. Custom fields allow you to enter specific data that will dictate subscriber segments. In this way, your subscriber list can be segmented based on what’s most crucial to your particular audience. Dynamic segmentation through integrations allows you to send out massive campaigns that are still uniquely personalized to every user experience.
Make sure to include an email preference center to allow subscribers to dictate how their information is used in order to maintain transparency and trust with your subscribers. In addition to maintaining the relationship, a preference center can offer even more details about what they’re interested in and allow for more accurate segmentation.
Once your list segments are in place, it’s time to have some fun! At this point, you can start creating campaigns to target different stages of the customer journey with personalized emails.
It’s difficult to successfully ask a stranger for their money, no matter how great your product is. An easier lift for most prospects is just asking for their email. Once you have their email, you can build rapport, earn trust, and keep your brand top of mind through an automated lead nurturing campaign.
Nurturing leads is about building relationships. These relationships are built on personal connections and meeting the needs of potential clients. Therefore it’s essential to find an email service provider (ESP) with an application programming interface (API) that can provide highly personalized emails. For example, Campaign Monitor integrates with several CRM software and apps to strategically prompt customers and move them along in the pipeline.
Automation also reduces the time your team has to spend following up with potential leads while still maintaining a personalized experience. With automation, your sales team will spend less time sending out repetitive emails and more time closing deals.
Rock Candy Media has a bold response to anyone who didn’t choose them at first glance. What makes this email so impactful is how it’s personalized to the prospective customer’s journey.
Once a lead turns into a customer, it’s time to show your appreciation. We’re not talking about the generic confirmation email, but something specific to each user. With email marketing automation, each welcome email should acknowledge the individuality of the customer in some way. For example, you may include a curated collection of products based on the customer’s browsing history or on-site feedback forms like a skincare quiz in a welcome series.
Brightly doesn’t just personalize their emails based on an algorithm. They go as far as asking their readers what they want to see in the very first email. This information is then integrated into every email that follows to deliver highly personalized content.
Increasing product adoption comes down to two things: (1) showcasing value and (2) promoting action. Email marketing automation accomplishes both of these things by sending highly personalized content directly to the consumer.
With email marketing automation, you can curate emails to show what is most immediately valuable to each consumer. And, when consumers find value, they take action.
For example, you can send a relevant event reminder to a specific group of customers to prompt them to RSVP. Or you can highlight the value of your product by showcasing a feature some customers aren’t using.
This email from a distillery is a great example of showcasing value and promoting action. This company started by holding an event promoting use cases of their product (i.e., happy hour). They then used automated email marketing to follow up with immediate value (i.e., drink recipes and tool recommendations) that’s tied to product adoption (i.e., buying their alcohol).
The best way to improve a product and curate social proof is to get feedback directly from your customers. If you never ask your customers what they want, you’re largely taking a shot in the dark when it comes to serving their needs. And when it comes to potential customers, the biggest thing they want to know is if you’re delivering on your brand promise.
According to a survey by Bizrate Insights, social proof is so powerful that “91% of respondents read at least one review before making a purchase decision.” Respondents said that applied to purchase decisions on a product, business, or service — so really anything they’re going to spend their money on. According to the same survey, positive reviews had a greater impact on purchase decisions than anything else (including free shipping and discount codes).
You get it — feedback is the best. But how do you get regular and timely customer feedback? Enter email marketing automation. With email marketing automation, you’re able to send highly specific requests for feedback on experiences, products, fun factors — really whatever you want. Need a snappy quote for product promotion? Send an email to your most recent customers who bought the product. Need feedback on that private product preview? Send an email to just the customers who had access to it. The options are limitless.
Mack Weldon sends personalized requests for product reviews when a customer purchases a product from them. This will not only give future customers confidence in buying the product, but if the review is less than ideal, it’ll give Mack Weldon direction on how to improve.
There’s an old adage in the hospitality industry called “surprise and delight” that also applies to your marketing. “Surprise and delight” consists of the moments in your product experience that make it stand out in a competitive landscape. It’s what you give your customers that’s personalized, unique, or above and beyond the norm. Think of a glass of champagne being handed to you as you enter a five-star hotel or a personalized welcome basket on the bed. It’s the little things that build an unforgettable experience and keep customers coming back for more.
In marketing, email automation allows you to “surprise and delight” customers every time they take an action or have an experience with your brand — for example, a thank-you email for buying a product or service, a birthday surprise, or a “just because” surprise.
You may be used to getting a free drink at Starbucks on your birthday, but do you ever expect to get something on your half birthday? Outdoor Voices delights their email subscribers with this fun surprise on their half-birthday.
One of the greatest advantages of email marketing is that it’s owned media. You don’t have to worry about social media platforms not showing your ad if you want to promote something. Email is your own marketing platform where you have direct access to your customers as well as a full understanding of where they are in the customer lifecycle. And with the power of automation and a segmented email list based on CRM integrations, you can make those promotions highly targeted.
If you’re hosting an event targeting only a certain business sector, for example, you can segment your email list based on the business type. Once your email list is segmented, you can send email invitations just to those qualified subscribers without having to manually sort and send.
Or, if you want to promote a product that may not be relevant to all of your subscribers, you can segment your list by purchase history or interests. All of that data will be automatically pulled in through your CRM and ecommerce integrations. This way, you won’t cause email fatigue among those who are disinterested.
With email marketing automation, you can send promotions to only the most qualified leads with just the click of a button so you’re not wasting their time or yours.
This Howler Bros email is a great example of promoting a specific product. They could send it to customers who’ve had these tiki glasses sitting in their abandoned cart or just didn’t get one before they went out of stock.
Brand affinity is like that feeling you get when you meet someone special. They’re good-looking, they share your values, and they make you feel complete, excited, and understood. Essentially, brand affinity is how people feel about your brand. And what better way to win someone’s heart than sending personal love letters emails to them? It just doesn’t hit the same if someone sends you and a few thousand other people the same generic email. But when it’s personal and highlights key brand pillars you identify with, it changes everything. And that’s what automated email marketing enables you to do.
For example, let’s say you see a trend among your ecommerce customers based on their geographic location. Maybe one of your geographic audience segments identifies more with warmer styles of clothing while another geographic audience segment prefers cooler styles. With email marketing automation, you can automatically tailor your emails to each of these segments accordingly. As a result, those customers are more likely to feel your brand is a good fit for them and their lifestyle.
Blume’s “Send Love” campaign invites the subscriber to participate in their brand personally and showcases something unique and endearing about it.
Sometimes customers leave. It’s never fun, but it happens. They stop purchasing because they feel your brand or product isn’t relevant to them anymore. So the challenge becomes reminding them of your product’s value again. With email automation, it’s easy to follow up with every customer at scale based on dormancy triggers.
If someone has canceled their membership or simply stopped using your product, you can set up an automated re-engagement campaign tailored to the individual. For example, re-engagement campaigns can trigger once a customer has not logged into their account for a certain period or hasn’t engaged with emails for a few months. Trigger points should be dictated by how often you send emails, the type of product or service you sell, and ultimately your average customer engagement timelines.
Your re-engagement campaigns should also include something that reinforces your value to the dormant customer. This gives them a reason to re-enter the consideration phase in your marketing funnel.
YNAB takes a fresh approach to re-engagement. Rather than trying to bribe the customer with discounts or “we miss you” messages, they frame it in the customer’s best interest. The focus is how leaving or not engaging with the product will negatively impact the customer, highlighting the product’s value in doing so.
Once you’ve run a few automated email series, you can start to uncover trends in customer behavior and engagement. The number of emails you should send before trying to identify trends will depend on a number of factors that contribute to statistical significance. These factors may include the audience size, diversity in content, industry, baseline conversion rate, and sensitivity of the elements you’re testing.
Once you’ve determined you have a big enough set of data, it’s time to analyze the outcomes of your campaigns and make adjustments accordingly. The most effective email strategies are the ones that take a comprehensive view of their customers and constantly iterate to better serve the needs of the user. When customers’ needs are met, they keep coming back, and when they keep coming back, your bottom line increases. Your email marketing strategy is only as successful as its ability to evolve with your customer base.
The best way to analyze your campaign outcomes? Use an email analytics dashboard that can give you a comprehensive view of each campaign element and its impact on your marketing efforts.
Everyone does “email marketing,” but not everyone does email marketing automation. Email marketing automation is what sets companies apart because it enables you to personalize every customer’s experience at scale. And when people feel seen, they engage, and when they engage, they convert.
Not sure where to start? No worries, we got you! Check out our guide to getting started with email marketing. Or just jump right into our easy drag-and-drop email templates, and send them with our built-in marketing automation software.
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