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Email is the gift that keeps on giving. It helped to build the foundations of the internet, and despite the wealth of other options now at our disposal, including instant messaging, social media and business collaboration software, email remains a digital communication in its most trusted and effective form.
Email is consistently named the most effective marketing channel, with one recent study revealing a scarcely believable ROI of $42 for every $1 spent. It’s little wonder why email marketing continues to form a central marketing pillar for many businesses.
But email and communication in general, has long been seen as a distinctly human pursuit. To email at scale, you either need to spend endless time customising each message or blast out something generic and thus ineffective… or so the thinking goes.
In modern email automation, you can have the best of both worlds.
What is email automation?
Email Marketing automation is a technology that has been designed to offer personalised email marketing at scale. Sure, there are times when a regular email blast is warranted, like sending out a newsletter or making a big announcement. There are also plenty of times when you need to handcraft an email for a specific individual. Email automation, meanwhile, is built for everything in between.
When you set up an automated email campaign, it automatically sends out a pre-defined and often customised message to a particular individual after an action is taken to trigger it.
An example: a visitor to your website decides to sign up as a member in order to access member-only deals. During the sign-up process, they give you some information about themselves – their name, email and perhaps some insight on the products they’re interested in. Your email automation tool then uses that information to fill in blank fields in a pre-defined ‘welcome’ email template, sending it out to the new member straight after they join.
“Welcome [NAME],” it reads, “enjoy a voucher for [PRODUCT OF INTEREST] on us!”
Rather than having to manually type out this welcome email every time a new member signs on, the email marketing automation software does it instantly because it can fill in the bracketed fields by pulling the relevant information from a database, it offers the sort of customisation that greatly increases an email’s effectiveness.
And this is just one of an endless array of applications for such a tool. A complete email automation system can nurture each of your customers throughout their entire journey with your brand, creating loyal followership without your team needing to lift so much as a finger.
The 5 biggest benefits of email automation
Automated email marketing offers a wealth of benefits for those willing to make the necessary investment, including:
1. A personalised customer experience
Perhaps the most compelling reason to automate your email marketing is to create a highly personalised, and thus highly effective, customer experience. 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognise them, remember them, provide offers and recommendations that is relevant to them. Email automation uses data-driven insights to choose the most effective path for a customer and to customise messaging throughout the journey.
2. Relief from marketing busywork
Crafting customised emails, compiling email lists and scheduling messages are all laborious processes. Marketing automation takes care of the repetitive and boring tasks, leaving your marketing team free to tackle the high-value work.
3. Increased marketing effectiveness
Email marketing automation is driven by data. A well set up system will look at customer behaviour, and send out customised emails at key moments in order to push an individual further down the funnel. With the customer journey largely taken care of, your marketing and sales teams will have more time to create engaging content, support customers and generally add value.
4. Marketing that scales with your business
Smart email automation tools offer unbeatable scalability. Because everything is done automatically, it doesn’t much matter whether you have 10 customers or 10,000 – the system works as efficiently and effectively in both cases. If anything, your email campaigns will only get more effective as they grow, as more information grants more insight.
5. Improved customer retention
A lot of effort goes into finding new customers. Once you get them on board, you want to keep them, as loyal customers offer a far greater return on your marketing investment. Email automation tools can keep your brand front of mind by touching base with customers at regular intervals. You can set up an automation that sends a friendly email to a customer that you haven’t heard from in a few weeks or months. It’s surprising how effective such a simple strategy can be!
5 email automation examples
What exactly does an automated email marketing campaign look like from the customer side? Let’s take a look at a couple of the most common examples.
1. Welcoming new subscribers
Sent when someone signs up as a follower, subscriber or member, these emails keep the momentum up by offering special offers, tips and next steps.
“Welcome aboard [NAME]! As an introductory treat for you, we’d like to offer [DISCOUNT] off your first order! And be sure to check out [BLOG] to get the most out of your membership.”
2. Soliciting feedback
By emailing a customer after they’ve purchased your product or taken advantage of your service, you’ll gain insights on how you can do better, while also building up important social proof.
“Hi [NAME], we’re passionate about doing better, so we’d love to hear your thoughts on [PRODUCT]. If you drop a review, we’ll also give you [INCENTIVE]! Click here to share your feedback.”
3. Reviving abandoned carts
An abandoned cart represents the closest of shaves – a customer added your product to their cart, but something happened between that moment and checking out. Abandoned cart campaigns can therefore have the highest ROI of any email automation.
“Hey there [NAME], just a friendly reminder that [PRODUCT] is still sitting in your cart. If you complete the purchase by 4pm today, we can deliver it to your door tomorrow!”
4. Celebrating birthdays
Email campaigns don’t always have to be sell, sell, sell. Sending out a simple, friendly email can see you build a meaningful long-term relationship with customers, and birthdays are the perfect opportunity. Plus,a birthday discount never goes astray.
“Happy birthday [NAME]! We truly hope you’re spoilt rotten, and to that end, we’d like to offer you a tasty birthday treat! Use [CODE] at checkout today, and you’ll receive a special birthday [DISCOUNT].”
5. Appointment reminders
A simple, friendly reminder that you have an appointment coming up – you more than likely get them from your doctor, your dentist and your professional network, because they’re a great way to maximise efficiency and productivity.
“Hi [NAME], just a quick reminder that you have an appointment at [TIME] on [DATE], with [PERSON] at [LOCATION]. Looking forward to seeing you then!”
4 tips for successful automated email campaigns
1. Make your email engaging and readable
What will make people open and read your email? It begins with a compelling subject line, which will ideally be customised (perhaps featuring the recipient’s name), will be less than 50 characters long and will offer just enough allure to be opened. The email itself should be written with plenty of bold, italics, * bullet points and CAPITALISATION so that scanning eyes are drawn to key information.
2. Track actions and responses
How effective was your email? How can you ensure it performs even better next time? The only way is to measure and track the results. Your automated email campaign should track KPIs such as:
Email open rate
Click-through rate (CTR)
How often an offer is used
How often a suggested/promoted product is bought
Whether a user continues to browse once they arrive at your site
3. Offer strategic discounts
Everyone loves a deal, which makes coupons, discounts and special offers some of the most effective weapons in a business’s arsenal. At the same time, you should deploy them strategically, as overuse will lead to customers expecting discounts, rather than seeing them as a nice surprise.
4. ‘Drip’ engaging information
Many users need multiple exposures to your brand before they feel comfortable making a purchase – often described as ‘The Rule of Seven’. Drip campaigns offer a gradual stream of useful content to a potential customer, slowly building brand recognition and trust over time, which hopefully leads to a sale.
How do I choose the right email automation software?
Choosing the right email automation tool can be an intimidating prospect. But, if you’re on the hunt for the right solution, there are a few key features that tend to separate the best from the rest. Your tool should offer:
The ability to easily create emails from customisable templates
Customisable workflows to align your email campaigns with the customer journey
The ability to collect customer consent and stay compliant
The quick and simple creation of customised email lists
Deep analytics that are presented in a visual, easy-to-digest way
Square Marketing is ideal for small businesses looking to make the most of email automation, our solution is perfectly simple to learn, while offering all the features and power you’ll need as your business continues to grow. Why not take it for a spin today?