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Grow your business with email marketing automation

Kath Pay
man seated at desk working on laptop computer

When I talk about marketing automation, what do you imagine? Maybe an expensive and complex set of actions that take entire IT departments at major corporations to figure out, set up and use? Relax! It’s much simpler.

Email automation is your helping hand

Email automation allows you to create a personalized message for every email address in your database whether you have 10 or 10,000 (or even 10 million someday!).

Instead of writing to each customer personally, you just tell your automation system what content and data to use. The system does all the work for you and allows you to personalize at scale.

Automation and the customer journey

Your customer’s journey can begin as soon as they land on your website or sign up to your email program. Once you collect their opt-ins, you can begin sending messages with relevant information about your products and services right when they’re most likely to want it.

Tell your system which message to send when it detects a specific kind of customer behavior – such as clicking on product information or visiting an FAQ page – and it will take over.

This makes marketing automation a brilliant tool to help you grow your customer database and convert more prospects and browsers into buyers.

Begin with a warm welcome

One of the most frequently used automated messages is the “welcome” email. It can be a one-time message, but it has more power when used as the first message in a coordinated onboarding program.

This message goes out to subscribers after they sign up to receive your emails. It can be the most important message you send, for many reasons. Among them:

  • It reminds subscribers that they opted-in to your email program.
  • It can send new subscribers – who are usually your most enthusiastic and responsive – right back to your website to browse and buy.
  • Subscribers expect them but not all marketers send them. You can gain a competitive advantage when your welcome reinforces your brand in the inbox.
  • Use it to begin collecting the customer data that makes your email automation more useful and valuable for you and your customers alike.

The ‘first purchase’ program

Your welcome message is the first step in the process of converting subscribers into buyers.

That’s their great untapped power. They drive revenue and engagement by creating an objective-driven set of connected messages.

To help you plan the most effective program, call it by its objective – “first purchase,” “onboarding” or whatever your objective is for new customers. This perspective makes it easier to create messages that support your objective and to set up an automation program that helps you achieve it.

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A sample ‘first purchase’ program

Let’s say you’re a retailer, and your objective is to bring more customers back to your website to redeem an incentive and make their first purchases. Here’s how a three-message first-purchase program could look:

ObjectiveKey Performance IndicatorEmail 1Welcome and impart reassurance/trustClick-throughs to websiteEmail 2Information about Loyalty ProgramLoyalty signupsEmail 3Offer an incentive to shopPurchases

Nordstrom provides us with a lovely example of a well-constructed welcome email – warm, informative and helpful – culminating in two very clear CTA’s to shop. This is the first in a series of three emails sent to a new subscriber.

Next: Try an automated program that is triggered by their actions

Warning: Once you see how effective these programs can be, you won’t want to stop creating them!

Your next step could be an automated program that responds to their actions and builds on the success of your onboarding program and aims to bring your customer back to purchase again (and again and again!).

Once again, name your program according to your objective. Do you want customers to upgrade to a more expensive product? Purchase related products?

For example, beyond serving your needs, a 2nd / 3rd / 4th Purchase Programs can also provide a wonderful customer experience when you support their purchases with informational emails on care, serving, anything you can think of to make the next purchase a success…or indeed, reduce the time in-between purchases.

Got your next objective in mind? Brilliant! Now create an automated program using the guidelines listed here. No longer will you have to trust to luck or the search engines that your customers will find their way back to your website!

Etsy makes the most of this valuable opportunity with their 2nd Purchase Program and doesn’t leave it to chance that the customers wander back to the website of their own accord – they offer them a helping hand and suggest items that they may be interested in.

Image example of a marketing email

Closing: Lead with a strategy to support your objectives

No matter which marketing program you use, you will always be more successful when you lead with strategy – that is, understanding the big picture, the “why” you do what you do.

Marketing automation is a powerful tool to help you achieve the objectives of your strategy, but it’s just that – a tool, a tactic you use to carry out your strategy. Your goal is not just to send lots more email messages than you could with a simple broadcast email.

Instead, use automation to deliver a more personalized experience that makes each customer feel as if you know them as individuals, not just as email addresses in a database. That will do more to build loyalty than any other email tactic.

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