How to Master Email Automation in 5 Easy Steps
Email automation may seem daunting to implement and manage. This blog post helps challenge this misconception.
To show you the simplicity of email automation, we’ve broken down how to master it into five easy steps. Read on to discover the value following these steps could offer your business.
Why email automation?
According to a survey by McKinsey, email is forty times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.
Email automation sits at the heart of customer lifecycle marketing. It allows you to strengthen the relationship with your customers at each stage of the buying cycle.
From an internal perspective, automations increase the efficiency of your marketing team. Not only is your marketing delivering you more, but it is costing you less in resource.
Automated triggers and workflows can be created to interact with your website visitors, prospects, and customers. This can be based on behaviour, actions, or milestones you have predefined.
Once in place, these free up your time to concentrate on other essential marketing tasks.
What are your business objectives?
Before implementing email automation, you need to consider your overall business objectives. Don’t just view email as a new sales tool.
A diverse range of marketing objectives can be achieved through email automation. For example:
- Building brand awareness: Offering regular, useful content over email is the first step to becoming a thought leader within your industry.
- Setting the tone for a lucrative relationship: Set the tone for a high-value customer relationship with a well-framed welcome email.
- Increasing customer loyalty and spend: Using email to nurture customers throughout the buying cycle can help you achieve this.
- Bringing back lapsed customers: Using countdown timers in automated re-engagement emails creates a sense of urgency.
Step 1: Get smarter with email segmentation
Data and email segmentation is the key to any successful email automation strategy. Define your customer personas and understand the lifecycle of your typical customer.
Plan how this journey can be enriched through personalised content. This should:
- Add value to their experience
- Create an ongoing need for your product or services
- Maintain trust and advocacy towards your business.
Here are four simple ways to segment your contacts:
- Website behaviour
- Past purchases
- Position in the sales funnel.
PureTargeting seamlessly gathers user information like this, allowing you to set up emails that are triggered automatically. This saves time you may have spent sifting through data or manually launching campaigns.
Step 2: Enhance the customer journey
Email automation is ultimately about increasing your revenue.
Using automation to build a better customer experience allows you to make customer journeys more profitable.
This works by:
- Creating new revenue streams through unintrusive upselling opportunities
- Building customer and brand rapport
- Extending the customer lifecycle
- Increasing the likelihood of repeat purchases.
Let’s take a quick look at the sort of journey email automation can create. We’ll use the example of a typical lifecycle from purchasing a holiday:
The prospect browses your website and completes an enquiry form of their preferred holiday.
As you have not heard from the contact within a week, an offer or coupons are automatically emailed to them.
The prospect redeems the offer and completes the purchase. This will trigger a purchase confirmation email.
After a predefined post-purchase time period, an email will be triggered to upsell an added value product or service. In this example it will be about car hire for their holiday.
To enhance the customer’s experience, useful information is sent such as tourist guides, helpful phrases in the local language, or other tailored content.
As the customer’s departure date draws close, you have the opportunity for additional upselling. This could include theatre tickets, excursions, or other holiday related activities.
Additional useful information
Complement your previous emails by adding value through additional tailored information. This could be about local restaurants, additional hotel facilities, or previous customers’ experience.
Enjoy your trip
Just before the customer departs, wish them a safe trip and remind them of their check-in time. This shows you’re offering superior customer service.
Reassure your customers that you’re on hand to help with additional information, remind them of their itinerary, exertions, or return travel details.
Review your trip
Within a predefined time after the customer has returned, automatically send an email asking them for feedback. This helps you gain valuable insight into how you can enhance your service.
Incentivise your customers to become advocates by rewarding them for successful referrals through your affiliate program (if they’ve had a positive experience).
Step 3: Build personalised campaigns that resonate
In business, we all want to make more sales. From a marketing perspective this means creating an intelligent user journey.
Grasp every opportunity to increase customer lifetime value, while enriching the customer’s experience. Email automation allows you to do this.
Let’s take a look at some of the email automations we can implement to put this into practice:
One of the most critical email automations you can put in place is a welcome campaign.
According to Hubspot, welcome emails have an unusually high open rate of 50 percent. This makes them 86 percent more effective than newsletters.
A welcome campaign sets the tone for the relationship a customer will have with your business. Make sure it’s aligned with your brand values.
A welcome message gives you the opportunity to:
- Introduce your company
- Make a prospect take action
- Move prospects further down the sales funnel
- Offer relevant information or discounts to enhance the customer experience.
Spread your welcome messages across a series of emails, staggered over a number of weeks. This helps you build on the initial contact, taking the customer on a journey that you control.
Use these messages to nurture your prospects. Or if someone is already a customer, use welcome messages to build confidence and upsell.
Utilise customer reviews or recommended products (based on previous purchases) to personalise these messages.
Make sure your first welcome message is sent via your Email Service Provider (ESP) rather than automations directly through your eCommerce platform (e.g. Shopify).
An ESP will ensure high deliverability and reduce the chance of your first email being flagged and subsequent emails landing in their spam folder.
We briefly mentioned order notifications in our holiday customer journey example. They are often underestimated as a trigger to drive engagement.
An order notification email is the perfect opportunity to:
- Recommend additional products
- Feature upgrades
- Detail extended support
- Offer discounts on future purchases
- Gain useful data to enhance their future experience
A replenishment email can be sent at a predefined time after the initial purchase.
An ideal user case for this would be if the user has purchased a product that is a consumable and purchased regularly.
Good examples are toiletries and other beauty products. These products have a short lifespan and a repeat purchase is almost guaranteed. Make sure the repeat purchase is from you.
By understanding your customers buying habits on replenishable products you can increase the chance of repeat purchases.
Replenishment noitfications can also be triggered through machine learning, using solutions like PureTargeting.
Asking customers to review products purchased previously is good way of getting maximum value from your replenishment emails.
Recover abandoned carts
Cart abandonment emails are among the most lucrative automations you can put in place. They are triggered when a prospect has put an item in their basket but not completed their purchase.
Your cart abandonment email can include additional information, including:
- Customer reviews
- A coupon for that product
- A countdown timer
- Social proof.
Each of these elements helps entice the customer back to complete their purchase.
If you’re not convinced this is worth doing, check out the statistics from our marketing director’s most recent talk:
- 67% of baskets are abandoned
- 90% of abandoned baskets go cold after 1 hour
- 45% of abandoned emails are opened
- Cart abandonment emails can increase sales by up to 8%.
Reward your best customers
Customers love being rewarded for their loyalty. It’s a breath of fresh air when they’re used to seeing new customers getting preferential treatment.
What’s more, rewarding loyalty increases customer retention. Email automation makes this simple. You can trigger emails based on:
- Regular purchasing habits
- Special occasions like birthdays
- Social sharing.
This is where your data really comes into play. It helps you to build customer profiles and personas, allowing you to create tailored email automation campaigns in real time.
PureTargeting automatically builds these profiles for you. This allows you to concentrate on more pressing matters and leave the ‘machines’ take care of your automations.
Suggest other products
We’ve touched on the importance of cross selling and upselling within your email automations. Doing so works perfectly as a standard alone part of your email automation sequence.
Imagine one of your customers has just bought a new swimming costume for their holiday. Why not set up an automation suggesting they buy some sunglasses to wear with it? Offer them a discount to sweeten the deal.
These types of intelligent email automations can be set up and live within a few minutes. This allows you to increase your customer lifetime value with minimum effort.
As a marketer, you may think it’s all about the need to generate more and more fresh leads. But, according to Havard Business Review, acquiring new customers is up to 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones.
Your CRM is a goldmine of existing customers and previous leads that could do with some warming up. These contacts may receive your regular email blast but have not engaged in sometime.
Tailored email automations with messaging framed to resonate can wake them up and bring them back into your sales funnel.
Doing this consistently over a set period, with their previous actions and behaviour plugged in works a treat.
Once this automation is set up, as a marketer you have to do zilch. Just watch the engagement and sales figures skyrocket.
Five key personas
You now have a good idea of what a strong customer journey looks like. And you’re equipped with examples of email automations that add value to this journey.
Now, let’s look at five personas to consider when implementing your email automation strategy.
This persona is for those customers that love you, buy from you on a regular basis, and love to tell everyone how awesome your brand is.
You can treat them with the same devotion by setting up VIP email automations. Make sure they are the first to know about:
- New products
- The opportunity to BETA test new offerings.
VIP email automations can help you develop a lifelong bond with your most valued customers, whilst increasing customer lifetime value. A little goes a long way with email automation.
Every customer is valuable no matter the cost or frequency of purchase.
According to Forbes, businesses have a 60 to 70 percent chance of selling to an existing customer. The probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5 to 20 percent.
Make sure that welcome messages:
- Make customers feel valued
- Continue the conversation long after initial purchase
- Create a user experience that will turn them into a brand advocate.
In this way, your customer will become the VIP your business deserves.
Lapsed customers are those sleeping subscribers that your personalised email automations can wake up. There’s a lot of revenue sitting there within your database.
Set re-engagement emails going in the background. You can sleep more soundly, knowing that the email automation ‘machines’ never do.
Non customers (but you have their email)
Non customers whose email addresses you have are an important persona to concentrate on.
Prospects who have handed over their email address have taken the first leap into your sales funnel. Now it’s time to squeeze them through.
These are the perfect candidates to show:
- Quality content.
Set up a dedicated email sequence for this persona and nurture them with customer-centric content to gain trust. They’ll make their first purchase in no time.
You may be wondering why should you worry about anonymous visitors (as you do not have their email address) but read on.
Website personalisation allows you to tailor your content to the behaviour of your visitors.
This could include recommending products based on their website movements or time spent on your website.
Visitors behavioral information will be gathered and stored, so when they do give you their email address, you’ll have a variety of historic data. Your email automations can then make use of this stored data.
Check out our best practice guide to website personalisation to learn more.
Step 4: Sell while you sleep with email automations
You’ve taken the time to map out your ideal customer journey based on your target personas.
It’s almost time to click the on switch, and now the really smart stuff happens. Let’s see the machine get to work, by introducing smart blocks.
This is where machine learning comes into its own.
Inserting smart blocks into your email and website templates allows you to automatically tailor your content. You can personalise what specific individual recipients or visitors see based previous behaviour.
The control is in your hands. Once predefined user segments have been defined, machine learning will adapt these smart blocks to deliver the most relevant content to each individual.
There are a wide variety of data sources and segments to choose from. You can combine these to design profitable journeys and offer a superior customer experience.
These data sources may include:
- People like you buy
- Purchased together
- After viewing this, people buy
- Impulse buys
- Last purchased.
This content does not have to be restricted to selling products or services, it can also recommend useful blogs, how to guides or content to further enrich the user’s experience.
Step 5: Easily report on your success
As a marketer, gaining insight into your campaign ROI is essential. It gives you justification for marketing spend and helps you evolve your campaigns.
Email automation gives you a hive of data, including:
- 360 view of user journeys
- The best time to contact customers
- Customer likes and dislikes
- How customers interact with your brand
- How customers are converting
- Revenue generated from recovery campaigns.
This is all automated, giving clear ROI in real time.
Reporting on this data allows you to identify blockages within your sales funnel which need to be addressed.
It also allows you to trigger ongoing campaigns and email sequences based on visible trends.
Most importantly, you have the power to demonstrate the value email automation has brought to your business to key stakeholders.
To summarise, here are the five stages we’ve explored that are your key to mastering email automation:
- Unify and segment your data
- Automate key stages of customer journey
- Deliver tailored content to specific personas
- Recover abandoned revenue
- Track conversions at every lifecycle stage.
Once you’ve worked through these five stages, you’ll be flying. You’ll soon see the difference in your revenue figures.
Every six months, review and refine your automations to boost your bottom line.