How many times have you checked your email today? If you haven’t checked it at least once since you woke up this morning, you’re in the minority. According to Adobe’s 2019 Email Usage Study, users spend up to five hours a day checking emails. With stats like this, it is clear that our fascination with our inboxes is an ideal target for digital marketers to make use of email automation tactics.
What is Email Automation?
Email marketing automation combines traditional email marketing efforts with automated technology to streamline processes and provide relevant content to your audience at the right time. Most companies will send out very general content that may or may not interest a particular contact. With email automation, you can send out highly-relevant content to your contacts based on how they interacted with your site. The best part of email automation is that once you’ve set workflows up, they’ll continue to run. Forget manually sending out emails to each individual contact — now your emails will automatically send out based on the workflow you created.
How Do Email and Marketing Automation Work Together?
Are you surprised that a shirt you were looking at from your favorite online store a few days ago is now showing up in your emails? If you have the willpower, you may have simply ignored these. But wait, a week later you get another email — this time with a coupon for free shipping on your next purchase. This free shipping offer saves you a nice chunk of change, so you decide to make the purchase. Guess what — that online store has incorporated email automation into their existing email strategy using highly-targeted email content based on your shopping behavior.
An Email Automation Workflow in Action
So, let’s backtrack to the purchase we made with our free shipping offer. We’ll break down the steps of an email marketing automation workflow that could’ve led up this purchase:
- You signed up for email offers through an email sign-up form on the company’s website.
- You browsed the site, added a shirt to your cart, and exited without purchasing.
- The company has an email automation workflow set up to automatically send emails out to customers who didn’t complete a purchase.
- You received an email with dynamic content. In this case, it was the shirt you added to your cart. Dynamic content in emails allows companies to send out the same email with content that may differ based on the user’s actions.
- You haven’t made a purchase yet, so the company also had in their workflow to send a second email out with a free shipping coupon if no purchase was made.
- You finally completed your purchase using your free shipping offer, which ends this particular email automation workflow.
This is only one automation that an ecommerce store could have put into place, but the company may have dozens of others running simultaneously. These email workflows are the backbone of any email automation strategy. No matter how simple or complex a workflow is, each one is meant to assist your email marketing team with your business goals.
Benefits of Integrating Automation into Email Marketing
An effective email marketing automation strategy gives marketers the ability to send behavior-based emails to their audience in an efficient manner. From highly targeted emails to lead nurturing, here’s how automated email marketing can improve your existing email strategy.
Increase Engagement with Dynamic Content
Contacts are more likely to open your emails when they feel the email matches their own interests. You can alter the email content each recipient receives through dynamic content. This content may change based on an individual’s demographics, preferences, and on-site behavior. With a median ROI of 122%, there’s no reason not to incorporate dynamic content into your emails.
We recommend sending custom HTML emails rather than image-based emails when it comes to email automation.
Save Time & Increase Productivity
Automation helps free up resources for your marketing team and can aid in increased productivity. Think about the time you spend on repetitive tasks in a given day. For email marketers, email automation streamlines these processes, so they can focus on other aspects of their jobs. Gone are the days of manual list cleanups and sifting through email contacts.
Whether you have a short or long sales cycle, your business can benefit from the lead nurturing that email automation provides. Automation workflows can move users down the sales funnel, so your brand is always top of mind, regardless of how close they are to purchasing.
Our Top Five Automation Workflows
Here are our top suggestions on automation workflows that are applicable to any business. They cover a variety of areas you should include in your email marketing, such as welcoming new subscribers, site tracking, contact scoring, and re-engagement.
1. New Email Subscribers
Building your email list should be top-of-mind in order to increase your audience reach. A new email subscriber workflow can be as simple as sending an autoresponder thanking users for subscribing. You can also take this opportunity to execute a detailed drip campaign by sending a series of emails you think would be useful to subscribers.
2. Interest-Based Tagging
Audience segmentation is key in email personalization. Interested in seeing how users interact with a specific product or service? You can set up automations to add tags to users when they look at certain pages of your site. At Tower, we set up automations to add the tag “Interest in IM Services” if contacts have visited one of our internet marketing service pages at least two times. This helps us track our contacts and also gives us the ability to send IM-based emails to these contacts in the future. We’ve repeated this automation with our web and creative services as well.
3. Contact Scoring
These automations track the engagement of users with your site and email content. The higher the score, the more engaged a contact is with your website and email content. We have a specific point value for each scoring method: Subscribe to list – add 25 points Unsubscribe from list – subtract 25 points Email open – add 10 points Link click in email – add 10 points Site visits – 1 point/session
4. Re-Engage Inactive Users
Feel like your open rates are dwindling? Your email list could be the problem. It’s crucial to periodically check if your email subscriber list is actually opening your emails. You don’t want to pay for contacts who aren’t even engaged with your emails. Instead of manually sifting through your list, create an automation workflow that targets unengaged users. Our re-engagement automation workflow unsubscribes users after six months of not opening emails. If you’re an ecommerce store, you might entice contacts to stay subscribed by sending an email with an online offer before unsubscribing them from your list.
5. Manage Email Preferences
Unfortunately, not all contacts are interested in receiving all your marketing communication emails. But you might be able to stop them from fully unsubscribing. Setting up an automation for users to choose the frequency of emails could keep them on your email list without bombarding them. Give contacts the option to receive emails weekly, monthly, or even quarterly. At Tower, we segment user email preferences based on the email content. For example, users can choose between receiving monthly newsletters, case studies, and company announcements.
Why Invest in Email Automation for Your Business?
Email marketing is growing at an exponential rate and isn’t going away any time soon. It’s time to improve your email marketing and reach your target audience in their inboxes.
Grow Your Business
Automating your existing email strategy gives you and your employees extra time to focus on areas of your business that need more attention. This additional time might even allow your team to brainstorm other email marketing initiatives that your business hasn’t had a chance to try.
Webinars are a great example we’ve seen in B2B and have even tried out for our own agency. Hosting webinars allow your company to increase your expertise and authority in the industry. Incorporating email automation into your webinar promotion can even help you with registration, reminders, and post-webinar follow-ups.
Provide the Right Content at the Right Time
Each individual in your target audience will be at a different stage in the buyer’s journey. While some may be becoming familiar with your brand, others may be ready to purchase a product or request additional information on your services.
With email marketing automation, you can send content that’s relevant to each contact’s situation. Is someone ready to request a consultation? Send out an autoresponder that allows them to choose a time slot to speak with an employee. Did they make a purchase on your website? Send them a confirmation email with their shipping information. The opportunities are endless when it comes to email automation.
Keep Your Brand Top of Mind
Growing a healthy email list allows you to stay in touch with current and potential customers, even if they haven’t visited your site for awhile. Sending out monthly emails keeps your brand on their mind and also keeps them up-to-date on current promotions and updates.