In the world of marketing, ideas are cheap. It’s execution — actually implementing all those ideas — that comes at a cost.
That’s why I love email marketing automation.
With email marketing automation, you can trigger specific messages to be sent whenever customers take a particular action.
With a little setup on the front end, you can have an ongoing email strategy that’s automatically configured to your customers’ schedule and actions. With that on auto-pilot, you’ll free up your time and energy to implement all those other ideas you’ve got.
Here are a few more reasons why I love email marketing automation:
• It’s personalized. Typically, when we send our newsletters and promotions, we just have to pick a time and hope people are listening. But automation personalizes the delivery based on your subscribers’ actions, so the emails are more relevant and timely.
• It’s effective. A study by Epsilon showed that automated emails get a click rate that’s 119% higher than standard broadcast emails. And the clicks turn into sales: Jupiter Research found that relevant emails like these bring in 18 times the revenue of broadcast emails.
• It works 24/7 (so you don’t have to). Once you set up an automated sequence, it goes to work on the schedule you specify. You don’t have to do a thing except watch the results and optimize the creative over time.
• It’s easier than ever to set up. Most email service providers, like Infusionsoft, MailChimp, Constant Contact, ConvertKit, and Emma all offer some kind of automation feature set that will send specific emails based on the triggers you specify.
If you’re ready to up your email marketing automation game, here are three of the most common automation strategies that work well for small businesses.
Set up a Lead Nurturing Sequence
You work hard for every lead that comes to your business. It’s usually the product of a significant investment, whether it’s a conference booth, a Facebook ad, or word-of-mouth driven by a standout customer experience.
But what happens after that? You need an automated email sequence to take care of your hard-won leads. We call it lead nurturing, and it works. According to a report from DemandGen, B2B marketers saw a 20% increase in sales opportunities from nurtured leads compared to non-nurtured leads.
To start, we recommend sending a series of emails every few days or so, featuring your most helpful content. (This is stuff you’ve probably already written!)
Giving away great content for free establishes your authority in your business and builds trust with your new leads. For more on this, check out this podcast recap of our interview with content marketing master Brian Clark.
With that as your foundation, ask for the sale. Just consider your purchase cycle when you’re thinking through the timing. For example, if your average customer makes a purchase four weeks after inquiring, that’s when you should time your email sequence to ask for the sale.
You can set up a simple sequence to get things rolling, and then make additions and tweaks as you see what’s working and what’s not.
Send a Welcome Note When Someone Joins Your Email List
People are never more interested in what you have to say than the moment they join your email list. It’s your invitation to tell them more. Yet so many businesses just add that new customer to their email list and do nothing else. It could be days or even weeks before they send an email to that list, and by then, what’s happened to that subscriber’s initial interest?
With an automated welcome note, you can instantly make a connection with a new subscriber. According to MarketingSherpa, the average open rate for a welcome email is a staggering 50%, making them 86% more effective than newsletters. It’s a great way to point people toward more resources and draw them into your brand’s story.
Here’s an example we love from our friends at charity: water:
This arrives moments after you subscribe. It instantly sets a tone of friendship. Plus, they use illustrations and big calls to action to point out three key aspects of their mission. It’s just the right amount to deepen our understanding of what they do but not so many that it’s overwhelming.
Create a Customer Onboarding Sequence
When new customers purchase your product or service, how can you set them up for success?
You probably already know the key concepts that will help them get started or encourage them to become a repeat customer.
Turn those key concepts into a series of emails that arrive in a new customer’s inbox after they’ve purchased.
For example, let’s say you’re a visual artist. You could set up a series of emails for anyone who purchases a print. The first, immediately after the purchase, would be a simple thank you note. The second, a week later, might feature tips for framing and hanging their new art. The third, after another week, could be an invitation to share their framed artwork on social media. And the final email could include links to buy similar pieces.
Dollar Shave Club does this in a single email after you sign up for their mail order razor blade service.
If you’re new to automation, try one of these strategies. I bet you’ll be hooked on sending better email without having to actually hit send. From there, your email marketing automation strategy is really only limited by your software’s capabilities and your imagination.
What email automation strategies have worked for your business? Leave a comment and share your experience with me!
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