How do you save and time resources while keeping your customers and prospects engaged over time? It’s not marketing magic, but it’s pretty close: it’s email automation.
91% of marketers say automation is critical to their success, and more than half of them plan on increasing their budget for it in the future. Out of the people using automation, 69% say it’s awesome for customer acquisition.
Before we dive into the many ways you can fine-tune email automation for your business, let’s start with an understanding of what it is.
What is email automation?
Email automation is an email or a sequence of emails that you schedule ahead of time for your subscribers. If you’re using basic email automation, you’ll use evergreen content, or content that never expires. For example, you’d include FAQs about your business, an in-depth look at your product offerings or unique ways to use your products – as opposed to information about limited times sales or one-time events.
If you’re using more advanced automation, you could set up emails that send to your subscribers based on their behaviors. For example, you could set up an email that automatically sends to your subscribers who have been customers for one year, and reward them with a coupon. Within the email itself, you can use first name personalization to create an even better experience.
Or if you wanted to automate your email newsletter, you could create an email that automatically pulls in live content from your website or API. So if you have a blog, your newsletter would automatically pull in your latest posts. If you’re a retailer, your newsletter could include your inventory from your website.
No matter what type you use, automation is a must-have for any marketer. But with great power comes great responsibility, so here are five best practices to keep your email automation game strong.
5 email automation best practices
Map your automation to your customer’s journey
Let’s say you have an automated email that sends to people who have been customers for five years. The content in that email would very different from an email you send to prospects, right? Your long-time customers and your prospects at at different stages of the buying journey, so the emails you send them should reflect that.
Not sure if your existing emails are delivering the right content at the right stage? Your first step is mapping out your customer’s journey and matching it with content that will help them along to the next stage. Then, use email automation to deliver that content. Here are five more strategies for using email to take advantage of the marketing funnel.
Consider your personas
If your automated emails aren’t taking your personas into account, listen up: using buyer personas in email campaigns improves open rates by 2x and click-through rates by 5x. Knowing who your customers are and the biggest challenges they face is vital for any type of content your create. It’s especially important in email marketing because timing is everything. Sending the right content at the right time could help you gain a new customer.
If you’re unsure about your customers’ needs, just ask! Survey your audience to find out their biggest challenges so you can determine how your business can help meet their needs. Get a solid understanding of the differences between your personas so you can serve them appropriate content in your emails. Here are more ways to research and develop customer personas.
Add a human touch
Just because your emails are automated doesn’t mean they should sound robotic. The opposite is true: because you can set up your emails to send to your subscribers at the exact right time, they should feel personal. Review the content of your automated emails for voice and tone. They should sound like they’re coming from a real human and they should use language that resonates with your audience.
Watch your analytics
If you’re not watching the analytics on your automated emails, you could be missing out on valuable opportunities to test and improve content. Which email stats should you keep an eye on? Open rates are a good place to start.
Don’t be alarmed if the first email in your automated series gets significantly higher opens than the rest of your emails – the average open rate for welcome emails is 50%. For the rest of your automated emails, aim for an open rate of 20% or higher. Watch your click-through rates too – these should be at least 2% and ideally 3% and higher. Your click-through rates can be directly impacted by your call-to-action. Test different types of calls-to-action (buttons, plain text) and call-to-action text if you’re looking to increase your click-through rates. Check out these benchmarks for email open rates and click-through rates.
Update as needed
Your email automation is only as good as the humans running it. It isn’t a 100% foolproof, set-it-and-forget it platform. That means if you’re not regularly testing and updating your automated emails, you’re not doing your business or your customers any favors. Neglecting to update and test leads to subpar customer experiences and increased unsubscribes.
The solution? Keep a close watch on your email analytics. Test new content. Check out what the competition is doing. Run reactivation campaigns to ensure that your subscribers are engaged. To better manage your email updates, create a calendar with dedicated days and times to review your automated email content.
Start sending amazing automated emails
Like any other marketing initiative, your automated emails will benefit from regular upkeep. If you’re looking to improve your results, start by implementing these best practices to optimize your automated email content today.