Email automation can be a valuable tool…or a dangerous weapon.
It can save you time – one of those incredibly valuable resources none of us have enough of these days. And it can help you provide your readers with some very valuable information at a critical time in their decision-making process.
It can also blow up in your face because of a variety of reasons – leading to lost opportunities when the readers realize you sent them something that was canned rather than that personal email you positioned it as.
What is 'Email Automation'?
Marketing automation is, just like it sounds, the ability to automate the distribution of specific emails to specific subscribers based on certain factors that can range from timing/time to action or inaction by the reader to an earlier email (Did not open, did not click, etc.)
Tip 1: Keep Email Automation Simple Stupid
And I mean ‘stupid’ with complete respect. Heck, trying to get something developed that’s complex is an all too common mistake coming right out of the gate.
But the truth is to start slow, get more creative over time and test, test, test.
What that means is [a] focus on an important stage in the funnel or event/behavior, then [b] focus on one persona that goes through that stage.
Best example – when someone subscribes. That’s the Welcome Email Series that can get your relationship off to a great start. Someone subscribes, that action triggers a series of emails that you design for new sub
Tip 2: Think Long-term
Use automation to deliver quality information to subscribers at an appropriate time in their decision-making process and gather the data you need to determine if they are qualified and meet the criteria for moving forward in your sales process.
For example, a new subscriber should get the answers they need – and you should gather the data you need to determine if the individual has the budget, authority to spend the budget, need for your offering(s) and a time frame to make the purchasing decision (immediate, near-term and long-term/no date set).
Avoid the temptation to [ex] set up a campaign that is triggered by time spent on a product page and pummels the individual with 30-consecutive days of “Buy now” emails.
Tip 3: Be Aware of Integrated Marketing Communications
Life happens outside email – so when you develop an automated campaign, remember that other promotional events/tactics are going to happen.
For example, one business I worked with had set up an automated campaign for new subscribers that delivered 5 emails over a 14-day time frame. That wasn’t a good thing during certain seasons because it created situations where the subscriber could be receiving several promotional efforts per day – from email to direct mail to the phone to text…
Tip 4: Don’t Turn Email Automation on and Walk Away
Sometimes the subscriber can do something that changes their need to receive the entire series of automated emails so make sure your process has checks and balances in it to prevent this.
For example, your automated email campaign is triggered by a subscriber visiting a product page several times in a set period without making a purchase.
My suggestion is you had better have the rules set up to check all transactions (offline and online) because you don’t want to send the entire series of [ex] 10 emails sent if they went to the store after Email 1 and bought the TV.
Tip 5: Automation is not Intelligence
This is me repeating myself using different words. Those less experienced tend to get caught up in the ability to create and execute the automation – forgetting that the automation is designed based on certain information that might change at any moment. The automation doesn’t do what you don’t program it to do – it’s not going out on its own, gather new data to help it decide if everyone in the automation should receive the next stage as planned.
Tip 6: Like All Marketing, Test.
This goes for pre-launch as well as during launch.
Test and preview the results pre-launch to make sure everything is working like the agreed upon plan. You do this for your manually sent campaigns so please do it for the automated campaigns. Nothing like sending out 5 emails with the wrong merge codes screwing up personalization.
Then, be sure to measure and analyze and modify your automated campaigns. Sometimes, your timing is going to be off and unsubscriptions will spike. Subject lines can be better, so testing helps.
Automation Can Do Great Things - And It Can Destroy Things Too
As with all things technology-oriented, ask “Should this be done” and “What are the Pros and Cons”.
Call me a realist – hell, call me a pessimist – but the goal here is to develop and strengthen a positive relationship with the subscriber that eventually leads to a lifetime of profitable sales to that person.
And we’ve all lived in the situation where the wrong merge code gets used or what everyone thought was the right quantity/frequency/timing of campaigns turned out to be way too much or way too little.