The other day, I was watching an episode of Sex and the City called “Ghost Town”. Aired in 2001, it was the first time in the series Carrie sends an email. Too afraid to express her feelings to her e-boyfriend Aiden over the phone, she emails him. But because her sender name is really cheesy, Aiden marks it as junk.
It made me wonder: how can we ensure our emails get read? Today, when we’re competing to be heard, we spend a lot of time and effort trying to match our content with what we think our subscribers want to receive. But we forget about the other pieces of the puzzle. And when we try too hard, our email strategy is bound to fail.
Marketing segmentation-ish: a jigsaw puzzle
Sometimes you may feel like Carrie. No matter what channel you use, the results disappoint. So we have to take a step back and look at the whole puzzle. I’m talking about advanced clustering and segmentation. Automated email flows. Social media integration. Contact management – and other ways to personalize your marketing to each subscriber, at different touch points.
Want to mix up your marketing? Then check out my 5 favorite email automation hacks:
1. Personalize emails with lead scoring
Marketing automation is about segmenting your contacts based on how close they are to buying a product – or upgrading to your premium offering.
So, how do you do it? By using lead scoring to qualify your contacts based on predefined criteria. You can use whatever type of scoring you like. I find the best and easiest way is to use terms like “prospect”, “warm” or “customer”.
The idea is to set up automatic scoring. Of course, sometimes you may need to do this manually (say if a salesperson needs to mark a contact as “paused” to ensure they don’t receive emails.) But automation can help you be far more effective and efficient with your email marketing.
Now you know what lead scoring is, the next step is to map these scores with specific actions on your website, app, or in your marketing campaign. This mapping can help you prepare your lead scoring model.
This should be based on individual contact and company demographics (like their gender, age, social networks and interests) and behavior (such as whether they registered, visited a pricing page, completed an order, or upgraded to a larger package).
2. Nurture with drip campaigns
Many people use drip campaigns based on a time series – often to onboard new users. Others use it to send an email course.
But you can also use drip campaigns to better engage your contacts. To do this, you’ll need to add some behavioral, demographic, and lead scoring triggers. In this way, you don’t just send the same email to every prospect, say two days after they get the first email of the series or join your list. Instead, you send a message based on each contact’s behavior – like visiting a web page, completing a subscription form, or abandoning their order.
3. Use plain-text emails
We all love beautifully designed, templated emails. But simple, plain-text emails get better click-through rates (CTR). Why? Because they seem more personal. I did this recently, and my CTR spiked by 15%.
The best part is, your email will look like plain text. But it’s actually fully HTML-enabled content. Why not try it?
4. Harness the power of custom fields
Your database is a goldmine! So go beyond geo-location, and use custom fields to build customer profiles as they move through your funnel. Or go all the way – assigning tags, so your subscribers travel through your lists. You can also add or remove tags to adjust the frequency of messages in your drip campaigns.
5. Use progressive profiling
Once you have contact data, you don’t need to ask them for the same information again. If you do present them with another form or popup, ask for different data.
You can use marketing automation to identify the user and ask for new information. Let’s say you already have a contact’s email address. Next, you can present them with a form that asks for their name and phone number. This is what we call progressive profiling.
In a perfect world…
In the early days of email, Carrie tripped up by hiding behind an odd sender name. So her message was never heard. Today, there are many more pieces of the puzzle to think about. But if you embrace marketing automation to segment your database, you can be confident that your message makes an impact.
The software does all the hard work for you. So you can just focus on creating more effective marketing campaigns, armed with insights into your customers’ behavior and actions.
Have you used marketing automation to engage your audience? Or is your strategy more like Carrie’s? Let us know in the comments below!