Email marketing campaigns help build brand awareness, nurture leads, and drive conversions. However, great email marketing takes a lot of work, especially for small businesses. Enter email marketing automation.
Nearly two-thirds of marketing automation efforts are handled by email, and it’s easy to see why.
Email automation allows you to send relevant and timely emails, personalized to the subscribers’ interests. With the help of software and data, email automation focuses on the email marketing triad:
Send the right message to the right person at the right time.
For small businesses, constant attention can be a problem due to lack of time and resources. Email automation requires upfront work, but then requires limited ongoing efforts for managing email marketing. (This is not to say it’s “set it and forget it,” but the upfront work goes a long way.)
Here’s why email automation can be so useful and successful for small businesses:
Automation saves time
With some upfront, dedicated work, email automation saves you time in the long run. Once you set up the workflows and start them, there’s no need to wait for anyone to hit the “send” button as the automation works around the clock.
Rather than sending a welcome email manually to each person that signs up one at a time, you should set up a workflow that sends out the emails for you in real time.
For example: As soon as a subscriber signs up, Formaggio Kitchen sends a “subscription confirmed” email with all their details and preferences automatically.
Can you imagine how time-consuming that would be if they did it manually?
Automation nurtures leads
Email automation allows you to nurture your leads, gain valuable information, and improve not only your marketing content down the line, but also your communication with customers and leads by your sales team as well.
Improved data collection allows you to personalize the content of your emails as well. Personalized emails have six times the transactions rate of batch-and-blast emails – and automation enables you to send emails with more relevant content because it pulls from data like demographics, behavioral segments, subscriber activity, and lifecycle stage.
Automated or “drip” emails are a great way to nurture your subscriber relationships at the touchpoints that are relevant to where they are in the buying journey. Whether it’s welcoming them to your brand or reengaging them, drip emails are the perfect way to leverage email as a marketing tool for small businesses without taking too much time from important day-to-day business tasks.
Automated emails can be used to address customer questions and issues, cutting down on time spent on customer service. Sending emails that include Frequently Asked Questions or ways to troubleshoot their problems will help you empower your customers with information and build trust with your brand.
GreenBlender does a great job answering customer questions right within the inbox. In one email they’re driving engagement, adding value to their subscribers’ lives, and backing it up with a powerful CTA to drive clicks.
If you’re a small business in the ecommerce sector, sending out product recommendations or cart abandonment emails for better engagement can have a big impact on your conversion rate.
Mack Weldon sends out cart abandonment emails that do a great job of driving a sense of urgency that encourages the cart abandoners to hurry and complete their purchase before the items they were interested in sell out.
Automation helps with A/B testing
You can create A/B tests to run for a while by setting up two (or more) variations of a campaign. You can test content, subject lines, what have you, and measure your standard email metrics and conversions. Long-term testing can be extremely useful and made easier in many ways through automation. Ultimately, testing will help you understand your audience on a deeper level so that you can build better-performing programs.
Testing doesn’t have to be between campaigns full of bells and whistles. Autopilot tested plain-text against HTML emails and actually saw much higher engagement in the plain-text emails. You don’t need to overcomplicate your automation and testing to have big impact on your business.
Automation provides great results tracking
With automated emails triggered by specific subscriber actions, you’re able to track and measure the results of each campaign along the way, along with the requisite ROI it drives.
Automation helps enhance brand awareness
Frequency of brand impressions via email (and other channels) helps with brand awareness. Automation can help you send email more often, helping keep your brand top of mind. Better brand awareness also helps keep your subscribers engaged with your emails.
Offering special discounts exclusive to your email subscribers helps build a loyal following within your emails. It’s also a great way to drive revenue from your existing subscribers and make them feel special.
Moo does this perfectly with two emails to drive urgency in their subscribers.
Automation fits with the customer journey
Email automation allows you to schedule emails that align with the customer journey. For example: if a customer has bought an eye cream, you can set up an automated email for 21 days after the purchase to remind them to restock their medicine cabinets. This type of email is effective in driving repeat sales and boosting conversions.
The messaging you use in your email will vary depending on your relationship with your customer and their progress in your sales funnel. If the subscriber is still at the awareness stage, don’t jump to sending them your rate card. Instead, nurture your leads with a webinar invite or a whitepaper that shares more information about how your offering adds value, to drive them further down your sales funnel.
An example of nurturing your leads can be this email by Invision.
Automation – the big engine that could
Automation is a great tool for sending relevant emails to the right people at the right time. (Yes, I’m reiterating.) But it’s important to recognize that with this great power comes great responsibility (Spider-man shout out!).
Also, remember to send the emails only if they add value for the subscriber. Ask yourself, “Will this email contribute anything significant to the subscriber’s inbox—and their life?”
Set the email up for automation only if the answer is “Yes.”
About the author: Scott Cohen is the VP of Marketing at InboxArmy – a result driven email marketing agency which specializes in providing a best email marketing solutions right from strategy through development to execution. He has been living and breathing email marketing since 2007. Scott brings a unique perspective to email marketing that combines best practices with real-world-tested strategy and tactics. Scott loves sharing email marketing tips & best practices on Inbox Army’s Blog.