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Taking Your First Steps With Email Marketing Automation Webinar Recap

6 min

The latest GetResponse webinar featured Dave Chaffey, the CEO of Smart Insights, a company designed to help marketers up their digital marketing game with actionable advice. And that’s exactly what Dr. Chaffey gave in this webinar. Marketing automation can be intimidating for those who are new to it. It’s often a series of baby steps as new users start to use marketing automation. For those who missed the webinar, here are some of the actionable tips and takeaways on how to start using marketing automation.

Dr. Chaffey identified 10 steps in getting started with marketing automation. This first half of the ten steps are the quick wins, easy techniques to put in place. The second half are more advanced and build upon the simpler techniques. The more sophisticated your email marketing, the greater your ROI.

1. Start with a simple welcome email

This is your first impression. You never get a second chance to make it. You want to keep it simple, and makes your online value proposition (OVP) clear. An OVP shows your audience what they can get from your emails that they couldn’t get in other marketing channels. An example would be discounts or offers given only to email subscribers.

2. Move to a multi-step welcome email series

Each individual email in a welcome series should have its own goal, while introducing your new subscriber to different facets of your business. The overarching goal of the series is to develop a deeper relationship with the new subscriber. Dr. Chaffey uses the example of U.S. retailer Zulily, which has a five-email welcome series. Zulily introduces their referral program, asks for information about the subscriber’s favorite brands, promotes their mobile app, as well as their social media presence – in four of their five welcome emails.

3. Templated target welcome

To do this well, you need more information than just your subscriber’s name. Your sign up form can help you do this if you ask subscribers to provide a bit more information about themselves. For example, you could ask for a subscriber’s role at her company. You would then have some basic list segmentation for your targeted welcome templates.

4. Dynamic content targeted welcome

Set up tags in your database, and create content specific for each of the tags to use in your email content.  Do this while keeping your end goal for the email in mind. For example, if your goal is to increase VIP-level subscribers, you can create a “VIP” tag. Those subscribers who already have the VIP tag would receive content with the discounts or other VIP-specific content. Those without the VIP tag would receive content encouraging the VIP program.

5. Nurture using rules

This process uses email marketing automation rules to guide subscribers through the marketing funnel. Rules function according to simple “if this, then that” conditions to send specific emails to subscribers based on any number of factors you’ve identified. These can be actions, time ranges, lead scoring (see below), etc. Using this same method, you can identify your inactive subscribers, and move them to an “unengaged” list – saving your deliverability rate, as well as giving you the means to easily create a re-engagement campaign.

6. …and lead scoring

Lead scoring is particularly important in business-to-business marketing. Lead scoring is the process by which a subscriber is ranked based on his or her apparent interest in your company’s product or service, based on his or her behavior on your website. Each action a subscriber takes in a customer journey is scored according to rules you set up. So, if a subscriber downloads a particular piece of content you’ve identified as important, your marketing automation system assigns that person the score you’ve given that particular behavior. When a subscriber’s score ranks above the threshold you’ve identified as a “hot lead” you can then pass that subscriber’s information over to your sales department, assuming there’s a good fit with your company (see point 7).

7. Add profile fit to interest or intent

“Profile fit” is determining how a subscriber fits into your business’ ideal customer or customer personas. You can then send that subscriber content and offers that fit both your offerings and your subscriber’s needs. In some cases, subscribers with a high lead score won’t be a good fit for your company. This is important to keep in mind before the sales department gets involved with a lead.

8. Integrate web “sense and respond”

This is joining your email service provider and your website’s analytics program (such as Google Analytics) together via code. By linking your web analytics to your email database, you’ll be able to track the website behavior of any of your subscribers. This allows you to, among other things, tailor your email content for that subscriber specifically to the pages s/he has been browsing on your website.

9. Re-engage and re-activate

There will always be people whose interest in your company wanes. You’ll be able to identify these people through your email marketing provider’s analytics. But you don’t want to just let these people go – they’re still valuable subscribers! Instead, you have to work to re-engage them with your brand. Dynamic content can be useful in this case as well, where you can remind the subscribers of their last interaction with you. The re-activation emails are not a tool to use frequently, but they are helpful.

10. Assess and grow activity & value via analytics

You should always measure opens & clicks for each email you send. But that’s just the beginning. In addition to the success of your emails, you need to take a higher view of your automation program as a whole, over a long period of time. This will be able to help you get an understanding of your automation’s ROI. Look at your whole list to see what percentage has never opened, never clicked, or never purchased – versus those who have taken any of these actions. You will be able to see what kind of re-engagement you’ll need to do to get the best value out of your subscribers.


Q. Which is more successful at retaining customers: multi-step welcome or simple welcome process?

A. Generally speaking, a multi-step welcome email process may result in more unsubscribes at the beginning, but you may generate more value from it. Because you have many reminders through several emails. Ultimately, though, you have to look at what’s right for your business and industry.

Q. What’s the best way to increase your click-through rates?

A. If you increase the number of your calls to action, you’ll increase your CTR. But, you’ll also see that the number of clicks decreases as you go down the page. Put your best offer at the top. In emails, adding a pre-header can help as well.

Q. How can you tell if specific user is viewing your website more frequently, so you can increase the number of emails in line with their interests.

A. Lead scoring is your solution. If you set up your lead scoring so that if a particular person visits a specific set of web pages, the lead score increases by (for example) 10. You’ll see the score increase and follow up based on that.

Q. How do you set up tags?

A. Each email system will do this a little differently. Their function is to add more data to a subscriber. Industries or roles within a company are two examples. You do a follow up based on that tag.

Q. When you have someone browsing your site, how do you get them to actually opt in, which will trigger automation?

A. There are many ways to do that, but choose what fits your brand. For retailers and publishers, a great way is a pop-up with a discount. That drives both subscriptions and sales. But not every company will want to do that. Harvard Business Review has simplified their design and placed big in-line sign up forms that are difficult to ignore.

Watch the Webinar Recording Now

The webinar was chock full of great examples and insights – much more than I could cover in a recap. Watch for yourself, it’s worth the time. Then, share your thoughts in the comments below!

Dave Chaffey
Dave Chaffey
Dr Dave Chaffey is CEO and co-founder of digital marketing advice site Smart Insights. He has been recognised as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have shaped the future of Marketing by the Chartered Institute of Marketing and in 2015 was rated as the top UK influencer on social media for Marketing and Advertising in a top 50 compilation by