Whether you’re running the marketing for a multinational clothing brand, B2B Saas startup, or solo-preneuring it, we’re pretty sure you’re keen to achieve more from your email campaigns.
The numbers don’t lie. A carefully-researched, well-planned email marketing automation strategy that takes note of the latest tech trends
and tools in the field—from machine learning and AI to personalized email automation—can achieve all of this. And so much more.
Even if you have a fair idea of what email marketing automation strategy entails, you might still be asking the question, “How do you develop a marketing automation strategy?” And you’re not alone.
A 2020 survey by Liana Technologies found that almost half the participants (page 11) cited lack of expertise and know-how
as their chief challenge when implementing marketing automation in their business.
Below, we take you on a journey through the entire process, from defining this core marketing concept to the dos and don’ts of creating a stellar email marketing automation strategy.
Marketing Automation Strategy for Email Explained
In email automation, you create and send automated emails, or messages, using an automation tool
instead of sending each email to each customer individually.
Mailchimp, one of the largest email automation platforms out there today with user numbers in the low 10s of millions, describes the process as
“a way to create emails that reach the right people with the right message at the right moment—without doing the work every time.
You can use automation to shave work time from delivering messages to website visitors, sales leads, and clients at critical points along the customer journey, keep current customers updated, and follow up on lost leads and former customers.
Some more specific examples include:
- Pre- and post-sale emails: to promote specials and follow up on lost sales
- Customer happy birthday messages, usually with a discount code attached
- Free or paid courses, tutorials, whitepapers, books, and other giveaways
- Information on new products or service launches
- “Abandoned cart” reminders
Keep in mind that even though it’s tempting, you shouldn’t attempt to automate every
email you need to send out. But more on this soon.
How to Create a Marketing Automation Strategy for Email—Dos and Don’ts
You’re probably already familiar with the basics of your email delivery or CRM system. (And if you haven’t got your customer data on a platform already, we strongly recommend you do that right now.)
Since every platform’s slightly different, we’re not going to dive into the nitty-gritty of those systems. Instead, we’re highlighting a few things you need to craft a strategy that will take your email marketing funnel
to the next level.
DO Break Down Your Strategy to Target Different Customers
Segmenting your strategy
(and customer list) into different groups
allows you to create targeted emails. In one test, CRM platform SuperOffice saw a whopping 35% rise in click-through rates
on a segmented vs. non-segmented email.
You can keep it simple and create three types of customers based on where they are in your funnel:
- Send pre-conversion customers—for example, those who have signed up to receive your newsletter—automated emails that introduce them to your product or service or ask them to follow you on your social media platforms.
- Send active leads and customers emails that provide updates on your company and your products and services. This could be notices of sales, changes to your products, new blog posts, freebies and giveaways, shop openings, and more.
- Send post-conversion customers check-in emails that provide opportunities to dive deeper into, engage more, or repeat purchase your service, product, or brand.
You can also segment your audiences or customer base by dividing them by demographics, geography, purchase habits, behavior, which social media platform they follow… the options are almost limitless. Email automation industry leader HubSpot has a thorough list
if you need inspiration.
DON’T Automate Unpredictable Responses
Automation saves you time on repeatable emails that people expect to get
, such as the standard “thank you for subscribing to our newsletter” auto-reply. But it’s not so good for things that require a bit more nuance
For example, sending automated emails in response to a customer service query wouldn’t work so well. Irate people contacting you with complaints are unlikely to appreciate a “thank you for contacting us” email.
When creating your strategy, think as much about customer communications that require personalized interaction—and therefore need to be excluded from automation—as the customer communications you can
DO Keep Email Advertising Regulations in Mind
Laws and regulations around what constitutes spam and what a company can legally send to people by email change across jurisdictions
—even within a country or region.
For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
means customers in the EU need to give explicit consent to receive sales communications from businesses located anywhere in the world. China has its own code, the Personal Information Protection Law
, and consumer privacy in America is governed at the federal and state level, such as with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
The above is by no means an exhaustive list. Be sure to research the relevant laws applicable to any market you’re operating within
. And you need to stay on top of any changes, too.
Thankfully, many CRM platforms have double opt-in procedures built into their systems to help protect their emails from being flagged as spam… or worse. If the platform you’re using doesn’t, consider making the switch to one that does.
DON’T Forget to Offer Your Customer Something Valuable
In email automation strategy, like so many other areas of marketing these days, content really is still king
And if a reader or potential customer takes the time to sign up to receive correspondence from you, you want to make sure every single piece of content you send them adds value to their lives
. If you don’t, you risk them ignoring or deleting your emails, unsubscribing, or worse, marking them as spam.
While some emails are simply instructional, such as the opt-in email they’ll get after they first subscribe to your list, others, like promotional emails, need something special to keep your customers hooked
. This could be anything from a discount coupon or giveaway to a video course or free demo.
And remember, a relationship is an exchange
. If you ask for something from your customer base, try to offer them something valuable
in return—be it a whitepaper, an e-book, a case study, or a tutorial.
DO Keep What Works and Ditch (or Revise) What Doesn’t
Automating aspects of your email marketing will definitely save you time—the founder of Searchant claims automation saves the agency as much as 32 hours a month
. But that doesn’t mean you can just set it and forget it.
You need to stay on top of how your emails are performing and tweak your strategy accordingly. This means A/B testing everything from your subject lines to your header images
, keeping a close eye on open rates, CTR (click-through rates), and unsubscribes, and noting how things like when
you send a newsletter or how many follow-ups you send affect engagement.
Most automation software has analytics capabilities
built into the platform. Get familiar with the reporting offered by your chosen provider before searching out other third-party tools.
DON’T Ignore What Your Competitors Are Doing
There’s no shame in getting inspiration from your competitors. Even if you’re the best in your business, you can learn something new from those new to the market.
Make a list of the top performers in your industry or niche
and sign up to their email lists. Take note of what types of emails they send out, what order they send emails in, and what they include in them. Compare their subject lines, content, imagery, and promotions with yours.
While you won’t be able to nab behind-the-scenes information like their audience segmentation, you can garner some insight into their strategy.
Consider the Bigger Picture for Best Results
While it’s easy enough to download a few tools or upload your customer data to a CRM, it takes experience to generate an email marketing automation strategy that will get results
. Especially if you want to see true ROI—on the money and the time you invest.
Creating a strategy is one thing; being brave enough to tweak it or throw it out the window when it doesn’t work for you is quite another. When it comes to strategy creation and revision, always embrace the data and go wherever it takes you
. Your customers will thank you with their wholehearted engagement.
Email Marketing Automation Strategy gig, and our email marketing automation team will analyze your business processes and customer base
and help you identify and maximize unique opportunities
that take the bigger picture into account. They will apply all the tools your CRM or email marketing system offers to increase lead generation, engagement, conversion, and retention
Let’s evolve together!