Email marketing is extremely powerful.
Perhaps it’s an obvious statement but it wasn’t until I saw the numbers that I realized just how powerful it is.
According to Smart Insights data, B2B companies are “crediting email for bringing in 23% of total sales.” That’s almost a quarter of their sales revenue simply by using email. And it doesn’t stop there. According to a survey from eMarketer, 81% of retail professionals say email is the primary driver of customer acquisition and 80% say it’s the primary driver of customer retention. Those numbers rival (and, in some cases, dwarf) organic search.
Automated email is a very effective marketing tool and, with its work-horse role in marketing automation, it’s showing signs of even more growth in the coming years.
Here are just a few ways to get the most out of your email campaigns and make your automated email content even better.
Start with an email marketing strategy
The number of emails sent and received every single day topped out at over 200 billion in 2016, according to a Radicati study. That’s a whole lot of ticket announcements, free career advice and last chances to save 20 percent on that Ikea kitchen cart you know shouldn’t buy (but would be perfect in your breakfast nook!).
How do even begin to compete with all of that? It all starts with a plan.
Here are some questions to ask (and answer) before you type a single word of email copy:
Identify the desired action your audience should take
Maybe you have an e-commerce website and want your emails to mimic the feel of your site. Perhaps you work with a music organization and want to use the email to inform your audience of your upcoming schedule.
What you hope your readers to do while or after they read the email will inform everything from how you format it to what kinds of CTAs to include.
Optimize your email to facilitate the desired action
Don’t try to fit ten pounds of flour into a five-pound sack. Trying to squeeze something about every product and service you offer into every single email will likely get you an unsubscribe rate about as high as your open rate.
If you’re a marketing organization, for instance, not every email should emphasize recruiting new members AND highlighting the upcoming event AND featuring the blog. It’s too much for your reader to digest all at once. Instead, make recruiting a primary focus of one email or email campaign, giving secondary focus to events and blogs. This will help readers to focus on what you’re trying to communicate.
Define your success metrics
A successful automated email campaign for Company A will almost certainly look different than one for Company B. Heck. It might be different from a different campaign within Company A.
If you’re running an informational campaign, maybe success is averaging an open rate of over 35% and an unsubscribe rate of under 5%. If you’re hoping to drive people to your website, success might be defined by a click-through-rate of over 2.5%.
By setting these clear expectations, you’ll be able to create content more intentionally and track results more effectively.
Think of it as a piece of content
An automated email is a piece of content. And, as a content creator, it’s important you employ the same tactics that makes your other content successful.
Tell a story
I subscribe to the Levis.com newsletter. I enjoy their product and certainly don’t mind getting a good deal on a new pair of 511s. When I see one of their automated emails pop up in my inbox, I know there’s something they’d like me to buy. And that’s ok. That’s why I signed up.
But they also tell me a story. They employ bold, striking images and simple copy to give me a perfect snapshot of who they are and why they’re in business.
Make opening your email worth the readers’ time. If they’ve just subscribed to your email list, welcome them by sharing your three favorite things about who you are as a brand or give them a quick history of how your organization started. If you’re launching a new campaign, explain why and take your reader on that journey along with your brand.
PRO TIP: Make it easy for your reader to unsubscribe. It’s the right thing to do.
Don’t forget about the subject line
If I’m in a hurry to finish a blog, the headline is usually the thing I think about the least. Much to my dismay, that’s always the first part of the content people see.
Your subject line is the gateway to your email content. Remember, you’re trying to jockey for the attention of someone who likely gets upwards of 40-50 emails per day. If the subject line isn’t entertaining, intriguing or highly informative (or all three), it will likely get deleted before it’s even read. Even worse, it will be opened just so the reader can scroll to the bottom and hit “unsubscribe.”
Get your timing down
Marketing automation is an incredibly powerful tool that allows your business to automate content delivery at the perfect time to the perfect people. And this just so happens to be where automated emails can really shine.
Take cart abandonment, for example. According to a Business Insider study a couple years back, they predicted online e-commerce retailers would lose “approximately $4 trillion worth of merchandise” due to abandoned shopping carts. The same study implied that the majority of that could be salvaged by online marketers who can re-engage those customers.
Welcome emails are another great opportunity for businesses. A blog from Emma, an email marketing automation company, shows that users who receive a welcome email show a “33 percent increase in long-term brand engagement.”
When someone subscribes to your newsletter, greet them with an introductory offer or an engaging video telling a story about your brand. If they haven’t engaged with your business in a while, follow up with a piece of content they might find some value in. If they download a case study from your website, send them a “thank-you” along with a tortoise giving an air-five.
Automating these sorts of emails will help you give your readers just a little more value every time they interact with your brand.
A/B test your email marketing campaigns
Marketing is an extremely iterative practice. Even when one tactic is working extremely well, you’re always trying to hone and refine. The same is true (and perhaps even more important) when it comes to your automated emails.
Simple A/B testing could be the best way to find out what’s working and what’s not.
Email marketing consultants, Email Monday, compiled a list of 150+ different ways to split test your emails. It’s chock-full of great ideas for ways to ensure you’re getting the most out of these email campaigns. Though it may seem daunting to dig in, it’s by far the clearest path to email optimization and will give you a tremendous opportunity to grow as a marketer.
The perfect solution
If you’re looking for a great way to boost your marketing efforts, automated email is a tremendous place to look. It receives consistently high marks when it comes to customer acquisition and retention and has shown to be a potential revenue driver and an effective place to show of your brand.
Learn more about the best way to ensure marketing automation awesomeness.