Although automation is certainly not without its controversy, it seems like most marketing teams are willing to embrace it due to the countless benefits it offers.
Not only does it save teams hours out of their day by taking over time-consuming tasks, but it can also make their efforts far more strategic – and profitable.
According to a report from Invesp, businesses that have invested in marketing automation reported a 14.5% boost in sales and productivity with a 12% drop in marketing overhead costs. 80% of these organizations reported more leads and 77% saw an increase in conversion rates as a direct result of automation.
There are plenty of ways that marketing campaigns can be automated. Leaving strategic decision making or advertising planning to an algorithm can be quite convenient. In the process, your strategies become more data-driven and optimized for context and relevance.
Automating your email marketing allows your brand to give customers the exact experiences they want and reach them at times that will be most influential on their purchase decisions. So how should marketers utilize automation in order to see the greatest benefits?
Determine Your Customers’ Actual Journey
In order to create a truly personalized and optimized email campaign, you need to have a clear understanding of the buyer’s journey and the way that content helps your customers go from one phase to the next.
Thankfully, automation can be quite helpful here considering that today’s customer journey is far more complicated and twisty than ever before. Gone are the days when a customer would see an ad, contact a salesperson, and make a final decision. Modern B2B buyers are interacting with an average of three to five pieces of content before they even reach out to a salesperson for more information.
Thanks to automation, along with additional technology like machine learning and predictive analytics, you can create a more accurate map of your specific audience’s typical journey from the initial interaction to a final decision and beyond. In order to create a truly accurate digital customer journey for your specific audience, you will need to understand how each interaction and experience fits and how to use content to influence consumers.
For this, you need a platform that tracks customer interactions and defines each of the journey stages. As customers move along from stage to stage, there will be drop-off points and moments of backtracking. These moments are key because this is where automated email marketing will be used to re-engage customers and get them back on track.
Set Up a Trigger-Based Model
A well-timed email can make all the difference with a customer who is on the fence or who has shown a certain intent, so in order to reach out to your audience at the perfect time or when they take a particular action, you will need to set up strategic, time-based or behavior-based models. There are several types of triggered emails that can be effective for various reasons:
- Welcome and onboarding emails
- Abandoned cart emails
- Referral incentive emails
- Personal milestone emails
- Follow-up and re-engagement emails
Each of these different types of emails should be sent out after a customer completes a specific, related action, such as signing up for a newsletter, downloading a whitepaper, or reaching out to a sales representative with questions that fall in a certain category.
As you create a data-driven customer journey map, look to see where the greatest falling off points exist and determine where triggered emails could be most useful. Would a reminder email help to reduce the number of missed sales call appointments? If a follow-up email was sent out 48 hours after a customer downloaded content, would it help to grow engagement and conversion rates?
Once you have determined the triggers that you want to use, you will then need to create the appropriate type and tone of messaging for each email. Personalized details are very important here – generic marketing messages will fall flat, especially if your customers are starting to disengage. Look for ways to include personalized details, including
- the customer’s name
- a subject line that entices them to find out what’s inside
- a brief summary of their last interactions
- customized recommendations for products or content pieces that may interest them
Create a Sequential Messaging Plan
In addition to trigger-based emails, you should also consider automating a sequential messaging plan – or a “drip” campaign – that tweaks content based on the customer’s response. This creates a sort of “choose your own adventure” type of communication map that leads customers to various destinations based on the way that they respond.
For instance, say a customer requested more information by filling out an online form. A sales representative reaches out to the lead within 24 hours and tries to set up a meeting or phone call. If they do not receive a reply by the end of the next day, another follow-up email is sent out. If that email is also ignored, then a final push is made to try to re-engage.
In order to do this properly, you will want to segment your audience based on their actions and experiences, as well as details like how they learned about your business or their position in the company. You don’t want to hound your customers with multiple emails or overlapping messages as this will certainly just cause frustration.
Pick the Right Tools
Once you have a plan in place for the type of communication triggers you want to use for your marketing strategy, you will need to find a platform that is able to execute all messaging automatically. There are several key features to look for when choosing an automated email marketing system:
- Integrated CRM for account targeting and detailed interaction data
- Automated personalization to adjust content based on variables like a person’s name, past interactions, history with the company, and specific preferences
- Built-in analytics for easy reporting and monitoring
- Short implementation time, ease of use, and minimal maintenance
If you have to build your trigger-based system from scratch, it is going to be quite frustrating and time-consuming. Instead, it is smarter to go with a stack of SaaS tools that integrate with each other and have easy to use trigger templates for quicker turnarounds and conversions.
Press the Start Button
According to a report from Ascend2, marketers agreed that automation was most the most effective way to create personalized and dynamic content that can be used in email marketing. 54% of marketing teams also agreed that their personalization strategies saw significant improvements thanks to this technology.
The key to a successful automated email marketing system is understanding when, where, and how to communicate with your audience. This is possible only by making every decision based on accurate data. Follow this quick blueprint to get started on the right track.
- Segment your audience and create rules and triggers.
- Choose your email service providers and tools based on the size and requirements of your organization and the nature of your campaigns.
- Set up your workflow and integrate with campaigns on other channels.
- Measure results.
What content works best in your emails to influence customers and quicken the sale? How do you time these emails? Where are you missing opportunities to recapture customers’ attention and how can you use their behavioral tendencies and intents to time your interactions to perfection?
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