It’s 2023, and email is 40 years old. And still, it remains the channel with one of the highest ROI (36:1), which is unlikely to significantly decline anytime soon. As audiences multiply and diversify in every industry, automation becomes necessary to make the best use out of voluminous email lists and market segments. To help you set up your operation, we’ve compiled a list of 11 email marketing automation best practices you can apply today.
Before we take a dive into the practical advice, let’s look at the email automation basics because a clear understanding of email automation paves the way for a successful email marketing strategy.
What is email automation?
Email automation is a term for automated email sending to subscribers. These emails are usually promotional and serve to incite a reaction from the recipient. When the recipient reacts to an email, we say they engage.
So, email automation is usually based on a predetermined set of rules designed to bring as much engagement as possible.
What are the advantages of email automation?
As a pre-programmed process, email automation saves time and allows marketers to keep contact with large volumes of subscribers. But the advantages of email automation surpass the time-saving aspect and allow companies to create complex marketing strategies and long-term relationships with their customers. Email marketing automation enables multiple campaigns simultaneously while providing valuable data on customer behavior, customer journey, buyer personas, etc.
Email marketing as we know it today would not be possible without automation.
How do you automate email marketing?
Automation in email marketing means using the right software tools. To break it down into the most basic steps, you need to:
- Choose the right software for you. For example, Campaign Refinery specializes in catering to high-volume senders, offering cutting-edge tools for maximum deliverability;
- Install the email marketing software you chose;
- Build your email list;
- Set up automation rules and triggers based on your subscribers’ behavior;
- Create different email campaigns and schedule emails;
- Activate the automation and —
- Monitor the data.
How many companies use email marketing automation?
A high number — 81% of companies use marketing automation on average. This means you should seriously consider using it as well because its users can see 4 to 5 times higher numbers of qualified leads, which can significantly impact sales overall.
Still, your goal should be bigger than just selling. You need to treat your best inbound marketing channel as a long-term investment through which you can expand your customer base and cherish relationships with your loyal clients. Successful selling is great, but people love to get value for their money. And here is how to provide the most value through email marketing automation best practices.
What is the best way to build automated email workflows?
Automated email marketing campaigns or workflows are diverse, and their building is complex.
Here is a list of the best email workflow practices you can use today.
1. Watch your Audience
Knowing your audience is vital for a successful email marketing strategy. Without it, you can’t build a proper workflow or set up the right triggers. Since 75% of all email revenue comes from triggered campaigns, it’s important to watch and learn from your subscribers, serving them exactly what they need or want.
For a successful email workflow automation, you should do the following:
- Monitor subscribers’ behavior and learn from it
- Segment your email list according to the behavior
- Diversify and create buyer personas
- Anticipate and create the buyer’s journey
- Define target audiences
- Set up behavioral triggers and follow-up emails
- Create pre-defined audience segments for future broadcast promotions
Creating the right triggers for the right audience segments will bring better results, more opens and clicks, and ultimately — more sales.
2. Define the Email Campaigns You Want to Run
Various types of email campaigns exist in email marketing, each with its purpose. After learning from your audience and setting up the list segments, buyer journeys, and triggers, you have to figure out what kind of campaigns are the best for your audiences. You will want to welcome a new subscriber or re-engage with an inactive one, so the approach has to differ.
The usual campaigns to automate are:
- Welcome email series
- Drip email campaigns – triggered autoresponders
- Re-engagement email sequence
When deciding what campaigns to run, you should focus on your priorities as a business and create automation workflows that will maximize your success.
3. Design Your Automation Workflows
After you’ve decided what campaigns to run, you should plan your automation workflows carefully. According to what your target audiences are, your automations will have different structures, different follow-ups, and desired outcomes. Every detail needs to be worked out before you set them up.
As you develop the workflows, remember to maintain the look and feel of your brand — adjust the visuals, language, catchphrases, and everything else that will speak to your customer.
Before you start designing the concrete paths, you should:
- Look at the data you have collected and create benchmarks that are worth following up;
- Work backwards from an end goal to illuminate the perfect customer journey, which means that you have to — set goals.
4. Set Goals for Automated Campaigns
Clear goals for each automated workflow will allow you to optimize your customer journeys, observe the success of your email campaigns and update email list segments.
With an idea of what you need your subscribers to achieve through a particular campaign, you can set up the correct steps and follow-ups, leading them toward the end. The number of successful goal achievements will tell you if your campaign makes sense, and after a subscriber meets the goal, you can move them to a different subscriber group.
This way, you’ll nurture your leads, lead them to conversions and update your list all at the same time, while the prospective customers continue to receive fresh emails from you, being in another segment and a part of another target audience.
Remember to monitor customer behavior throughout this process to optimize your campaigns better.
5. Get an Instant Reaction
One of the best things you can do for your sender reputation and to increase open and click rates, in the long run, is to get your subscribers to reply to your email. Prompting an immediate action, be it a reply, download, click, or quiz response, is highly valuable for your email marketing health, and you should absolutely include call-to-actions in your automation workflows.
Whatever you may need your subscribers to do, find a way to get them to react immediately, and you can incentivize them by offering more value or rewards if they do.
6. Refine Your Content
Your email content is what will ultimately sell your product, so ensure to add value to it – every time. Refine it for clarity and substance, don’t be too salesy, stay on brand, and personalize subject lines and sender data.
You can use your email content to offer special deals, coupons, discounts, but also other forms of content such as blogs, webinars, e-books, and similar valuable, educational material. No need for long-form content; sometimes, a single sentence accompanying visually striking, click-rich content is all you need.
Remember to explain clearly how this helps your subscribers and why it’s good for them to take in the extra value you offer.
7. Mind Your Approach
When approaching your customers, personalization can go a long way. Your subscribers should talk to your subscribers directly and make them feel special. But there’s a fine line between personalization and stalking! Although you will surely track your customers’ behavior, never use this data to target them for every little thing because they may feel as if you’re watching their every move. Find the fine balance between targeted messaging and respect.
Another thing you should remember is that even though your workflows are automated, your messages need to feel human. When you set up an email sequence, read through it and imagine yourself in your contact’s shoes. Does it feel human? Does it feel warm? If the answer is yes, you did a good job. Otherwise, revise until you get there.
8. Never Spam Unresponsive Contacts
How many emails that you receive daily do you actually open?
How many do you want to receive?
Imagine getting an email offer you don’t want once — you ignore or delete it and move on. But imagine if you keep receiving it. The same offer. Every day.
You will (rightfully) either unsubscribe, block, or even flag the sender as spam.
Now, being a marketer you know better. Sending unsolicited or unwanted emails to people has dire consequences. Losing a subscriber is nothing compared to the damage this can do to your sender reputation. There isn’t a list clean enough nor a practice good enough that can sve you if your behavior entails customer harassment.
So, let us repeat the point: Never spam the unresponsive contacts!
As a rule of thumb, if after three emails the subscriber doesn’t respond – they are most probably not interested in your offer, and you can remove them from the workflow. If you think you could engage them differently – try another workflow and a different approach, but remember that the same rule applies.
You can even branch your workflows, where one path leads to the follow-up email and a path with no response to a dead end, preventing any damage to your rep.
Finally, ensure to enroll a single contact in a particular workflow only once a year. Don’t repeat workflows or bombard the leads with multiple identical emails.
9. Time Your Email Sequence Wisely
Spamming is a big No-No. But so is flooding your subscribers’ inboxes with excessive messages, even if they are interested. That’s why you have to time your sequence wisely.
First, observe the data and the audience’s behavior. Group subscribers into segments according to the time they take to react to your emails and delay the messages when you need to. It’s better to have your emails DRIP (see what we did there) than flood. Overwhelm them — they’ll boot you and your business out the door.
10. Learn From Your Email Automation History
Whether you’re building on your previous email marketing strategy or you’re in the process of setting up a new one, you should take time to learn from your past automation workflows.
- Who is your audience?
- What emails performed the best?
- What list segments do you need?
- What kind of messaging do they like?
Asking yourself these questions can help you clearly understand your customers and create better performing automated email sequences. Also, never neglect data.
Once you’re ready, set up consistent engagement and performance monitoring, look at the data regularly, update, and determine the best time for regular automated workflow maintenance. This should keep your campaigns healthy and your performance always on top.
11. Use a Powerful Tool to Enhance Your Email Marketing Automation Best Practice
Following these email workflow best practices can help you boost your performance significantly, but you will need to use the right tools to set up your campaigns and supervise their execution.
Our team at Campaign Refinery dedicated years to creating the best email automation software capable of following up with an extremely high volume of emails daily, offering comprehensive insights into campaign performance. We’re big believers in clean email lists and a straightforward approach, while our clients report 2-6x open rates increase since they signed up!
Would you like to see your open rates grow by 600%? Apply to join Campaign Refinery!
We also believe that sharing is caring! So, if you’re unsure about signing up just yet, let us offer you a gift — a resource that helps you enhance your deliverability!
We present to you “The Inbox Formula”, a thorough compilation of best practices, proven techniques and industry secrets to teach you how to bring new life to your email marketing efforts.
We are happy to provide an insight into our beaten path of proven techniques, and it’s up to you to have confidence, follow it, and make your brand shine. Happy emailing!