How to Work Smarter – Not Harder – With Email Marketing Automation

It’s no secret that email marketing can help you reach your audience effectively with relevant content that helps drive your business goals. But how can you do this at scale while maintaining an engaging and deeply personalized experience? The answer is email marketing automation.   

With an email marketing automation strategy, you can create campaigns that run on their own, are highly tailored to individual email recipients and deliver compelling content in a steady sequence. And while you should never give the “set it and forget it” treatment to automated campaigns, the benefit is that, after you complete the initial setup, your campaign will trigger email sends automatically to engage contacts at the right time as they move through the buyer journey. In other words, these campaigns are a direct departure from manual, one-size-fits-all email marketing campaigns that tend to take a significant amount of time and energy to run. (Remember, work smarter – not harder.) 

While creating certain automated campaigns can be relatively straightforward, there is no shortage of automated campaigns you can run. It can be overwhelming if you’re just starting out, and that’s why you must determine where you stand today to nail down the best approach for your brand.  

Ask these six questions to evaluate your situation: 

  1. Why are you doing this, and how does this play into supporting business goals? Be sure you have a defined purpose and role for your automated email program. If your program is meant to primarily support lead nurture, for example, your approach needs to be very different thanif you are driving purchases.  
  2. What does your tech stack look like, and will you be integrating them with your email platform? Integrating your various marketing technology platforms can be a big undertaking. However, when done strategically and effectively, these integrations have the potential to bring untapped power to your emails.  
  3. What audiences do you plan to reach, and how might you segment them?  Think about whether you want to reach all of your target audiences or if you want to narrow your focus to a prioritized few. From there, consider the segments you want to reach within those target audiences. Marketers who use segmented campaigns — including by demographics, geography or email engagement, for example — see as much as a 7x increase in revenue.   
  4. What data is available to you? How clean is it, and how granular does it get? Once you’ve determined your audience and segmentation strategy, you can use any additional data available to further automate personalization and strengthen your efforts. For example, readers are 26% more likely to open emails with personalized subject lines that include details relevant to them. However, clean and correct data is crucial for success. 
  5. What content already exists and how much more can you create over time? Consider how much content you already have in your library and what is relevant to use today. Going forward, if you can build content simultaneously with your email campaigns, you’ll be able to stretch farther than if you’re unable to develop new content.  
  6. What operational factors are at play? Take an honest look at the budget, bandwidth and other resources available to stand up your email program. Be realistic about what is practical to execute and gain understanding of where you can stretch, if needed.  

After you’ve answered these questions, you’ll want to consider 2 categories of automated emails you could run: event-based or nurture-based.  

  • Event-based campaigns are triggered by certain actions. They tend to be one-time, short-lived campaigns. With these campaigns, you can get by without a large library of content. These emails can be great for consumer brands, for instance, to boost customer loyalty and referrals. Birthday and customer anniversary emails fall into this category. 
  • Nurture-based campaigns deliver a series of emails on a schedule with the goal of converting to a purchase. Since you’re steadily providing content through a sequence of emails, you’ll need to ensure you have enough material to work with. These emails are a common tactic applied in the B2B space, where the sales cycle tends to be longer.  

So, what should you activate? Think of it on a sliding scale: On the simpler side, you might have a few event-based campaigns like birthday or anniversary emails and can get by with a smaller content library. On the more complex side, you could have many nurture-based campaigns that rely on a large content library and are triggered by events like a contact form submission. You could also opt to land somewhere in between, with a mix of event and nurture campaigns. 

The bottom line is that there is an email automation approach for any business, but it will look different for everyone. Choosing what is “just right” for you and your goals will set you on the correct path. And lastly, rely on your email engagement stats to tell you when something is working – and when it isn’t. The real-time feedback of email marketing is another one of its greatest perks. 

If you want to explore an email marketing automation strategy for your company, the experts on our Digital Team can help determine the right approach for you.