Whether you have a $1,000 or $100,000 marketing budget, you want to get the best return on investment (ROI) possible. But with hundreds of marketing channels to choose from – social networks, pay per click (PPC) campaigns, SEO and content marketing, websites, tradeshows --, it’s difficult to know where to focus your efforts.
You may be surprised to learn that one channel continues to outperform most others, returning an average of $44 for every $1 spent. That channel is good, old-fashioned email!
Read on to learn why automated emails, in particular, are so effective and how you can add them to your marketing mix.
What is Email Automation?
Think of automated email marketing as building a personalized relationship with your various target audiences over time. Your customers and prospects give you their email addresses through one of your regular channels, and you send them emails automatically, based on a schedule or behavioral triggers you define. Like any new relationship, you treat them with respect, building rapport and a mutually beneficial connection.
Unlike one-off or transactional emails, such as auto-generated welcome messages to new blog subscribers or monthly invoices, automated emails are directed to specific audiences to meet particular objectives. They can be used to generate sales leads, nurture existing leads, or upsell current customers to other services.
For instance, you might advertise a free whitepaper on one of your social sites. A prospect clicks the post link which takes them to a web page where they submit their email address to download the whitepaper. Behind the scenes, the prospect becomes enrolled in an automated email campaign based on the parameters you set forth for that behavior (i.e., downloading a whitepaper). Now, perhaps they receive an email every two weeks related to the topic of the whitepaper, culminating in an email with a call to action (CTA) to sign up for a free trial.
Often referred to as “drip” campaigns, automated email campaigns are usually created and distributed through a CRM or email software program. When implemented thoughtfully, automated emails don’t feel like spam, but rather a seamless experience filled with engaging, informative content that guides the prospect on a journey.
The Proof Is in the Numbers
There are countless reasons to invest in an automated email marketing program. Here are just three:
Generates Leads: For businesses in the B2B space, email outperforms all other lead generation channels, including PPC, SEO, and print advertising. A full 62 percent of B2B marketers ranked email as one of their top three lead gen channels, according to the 2017 Chief Marketer study.
Saves Time: Imagine having to manually sort through your email database each time you wanted to send an email only to customers who bought a particular product or service. Or if you had to stop and send a welcome email each time you gained a new subscriber.
Instead, businesses save hundreds of hours in marketing and administrative time and money when they invest in email automation. Now, compelling email content is created just once and sent automatically, freeing up time for marketing staff to work on other priorities.
24/7 Marketing: With event-based triggers or scheduled emails, you can target the right people with the right message at the right time…and not even be present! Just set it up and forget it; the automation does the work. And, when you consider that HubSpot found that more than 50 percent of U.S. respondents check their personal email account more than 10 times a day and that it is by far their preferred way to receive updates from brands, automation becomes a marketing no-brainer.
Identify Your Customer Personas
The key to a good email campaign is personalization. That starts with knowing who your different target audiences are and proactively addressing their needs. Before you embark on creating drip campaigns, create a buyer persona for each of these targets. What is their typical job title? Do they tend to be male or female? What are their ages, education? What problems are they trying to solve, what questions do they have? Once you’ve created a persona for each target (e.g., Small Business Owner Bonnie, Middle Manager Mike, Contractor Carl) you’ll be able to create email content suited to their unique interests.
Define Your Goals & Build Content
Now that you’ve developed your personas, be clear about what it is you want to accomplish with each. Think about where the target is along the buyer’s journey. If they’re new to your business, you don’t want to bombard them with sales pitches. Instead, build content around the needs and the questions they might need answered. If they’ve expressed interest in a specific product, for example, build a five-part drip campaign that educates them about the features of that product. Include customer testimonials, case studies, infographics or video tutorials. Show them how your product stacks up against others’ or invite them to a webinar. Conclude the series with a CTA such as “buy now” or “request a demo”.
Build a Good Database
Building and maintaining a good, clean database of email contacts is key to a successful email automation program. Start with the list you have and grow it over time. Take the time upfront to segment your list out by personas and other distinguishing factors (e.g., by the product(s) they purchased from you, geography, prospect vs customer, etc.).
It may take a while to build a robust database, but there are many ways to gather new email address, including:
Opt-in forms on your website
Social media contests
Tradeshows and events
Blog or newsletter subscriptions
Leveraging content (e.g., webinars, infographics)
Purchased select lists (e.g., newly registered businesses)
Tips for Automated Emails
The writing is on the wall: automated email will continue to play an instrumental role in modern digital marketing. In fact, 73 percent of millennials prefer communications from businesses to come via email.
Here are a few additional pointers to keep in mind.
Segment your subscribers
Define your goals
Develop good content to support your campaigns
Test subject lines, copy and graphics
Monitor email metrics (open rates, click through rates, etc.)
Cross-promote content on social media to build your email list
You don’t have to do everything at once, but you do need to start somewhere.
There are dozens of software programs that send automated emails, ranging from a few dollars a month to thousands of dollars a month. If you’d like the help help getting started from a San Luis Obispo-based marketing agency , please contact me. I’d love to help.