Email marketing automation can be the competitive edge your company needs to attract new customers, retain existing and build a loyal following. However, creating automated emails isn’t as easy as it sounds. Done well and your customers receive personalised messages, feel looked after and interact with your brand positively. Done poorly, and your customers will hit “unsubscribe” before they’ve even read the first email. If you’re taking the plunge and creating email marketing automation, you’ll want to make sure you understand the ins-and-outs of the customer journey. Read further to discover more!
What is email marketing automation?
Email automation is the process of creating emails that automatically send out to customers when they have completed an action.
For example, if you visit an online retail shop and add an item to cart you might find in your inbox a reminder of the item you had just added to your cart but never purchased. Another example might be you’ve just signed up to the business’ loyalty program and you receive a welcome email. These automated emails aim to encourage customers to revisit the store, make more purchases and/or answer any questions the customer may have.
Automated emails are a great tool for businesses, allowing workers to take repetitive tasks off their to-do list yet still nurture communication with customers.
Email marketing done well: Pinjarra Bakery
Pinjarra Bakery is one company that we personally work with that we see first hand redeem impressive ROI with their email strategy. The secret ingredients are their authentic voice, personalised campaigns with customer segmentation and purposeful content that gets their customers engaged. When you receive an email from PB, as the reader you can tell the business genuinely cares.
Email marketing done bad: Dear [FIRST_NAME]
The downfall with email automation is, well, that it’s automated! So, the emails rely on the predefined code to send out a personalised message. When there’s an issue with the code, what may have been a personlised message is now replaced with a robotic code that feels nothing but impersonal.
Customer relationship management
Before you begin setting up email automation, it’s crucial you understand your customers and how they interact with your brand. Quickly setting up email automation isn’t going to guarantee results. In fact, doing a quick and dirty job can detract customers. Effective email automation involves identifying your customer base, understanding audience data and using this information to talk to your customers in a meaningful way.
Engaging with customers effectively is key to achieving continued sales and business growth. However, successful customer relationship management (CRM) is no easy feat! CRM involves detailed coordination of the entire customer journey through the established model of lifecycle marketing.
5 Stages In Lifecycle Marketing
Lifecycle marketing considers a customer from the initial point of contact with the customer, through the evaluation process as well as long after the customer has completed a purchase. This provides a valuable map to form your email marketing strategy, highlighting the essential checkpoints to engage with your customers.
There are 5 main stages in lifecycle marketing that summarise the customer journey. Although these stages aren’t always linear (for example, a customer might make a purchase at step 1 and not at step 4), the core of the stages still applies.
Step 1: Awareness
It’s impossible to increase sales without attracting new customers with an effective awareness campaign. Awareness can vary from social media advertising, PR campaigns, print and billboard advertising, connecting with promoters, launch events and so on. This step is crucial in effectively communicating your brand to attract and impress customers. For this step, first impressions are everything.
For email marketing, awareness involves acquiring the customer’s contact information (name, email, phone, birthday etc.) and sending a thoughtful email to welcome them to the brand. The welcome email can include information on how to use the product/service, the unique selling proposition (USP) of the item/s as well as special discount codes for the customer.
An example of an effective welcome email is from Hello Fresh who entices customers to sign up to their database by providing “Get up to $140 off your first 4 boxes!” when the customer provides their details. It’s a deal too good to refuse.
It’s important to note that Hello Fresh’s monetary incentive doesn’t work for all businesses. Ensure you choose incentives that reflect the brand strategy.
Step 2: Engagement
Here is where the customer is already aware of your business and is considering making a purchase. Customers might be browsing your online shop and/or adding items to their cart however, haven’t yet made that final purchase. This is a critical step for businesses that involves connecting with the customer to ensure the customer chooses your offerings over a competitor’s.
Whilst customers are um-ing and uh-ering about their shopping cart, it’s essential for businesses to roll up their sleeves and ensure their marketing strategy is executed perfectly to obtain that purchase.
During this engagement stage, email marketing can act as a way of reminding the customer of the wonderful products sitting in their abandoned online cart, of the USPs of your offerings, and why they chose your brand to begin with. Considering 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned, this is the business’ opportunity to stand out.
A good example of engagement emails is from the Australian toilet paper supplier Who Gives A Crap. The business ensures to wait 2-3 days to remind the customer of the shopping cart they abandoned. They will also then send out a follow up email to share with the business’ special achievements such as donating 50% of their profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world, as well as the quirky competitions they put together.
Step 3: Conversion
The step that makes it all worth it—the purchase!
Now that the customer has come back to their shopping cart, businesses need to have a think about what other information they can provide to the customer to personalise the experience. Is the pricing and product information clear? Are there complimentary products they might be interested in? Are there customer testimonials the business can provide?
Once the customer has responded positively to your marketing efforts and has clicked that magical button “place order,” keep in mind that this is not the end of the customer lifecycle!
Be sure to send order notifications, thank you emails, support information and follow-up product recommendation emails. Hello Fresh takes their thank you emails to the next level by offering customers extra discounts for not only the customer, but their friends too!
Step 4: Retention
Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer. Thus, increasing the business’ customer retention strategy can see a great increase in profits. One of the most effective tools to achieve this is through customer relationship management via email marketing.
Email marketing retention strategies can vary from keeping your customers updated on changes within the business, brand achievements, customer testimonials, seasonal promotions and new product launches.
For example, the Australian company SheCodes, which focuses on teaching women how to code, prioritises sharing customer “success stories” and how SheCodes has helped the customer advance in their career. These stories are relatable, inspiring and sell SheCode’s products through a case study, planting the thought in their customers—“this could be me.” Through these stories, customers are informed of the latest workshops and what the next course is for their journey.
Step 5: Loyalty
Have you ever heard someone say they’re a “Mac person” or an “Android only kind-a-guy”? This is brand loyalty at its best and it’s every marketer’s goal.
An effective tool to keep your customers loyal is by creating a tiered loyalty program. As customers spend more, they achieve more points, they move their way up the tiers and unlock more benefits.Tiered loyalty programs allow businesses to gamify purchasing behaviour, incentivising customers to interact more with the brand and buy more.
Other examples could be, celebrating the anniversary of a customer’s subscription, gifting them a present on their birthday or simply reminding them how important they are to the business. Customers want to feel prioritised and not simply another number in the database. Plus, everyone enjoys a freebie.
How to set up email automation
Now that you understand the 5 stages in lifecycle marketing, it’s time to set up your automated emails for each stage!
Before you begin, we recommend sitting down with your marketing team and defining an intricate strategy to make sure your email marketing aligns with the brand and your company goals. There’s a fine line between communicating effectively to your customer base and simply annoying them! Brainstorm with your team to define who your customers are, what they want to receive and how the business can offer your audience more incentive to engage and shop.
Depending on the platform you use—MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, Zoho, Marsello etc. will determine the step-by-step process of setting up automated emails. We recommend referring to the specific website and reading through their resources to guide you through the process.
If you have any troubles, reach out to our team at Cloud Cartel! When it comes to building an effective email marketing strategy—we’re experts. From the initial brainstorming, to integrating incentives through your website/software, to the implementation and management of your email automation—we’re here to ensure you see results.