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Eight Ways to Optimize Your Email Marketing Automation

Email automation

Automation isn’t all about gleaming robots on factory floors. You’ll have heard about some of the stunning email automation solutions out there right now – there’s some amazing stuff on offer. If you haven’t already, it’s well worth automating at least part of your emailing process.

Here’s a couple of reasons why:

Sounds good, right? And it is! But, you do have to put some work at your end as well! It’s not good enough to just plug in some automated software and sit back. To really make the most of your new ‘bot help, you need to optimize. Here’s how:

1. Strategy, strategy, strategy

According to a recent Ascend2 survey, 64% of marketing professionals consider an overarching strategy to be THE most important aspect of any campaign. So don’t even go near your email automation program before you’ve done some serious strategic thinking.

At the early stages of your email campaign, think about:

2. Use your data properly

Automation is data-driven. Your ‘bot’ will use data types as triggers for launching new actions. So, you need to work out the ‘triggers’ most relevant for your campaign and your customers, and direct your automation to the appropriate ‘reaction’. For example, a sign-up may trigger an automated welcome email, or a period of absence could trigger a re-engagement email.

Depending on how tightly you’ve segmented your audience, the beauty of an automated system is that it can juggle multiple customer paths with many different ‘reactions’ to data triggers at once and with ease. Take full advantage of this stupendous multi-tasking skill – it’s not only very handy, but it also saves your team a lot of headaches!

However, to really benefit from this, you need to be feeding your automation the right data in the right way. As part of your initial strategy, you should be doing some deep data diving. You must line up the data you have (or will have) with customer email templates, reactions, and so on.


 3. Test subject lines

Many email automation services give you the option of sending the same email out twice, with different subject lines. This is a clever (and very useful) little trick, as it allows you to see at a glance, which subject line is performing better with each of your customer segments.

Like the common cold, customer interest in subject styles mutates and evolves constantly. As soon as marketers find something that seems to work, customers get bored with it and lose interest. So, keeping up to speed with the ever-changing interests of your customers is vital.

Think about:

4. Consider accessibility

2019 is the year for expanding our frame of reference. The advent of voice technologies like Siri and Alexa means that we’re going to be able to reach audiences we’ve never really considered before – and that’s a really good thing. Accessible and format-friendly emails are going to be what cracks the market in the near future.

So, we need to consider optimizing our content for a far wider variety of platforms than we’ve ever done previously. If your content is going to not only be seen but also read out, you need to think about crafting content that works in both formats.


5. Create more opt-in opportunities

Data is still the king, even in this post-GDPR world. Now that people have to opt-in to receive our emails, we need to encourage people to entrust us with their valuable data. There’s a lot to be written on this subject, and we could go deep into the psychology of the customer/brand relationship – but, sticking purely with emails, one thing sticks out: more opt-in opportunities.

Increasing opportunity is a surprisingly effective way of increasing engagement. Make sure your opt-ins are:

Trust is paramount, and customers won’t trust you if you’re not being utterly above board with what you’re asking for and why you’re asking for it.

6. Nail down your sales paths

Sales paths are the route your customer takes along their journey. If you’ve done the customer analysis part of your overall strategizing correctly, you should have a good idea of each customer segment’s needs, interests, and paths to conversion.

This is where you line up your customer journey with your data triggers. Using what you know about your segments and how they behave creates an email-led sales path to nurture your customers through each stage in their journey to your mutual goals (and beyond).

Automation is great at dripping out nudges and prompts in response to various customer actions (or inactions).

However, a couple of words of caution:

7. Synchronize your landing pages

According to a study by Marketo, a whopping 96% of consumers who click through to your website aren’t ready to buy. So it’s vital that your landing pages are continuing the work begun with your email. If your email extends a promise, your landing page needs to fulfill that promise.

It’s astonishingly common for emails and their landing pages to be vastly different, both in style and in content. Sometimes, this is because teams are working in silos and lines of communication are not effective enough. Whatever the reason, however, a landing page, which is jarringly out of sync with the email linked to it, is a roadblock in your customer’s path to purchase.

Your emails and landing pages should have a similar look and tone. The copy on the landing page should feel like a natural next step on the customer’s path to purchase. If you aren’t sure how to synchronize with the people working on your website – well, that’s a sign that you’ve got a silo problem. Open up your internal communications, and build multi-team marketing into your overall strategy.

8. Don’t get complacent

Automation is fantastic – but it is not (nor is it designed to be) a replacement for human marketers. Its job is to take on mundane and time-consuming tasks like firing off email batches at specific times, collecting data, parsing contact lists and so on. Their job is not to respond strategically to campaign challenges, to create an engaging copy, or to engage on a human level with your customers.

Automation is a tool, and it will do what you tell it to. You and your team are the ones who are ultimately responsible for what your automation does and how it does it. Don’t sit back and assume that the bot has everything covered, because it has not. But do thank it for freeing up your valuable time.

Remember – email does not operate in a vacuum

Automation has the potential to do amazing things for us – email marketers. And it will only get better from here. If you’re savvy about the data you feed, keep your site and emails well synced, study your purchasing paths and understand your customers inside out, automated email marketing can wing you towards your goals in no time.

However, automation is not a substitute for human strategizing and creativity. Always keep your customer’s experience in mind. Remember, your emails are not the only thing they are receiving, and emails are not the only notifications they’re hit with. Increasingly, consumers are voicing annoyance at the volume of marketing emails they receive and growing to loathe their phone notifications. Email does not operate in a vacuum – it’s one part of a screen, which grows more crowded with each passing year. A common mistake is for brands to give the automation tool free reign, resulting in the tool bombarding customers with emails and notifications at every single data trigger. Not a great UX. Your automation can’t see or empathize with this wider customer context in the way that you can.

Automation is a fantastic tool – but, like data, graphics, and fonts – it is just a tool. Don’t let it replace human marketing ingenuity!

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