While email marketing clearly isn’t a new concept, the technology powering it continues to evolve in new and exciting ways. As the digital age moves forward, so do consumer expectations for personalized marketing content delivered directly to their inboxes. As a result, more and more marketers each day are getting started with email marketing automation to help boost business. Are you ready to get on board?

Email marketing automation makes creating effective, personalized email content possible for even small agencies and companies. This technology is an easy and effective tool to collect leads and communicate with them as they move down the funnel and convert into loyal customers.

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How Does Email Marketing Automation Work?

Email marketing automation works by sending out email messages to your list of subscribers automatically. Effectively getting started with email marketing automation tools will make it possible for you to make and deliver personalized messages based on user behavior. It works by serving content to your database of contacts automatically. There are a few core steps to setting up an effective campaign that will help you realize all the benefits of email automation.

First, carefully consider your buyer journey. What questions do your prospects need answered before they will make a purchase decision? Each message in your automated email campaign should map back to these core decision-making factors.

Next, set up your campaign. Choose an email automation software that lets you schedule messages and automatically trigger new branches of a workflow based on a user’s behavior. For example, if a user clicks on a message in one email but doesn’t make a purchase, they might get sent to another branch of the drip campaign. If a user abandons a shopping cart on your ecommerce site, they might get added to a campaign that will remind them their purchase isn’t final and offer promo codes or discounts.

Once your campaign is set up, you’re ready to capture leads. The best way to do this is by offering a genuinely valuable piece of content or other incentives for opting in to your email list. For example, a B2B customer might get access to an exclusive report that helps them better understand an issue in their industry. A B2C customer might get exclusive access to a free sample or a discount on your products.

Your leads will then be added to your customer relationship management (or CRM) system. This is your database of contacts, which will capture and record each interaction your customer has with your brand’s marketing.

Benefits of Email Automation

Studies show that email is one of the most effective outlets for marketing. In fact, email has an average ROI of $44 for each $1 spent — meaning your investment will work hard for you.

Email marketing is also the ideal method for communicating with your customers, as it’s how many people prefer to receive content. According to Campaign Monitor, about 50% of U.S. email users check their personal inboxes 10 or more times daily. Email lets people get a quick glimpse of what a message is going to be before they open it, letting them take control of the brands they choose to engage with and messages they receive.

One of the core benefits of email automation is the ability to segment your audience and deliver content that is specifically relevant to a buyer’s interests without putting in too much human effort. Because a user is giving you their demographic information and your automation software is tracking their interaction behaviors with your brand, you can get a very clear picture of who is engaging with your content and when in order to serve them more relevant content. In fact, effective audience segmentation can lead to as much as a 760% increase in email revenue!

Email Automation Examples

Email automation can be used to deliver a variety of content types and messages. Here are a few great examples of automated emails for various purposes.

Limited-Time Offers

Recently, food delivery service DoorDash offered 30 days of free delivery for new customers. During those first 30 days, the company sent periodic reminder emails to customers letting them know how much longer they have left to get free delivery. This content exemplifies multiple great functions of email marketing, including personalized content, creating a sense of urgency and leveraging automation rules to pre-schedule email delivery without any human effort — making it one of our favorite examples of good email automation strategy.

Example of DoorDash Email Marketing Automation

Re-engagement

When a customer cancels their service or hasn’t made a purchase in a while, there could be a variety of reasons. While you might not have retained their business on the first go-around, chances are you’ve already invested significant marketing dollars into establishing brand awareness and earning that initial purchase.

Re-engagement emails offer you the opportunity to send special discounts and messages to your former customers, who are already aware of your brand, in an effort to re-earn their dollars. Stitchfix, a clothing subscription box, does a great job of leveraging this sort of offer.

Example of Stitch Fix Email Marketing Automation

Personalized Offers

Starbucks marketing is second to none when it comes to appealing to millennial audiences and their email automation strategy is no exception. They leverage data collected from their loyalty program and app to send out not only personalized email content, but completely unique offers that make coffee ordering fun.

In this example, they offer bonus reward points (“Stars”) to this particular user if they purchase a latte and food item together, incentivizing this customer to come in for breakfast and opt for a hot food item in addition to their usual latte. Starbucks tailors these personalized “Star Dashes” to each customer based on their purchase history, making it one of the best email automation examples out there.

Example of Starbucks Email Marketing Automation

What’s Next in Email Marketing Automation

The real value behind email automation is the ability to work smarter, not harder. As AI, machine learning and predictive analytics become more sophisticated, these technologies will continue to benefit the marketing automation space. Predictions state that AI will account for a 38% rise in profitability by 2035, while 61% of marketers say that AI is now the most important part of their data strategy.

According to a forecasting prediction report published by Litmus, predictive analytics and advanced data analytics will grow in popularity to the extent that the content will be written by machines. 66.1% of those polled in the Litmus survey said they think predictive software, AI and machine learning will play a major role in the production of email content.

The future is bright for those who leverage email marketing automation effectively, and this technology empowers savvy marketers to work smart and focus their efforts on developing content to nurture leads, rather than manually scheduling email deliveries.

Email Marketing Automation Infographic
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Kim Anchors

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