Small business email marketing has come a long way in recent years. As email service providers (ESPs) continue to expand their features, small businesses are gaining access to functionality formerly only available to enterprise-level marketers. With automation, email marketing is an old dog up to some relatively new and exciting tricks that you could be tapping into without breaking the bank.
Rather than simply sending out broadcast emails (a.k.a. “email blasts”) one-by-one, automation tools allow you to streamline and leverage your efforts to get the right messages in front of the right people at the right time.
Instead of blasting out the same emails to everyone on your list, you can decide who gets what, when, and why, and use marketing automation to power your campaigns. It’s like hiring a smart and efficient marketing assistant to work on your behalf around the clock. But instead of replacing the job of a savvy marketer, email marketing automation frees up your time, provides valuable data, and can make every marketing action you take in your business even more effective.
The purpose of email marketing automation is to nurture prospects with highly personalized content by segmenting subscribers and triggering emails based on preferences, clicks, purchases, timing, and other behavior. When done effectively, automating your email marketing helps convert prospects into paying customers and turn customers into happy buyers that return again and again and spread the word about your products and services.
At email marketing’s most basic level, you might ask website visitors to subscribe to your newsletter. They sign up, get a thank you message, and then start receiving a weekly or monthly email from you, plus occasional promotional content. You might think this is old-school, but keeping in regular communication with your customers and prospects with a well-crafted newsletter is a time-tested approach that still drives revenue and it’s a great way to start.
But automation takes your email marketing to the next level and can deliver even greater ROI.
Here’s an example of how to use email marketing automation for beginners:
1. Create a free lead magnet, such as a special report or e-book that provides content your target prospects would be eager to get.
2. Drive traffic to the offer, either through your website, by promoting a landing page, or emailing your existing subscriber list.
3. When subscribers opt-in for the lead magnet, send them an automated welcome email with a link to the download.
4. Now the subscribers who signed up to receive the lead magnet belong to a special segment of subscribers who have expressed interest in X topic.
5. At this point, you can start making a number of different decisions about what you’d like to happen next.
You might want to re-send the welcome email to people who didn’t open the first time. You might choose to send a sequence of follow-up emails to everyone who requested the lead magnet. Or you may decide to send follow-up emails only to people who clicked the download link.
6. Next, you can begin to send targeted messages based on the individual subscriber’s behavior.
For example, if you’re a therapist and a subscriber just signed up for your guide on how to have a happier marriage, you wouldn’t want to send them an email the next day on how to cope with grief after the death of a parent. Sure, the two topics can be related in some cases, but it would be better to send them an article on how to improve communication in a marriage, followed by a checklist on how to know when it’s time for couples counseling, followed by an invitation to purchase your book or book an appointment with you.
7. Depending on your business model, you can continue to build out automated funnels and campaigns to nurture sales and grow your revenue. For example, if someone signs up for a webinar where you’re going to make a sales pitch, you can send a series of automated emails reminding them when to show up and follow-up messages selling what you pitched.
If someone books an appointment with you, you can send automated emails telling them how to prepare, what to bring, and what to expect, making them feel valued and taken care of from the start.
If someone buys your product, you can send follow up with emails telling them how to get the best use out of their purchase or encouraging them to write a review online. The possibilities are practically endless.
From the prospect or buyer’s perspective, effective email marketing automation feels like personalized service, tailored exactly to meet their needs and desires, rather than unwelcome spammy junk mail. In most cases, of course they recognize the message is automated, but it still demonstrates that you’re considerate enough to communicate with them in a way that feels purposeful and relevant.
Depending on your needs, small business owners can choose from a number of ESPs and CRM marketing automation tools, such as MailChimp, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, or Infusionsoft. But no matter the tool, it’s important to first think through your strategy and integrate your automation efforts with your overall marketing efforts.
Want help getting started with email marketing automation? Give the team at Solamar a shout and we’ll help you develop and implement a strategy that delivers results.