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  • What is email automation?
  • How can I use it to help my business?
  • How does it help my customers stay interested and engaged?

Email automation is like a large party where everyone is mingling and getting to know each other.

Imagine you’re at the party. Which guest, will people want to hang out with the most?

  • The person who can only say “Hi” or “Goodbye”
  • The guy who repeats the exact same story to everyone.
  • The great conversationalist who talks about things people are interested in. (This person understands his audience and how to capture their attention)

Your marketing emails should be like a chat with that great conversationalist: flowing, engaging, and relevant to the people involved.

But instead of the guests at one party, you might have thousands of customers – each with different interests and needs.

On top of that, you probably want to talk to all these customers over an extended amount of time. How can you possibly handle it all? Email Automation.

Email automation happens when you set up a series of programmed, timely emails that are triggered by certain customer actions. Sometimes it’s called drip marketing.

It can help you turn potential customers into actual ones, keep your current customers active, and get former customers to be all up in your business again.

But Rahighi, you ask (or don’t ask, but bear with me), is it really possible to send unique messages to certain customers without writing to each and every single customer myself?

Let’s check out how Custom Service Hardware (CSH) did it. They’re an online retailer that sells supplies to people remodelling their homes.

CSH noticed a lot of customers abandoned their online shopping carts before hitting “purchase,” so they used email automation to turn these lapsed customers into active ones.

If customers abandoned their cart for over an hour, CSH emailed them and offered to help complete the order – along with a 5% discount that expires in 7 days.

If they didn’t act after the 1st email, they’d get another 7 days later that reminded them the coupon was expiring. CSH also asked if they had any questions, which put the customers first.

This email automation campaign ended up being a great success for CSH. Let’s check out how customers responded to the initial email that had the 5% discount code and the follow-up email a week later.

Here’s how the 1st email did:

  • Open Rate: – 58.7% of customers opened it.
  • Click-Through Rate: – of those customers, 37% then clicked through to their shopping carts.
  • Purchases: – 36.6% of those who clicked through then bought the products in their carts.

Here’s how the 2nd email did:

  • Open Rate: – 40.9% of customers opened it.
  • Click-Through Rate: – of those customers, 22.2% then clicked through to their shopping carts.
  • Purchases: – 100% of those who clicked through then bought the products in their carts.

Listen up: Just like Custom Service Hardware focused on re-engaging lapsed customers, it’s important that you figure out what your goal is and how to reach it before you start email automation.

Reaching your email automation goal works like this: The customer takes an action. The action triggers emails (called an email flow). Each email is sent at a certain cadence. These emails help you reach your goal. Let’s explore this by looking at some common goals.

The first popular goal is onboarding, or teaching customers how to use your product or service.

The trigger for that goal is customers visiting your site, app, or store and signing up for your emails or making a purchase.

Here’s a possible onboarding email flow: The customer buys one of your products and an hour late they get your welcome email. Over the next few days, they’ll receive your “how my product works” email.

Another goal is engagement, or encouraging customers to interact with your products or business even more.

The trigger is when customers try some of your features or services on your app or site, but not others.

You can set up email automation flow like this: Every few weeks, those customers will get an email encouraging them to engage with your business (by taking a specific action of your choice).

Every month, your newsletter will be emailed to them. And periodically, they’ll receive emails about your new features or products you’re launching, and/or tips and tricks.

Retention – or getting customers to stay loyal and keep coming back – is also a common goal.

For this goal, you can use different triggers and email flows. For example, let’s say the trigger is a customer making their first purchase. Two days later, they’ll receive an email asking for feedback.

If a customer makes more purchases, that’s also a trigger. A day later they can get an email with related products they might like.

You might also consider re-engagement as a goal. It’s getting a user who’s stopped using your product to start using it again.

The trigger is when customers forget about you and have stopped participating completely. For example, let’s say they haven’t visited your site or used your app in a while.

For a set time period, you can have them receive emails every 7 days. The 1st can be a ‘we miss you’ email. The 2nd, a “what you’re missing out on” message. Finally, they’ll be sent a discount or promotion.

Tip: Your email flows shouldn’t overwhelm or annoy people. Also, let people opt-in and out of your emails.

References: Google Webmasters, Think With Google, Google Primer

Mohammad Rahighi

Mohammad Rahighi

Designer and Project Manager who loves crafting big ideas and is passionate about designing meaningful experiences that can influence positive change and help make the world a better place.

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