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Is Email Automation the 2019 Buzz Phrase You Forgot to Care About? The Ultimate Guide for 2020

If there’s one thing people love its finding useful shortcuts. Workflow shortcuts not only boost efficiency but also take a lot of the headaches out of some of the more mundane tasks  - such as email marketing.

One of the best workflow improvements you can implement if you’re involved in email marketing is email automation. You may have heard the term a lot in 2019 but never had the time to follow up on whether it was a passing fad or a must have for your business. But it's a new year now and you have a new opportunity to see how task automation can improve your workflow so let's explore exactly what email automation is and why it can significantly boost your productivity.

Why email automation matters

When people think of email automation they initially often assume this means mass email actions such as email newsletters or wide scale campaigns where you send essentially the same email to many thousands of people at once. In reality, email automation is far more intelligent than this. It involves setting up an automated campaign once, which is then carried out as individual customers meet certain conditions.

The simplest example of this is a welcome email when someone signs up for an account via your company website. The email welcomes them aboard, provides any key details they might need, and then provides links to other important information or promotional offers to encourage a first purchase. If you had to manually send out emails to everyone that opened an account, this could take many hundreds of hours. With email automation, once the initial setup is complete, it takes no time at all.

5 steps to automation success

There are five easy steps you can take to start taking advantage of the time saving and ongoing benefits that email automation can provide:

Step 1 - Plan

You might be surprised to learn that despite its benefits to many businesses, email automation isn’t for everyone. For it to be valuable, you need to understand why email automation might work for your business, know your target audience well, and know why you’re targeting that audience with your product or service. You also need to really understand why and when to set the trigger points. If you’re not sending out emails at the right time, your customers will find them intrusive rather than well timed.

Step 2 - Find the right automation software

There are many great email automation platforms available including Hubspot, Active Campaign, MailChimp, Salesforce and Pardot. Each of these platforms offers a tiered subscription based SaaS model, comprising a free, mid tier or enterprise level offering. So look into the features and benefits of each to see which is best suited to the size and future scaling plans of your business.

It’s often a great idea to start with the free tier so you can get a feel for the platform and if it’s the right one for your business and then switch to a paid plan once you’re familiar and happy with it.  

Step 3 - Set up your workflow

Now is the time to implement the plan you created. This involves writing the targeted emails and setting up the triggers. As well as your initial welcome emails for new signups, you should set triggers for reengagement emails after a period of inactivity or a lack of engagement. For any subscribers you have, you can also set up subscription renewal reminder when there is only one month left on their subscription. Crucially, this step is also about setting up the right metrics so that you can track and measure the success of your email automation campaign.

Step 4 - Measure your results

It is all well and good to set up an automated email campaign but without measuring the results you can never really know how worthwhile the exercise has been or whether you should continue using the strategy in the future. Work out whether opens of click throughs are painting the right picture. And be sure to interpret the results with your target audience in mind. Are you getting interest from the people you really want to be interested? Are the conversions justifying the time required to plan and implement the campaign?

Step 5 - Modify your plan

Despite it seeming to be a “set and forget” type of strategy, It’s important to view email automation as an iterative rather than one-off process. Adjust your plan based on the real results you see. Do you need more A/B testing? Are your headlines not generating opens? Is your click-through rate poor? Then work out why and make the necessary modifications to your next campaign so that each one is more effective than the last.

This can be made easier by integrating your email automation results with analytics providers such as free Google Analytics or similar platforms. Once you know what a really successful campaign looks like, you can keep refining the process until your email marketing becomes a crucial ingredient in the long term growth and success of your business.

Automate your way to success

While email automation isn’t for every business, when done properly it can be a game changer. The key to success is viewing it as an ongoing work in progress, where you’re always looking to learn more about your own customers and your business with each campaign. Try and discover insights from each campaign’s successes and shortcomings and look at which of your customers you’re connecting with, where you’re getting the most traction, as well as looking at customer revenue.

Working with a partner like FinXL can help you make the most of email automation’s many opportunities. Get in touch with FinXL today.