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Survey Says: Automated Emails Outperform Manual Counterparts

  |  July 16, 2014   |  Comments

A new study shows that automated email messages achieve higher open and click-through rates than their manual counterparts. With that in mind, it's time for all marketing teams to employ an automated approach.

As the digital marketing landscape evolves, so does email's role in the marketing department. Marketing channels are no longer siloed - they must all work together to bring customers and prospects the most relevant information, when and where they are most likely to take the next step in the buying cycle. Marketing automation technology is the key to success in this area, and marketers are definitely starting to take note.

According to data from Silverpop's annual email marketing metrics benchmark study - which examines messages sent by more than 3,000 brands across industries and geographies in 2013 - automated messages achieved an open rate nearly 15 percent higher and click-through rate nearly 79 percent higher than their manual counterparts, indicating today's buyers are most likely to engage with individualized messages delivered when it's most relevant to them. These results highlight that it's time for all kinds of marketing teams to employ a more automated approach!

In years past, marketing was much more straightforward - a company's website was the central point of demand generation and marketers cast a wide net of emails to the database to increase engagement and revenue. Fortunately, the advent of sophisticated marketing automation technologies has made the transition to truly one-to-one customer and prospect interactions easier for marketing departments of all sizes. Whether you're just getting started with marketing automation, or fully up and running, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of the technology:


Marketing automation can result in confusion, and a wasted investment, if you don't have a strategic vision and a set of goals around how the technology will work with and affect your overall marketing strategy. When discussing your approach, make sure you have executive buy-in. To do this, start at the top - include your chief marketing officer (CMO) (or the highest ranking marketing leader) - and brief them so they understand that using marketing automation and data to change Web and email content is not only possible, but will greatly improve the customer and prospect experience. Remember, in conversations with the C-suite, numbers speak volumes, so be sure to information on how these changes will positively affect your company's bottom line.

You'll also want to evaluate the way you currently manage leads, including scoring and nurturing approaches. Remember to put the customer first, thinking how you can tailor your messages to deliver what benefits them the most. Don't forget to determine how you'll measure your success. Establish key metrics and benchmarks you want to achieve, and make sure your marketing objectives are in line with the overall company goals.


More savvy buyers and advances in marketing technology have both changed how marketing departments are configured and how the group interacts with other departments within the company. In this new marketing department, you'll want a team of creative thinkers and systems-thinking experts who together can leverage technology to drive marketing efficiency and return on investment (ROI). Consider having teams with the following responsibilities: demand generation, product marketing, marketing communications, and marketing operations. Also consider how more sophisticated marketing technology will affect other departments, including sales, product development, and IT. Don't forget to keep an open and honest dialogue with these other teams - alignment requires buy-in from everyone in the company.


Marketing automation helps you drive incredibly relevant and targeted content, but only if the data you have on your contacts is strong. If you don't have great data on your customers and prospects, you become much more limited in how you'll be able to deploy automation technology. Consider every way your customers interact with you - whether it's on the Web, on a social channel, on a mobile app, or within an email - and how you can capture and integrate these behaviors into your marketing efforts. In some cases, a third party might be able to help you augment your databases and fast path your way to more comprehensive information on your targets.

Remember to take every step in a digestible bite - if you try to change all of your processes at once, you'll overwhelm yourself. Think about your business goals, and what changes you can make to your marketing objectives, to help meet those goals. Once stakeholders outside of the marketing organization see the awesome results automation drives, it won't be hard to get everyone on board!

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Ellen Valentine

Ellen Valentine has more than 20 years of experience as vice president of marketing/CMO for a number of technology companies. She has deep expertise in launching new products, evaluating product and market positions, designing go-to-market strategy, and managing all digital marketing initiatives. She believes that great people and effective technology are foundations for success, but great execution is the ultimate differentiator.

In her role at Silverpop, an IBM company, she's focused on coaching and mentoring Silverpop clients to adapt and thrive in marketing's changing role. She's also a sought-out speaker at industry conferences and events.

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