Since 84% of marketers describing their marketing automation strategy as at least somewhat successful, small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) can no longer afford to ignore this strategy. Email is a great place for them to start and here are four reasons why:
1. Email has the highest ROI of any digital marketing channel
It’s not the new kid on the block, but email is still the most productive digital marketing channel. According to Campaign Monitor’s 2016 Annual Email Marketing Report, every dollar invested in email marketing last year generated a $44 ROI, up from a $38 ROI in 2015.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that SMB marketers can simply send out more emails and expect sales to skyrocket. In fact, companies that send too many emails, or emails that aren’t seen as relevant or useful, are likely to see their email investments underperform or languish.
That highlights the increasing importance of email automation. It helps SMBs send the right emails to customers at the right times.
2. It’s not all about one-off campaigns
For many SMBs, email marketing is a campaign-centric activity. A mom and pop retailer, for instance, sends out a promotional email to customers when it has a sale. A local nightclub sends out a monthly newsletter advertising upcoming events. A small manufacturer sends out an email to announce the availability of a new product. And so on and so forth.
While such one-off campaigns can be highly effective, they only scratch the surface of what’s possible using email.
Campaign-centric email marketing largely fails to acknowledge the concept of the customer journey: the total ongoing experience a customer has as she interacts with the business across channels. Those campaigns address the SMB’s needs, such as marketing a sale or promoting an event, rather than those of customers.
Email automation gives marketers the opportunity to not only address those needs, but influence the customer journey as a result.
For example, when a customer joins a mailing list, the SMB has the opportunity to start an onboarding or eduction process. These can be implemented as an automated series of emails, sometimes referred to as a “drip” campaign, that aim to engage the customer and guide them to take specific actions.
3. SMBs can also use email automation to engage with customers after certain events
- First purchase: A first purchase is a key customer milestone and businesses can respond by thanking them and/or offering a discount on their second purchase.
- Multiple views of a specific product: If a customer views a product multiple times, it is often a strong indicator of interest. It can be followed up with an email containing product highlights that might nudge them to make a purchase, or even an incentive, like as a limited-time coupon.
- Specific product purchase: Some products have complementary products that their purchasers might have reason to consider. Through email automation, it’s possible to generate product-specific emails that aim to cross-sell or upsell.
- Cart abandonment: Cart abandonment can be a drain on businesses of all shapes and sizes, but it can hit SMBs hardest because many aren’t even paying attention to it. With email automation, SMBs can engage customers who have abandoned a cart and incentivizing them to complete the purchase.
4. Email automation no longer has to break the bank
Years ago, marketing automation was largely the domain of large enterprises, many of which the average SMBs can’t afford.
But today, there are numerous vendors that offer more affordable email automation tools. These vendors include GetResponse, InfusionSoft, MailChimp, Autopilot, ActiveCampaign, SharpSpring, Leadsius, SalesAutopilot and Nurture.
Some bundle a variety of other features, such as analytics and CRM, into their platforms. Others focus more heavily on email. Additionally, some specialize in the needs of B2B or B2C companies specifically, giving SMBs plenty of options.
5. Many automation platforms can plug in to popular ecommerce and publishing applications
SMBs often have limited technical resources, making implementation of marketing automation more challenging. Recognizing this, many of the aforementioned vendors’ platforms plug in to popular software applications that SMBs use.
GetResponse has more than a dozen integrations with CRM solutions such as Salesforce, Zoho, Highrise and Zendesk. Mailchimp integrates with ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce.
Thanks to these integrations, SMBs can avoid having to develop custom software to connect their websites and other platforms to their marketing automation vendors’ platform by selecting a marketing automation vendor that supports the CRM, CMS and ecommerce platforms they’re using.