Four steps for winning the inbox with email automation

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Email automation is a strategy backed by strong metrics. It doesn’t have much of a downside, either, as long as you don’t overcomplicate things.

At face value, email automation almost seems too good to be true. It saves time and effort, increases click rates 152 percent, according to Epsilon, and boosts long-term engagement 33 percent, according to ChiefMarketer. So what’s the catch?

Believe it or not, there really isn’t one – as long as you’re smart about how you implement it. Follow these four steps to optimize your automation strategy, and start seeing the amazing results that marketers keep raving about.

1. Create an irresistible lead magnet

Automation can only be effective if you have a thriving email list feeding it. Let’s face it: People want free stuff, and they’re much more likely to share an email address if they know they’ll get something in return. So give them an offer they can’t refuse.

For a retail site, that could be a discount, while a B2B vendor might offer an e-book full of helpful advice. Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes. What’s something they’ll find really helpful and useful? The answer is your lead magnet.

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2. Build an effective welcome series

Now it’s time to give all of those new subscribers a warm welcome. First impressions are everything, so this is a critical moment for kicking off your brand relationship on the right foot. A welcome series does just that and it doesn’t hurt that welcome emails are 86 percent more effective than standard email newsletters.

Here are five simple steps to build an effective welcome series:

  1. Decide what you want to say. Many marketers wrongly choose the number of emails they want to include in their welcome series before figuring out what they actually want to say. Instead, identify your key messages first.
  2. Create a framework. Now decide how many emails it will take to communicate your key messages and when and how often you’ll send them.
  3. Decide when to merge new subscribers with your main list. Determine when is the right time to add new subscribers to your regular email audience. Plan ahead to segment your list appropriately.
  4. Create and set up the emails. Since new subscribers aren’t yet familiar with your content, make it easy on yourself and repackage your best-performing stuff.
  5. Monitor and adjust. As with any marketing campaign, you should monitor and test your welcome series. Pay particular attention to the timing, subject lines and calls to action, as these elements are quick and easy to test and can make a big difference in your results once you get them right.

3. Continue nurturing your subscribers

Just because your welcome series comes to an end doesn’t mean you should stop delivering the best possible inbox experience. It’s time for your nurturing program to kick into gear. After all, nurtured leads make 47 percent larger purchases than non-nurtured leads, per The Annuitas Group.

Here are a few things to remember with your automated nurturing series:

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  • Don’t assume one email series fits all. Email is personal. And your marketing should be, too. One easy way to personalize your nurturing program is to tailor your series to the lead magnet subscribers used to find you in the first place.
  • Automate for all occasions. Birthdays and anniversaries are fantastic opportunities for well-timed automated emails. Personal messages like these foster all kinds of warm and fuzzy feelings about your brand, and produce some big time results. Then, don’t forget a thank you email whenever someone makes a purchase.
  • Make your unsubscribe process as easy as your sign-up process. No matter how hard you try to win them over, not every subscriber will want to stick around forever. Make it easy to unsubscribe so they leave with good feelings about your brand.

4. Automate and test

When it comes to automation, it’s tempting to set it and forget it. But don’t fall into that all-too-enticing trap! As with all email marketing, you need to pay close attention to your results and make necessary adjustments to your strategy to keep your email performance on the rise. Your subscribers (and your boss) will thank you for it.

Email automation is a force to be reckoned with, but don’t over-complicate the process. By using email automation in smart ways, marketers can bring in new leads, welcome them with an amazing brand experience and nurture them into becoming loyal customers for the long haul.

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