Automation. There’s something almost robotic about that phrase. Does it make you think of kicking-back in your recliner and sipping lemonade while your business runs itself? If that’s your idea of automation…well – I hate to break it to you, but guess again!
Automation is a wonderful and powerful tool in the email marketing world as well. Yes, it can be programmed to run itself. But it takes thought, planning, and effort to get automation working properly. And it takes updates and fresh design to keep it relevant and effective.
What is automation?
Let’s start with a basic example: You are browsing on ABC retailer’s website. A pop-up invites you to join their email list for exclusive savings. You enter your email and sign-up. Five seconds later your phone buzzes with an email notification! Or, perhaps you saw an item you liked, selected it, but when it was time to make the purchase, you left the site. A short time later, you suddenly notice you are being offered a discount for that very product or item.Was someone sitting at ABC retailer headquarters just waiting to send you that welcome email and offer? (Sorry – no.) Instead, they have automation to send a welcome email and offer when you sign-up. And in the coming weeks (in addition to their current newsletters and sales) you might also get emails with a little background about the company, information about best-selling items, and their company policy on shipping, handling, and returns. If you’re a very loyal customer, you might get selected for exclusive offers (that your friend Mary Jane misses because she doesn’t order nearly as much as you). Did Mr. ABC personally select you to help with his survey and get a free shirt? (Again – sorry – no.) It’s called automation.
Don’t panic. Automation can help your company or small business and isn’t quite as scary as it sounds. Here are six things you should know about it:
If you want to add automation to your marketing plan, you need to know your audience. Who are the people and what are considered to be the demographics of your customers, clients, or fans? What are their needs? Why are they following or buying from you?
You may find that 30% of your audience wants to know about your designer shoes while the other 70% just hang around for BOGO on last season’s handbags. (It’s usually not quite that simple, but you get the idea?)
In addition to answering those basic questions, you’ll want to think about how often you should communicate with your email list members? I have unsubscribed (or altered my subscription) from companies that sent me three emails a day. But that might work great with a different age demographic! Know your audience and their needs.
2. Know Your Content
Do you have a master list of all your products or services? How about a content one-sheet of short paragraphs that explain why your company is unique?
You want to know your audience – but you have to know yourself too! What do you/your company have to offer? What are you adding that might be new in the next three months?
Let’s suppose you have an amazing top-notch restaurant…known for it’s amazing cheesecake! When is National Cheesecake Day? Ah…every year you should be sending out an advertisement to remind your diners. And you send one email the week before, and one email two days before, and one email on the actual day. You do this by automation – so you can be in the kitchen or serving your guests that delectable slice of dessert. (Just in case you’re wondering – July 30 is National Cheesecake Day!)
3. Know Your Stats
Remember last month when we talked about building an email list? (Get that rolodex off your desk and turn it into an email list!) We mentioned it was super-important to be able to track who was opening your emails and where they were clicking. This is part of statistics and analytics of marketing.
To prepare a successful automation, you’re going to need to know some details about your audience. Don’t worry – you won’t be a spy or do anything illegal to get this information. It’s simply gained through the tracking built into the emails. What if your custom-made snow jacket company is in Tennessee, but through orders and email stats, you find out that 25% of your buyers are in Alaska? (Which means they’ll be stocking up on winter stuff a lot earlier than your Tennesseans and Texans…) You could prepare some automation that will send some fabulous marketing to those Alaskans just when their weather gets chilly.
Taking audience, content, and stats into consideration, you’ll have to think through your automation strategy. First, know your objectives. (Do you want to increase revenue? Enlist more volunteers? Or send more scientific blog posts?) Second, figure out what you’ll do for automation.
Will it be basic? A welcome email, some special offers, or some product features at strategic times in your customers journey could do the trick.
Or will it be complex? Figuring out special sales or information sends based on gender, region, past buying habits, etc. etc.
5. Know Your Brand
I know we say this a lot at Epiphany Creative Services. It’s so important! Your automation strategy has to support your brand. If it doesn’t, the whole automation idea will flop. How does this strategy build your company, increase sales, boost popularity…or m your brand’s next goal?
Finally – you’ll develop and implement that amazing automation strategy and start sending automated emails – your welcome letter, company information, special offer, best-seller products. Whew! That was some thinking and preparation…so now it’s time to kick-back and relax.
Well…someone (either you or the company that’s handling your automation) will have to keep tabs on that process. Are customers opening the emails? Are they unsubscribing because there are too many emails? How are sales going? What do the stats say?
Is it worth it? Absolutely. Business advisers say automation is the way to go in this digital age. And just think – Mrs. M is going to feel so special when she gets that email that says, “Dear Mrs. M – Free shipping on your next order” and down below are the exact products she was looking at on your website. She is going to think – “Wow! What an amazing company. They sure care about me as a customer.” And…you do!
Now, we’ve only scratched the surface of automation. There’s lots to think about and explore. If you want to take your business to this next level successfully, call Epiphany Creative Services. Our experts are standing-by to talk you through the details, watch the stats for you, and help you develop an amazing automation plan!
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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