Digital marketing has irrevocably changed the way organizations engage and interact with their customers. Additionally, a whole variety of digital marketing channels has emerged and established itself, promising successful business promotion. Yet, a positive result is achievable only when there is a well-structured marketing strategy, under which these channels are made smart use of. Email marketing automation software is exactly what affords you this opportunity not to waste your marketing efforts, think and act strategically, obtaining the best possible results.
What is automated email marketing?
Automation technologies are truly opening up a window of opportunity and email marketing is one of the most promising application areas for them. As a technology that makes it simple to send messages to recipients on-demand, automation has the potential to drive your business processes' overall improvement. Though you are absolutely free to take your time and send emails one by one or address impersonalized newsletters to a bunch of people as part of a one-off campaign, this is not efficient at all.
Alternatively, you can save your time and let the special service automate the tedious job. In order to get a better understanding of how email marketing automation software works, we should address the key concepts. First of all, there must oftentimes be a specific trigger for an automated message. It is an event that prompts the service to send a letter or an action that a potential receiver takes, thus triggering the system and qualifying himself or herself to receive your automated email.
Another important component is the workflow. An email workflow is, in itself, the subject of automation. It incorporates the email automation setting, schedule, and content.
Well, suppose you have a great website (which you actually do.) Your marketing team dedicatedly works toward driving visitors there and spends hours bothering their heads about nurturing them into leads. And your sales team spends hours collecting, qualifying, organizing, and chasing those leads. Again, looks not that efficient. Salespeople should focus on selling and marketing people should brainstorm, generate ideas, and launch innovative campaigns. Email marketing automation is the right way to align all those efforts improving performance and boosting efficiency. Luckily, marketing automation tools are becoming increasingly accessible to all.
Why use email marketing software?
The real question here is whether you should bother yourself with email at all when the global market is experiencing the growth of other marketing channels. We can give an immediate “Yes.” By doing so, we insist that email has been and still is a powerful client acquisition tool that helps attract leads to your site and maintain a high level of engagement among the existing customers.
Being consistent in what you do in terms of marketing and sales activities is always a good idea. This is exactly what marketing email software affords. In contrast, what can frustrate your effort is sending your messages from different sources like mass mailing services, your own website, email client, or CRM. Emailing can be effective. However, people can still mess up and generally complicate things when they consciously refuse to use a unified system and opt for incompatible systems.
Emailing automation has to become an integral marketing solution. Replace your current practices with it to achieve greater power and ease. It will allow creating, managing, perfecting and sending strong messages and eventually yield tremendous results.
Basic marketing automation email features
Optimization of your business operations is a desired and expected outcome of automating your email marketing. In the first place, it is achieved by ensuring the presence of certain email marketing software features that are meant to make your life easier.
1. Mailing list management.
Primarily, it is all about the informed building and growth of your subscriber database. Since the data tends to increase in volume, the corresponding module is required to support this growth. It will let you consolidate your mailing list into smaller groups based on metrics of your choice. Then, you will be able to create as many lists as you wish to store your subscriber data in an organized way there. Upon deciding which group your subscribers belong to, you will have to arrange multiple groups to match subscribers’ profiles. With a solid mailing list management solution, you will be empowered to access full subscriber details, view user activity information, get statistics by specified criteria, modify the lists according to what custom data fields are needed, and thus improve the accuracy of your targeting.
2. Automated responses and notifications.
Different trigger options can be applied to start the automation series. Automated behavioral trigger emails are proven to enforce positive interactions. Notification emails like these are based on real-time customer behavior. For example, the mailing of automated responses can be triggered to welcome a new subscriber, when the user updates a field value, opens an email, or follows the link it contains. Besides, it can be timed to coincide with specific dates like birthdays and anniversaries. In the end, it should help you introduce newcomers to who you are, present them the details of your offering, and re-establish the connection with the disengaging subscribers. Also, you have to make sure these emails are useful. Every business must protect their online reputation. Sending emails that convey nothing in particular will make it difficult to keep one's reputation squeaky-clean and continue increasing conversions.
3. WYSIWYG editor.
This simple HTML editor provides users with an intuitive way of creating emails. Besides, it offers just enough features for you to navigate and handle. After you choose a web-, ESP- or software-based package, WYSIWYG editors automatically generate code, thus stripping away the complex functionality and allowing users to focus on the content of their emails. It must be noted that WYSIWYG editor is better adapted for producing code for websites, and its simplicity, underpinned by a predefined editing toolbar, can sometimes restrict your customization possibilities. However, you are still very likely to get the most of WYSIWYG by keeping email copy simple, cutting off the amendments, and concentrating more on the content instead of opting for excessive use of superficial typographical elements.
4. Contact and lead management.
As a rule, leads are managed and nurtured into customers by a sales team. Yet, the established contacts can and should be managed with the help of email marketing automation tools. You upload your contact lists from your storage (be it Excel, Outlook, Salesforce, or whatever you prefer) to .json or .csv formats and get the contact list reflecting the current state of things, including unsubscriptions, inactive emails, and bounces. As a result, anything that can hurt the deliverability will be removed.
5. Dynamic email content.
Your email marketing campaigns can become more effective when underpinned by dynamic content. The mailing list management feature will enable the segmentation of your subscribers. Once the customers are segmented, you are free to deliver unique content tailored for different groups of subscribers.
Advanced email marketing features
Finding new customers is exciting. But to make the most of it, you should do the homework. It would help if you planned subscriber communication to make it highly targeted and engaging. These are the features that will help improve your subscribers’ experience:
1. CAN-SPAM rules. Spamming is prohibited under the law in the United States and the European Union member states. The CAN-SPAM Act adopted in the US is the Federal anti-spam law that regulates email marketing activities. To comply with this act, marketers must follow the clear-cut rules. However, it is hard to keep all the nuances in mind — subject line, email list, email design, unsubscribe link must all look perfect. Luckily, some automated email marketing services offer special tools that detect whether spam filters can block your messages or the links can get broken.
2. CRM integration. High-quality marketing automation platforms are expected to integrate flawlessly with CRM platforms. Customer relationship management systems afford you the possibility to customize your approach, emphasizing targeted needs and usefulness. As a result, lead targeting becomes more precise. Marketing efforts that rely on a CRM database are more likely to bring about a highly integrated dataset and better alignment of marketing and sales endeavors.
3. Social media integration. By integrating your email marketing software with social media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, you can not only expand your social media presence and promote your content there but also extend your reach, paving the way for further automation.
Examples of email marketing software
Email workflows are set up using marketing automation software. Services that different software providers deliver are roughly the same, but there is still a slight difference in features and functionality they offer. If you are willing to choose the best email marketing software, we have compiled five options you might consider:
1. HubSpot Marketing.
They claim to provide an ‘all-in-one’ solution and assist not only in building your email marketing strategy but also in executing many other marketing activities.
Pricing: HubSpot charges its clients on a monthly or annual basis. For beginners, there is a free plan that comprises the offering of some basic marketing tools. Still, you have four plans to choose from and pay as many as $3,200 per month when opting for an advanced tools package.
Rule is a Swedish marketing automation technology vendor and one of the Vilmate’s oldest clients. Our team has been involved in RuleMailer development and is currently providing software maintenance.
Pricing: Rule offers three subscription plans ranging from SEK 99 to 3,395 per month. Besides, you can accept the 30-days free trial offer without submitting your payment details.
Providing its own automation features, ActiveCampaign gives priority to segmentation and targeting. Besides, they offer integration with the marketing tools that are already in use. Last but not least, there is a free migration tool, which is another absolute advantage.
Pricing: ActiveCampaign has four pricing options. Users can choose to pay for the service monthly or yearly. What makes this particular provider stand out is the correlation and dependence between the price you pay and the number of your contacts.
Their strength is integrated tools for creating responsive newsletters and transactional emails (all kinds of non-commercial emails like password resets or purchase confirmations.) Moreover, SendinBlue offers advanced analytics, multi-language options, and affordable prices.
Pricing: SendinBlue has five email plans to set forward. One of them is absolutely free of charge. Another one is designed for enterprises and, therefore, customizable, as is its price. Broadly speaking, the pricing falls within the range between $25 and $66 per month.
The email marketing automation software provider believes that the main benefit that you can enjoy while automating processes is the possibility to build your brand. They emphasize that the brand image allows starting conversations with the subscribers and keeping them engaged.
Pricing: Predictably, a range of pricing options is wide enough. It starts with a free plan and further includes Grow and Pro plans. The minimum payable amount is $10. Yet, the plans are customizable, and the total monthly cost depends on your number of subscribers.
How does email marketing software work?
In essence, automation means sparing oneself the effort of launching processes manually. Accordingly, triggers and behavior-based workflows are its fundamental components. Triggers are actions taken by your subscribers and resulting in emails being sent, and workflows are series of such triggered emails. Thus, an email marketing automation journey is expected to look the following way:
- You map out an automation campaign
- You decide on triggers for emails
- You choose a software provider and a plan that meets your budget and needs
- The automated workflow is set up — think about what messages you want to share
- Email-related metrics are gathered and analyzed
Email marketing best practices
The automation is not adopted overnight. Your strategy has to be gradually developed, and you should consistently align with it. Nevertheless, you can smoothly take your strategy to the next level by following the tips below.
If you aim to increase engagement and build trust, you have to spare a while to personalize emails for your future customers and partners. Behavioral data on your subscribers must come in handy. They will see that you respond directly to their needs and agree that you care. To begin with, saluting your customer by name is a good style. Personality is as personality does, so analyze their behavior to demonstrate your audience that you care about who each of them is as an individual. Show them that you pay attention to their needs, offer exactly what they want, and deliver personal wishes. These are some general recommendations:
- Make your content worth sharing
- Ensure it is universally true
- Encourage people to share your content
2. A/B Testing.
The effectiveness of your emails can be tested. You may address small groups before a mass mailing. Cooperation like this aims to assess your chances of high click-through rates. A powerful and well-developed A/B testing process will help you find out what email subject, copy, image, or call-to-action might drive the results you are hoping for yet before sending actual messages to your full database or its segment. As a result, you will get what you need upon testing your products with your own audience employing your own means.
In 2016, mobile and tablet internet usage exceeded desktop for the first time worldwide. This shift has become a game-changer — companies are increasingly shifting their focus onto a mobile-first approach. Email marketing campaigns are no exception. Therefore, you should make sure that all your emails are optimized for any screen size, and email design is rendered properly across different devices.
4. Analytics & Reporting.
Chances are there is no campaign that can succeed without having detailed reports that are saying so. You have to take a multilevel look on your email marketing efforts to get such a report drawn up. Then you will get an overview of various metrics like bounced email, open, and click-through rates. The categories of metrics that may help you drive growth are:
- Recipient activity
- Activity by location
- Campaign’s activity over time
- Email analytics overview
- Link performance
What to consider when choosing email marketing software
Since software providers resemble one another in what features they offer, it is becoming more challenging to choose the best email marketing software. Yet, there are a number of strong competitive advantages that might tilt the balance in your favor.
1. A comprehensive feature set. We have already discussed what basic and advanced features you should expect from email automation service providers. Ideally, you have them all built-in, but it is still perfectly fine to get along without the most sophisticated ones if it does not harm your overall productivity.
2. Value for money. Overspending is any business’s worst nightmare. Providers let you select a plan that would be within your budget and meet the majority of your requirements simultaneously. The price can be as high as thousands of dollars per month, so you should analyze the difference between the plans of a single provider before paying for email marketing software.
3. Ease of use. The thing is that email automation marketing software is designed to be used by non-technical business owners. Consequently, all the embedded tools must be intuitive, and a free trial period is a good way to check usability beforehand. Otherwise, there must be some guide to using the platform. One way or the other, usability is an important attribute of software quality.
4. Deliverability. Ending up at the spam folder is rather hard luck and a truly bad ending for your emails. To reduce the number of your letters considered spammy to nothing, look out for who you pick up as your email automation software provider. Some of them do their job better than others delivering a greater percentage of emails to the subscribers. Thus, blacklists and IP addresses are monitored, clients who have some problems are asked for reviews, and if they have and cause problems, they are removed.
5. Analytics. Stay relevant and try to monitor as many metrics as possible. Adjusting and fixing things right after some problem occurs is important. The ongoing monitoring will allow you to maximize the response speed, which will definitely have a positive effect on your subscriber’s experience. Besides, detailed reports help understand users, their grounds and needs better, eventually resulting in your revenue growth.
Email marketing challenges and potential issues with email marketing software
Automation is a difficult process. Now that we have considered in full detail how beneficial automation might be for your enterprise, it is time to shift the emphasis, for there are always two sides to all questions. By adopting the automated workflows, you should remember that there is still much effort to make. To be more efficient in how many leads you are generating and how successful the whole campaign is. The following are the potential issues that may cause difficulties for you when working with the chosen enterprise email marketing software.
1. Expertise. The lack of know-how is one of the biggest challenges. Have you no internal expertise or experience, seek assistance with the consultants and agencies that understand how automation works and how to deal with it.
2. Content. Without producing and distributing appropriate content, you doom your campaign to failure. A content distribution strategy is a substantial part of email marketing. So, make sure your strategy is workable, and you are sharing relevant content.
3. Human resources. Knowledgeable teams whose members are ideally positioned to take responsibility for conducting email marketing campaigns are hard to build. Before launching an automation process, find the staff that will be able to accept the challenge.
4. Control over internal processes. When the company's practices and processes are immature, it is too early to speak of the automation. Not only must the email marketing campaign as such be workable, but the company’s marketing infrastructure must also be integrated.
5. Financial resources. The lack of finance is a problem but do not forget that wisely made investment will get value back in user engagement and sales.
Tips for effective automated email
For an automated email marketing campaign to be successful, you need to be aware of and follow basic recommendations. They can bring splendid results, especially when paired with some useful tips, and help you perfect your strategy and excel in executing it.
1. Hire qualified personnel:
- a marketing manager or marketing director
- a lead generation manager or specialist
- an email marketer
- a content manager
- a social media manager
2. Make your email marketing human-driven:
- Profile your customers
- Take advantage of big data
- Store information about your subscribers in the cloud
- Be transparent
- Ensure adequate protection measures
- Go by the letter of the law
- Provide subscribers with relevant information
3. Customize the look and feel of your campaign to match your brand identity.
4. Structure your emails to ensure they are professional, clear, and focused.
5. Create visually appealing emails.
Clarity of presentation is no doubt what every recipient expects from your messages and sometimes takes for granted. Sending an email that is responsive and contains some basic personalization is going by unspoken rules. To stand out, you should create beautiful designs, take advantage of all the customizable templates, formatting, font, and color options that the platforms can offer you, and add high-quality images or interactive content.
Although working with email marketing automation software seems confusing and daunting, especially in the early stages of an automation journey, adopting one is still a bold but smart move.
If you still hesitate over the choice of your first email marketing tool, we advise you to plan a free trial period with one of the software providers we have referred to and see if it feels right for you. Just do not quit trying different options until you discover the perfect one. Once you are certain you have found the one to rest on safely, find your tone of relationships with the subscribers and keep improving your strategy and methods! The outcomes will be totally worth it!
© 2019, Vilmate LLC
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