Digital marketing has a variety of channels to choose from for successful business promotion. Yet, a positive result is achievable only by following a well-structured marketing strategy and it is email marketing automation software that affords you this opportunity allowing you to not waste your efforts at the same time.
What is automated email marketing?
Automation technologies are truly opening up a window of opportunity. Being a feature that helps you send your messages to the recipients when needed, automation is driving the overall improvement of your business processes. Though you are absolutely free to take your time and send emails one by one or create impersonalized newsletters to send them to a bunch of people at a time 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. To get the idea of how email marketing automation software works, we should address the key concepts first. To begin with, there must oftentimes be a specific trigger for an automated message. It is an event that makes the service send a letter or action that a potential receiver takes thus triggering the system and qualifying himself or herself to receive your automated email.
Another important notion is workflow. Email workflow is in itself the subject of automation, its setting, schedule, and content.
Well, suppose you have a great website (which you actually do.) Besides, your marketing team dedicatedly works toward driving visitors there, spends hours bothering their heads about how to nurture them into leads. After that, 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” and by doing so insist that email has been before and still is a powerful client acquisition tool that helps attract leads to your site along with the maintenance of the 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, people just mess up and generally complicate things when they consciously refuse from using a unified system and opt for having incompatible systems instead.
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 getting tremendous results.
Basic marketing automation email features
Optimization of your business operations is an expected result of automating your email marketing. This entails 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 growing of your subscriber database. Since the data tends to increase in volume, the corresponding module is required. It will let you consolidate your mailing list into smaller groups based on metrics of your choice. So, you can create as many lists as you wish to store your subscribers there. Upon deciding which group your subscribers may belong to, you arrange multiple groups to match subscribers’ profiles. With a solid mailing list management solution, you can access full subscriber details, view user activity information, get statistics by necessary criteria, modify the lists according to what custom data fields you need, and thus improve the accuracy of your targeting.
2. Automated responses and notifications.
Different trigger options are applied to start automation series. Automated behavioral trigger emails are proven to enforce positive interactions. Notification emails like these are based on real-time customer behavior. Sending automated responses can be triggered by welcoming a new subscriber, the user’s updating a field value, opening an email or following 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, give them to understand your offering, and re-establish the connection with the disengaging subscribers. Also, you have to make sure these emails are rather useful in order to protect your online reputation keeping it squeaky-clean and increase conversions.
3. WYSIWYG editor.
This simple HTML editor provides users with an intuitive way of creating emails. Besides, it offers not too many features for you to navigate and handle. After your choosing 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. Although WYSIWYG editor is better suited for producing code for websites and its simplicity underpinned by a predefined editing toolbar can restrict your customization possibilities; you are still very likely to get the most of WYSIWYG by keeping the email content 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 by taking advantage 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. Consequently, anything that can hurt the deliverability will be removed.
5. Dynamic email content.
Your email marketing campaigns may become more effective when underpinned by dynamic content. Now that your subscribers are segmented by means of leveraging the mailing list management feature, you are free to deliver unique content tailored for different groups of subscribers.
Advanced email marketing features
Finding new customers is exciting, but it's even better when you plan subscriber communication to make it highly targeted and engaging. These are the features that help improve your subscribers’ experience:
1. CAN-SPAM rules. Spamming is prohibited under the law in the United States and in the member states of the European Union. 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. 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 your message can be blocked by spam filters or the links can get broken.
2. CRM integration. 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 is getting more precise. Marketing efforts that rely on a CRM database are 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 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 a slight difference in features and functionality they possess. 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.
Along with providing their own automation features while giving priority to segmentation and targeting, they offer integration with the marketing tools that are already in use. There is a free migration tool, which is another absolute advantage.
Pricing: ActiveCampaign has four pricing options which can be paid for monthly or yearly. What makes this particular provider stand out is the correlation and dependence between your price 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 which is absolutely free and another, enterprise, one is customizable, as is the price thereof. 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 automating processes is the possibility to build your brand which allows starting conversations with the subscribers and keeping it going.
Pricing: Predictably, a range of pricing options is wide enough to start with a free plan and include 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. However, you are capable of taking it to the next level by following the tips below:
If you aim at increasing engagement and building trust, you have to spare a while for personalizing 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 admit that you care. Saluting your customer by name is a good style. Personality is as personality does, so analyze their behavior to be able 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. The aim of cooperation like this is assessing your chances on high click-through rates. Powerful and well-developed A/B testing suggests that you can 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 get what you need upon testing your products with your own audience through 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 focusing on a mobile-first approach to their Internet services. Email marketing campaigns are no exception and you should make sure that content of all your emails is 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 telling 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 may be offered. Ideally, you have them all built in, but it is still perfectly fine to get along without the most sophisticated ones if it does no harm to 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 at the same time. The price can be as high as thousands of dollars per month, so you should analyze what the difference is 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 not only have but also cause problems, they are removed.
5. Analytics. Stay relevant and try to monitor as many metrics as possible. When the speed of response is maximized, it has a positive effect on your subscriber’s experience. Adjusting and fixing things right after some problem occurs is important. Besides, detailed reports help to understand users, their grounds and need better which can eventually result 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 in how successful the whole campaign is. These 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 practices and processes in the company 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 the form of user engagement and sales.
Tips for effective automated email
In order for an automated email marketing campaign to be successful, you need to be aware of and follow basic recommendations. They can bring splendid results 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; it 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, rest on it, find your tone of relationships with the subscribers and keep improving your strategy and methods!
© 2019, Vilmate LLC