Despite the fact that instant messaging and social sharing have, more or less, rendered personal email communications redundant, commercial email communications is still alive and kicking.
If you're not sure about this, feel free to research the topic. A simple Google search of “Is email marketing dead?” will yield a staggering amount of information that says, “No. It isn't”.
However, the purpose of this article isn't to sell you on the idea of using email marketing for your business. Instead, I'll assume that you're already sold on the idea and I'll give you some tips on how to add automation to your email marketing efforts
What Is Email Marketing Automation?
Simply put, email marketing automation means setting up processes that automatically sends marketing emails to your contact database of customers, prospects, suppliers, etc.
How Does It Work?
Email marketing automation is powered by data. Collecting data from your customers, prospects, suppliers, website visitors, etc, will give you a wealth of information that you can use to market to virtually everyone who interacts with your business.
What Data Should I Collect?
Everything you possibly can! For example:
This list is very general and the bare minimum you should collect. The industry you're in will give you more necessary data points to collect. For example, if your business sells bespoke garments, you should also collect:
What Should I Do With The Data?
You should store all of this data in a database. The great thing is that most, if not all, email marketing platforms and services offer this functionality. This means that while creating your email campaigns, you're able to use this information to target specific people in your database based on a strict set of criteria.
For example, you can create a campaign that sends a special offer or discount coupon to:
Do you get it? Do you see why collecting all of that data was necessary?
Where Does The Automation Come Into It?
This is where it gets really clever! I'll try to avoid the technical details of how this works, but every time a recipient opens one of your email campaigns you can chose to track various activities they carry out from then on. These activities include:
You can now set up email campaigns that are sent automatically using these kinds of metrics as triggers. For instance, you can create an automatic campaign that sends when a contact opens your message a certain number of times or visits a particular page on your website. And the beauty of it is that you only have to create this once. The automation will then run continuously until you "tell" it to stop.
How does this help if I'm just starting out and have a small contact database, or none at all?
A very good question.
So far, the techniques we've discussed will only help you to market to people you have an existing relationship with. But you can still make very good use of email marketing automation if you're just starting out. How?
A good place to start is the contact form on your website. It may be the case that all this form does is notify you when someone fills it in to ask you a question about your products and/or services. If this is the case, get rid of it. Replace this form with one that links directly to your contact database so that every time it's filled in, you have a new contact in your database. You'll then be able to market to them by email, using the techniques we've discussed. Again, all of the major email marketing services offer this kind of functionality.
What if I have a contact form that nobody fills in?
This can be a challenge but there are still a lot of things you can do to turn this situation around. I'll cover these in a another article but please feel free to contact me if you need help with this kind of challenge.
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