By Ryan Phelan, VP of Insights at Adestra
What if I told you that you could print money in your email program?
"Wow, Ryan! Tell me more!"
I can say it in just two words: marketing automation.
Now, "marketing automation" is a buzzword, and there are a lot of marketing buzzwords out there. Nobody wants to play Buzzword Bingo.
But, "marketing automation" is a buzzword that should make your email-marketing ears perk up, because it's like having a money tree growing right in your office.
What automation does for email marketing
One important aspect of marketing automation is sending triggered emails messages in reaction to an action or in anticipation of an action.
If you can identify a common behavior – a purchase, an opt-in, a download, a visit to a product page, etc. – you can build a trigger around it and then create a rule in your email software that send a message whenever it can match the action to an email address.
That's what turns your email-marketing automation into a money tree. Once you set up that rule, your email program triggers the email. It runs in the background, freeing you up for more productive work.
Triggered messages are some of the most valuable messages you can send because they're highly relevant. They draw higher open rates than broadcast messages. Click rates can be 50 percent or higher, and conversion rates are at least 23 percent higher depending on what kind of message you send.
As a component of your email program, what you earn from your triggered messaging can be a significant part of your email revenue.
From my time working on the brand side, I know triggered and transactional messages can contribute a significant amount of revenue. Some companies I've worked with get 50 percent or more of their annual email-marketing revenue from automated messaging.
Why invest (or upgrade) in automated messaging?
Look at your current statistics and your revenue streams. If you're not earning 50 percent, or close to it, you've got some work to do.
Here's why you should take the time now, before you get caught up in holiday planning, to get with the program on automation:
1. Recognition: These triggered emails recognize your customer's behavior. They tell your customers, "Yes, we recognize you. You're not just an email address to us."
2. Competition: They help you compete in the new email-marketing environment, which is becoming more real-time every day. Although batched email will never go away entirely, you need to respond to and even anticipate your customers' behavior as quickly as possible.
3. Time-saving: No matter how big your email staff is, you just can't manually respond to every customer action in real time. With marketing automation, you write a set of rules. When a rule is fulfilled, your email system automatically sends an email, whether it happens at 9 a.m. on a Tuesday or 3 a.m. on a Sunday.
Our continued evolution to mobile-first email is driving the move to real-time messaging and marketing. Real time is what customers have come to prefer because that's our culture now, for teens, Millennials and Gen-Xers.
We want our needs met when we have them. Marketing automation fulfills that need in email.
If you believe push messaging is great, then you have to believe that marketing automation through email marketing is a great thing, too. And it's not just for email. It can be app messaging or texting via SMS.
Incremental innovation gets you into the game
Companies that are earning 50 percent or more of their email revenue from automated messaging are making that happen with an array of message triggers – dozens to hundreds. That's a daunting prospect, especially for marketers who can't get any kind of innovation off the group.
Enter the concept of "incremental innovation." Instead of flailing around trying to figure out where to get started, come up with just one.
What's an easy or logical message you could send? Maybe one that would help you get over a major conversion hurdle? What consumer behavior happens most often?
"Next logical purchase" is a good place to start. Suppose you sell men's suits. I buy one of your suits but not a tie. It's logical to assume that I might need a new tie, too. So, run a test. Identify all of your customers who buy suits. Send them an email message with a tempting array of ties, and see what happens.
If you get a good response, then automate that email. (If not, tweak your message and try again.) Then, move on to the next behavior you could automate.
Time and resources are always in short supply for marketers, but all of us can find time in the workweek to produce one simple email, identify one small segment and launch one small segment in a test.
Marketing automation and your ESP
Marketing automation should be table stakes for most email service providers. But, what's important is to look at how robust your ESP's automation capabilities are. Ask questions like these:
- What rules can I define?
- What are my limits?
- Can I adjust the cadence of my emails?
- What kind of reporting can I do?
Not all marketing platforms are built the same. Not all marketing-automation services have email capability. You will need to have both marketing-automation and email capabilities at a high level in order to develop the kind of program that generates half or more of your email revenue.
Right now, don't let that dissuade you from getting started. Even a money tree started out as a sapling. You have only a small window of time between now and the holiday shopping season. What could you come up with this week?
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