Take email. Like Seinfeld reruns, it’s a ubiquitous holdout from the 90s that, somehow, still maintains relevance today. We’ve talked before about how email still dominates the sales game, and why marketers are foolish to think email is anything but alive and kicking.
That’s why advertisers, businesses, and marketers sent more emails than ever in 2017 - and while online sales are up, so is email overload. More competition means it’s harder than ever to grab attention, and only the best of the best can truly rise to the top.
Luckily, one major improvement in the email world has made dominating inboxes easier, faster, and more rewarding than ever: email automation.
Turn Your Email Up To 11
The most effective email marketing strategies plan for more than just the next message on the docket. Great email strategies address each point in the individual customer’s sales journey, from initial contact all the way through to continued engagement and beyond.
Our favorite emails are the ones that break from tradition. A truly great email surprises, catches our attention, and (maybe most importantly) seems like it was written just for us. Get your email on that train and you stand a solid chance of conquering your customers’ inboxes, one email at a time.
Flip The Script On The Sales Journey
Sales emails from brands can often feel like a slog through the marketing mud. When one sales journey is applied to a variety of unique customers, nothing fits quite right, and the whole thing comes off as an annoying sales pitch with very little humanity.
Rather than simply blasting out the same message to everyone on your list regardless of age, location, or background, automation allows you to laser-focus on each individual segment of your customers - and even each individual recipient - without dumping hours and hours into planning each and every email.
Often, the first step is knowing exactly what your customers are looking for and when to hit them with that info. According to Shopify, abandoned cart emails have helped several brands capture the roughly ⅔ of shoppers who ditch too soon before making a purchase, whether it’s due to technical issues with the site or second thoughts after seeing the full purchase price. Whether it’s offering a discount coupon to better re-align prices or simply an easy way to pick up where a sale left off, these gentle nudges can have a huge impact on that last, most important part of the sales journey.
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
Want to know why we’ve named our paper recycling bin “Current Resident?” Because that’s where all that generically-addressed snail mail ends up almost immediately. Never even skimmed and almost immediately trashed, these standard-issue mailers just don’t stand a chance when we’ve got a whole stack of envelopes to open.
Email is essentially the same, only multiplied. When we’re facing an inbox of over 100, generic promotions usually don’t make it past the first sweep. It’s impersonal, seems unimportant, and certainly doesn’t catch our eye.
But a handwritten note with our name on it? That’s going to get our attention.
That’s why automated personalization is one of the most valuable tools in any marketer’s belt. By allowing you to effortlessly address customers by name, recall previous purchases, and offer highly-relevant suggestions, you can drastically increase your open and conversion rates. Make your recipients feel like they’re thought-about and you make more than a customer - you make a friend, and likely one who’ll stick around.
Predict Your Customers’ Needs Before They Do
Across the board, the most excellent customer service experiences are the ones where the customer never even has to lift a finger.
Automation lets marketers extend this same level of customer service into email, chat, and the entire online sales journey by anticipating customer needs and delivering at the perfect time, no manual input required. That allows for brand to easily target and remarket to the right customers with one easy automated flow without wasting space on those less likely to engage.
Say, for instance, a customer has recently purchased a pair of jeans from your website during late August. Logically, a business may want to introduce that customer to other cold-weather clothing as the fall and winter season starts to ramp up. By utilizing this past data, you can make sure the right customers are seeing the right products at the right time, all without having to draft thousands of individual emails to do it.
Case Study: Urban Outfitters
Urban Outfitters has a comprehensive automation system that carefully spaces out contact to encourage users to continue engagement beyond sale. A simple email directs shoppers with ways to earn UO rewards points through continued purchases, engagement with their unique app, and by connecting through social media.
This is sent only three days after initial purchase, and one day after shipping confirmation - meaning higher visibility for the individual customer, and a better likelihood that they’ll pay attention to the messaging.
A week later, Urban Outfitters asks each user to answer a short survey on their purchase experience. That’s continued engagement 10 days out from purchase, with a reminder four days later for those who do not answer the survey - all intermixed with updates on sales and special offers.
Cap it off with a 15% off coupon, delivered a full 18 days after initial purchase, and UO has built an efficient way to keep a customer interested and, possibly, encourage a second purchase, all through the power of a simple and well-planned email journey.
It’s Email’s World, And We’re All Living In It
Think about how many emails you receive a day - if you’re anything like the average, it’s probably in the high 80s, with the number predicted by some reports to be creeping closer to 100 per day as we get closer to 2020. But even with the increasing frequency of email, it remains one of the most popular content forms to date, with nearly a quarter of all sales still attributed directly to email marketing by Econsultancy’s 2017 Email Marketing Industry Census. That means although there is a lot of opportunity for success, there’s also going to be more and more competition as time goes by.
In order to stand out, keep new subscribers coming in, and keep those email-attributed sales up, you’re going to have to make your email stand out well above the crown. With smart, personalized, and well-planned email automation, you can make that job a whole lot easier.
Want to kickstart your email marketing for the next decade? Let’s chat about how we can help make your email marketing strategy one to make your competitors jealous.
- Conor Snell
- Social Media & Content Strategist