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Website marketers will always tell you that you need an email list, that you need “autoresponders” and “follow-up sequences”, or to set up “email funnels” but rarely really explain what email automation is and how it actually relates to setting up your website marketing.
Let’s resolve that right now.
Email Marketing Automation is vitally important in website marketing, but it’s also not always well explained and is often therefore overlooked with everything else that needs to be accomplished. It is a lot of work to get right, and unfortunately, it is easy to set yourself up to fail even before you start.
What is Email Automation?
So what is email automation exactly?
Automated email covers a lot of things, from your vacation “away” message through to your receipt when purchasing online, but for us in this context, we came down to this email marketing definition:
Email Marketing Definition: Email automation is a strategy of using software to automatically send targeted and personalized emails based on specific events or timelines. Instead of manually sending emails they are dispatched based on user actions (triggers) or preferences. This approach enhances timeliness and engagement, nurtures leads, and streamlines the customer journey while saving time for businesses.
Getting Started with Email Automation
Previously I wrote about how amazing email marketing campaigns can be for your business, but don’t let the excitement cause you to set up your email list and signup forms in a rush and miss important steps.
As with many things in online marketing, the content and copywriting side of email marketing can seem to be the hardest part, but with the correct framework that can be a straightforward part of your sales funnel.
There are real dangers in going with the wrong email marketing tools, building out the wrong automation workflows and lead nurturing sequences, or antagonizing your audience with a bad customer experience.
This is why I wanted to set you on the right path rather than throwing you into the deep end of the technology and writing a series of emails that damages your customer relationships rather than improve them.
The Importance of Getting Email Automation Right from the Very Start
Ideally, right at the launch of your marketing website, you will have everything set up correctly so that all your prospects and customers experience the best email brand experience.
In reality, we have all experienced email marketing that is NOT the best and is a horrible experience.
I’m not going to name names but there are a couple of companies that have beautiful, professionally designed email templates but they keep emailing me even after I have unsubscribed and even marked as spam – you can imagine my perception of their brand right now!
This is a failure of process, and there can be many causes, but as the saying goes …
Start Collecting Emails from Day 1
Every website needs to collect emails, even if you have nothing to offer the subscriber than future emails!
Each time someone visits your website it is an opportunity to get them to return. Do not lose your chance at a subscriber just because you do not feel prepared.
Ideally you will have a page to send people to that explains exactly what is to come if they sign up, give people the benefits they can anticipate.
Check out our Website Marketing Newsletter page for inspiration:
Decide Your Email Automation Strategy
It is far better to get your email strategy right now than to try and turn the tanker around later after putting in countless hours of effort and technical work in your CRM.
A good email sequence, built slowly, incrementally, and in phases, using the right email automation tools, can beat a massive buildout based on false premises. It doesn’t matter how good your subject lines and social media shares are if major issues are getting your subscribers to take action that leads to money.
So rather than diving in unprepared, invest in crafting strategically smart automated email campaigns that attract, opt-in, convert, engage, and retain new customers long into the future.
High-Reward Automated Email Sequences
Start planning your highest revenue-generating flows first.
- Lead acquisition flow – Gain new subscribers that match your most-wanted potential customers, send them welcome emails, and nurture them over time with a richly rewarding follow-up sequence.
- Sales conversion flow – Use email automation to send promotional emails that will increase your conversion rates by sending highly relevant, personalized emails matching the subscriber intent based on their customer journey.
- Post-purchase onboarding – After the initial transactional emails such as the order confirmation emails, send existing customers follow-up emails that educate and inform them about the product they just bought. Using onboarding drip campaigns is one of the major benefits of email automation because each customer gets the timely information they need, which will prevent churn and refunds, without adding to your workload.
- Customer retention nurture – This is automated email marketing to people who already know you! If someone seems to have gone cold then send re-engagement emails, but warmer customers can be sent an upsell to get them to upgrade or buy more.
- Cart abandonment flow – Abandoned cart emails are a type of email generated by or via integrations with your e-commerce system, intended to bring a customer back when their shopping cart checkout was interrupted.
These follow-up sequences or auto responders are the most crucial because this system will allow you to attract new leads, convert them into customers, limit lost sales, and ultimately turn customers into fans.
Just by implementing and optimizing the first three email workflows, you would have a strong, profitable sales engine that bolsters your overall marketing strategy.
If you are currently investing in sending prospects to landing pages via SEO or ads, the difference in ROI/ROAS in having those flows, and the real-time customer data and metrics you gain from marketing automation tools is night and day.
Once you have these flows, then you start to get to A/B testing, segmentation, and optimization features of your marketing automation software, but you need to be thinking about and implementing these foundations in your marketing efforts first.
What You Need in an Email Automation Tools
Once you start planning out all the above, you quickly realize that to do it properly, you need to spend some money on a decent email automation service, and you need to select the right one.
It’s just a sad fact that to implement all that we need, you can’t decide purely on pricing as that will cause you to go with a budget, commodity email provider, that at best limits what you can do due to lack of automation features, and at worse damages your deliverability and list reputation.
Reputation – Dare you to risk your email with an unknown? A good company will have relationships with major ISPs to ensure the safe passage of your messages.
Features – As well as the basic ability to build lists and send emails, you must be able to track, measure, tag, and segment. Plus the autoresponder ability is as already stated, foundational.
Deliverability – There is no point in sending emails that do not arrive at their destination! You are looking at email automation to reach your whole customer base, and not an arbitrary subset of those with weak spam filters.
Scalability – Can you grow with the same provider without spending too much at the start or very quickly find the whole thing slowing down to a crawl?
As you would expect, we have opinions on email providers, but do your due diligence.
It is a quickly growing problem when people start on free services, such as Mailchimp, then have to go through the challenge of graduating from simple newsletters to actual business-strength email automation.
While there are many providers, and people often start out using something budget, in my mind nothing beats starting right the right way. Make sure whoever you choose has flexibility, features, ROI, and most of all they manage all of that along with excellent deliverability.