Email marketing automation can be a game-changer for your business. By automating your email marketing, you can free up valuable time and resources that can be better spent elsewhere. Not to mention, email marketing automation can also help boost your sales and bottom line.
Want specifics? How about a $36 to $1 ROI (Return On Investment)? It’s time to get on board with email marketing, don’t you think? But you can’t just start popping off emails to your subscriber list.
To get the most out of email marketing automation, you should keep a few best practices in mind:
In this blog post, we'll unpack the best email marketing automation practices that can help you boost revenue. We'll also provide real-world examples of businesses doing it right so that you can swipe their strategies.
12 Email Marketing Best Practices to Boost Revenue
Let's get started.
1. Capture Quality Data
One of the most significant advantages of being an online marketer is the increasing quality and quantity of data available to you.
Big data has become synonymous with predicting user behavior. With proper use of high-resolution data, you can tweak and optimize your emails to have the maximum conversion rate they can achieve.
If your data isn't quality data, you will put in more effort and for poor results. Many social media marketers try their best at email marketing and remove it from their marketing mix because they get poor results. The only way to improve results with email automation is to base and trigger actions on quality data.
Example: In a scary example, email information selling businesses can obtain your email address alongside demographic data, including your age, gender, voting preferences, websites you're likely to visit, and your income tax bracket. In contrast, most legitimate businesses just have their customers' emails and first names.
2. Include Data Segments in the Campaign Inclusion Assessment
Segment your email subscriber list. Then segment some more. Then segment again! Why? According to HubSpot, subscriber segmentation is the most effective email marketing campaign strategy.
Here’s a question, do all the people who join your mailing list get the same email? If that's the case, your strategy is limited to the ceilings of 2015. Making data-based groups and managing audience segments has become quite easy in recent years.
Some people in your audience might want to get emails from you daily. This might seem like an alien concept to the incessant seller. But plenty of daily newsletters have millions of subscribers.
That said, it is probably true that not everyone who opts into your signup form wants to be emailed daily. But if you don't segment your audience by open rate and click rate, you won't be able to send daily emails to the one who wants to hear from you daily without annoying the one who doesn't.
3. Avoid Overselling
Even people who want to hear from you every day want value. And no one gets value from being asked to buy products repeatedly.
Unless you have 365 new products every year, you have no right to email people daily and ask them to buy from you. But even if you have a single product, it makes sense to email customers with relevant tips and tricks.
Case in point: Apple sells its customers via email no more than three times a year.
4. Have a Value-first Approach
Pack as much value as possible in the earlier portion of your workflow. Doing so accelerates goodwill and automates rapport. Anyone can hook up a Mailchimp account to an opt-in widget. A good email marketer creates a workflow that ensures that everyone who joins his mailing list becomes a loyal supporter of his brand. One tactic to hold yourself accountable to value-first is asking yourself: what can I email that the reader values more than every other email in his inbox?
Remember, as an email marketer, you compete against everything for your reader's attention.
Case in point: Seth Godin sends out daily educational emails without selling anything 99.9% of the time.
5. Remove Inactive Subscribers (Do not Annoy the Uninterested)
Hell hath no fury as a subscriber scorned!
If someone signs up to your mailing list but shows disinterest in the emails you send, take them off your frequent blast list. You might be able to email them because they technically gave you their email, but if you force them to click a few links to unsubscribe from your mailing list, they might try to report your mailing account unfairly.
Action: Clean your list. Inactive subscribers decrease your email campaign metrics, ROI, and can land future emails in the spam box (or cause other deliverability issues).
6. Do not be Lazy with Personalization
Email personalization is effective, but only if it is done right.
To some marketers, personalization means slapping the subscriber's first name in every email's subject line. This is obviously not the right way to personalize emails because it is very transparently gimmicky. It is better to be creative with your personalization methods.
Example: Automatically sorting subscribers by their star signs can help you send out horoscope or birthday-related emails.
7. Consider Chronology and Timing
Social media marketers yearn for the days when feeds were chronological. If you logged onto Instagram at 9 am, you would see posts uploaded the closest to 9 am from the people you follow.
Luckily, email is still that way. If you email your subscribers close to the time they open their emails, the likelihood of your emails being opened increases. You need to be on top of their inbox to be on top of their minds.
Example: Knowing that emails are checked most often at 8-9 am followed by 12 pm can help you automate sequences for different customers and subscribers. This works especially well if your audience is entirely within a single timezone. If that's not the case, you might have to rely on segmenting once again to create groups based on their locations.
8. Automate Your Opt-in to Email Workflow
One of novice email marketers' biggest mistakes is manually transferring fresh opt-ins into their email marketing software. This is manageable in the early stages of your email marketing career. But when the list expands to 100+ subscribers, keeping track of who goes where in your email sequence becomes a full-time job.
Even if you have one subscriber, act like you have one thousand. This will help you adopt better processes that are sufficiently automatic and don't create bottlenecks.
Example: Facebook offers CRM connection widgets to get fresh signups into your existing database.
9. Automate Split-testing
We have all heard how great split testing is. But we all do it less often than we should. Chances are, you've split-tested a few campaigns and have formed your opinions regarding what kind of messaging, colors, and subject lines work. But you have to consider that preferences change all the time.
Remember: the only constant in life is change.
The biggest brands have moved towards minimalist flat logos to account for speed and cross-media compatibility. When was the last time you tested your brand assets? Automating split testing into your email blast workflow ensures that each campaign has the best conversion rate.
Example: Consider split-testing emails to 3 sample segments that are smaller portions of larger audience segments. Your segments might look something like this (see table below).
25 - 35 males (2,300+ emails)
25 - 35 males sample (230 emails)
Female senior citizens (1,000+ emails)
Female senior citizens sample (100 emails)
Repeat buyers (545+ emails)
Repeat buyers sample (54 emails)
With the automated emails going to the segment sample, you can pre-test the campaign and tweak it further to get even better results.
10. Have at Least One Evergreen Sequence
The world is changing too quickly to keep up. But your emails don't have to reference current events at all times.
We recommend copywriting at least 12 evergreen emails that are broadly relevant to every possible subscriber on your list. Creating a delayed release workflow takes care of your duty to touch base with your audience once a month.
Case in point: Frank Kern has an evergreen email sequence for anyone who buys his ebooks AND isn’t already on his list. If an existing Kern subscriber buys the ebook, the email software is smart enough to know that, and the sequence doesn't restart.
11. Have at Least One Current Workflow
Having a welcome email alongside multiple evergreen offer emails is crucial. But it’s not enough. You must also have a current workflow. News, current events-related conversations, and situational offers are all contingent on having a current workflow.
Just because you have the opportunity to automate things doesn’t mean that you cannot do anything manually!
Case in point: Seth Godin sends email blasts featuring current event commentary.
12. Never Not Have a Call to Action
Finally, you need to have a call to action in your emails.
Many intelligent marketers try to create rapport by pouring value into their emails. That's a good strategy. It is good to send emails that your customers find interesting. These could range from trivia to useful information that's relevant to an audience. But what's not good is to have no call to action at the end of your emails.
Because guess what?
If the readers have no link to click except "unsubscribe from this email list," guess what they might click?
Example: You don't have to incessantly sell in each email, but your call to action could be as simple as asking the reader to reply if he enjoyed the content of your email.
Recap: Best Practices for Email Marketing
The top email automation best practices to remember are to automate your opt-in process and the initial welcome email, use automation to split-test each campaign, and not confine automation to auto-sending. An evergreen email sequence with smart personalization can help you go a long way.
Above all else, remember that less is more regarding email marketing. Email marketing is not about "selling", but getting your subscriber list to know, like, and trust you. And you do that by providing value through the roof! (Related: 6 Email Marketing Automation Best Practices That Will Boost Revenue (with Examples))