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Can a computer really understand and interpret your customer's needs? We know computers can win in Jeopardy! and chess, but can they compete on personal interaction?

Even though computers might still need some direction from humans, in business to customer communication it seems a computer might, in many instances, be better suited to take care of your customer communications than you or your staff.

Why?

Because computer systems can gather and assess information about your customers and automatically contact them with relevant and timely information that is personalized.

Offering personalized correspondence can be tricky for a person to manage, especially when dealing with a large customer list. However, an automated system (i.e., marketing automation software) can automatically determine information about customers based on website-viewing behavior and previous purchases, and it can automatically send information and updates that are specifically tailored for them.

Many companies still employ a traditional approach to email marketing, with predictable mass emails attempting to reach the greatest possible number of consumers.

But automated email marketing will reach each person with information that is specifically tailored, building a personalized rapport.

The perfect sales conversation is one that caters to the customer: It's accessible, engaging (entertaining, even), and understanding of customer needs.

It delivers information that is useful to at a time when customers are ready to receive it.

OK, there may be a few things to set up before your laptop takes over the job, but once you have an automated email system in place, it can run a majority of your customer correspondence for you. Moreover, it can probably do a better job with significantly less time commitment.

Two Core Rules of Automated Email Marketing

The modern and much more dynamic approach to email marketing is based on two simple rules to increase the accessibility and impact of the content that is delivered: Communication to readers must be timely and relevant.

Content should arrive in the reader's inbox at a time that makes sense to them and suits their lifestyle. For example, if someone purchases a new laptop and then starts receiving a string of emails from the company about specials on another laptop, those probably won't be of any value to them.

If the emails that the buyer receives more relevant content, such as complimentary software or accessories, or educational content (such as how to increase computer security), the email will be helpful and could help encourage a return sale.

Schedule Communications

An automated email marketing system will allow you to schedule and trigger email communications to be sent automatically.

Emails can be sent based on a specific action taken on your website. For example, if a user explores different versions of a product but doesn't end up making the purchase, the automated system can send an email reminder about the product. It can inform the visitor if the item goes on sale—or even create a personalized promotion for them.

Five Ways to Use Data to Increase Engagement

  1. Cross-sell. Automated marketing uses sales data to identify relevant products, and then uses that information to inform the shopper. It's an effective way to gain revenue per customer. Identifying and sharing products based on individual preferences is much more likely to bring a customer back than sending emails that target the masses.
  2. Encourage a review. After buying a product, companies can email customers and encourage them to review. It's a great way to bring customers back to the site. It builds customer loyalty, and user reviews create a better shopping experience for everyone.
  3. Send product reminders. Although it sounds counterintuitive, becoming more automated actually makes the shopping experience more personalized. Transactional data allows you to send reminders to customers to buy more of the products they've already purchased (such as vitamins, wines, and dog food).
  4. Re-engage customers. The data you hold provides for opportunities to reach prior customers who haven't made a purchase in a specified time frame. It is much less expensive to retain a customer than it is to get a new one; loyal, long-term customers are the most profitable for a company.
  5. Identify critical events. With a bit of number crunching, one can quickly spot trends and changes in customer behavior. Whether a customer suddenly stops making purchases or starts spending more, automated marketing can surface issues to avoid losing an important customer permanently.

Track Results and Fine-Tune the Process

Tracking the success of your campaigns and using your findings to keep improving the process is relatively easy in online marketing.

Tracking results on emails allows you to determine which emails are successfully engaging and converting viewers to paying customers, as well as which could be improved.

Analytics are key to continual improvement and refinement of the process, leading to better communications, better conversions, and much more efficient email marketing initiatives.

A Win-Win Situation

Personalized email marketing is a win-win for customers and businesses. For customers, it respects their inboxes and delivers content that they would engage. For businesses, it increases spend per customers and conversion rates.

By giving your customers information that's relevant to them, delivered in a time frame built around their lifestyle and shopping habits, your customers will always be informed about the products they care about, and you'll be able to convert a lot more of your potential clientele to paying customers.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

image of Jaime Brugueras

Jaime Brugueras is a 10-year marketing analyst veteran and the co-founder of marketing automation software firm Mineful.

Twitter: @brugueras

LinkedIn: Jaime Brugueras.

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