Imagine a time before email-sequencing software. Imagine spying on customer accounts and looking for behavioral triggers to send that perfect email. Imagine typing the whole thing out again and again, sending it out, and... oh no, is that a typo?
Oh, well, you've already missed your drip window. Rewrite. Repeat. Bad mood.
That's no way to live. Email automation was sent from Marketing Heaven. Without it, drip campaigns and email sequencing would be nigh impossible, no matter what you are trying to achieve with it. Whether you're a marketer, a lead-nurturer, or a sales pitcher, you know the value of email automation.
However, you can have too much of a good thing. In your quest for an easier working day, the steady drip-drip-drip of engaging, relevant information can become a torrent of unrelatable, unsubscribe-inducing drivel.
In email marketing, there's a fine line between annoying and intriguing. This article will help you stay on the right side of that line.
So let's use email sequences and marketing automation to their fullest potential by making sure that our drip campaigns are segmented, personalized, well-timed, sales-enabling, and A/B-tested; but let's also make sure the purpose of the automation tech we use is to ensure that they are all those things.
If you try to please everyone, you please nobody at all. Without a segmented-message strategy, you'll fire out emails to nobody who cares. Your message will be diluted, and the recipient will eventually die of boredom.
Segmentation helps your emails engage, relate, and resonate. It also improves your open and click-through rates: Open rates for segmented campaigns are on average 14.31% higher than unsegmented campaigns.
It's natural to immediately think "demographics!" when you hear the word segmentation. But to get a leg up in your email sequences, segmentation needs to go further.
Technology, such as a well-implemented, widely used CRM system, organizes and segments your contacts base. It can automate the entire process of gathering an audience, segmenting it, and sending campaigns.
It can take your segmentation beyond demographics, and provide functionality that helps you do so, enabling you to segment based on the following:
- Psychographics Look at your audiences' values, lifestyles, challenges, opinions, and everyday activities to better understand the types of content they want to receive. Collect data via webform questionnaires integrated with CRM systems, as well as on-the-spot interviews offered in return for freemium content.
- Customer value. Place customers in groups based on how much value they provide for the business. Find out whether you can upsell or cross-sell to them.
- Engagement. This is a subset of psychographic segmentation that considers how prospects, leads, and customers engage with a brand on drip campaigns. Track open rates, clickthroughs, and specific devices used to consume content.
Personalized & Personified
Now that your audience is in clear and tidy segments, you should have a better idea of whom you're writing to. You should know what content they open and how they want to be spoken to. Answer the question, "What do I need to do to get a response out of them?" Understand them, relate to them, and help them figure out where your company fits into their lives.
Personalization goes beyond a name in the subject line. Personalization means addressing individual problems.
Send the content that recipients are looking for at that moment; give them release notes for features that you know are going to help. Personalization is keeping your finger on the pulse of prospects and using drip campaigns as a constant reminder that you get them.
Personification personalizes drip sequences. Personifying drip sequences involves sharing case studies from real-life customers. That demonstrates a product's value and develops trust.
Depending on the priorities of your recipients, focus on case studies from businesses that are most like their own. For example, if you have a segment of recipients in real estate, send user reviews from that industry. If you have customers from popular organizations, their names lend you credibility.
If you take anything from this article, let it be this: quality over quantity.
A drip campaign is exactly that: It comes in drips. Your recipient should want more, and the current drip should always reference the previous one, but you should never give them too much.
A lot of companies focus on sending a high volume of emails at regular intervals every month. Just no. Open rates start to decline when the number of emails sent in a month goes beyond 16. Instead of sending marketing emails every day, you should send high-quality emails very few days.
For sales process drips, pre-template sequences for different parts of your sales cycle, and use workflow automation technology to trigger when those emails are sent, based on behavior. For example, cart abandonment emails should be sent automatically at intervals of 2-4 days.
Quality sequences have higher open rates than those with quantity simply because the recipient trusts that the email contains value.
Sales enablement ensures reps are provided with the variety of resources they need to sell—video, articles, guest posts, product guides, or something else. Every unit of content you send out should support your sales reps' discussions with customers at each stage of the journey.
Drip campaigns should be built upon the foundation of pushing a lead from one stage to another. For example, at the consideration stage, potential customers are most likely to compare your product to competitors', so content is based around decks you've designed for competitor comparisons.
You don't need a completely separate drip campaign for sales enablement content. Instead, it should be an extension of your personalization and segmentation practices for email sequences. Topics covered should aim to help leads overcome common objections. It should educate by emphasizing the utility of your product and ways it directly contributes to ROI.
How do you know when something is personalized, well-timed, relevant, and sales-enabled?
You A/B-test and optimize email sequences. You gather data around past emails and visualize them to understand what works and what doesn't.
Drip campaigns are a process; marketing is a journey. You need to constantly jig and rejig as audience preferences change.
Here are the most important metrics for measuring email, and the components that dictate them:
- Open rate provides an insight into who opens your emails, along with when and how. Anywhere above 15% is considered a good email open rate. If your rate is lower than that, you should analyze your subject line strategies.
- Clickthrough rate shows you how appealing your copy is, how clear your direction is, and how enticing your call to action is. Again, higher than 15% is a healthy CTR.
- Response rate allows you to analyze how actionable your CTA is and whether your emails are engaging enough for somebody to reply to. There's no benchmark for response rate; it depends on whether you want to be replied to.
- Conversion rate over time is a better measurement than the conversion rate of individual emails. If your last couple of emails haven't gotten much traffic, maybe you've convinced subscribers to purchase early. But if your last email got too much traffic, maybe your message wasn't clear enough.
- Unsubscribe rate is a big one, and unfortunately it's only ever bad news. If too many users unsubscribe from your emails, then you're sending too often. The closer to 0 unsubscribes, the better.
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Email automation was designed to make your working life easier. The problem is that the technology has evolved to such an extent, it's become too easy.
We can't lose our human touch; we mustn't over-automate ourselves to the point of irrelevance and unsubscription. Segmentation, personalization, timing, and testing are necessary.
Above everything else... keep it real.
More Resources on Email Sequencing
You may like these other MarketingProfs articles related to Email:
- Tips, Tricks, and Hacks for B2B Email Marketing Success: Michael Barber on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]
- New B2B Email Marketing Techniques That Work Right Now: Jay Schwedelson on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]
- Email Newsletters: Nine New Best-Practices
- How to Charge Up Your Email Marketing With Video Enhancements
- When and How to Use Plain-Text Email in Marketing: Use Cases, Design Best-Practices
- Email at Scale: How to Increase Campaigns and Manage Complexity