Automated email marketing – The Columbus Dispatch

To most small businesses email marketing means having a list of subscribers you periodically send emails to. However, did you know you can create automations to segment out your audience, send them specific emails based on certain actions or attributes and create email workflows for your customers to go through? And to get started it is fairly easy?

First of all, let’s start with why a small business would be interested in email automation. Not all customers are the same. They may have different reasons for coming to you, different levels of needs, and different histories of working with your business. For example, a brand new customer you may want to send a series of emails to welcome, educate and engage. This is typically referred to as a “drip email campaign” or “drip marketing.” The idea is to send a series of emails spread out over time to warm up the relationship. You are not sending emails to your whole list (as many members on the list are not new) but rather sending single emails to a single person based on the time they joined.

You may also want to create email automation based on the customer’s engagement. For example, you may have a group of super dedicated fans that want as much information as possible about what you are doing. You may also have a group of customers who, while happy with your services, either don’t need or aren’t interested in frequent interaction. If you don’t have enough contact with your super fans, you may lose their interest. But if you send too much to the other group you may annoy them to the point of avoiding you.

There are several ways you could automatically segment these groups. You could 1) have an email that periodically goes out asking what level of interaction they would like and depending on their answer, group them appropriately, or 2) measure the open and click rates of your audience and set thresholds to automatically move them to different groups depending on their engagement rate. Either way you will have a better engaged audience.

There are a whole host of other strategies and approaches you can take with email automation. Automatically sending out emails based on number of days from a certain event such as sign up, purchase, opening a specific email, etc. is just one method. Additionally you can use decision trees in your automation logic such as have they made a purchase this year, do they live within a certain distance of your location, are they retail or industrial customer, and the list goes on.

Now of course in order to achieve all of this you do need data. Some data is easy to get, such as what date did the customer sign up for the mailing list. Other data can be a bit more tricky to collect such as where do they live (especially true if you are not an online retailer). Your automated email marketing campaign will need to be based on the data you can collect.

Fortunately there are strategies here. Because automation typically relies on data, many customer relationship management (CRM) software has built in or easy to integrate automated email options. CRMs will let you collect and save data about your current and potential customers. You can link these systems to registration, purchase forms, invoices, and other transactional data sources you use in the daily course of your business.

Putting together these automations also is typically fairly easy. Solutions like Hubspot, Infusionsoft, and Active Campaign (all CRMs with automated email) will allow you to graphically lay out the automation. Your diagrammed workflow of automation will have things such as “wait 1 week then send welcome email” and “if this condition then send this email, else send something different.” These tools tend to be user friendly and all point and click.

Automated email campaigns offer a lot of benefits to small businesses. They are easy to set up and offer plenty of room to experiment and expand. You are able to group customers and engage with them how they wish much better than any manual or simple bulk campaign. In my opinion, they are at least worth a look.

Brian Boyer is the managing partner of Web Pyro (http://? located in Wooster.