We all know the basics of old-school email marketing: drip, drip, drip. Email fatigue. Unsubscribe.
We’re often asked by clients: is email marketing worth our time? They argue that audiences are so overwhelmed by their burgeoning inboxes, it’s nearly impossible to cut through all that clutter with a brand message. They hate the burdensome task of curating content for a monthly or quarterly e-newsletter. They aren’t seeing compelling analytics. Eventually, the effort falls by the wayside in favor of shinier marketing initiatives, email contact lists go stale and for many, email is no longer an important part of the marketing mix.
It’s a common scenario and understandably so – why invest time in a marketing effort that’s not resulting in any obvious engagement with your audience?
We argue that when done right, email is actually a powerful marketing tool, for both branding and business development. And the time suck argument? That’s where automation is your friend.
What is email automation and why does it matter?
Email automation allows you to automatically send out an email at a certain time or when triggered by a specific action. For example, let’s say you have a downloadable ebook that lives on your website. It’s on a specific topic that relates to a service you offer, so you know the downloader might be a potential future customer. With email automation, you can set up an email introducing your business to be sent out as soon as the download is complete. You can then schedule another one going out a week later that provides links to a blog post that might be relevant to the user, on a topic related to the initial ebook theme. You get the idea. Instead of dripping on your audience with old-fashioned e-newsletters and content they likely aren’t interested in, you set up email automation workflows based upon the visitor’s initial engagement. In this case, the ebook. From there, you get more sophisticated with the timing of the emails, the content and eventually, you offer a call-to-action, such as a free consultation.
Automated email campaigns, or “‘lead nurturing campaigns,” are designed to continue targeting this specific lead by providing reminders that encourage the downloader to re-engage with your business.
This type of targeted outreach is personalized and relevant to a specific user’s actions and therefore serves as both a branding and a relationship building tool. You’re keeping your audience engaged with email content that is targeted specifically to their actions and the stage they’re at in their relationship with your business.
The term “lead nurturing” often comes up when discussing email automation, and that’s exactly what the goal is. Many of the leads you bring in through various sources are potential customers that aren’t ready to commit quite yet. Through email automation, you can spend minimal time providing these leads with additional resources and educational materials that can turn them into paying clients.
That all sounds great, but how do you get email addresses to begin with?
New leads can come from a lot of places – social media, your blog or website, events you attend, or any type of advertising you do. The foundation of inbound marketing is to attract visitors to an engaging landing page on your website where they submit their email address via a form.
One method of advertising we focus on is Pay-per-Click ads (or “paid search”). With PPC, advertisers can bid on keywords their target audience is likely to search for and set the amount they’re willing to pay for each time someone clicks on their ad. Ads appear as the sponsored content we’re used to seeing at the top of our Google, Yahoo, etc. search results. Advertisers only pay when a user clicks on their ad, and because the keywords are so targeted, this results in high quality leads. These ad campaigns might promote content, such as the ebook mentioned above, or general brand awareness.
Once new audiences reach your website through PPC ads, you’ll want to engage them with a form or downloadable content to gauge their interests, and work them into your lead nurturing strategy.
Getting started with email automation can look like a simple “welcome” email workflow using email platforms such as MailChimp or Constant Contact. More robust automation campaigns might be a better fit for HubSpot (which we use often) or Pardot. Emails should be concise, offer valuable information and include a CTA (call-to-action) directing the reader to stay engaged within your brand’s ecosystem. Forget long quarterly e-newsletters. Figure out your audience’s interests and serve them everything from videos to blog posts to case studies. These are important touchpoints that keep your helpful brand materials at the top of their inbox.
Learn more about the digital marketing services we offer, and get in touch if you need help figuring out the best ways to grow and engage your audience.