You may think automated email sounds a lot like spam email but, if used sparingly and carefully, it is a powerful content marketing tool that recipients will appreciate.
Most decent email marketing platforms offer the possibility to create automated email campaigns for little or no extra cost. Most businesses however overlook this possibility and don’t utilise automated emails at all, missing out on the potential benefits.
What is automated email?
Automated email campaigns, also known as auto-responders, are marketing emails created in advance and sent automatically by the email marketing platform as and when certain conditions are met. A wide range of events can be used to trigger an automated email; examples include time lapses (e.g. send in three days' time), key dates and sign-up form completions.
Automated emails are the perfect way to acknowledge an action that has been performed by a customer or prospect and ensures that they don’t feel confused, uncertain or frustrated afterwards. They can also be used very effectively as customer relationship and life-cycle management tools.
In addition, every automated email you send is an opportunity to offer a follow-on call to action. For example, you could offer an additional download in return for more data, or suggest that your contact shares your offer with others.
Here are just a few ways in which you could start using automated emails today:
'Thank you for signing up' email
When a contact first signs up to your newsletter or mailing list, thank them in an automated email.
This immediately demonstrates that you value and are grateful for their contact details. It also provides confirmation their sign-up was completed successfully and they can expect the promised results.
As mentioned above, it also gives you an opportunity to offer your contact another call to action and perhaps obtain more data on them.
'Download confirmation' email
If a contact downloads a piece of content from you, you probably already send them to a thank you, confirmation or download page. That's excellent, but once your contact moves away from that page, it can be quite hard for them to gain access to the content again or to share it with others.
Send them an automated follow up email to achieve several benefits. Firstly, you can offer them a permanent link to download the content from in the future. This increases the likelihood that your contact will utilise it in full and that it might generate a lead for you. Secondly, you put your contact details right in their inbox alongside the content, meaning if they do want to reach out, they know how to. Thirdly, increase the likelihood that they will share you content with other by providing lasting links to the conversion page.
'Product tour' emails
Best suited to sellers of software as a service, use a sequence of automated emails to ensure your prospect makes the most of the their opportunity to test your product.
Don't leave it to chance that your prospect will proactively explore your product during a free trail window, help them along by educating them about key features and benefits. Over the trial period, send regular, but not overwhelming, emails with guidance how to get the most out of your product.
Don’t forget to warn them when their free trial is ending too. These emails together should increase your free trial to customer conversion ratio.
'Up-sell' and 'cross-sell' emails
When a customer first purchases a product, introduce them to other relevant products and services (such as service plans and warranties), without falling back into the old outbound sales methodology, by sending carefully created automated emails. Let them decide for themselves if they are interested or not and the customer will thank you for it later.
'Customer relationship' and 'life-cycle' emails
Using key dates as triggers you can easily use automated emails to enhance your management of both customer relationships and life-cycle.
Most email marketing platforms allow you to send automated emails both on key dates of the year and after a specific number of days, or hours, have lapsed. Using this feature you can send your customer an automated birthday greeting, remind them of service renewal dates or send them time-sensitive special offers.
Personalised and segmented
Despite being automated, the above emails have both the personalisation (especially if you insert personal information) and segmentation qualities of best practice email marketing and, once they are set up, it all takes place without you lifting a finger.