At its most basic level, marketing is about promoting products and services. But from million-dollar Super Bowl commercials to paying a high school kid to spin a cardboard ad down on main street, choosing which strategy to go with is no simple task.
And while there are countless ways to go about marketing your products and services, there's one thing every strategy must include: deeply personalized content.
Before the advent of digital marketing, the only cost-effective way to segment an ad’s audience was by publishing it in niche magazines and print media, which came with huge sacrifices in viewership. Even then the content was far from being truly personalized.
Then came email. Suddenly, you could market yourself for pennies on the dollar to anyone willing to provide you with his or her email address. Best of all, it was much easier to segment lists of addresses and tailor content based on unifying factors. But this was still a far cry from the personalization that today’s marketing platforms are capable of.
Personalize your marketing efforts with email automation
Rather than dumping a list of 10,000 addresses into the To: field and firing off a generic sales pitch, email automation software allows you to create personalized messages.
One of email automation's most basic features is the ability to add placeholders that will be replaced with client-specific information, such as inserting [client_name] into the subject line to make it look as though you wrote the email just for John Doe.
But perhaps the most valuable aspect of this technology is its ability to automatically draft and send emails whenever preprogrammed conditions are met. An email with only one condition would be something like an anniversary offer:
As of today, you’ve been with us for exactly [years_with_company] -- can you believe it? To show our appreciation, we’re inviting you to celebrate with 20% off anything in our online store!”
Getting the most out of automation with drip marketing
An anniversary email would be simple enough to manage and draft manually, but if you’ve got a few hundred customers, such a task would eat up an obscene amount of employee time and resources.
The ROI on email automation becomes much more apparent when you program workflows that are triggered by multiple conditions (e.g., a user signs up for your newsletter and later downloads a whitepaper on a specific product) that send multiple emails over several months. This is often referred to as drip marketing because of the way your ads trickle out over time.
The takeaway is this: Any piece of client information stored in your database can be used as a variable either to trigger templated emails, or personalize the content within those emails -- and there’s currently no better way to make prospects and customers feel cherished.
Email automation campaign ideas
The sky’s the limit when it comes to what you do with email automation. Because of its low cost, it levels the playing field between small and large organizations. Even with limited resources and less client data, drip marketing is mostly driven by imaginative content creation. Campaigns can range from simple one-offs to several-step paths to purchase:
- Blog article announcements - When clients sign up for your newsletter, it’s a clear indicator they want more content. With email automation, you can automatically generate messages that round up all the blog articles, eBooks, and videos that have been published since you last emailed a specific address.
- Reminder emails - From company events to online promotions, sometimes customers aren’t uninterested -- they’re just forgetful. One option is to automatically send out reminders about upcoming events and promotions based on customer habits so they’re sure to remember.
- Customer education - If your sales or onboarding process is overly complicated, automated emails are a great way to set a better pace for customers. You can separate your onboarding process into four steps and write an article about each one, then schedule those articles to go out one-by-one over time whenever someone requests a quote.
- Targeted sales - Enticing customers based on their previous purchases is a no brainer. For example, a lawn care company might automatically send out a discount on lawn mowers six months after a customer buys fertilizer.
Stats to back it up
Of course, great technology doesn’t always get great results -- just look at Google Glass. But for those who are understandably skeptical, the numbers speak for themselves. Accenture, one of the largest consulting firms in the world, polled 1,500 consumers and found that 75% were more likely to buy from a company that either 1) recognized them by name, 2) recommended options based on past purchases, or 3) knew their purchase history.
And in 2015, Statista published a report on the positive influence of subject line personalization. It claimed that the average improvement was 29.3% across all industries, with Consumer Products and Services seeing an improvement of 41.8%!
Those are great numbers, but a lot of business owners are still wary about alienating prospects by using their data in ways not explicitly authorized. Marketing analytics firm Magnetic surveyed users and found that 60% are comfortable having their shopping interests and behaviors tracked by retailers so they can receive relevant offers throughout the year.
Compete with the big boys
The marketing industry has come a long way from print advertisements and TV commercials. Most email automation tools cost less than ten bucks per month, which means even a small operation with just a handful of employees can create campaigns on par with big-name enterprises and set them in motion with minimal management.
Email automation allows for one-on-one interaction with consumers who have shown interest in your company, and there’s no better way to nurture them than by giving them personal attention. For more ideas on how to get the most out of email automation and other marketing platforms, download one of our FREE eBooks.
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