Automating your marketing can free up your valuable time to focus on the core competencies of your business. With marketing automation, you will efficiently and effectively gather leads, nurture those leads and convert them into more business.
Email is the primary tool for automating marketing. Building a valuable email list can be hard work, but with time and effort, it’ll become an automated way to educate both prospective and existing customers about your industry and business.
Creating Email Marketing Sequences
Crafting email marketing sequences is the first step towards automating your marketing attempts.
Automation technology has advanced allowing you to send completely different messaging based entirely on the actions (or lack of action) taken by the recipient. We call these “variable” campaigns and sequences. For example, if a prospect follows the desired action, like clicking a link in your email, automation can move the prospect to a different sequence with different messaging to help encourage further progress through the sales funnel. You can also use automation to prompt human action, like a phone call from your team based on particular actions from the recipient.
Recommended Tools for Marketing Automation
AlphaMind Studios prefers tools like MailChimp and Infusionsoft for automation. They provide great flexibility in creating sequences, running split-tests, and variable campaigns. The possibilities are almost endless with tools like these and they can make a world of difference in ensuring your valuable time is spent on the most fruitful activities.
There are far more options out there to explore. NG Data has put together a comprehensive list of the top marketing automation software out there.
Interpreting Open Rate vs. Reply Rate
Once you’ve created your sequences and started running them, you’ll start accruing valuable data. Two key metrics you’ll want to analyze are open rate and reply rate.
1. Open rate - As the most important metric, the open rate reflects the number of people in your list that have opened your emails and read the excellent content that you’re sending out. A high open rate indicates that you have strong subject lines and an active audience. What if your open rate is lower than you’d like? Here are a few reasons to consider:
a. Timing and frequency - It’s possible you’re simply sending emails at the wrong time of day, or with the wrong frequency (how often you send emails). To adjust your timing, sort your open report chronologically. Look at the average time of day when your recipients opened your email versus when the email was sent. Then, adjust your send times accordingly.
b. Subject line - Outside of being a “known sender” (your recipient knows who you are), the subject line of your email will have the next greatest impact on your open rates. Are you writing captivating subject lines that beg to be opened? Do you get to the point of your email within the first ten words? Identify keywords and topics that you’ve had success with on your blog or social media posts. Consider using those as subjects in your email marketing campaigns. Experiment with different subject lines; make some funny, make some shocking, make some intriguing and let the data make your decisions for you. With automation tools, you can even change your subject line for people who didn’t open your message and send them the same email!
c. Content might not be interesting - Does the content that you’re sending out in your email marketing campaigns deliver upon the initial promise you made to the subscriber? If not, you’re missing the mark entirely and this is why your open rate is suffering. Focus on content that’s relevant to your initial offering. If you earned their email address by providing information about yoga in the office, don’t send them information about places to go to practice yoga.
2. Reply rate - Not all emails will require a reply, but if that is your desired action, how often are people replying to your emails? This important metric can you understand how effective your emails are. Did you include a call-to-action for the recipient to reply back to your email?
Your data must be clean and accurate when using marketing automation. With proper management and ongoing maintenance of your lists, your communication will:
Are you continuing to add value to your prospects through your communications? Are you staying in front of your target audience on a consistent basis? Our Marketing Automation services will allow you to focus on what you do best, knowing professional consistent communication is moving prospects through the funnel!
Split Test Subject Lines and Content Variables
Earlier, we discussed how poor subject lines can impact your open rates. Fortunately for you, there’s a technique you can use to try out different subject lines: split testing. A split test is when you simultaneously test two or more subject lines by sending them to different subscribers on your list and evaluating the results.
The exact method of executing a split test will vary based on the email program you’re using, but every email marketing program worth your time will have a split testing feature.
Split test different subject lines, and then analyze the open rate, click through rate and reply rate for each of the variations. Which variation performed the best?
The personalization of your message can also have a dramatic impact on the performance of your campaign. With marketing automation tools, personalization becomes easier with the use of content variables. A content variable is a placeholder that you insert into the email that will populate information from the subscriber. The ability to use content variables is dependent upon the information that you captured initially. If you captured a first and last name, you can use those in your emails (and email subjects) to grab their attention. Instead of saying “Hey Subscriber,” you can say, “Hey Daniel.” See how much more personal that is?
Experiment with split testing subject lines that contain content variables. Write some subject lines that have a content variable in them, some that don’t, and see the results. Analyze them in the same way: open rate, click through rate and reply rate. How did the content variables perform? Were they worth using?
How to Develop and Cultivate Your Email List
Email is one of the best ways to cultivate lasting relationships with your customers. However, in order to make the most of your email marketing campaigns, you need to grow and cultivate a worthwhile email list.
There are several techniques you can use to effectively grow your subscriber list, even if you’re just starting out:
- Have a prominent opt-in form(s). Consider the ability to subscribe to your email list as one of the most valuable aspects of your website. As such, the opt-in form to sign up for it should be displayed prominently on your website. It should be available on every page, blog post and article. You might even want multiple opt-in forms that will allow you try different copy and see what works best.
- Provide clear value for subscribing. What does the subscriber get in exchange for their precious email address? Consider creating a free white paper, ebook or other downloadable resources that will be given away when someone signs up. Every email marketing platform will have the capability of automatically sending out a free PDF or ebook.
Additionally, beyond the initial offering, make it clear that by subscribing they are going to receive some value in their inbox. Convey this with expertly crafted copy.
- Publish a niche-specific newsletter. One of the best ways to grow your email list is to publish a high-quality newsletter. If you get even one subscriber, and your newsletter is of the utmost quality, they will likely tell their friends who are interested in the same niche. By publishing a niche-specific newsletter, you’ll be able to earn credibility within your industry and establish yourself as an authority.
If you’re just starting out, it may take some time to build a valuable newsletter following. However, don’t be discouraged by the lack of subscribers. Focus on providing quality content and driving traffic to opt-in forms. With time and effort, you’ll have a thriving email subscriber list.
If you’ve already accumulated lists of emails over the years, it’s a best practice to ensure the quality of your data before embarking on any sort of mass mailing. The idea behind validating your data is twofold:
- You’ll get better deliverability
- You’ll avoid being blacklisted by Email and Internet Service Providers (ESP, ISP).
Here are several affordable options to help you validate your data:
You might be surprised how much time it would take you to clean your own data. This is a worthwhile investment.
Calculating the ROI of Marketing Automation
Start by adding up how much you’ve invested in automation software, then subtract that from all the revenue you’ve generated from your automated marketing initiatives. The result is the ROI of your marketing automation.
That resulting number doesn’t even take into account the value of your time that you saved from trying to manually manage all that activity.
Are you ready to start automating your marketing initiatives? We’d love to help you. Our tailored programs will help you automate much of your work so that you can focus on the core of your business.
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