High ROI and Engagement Through Automated Emails

What if you could create an email once and continue benefiting from it—without ever manually hitting ‘Send’ again?

By Sherri Hulett

The typical email-marketing campaign goes like this: You (or someone on your team) create an email, hit “Send,” analyze the results, and then move on to the next email, repeating the process.

But what if you could create an email once and benefit from it continuously—without ever manually hitting “Send” again?

That’s where automated emails come in. They allow you to create customized email series that automatically send, based on the subscriber’s activity (or inactivity)—with no manual button-pushing required.

Not only do automated emails have a high ROI (since you create them once, but benefit from them repeatedly), they also tend to get high engagement rates because they’re tailored to the subscriber’s behavior.

Simple transactional emails—for example the confirmation emails you get after purchasing or registering for something—get, on average, eight times more engagement than mass-marketing emails since they’re highly relevant to the subscriber, according to Campaign Monitor.

There are hundreds of automated email options—all of which can be done by a one-person shop with the right tools (such as Constant Contact or MailChimp), or a large business with enterprise-level software, like HubSpot and GetResponse.

Here are a few of the most popular and effective automated email campaigns:

1. Welcome email: If you’re limited on time and resources, then the perfect place to begin is a simple “welcome” email. This email can be easily set up in an email marketing platform, like MailChimp or Constant Contact, and is triggered once someone subscribes to your list.

Depending on your brand’s tone, this could be a personal welcome “letter” from your CEO or executive director, a simple “thank you” email that asks subscribers to follow you on social media, or a friendly email that introduces your staff to help humanize your brand.

Whatever it is, make sure your email has a clear call to action that encourages your subscribers to continue engaging with your brand.

2. An onboarding/educational series: One of the most effective email campaigns I’ve ever launched was a 10-part “onboarding” series, triggered after someone subscribed to my client’s email newsletter. The emails were sent several days apart (so we didn’t inundate our subscriber’s inboxes) and each one highlighted a different resource offered by my client to help educate new subscribers.

The emails received more than twice as much engagement as the brand’s other marketing emails, with some emails getting close to a 50% open rate. I saw this same high rate of engagement among all my clients when it came to onboarding emails. Why? Because they’re hyper-relevant to the subscriber and they capitalize on the subscriber’s newly found interest in your brand.

These campaigns don’t need to include 10 emails, though—two or three can do the trick, depending on your products or services. Beyond educating your subscribers, onboarding campaigns can offer a free gift or discount to build excitement and buy-in, request customer feedback with a survey, encourage subscribers to download your app or leave a review, share relevant content from your blog, feature social proof or case studies, or ask subscribers to refer a friend to your email list.

3. The “come back” email: Much like a person’s love life (but with slightly less drama), simply asking someone to “come back” can do wonders for your brand. This type of campaign is triggered after someone hasn’t engaged with your brand in a while—including not opening the last few emails or not making a purchase within an allotted time.

This type of campaign works for a few reasons: It encourages your customers to re-engage; it helps weed out un-engaged subscribers who are negatively skewing your data (i.e., decreasing your open rates and click-through rates); and it helps you keep existing customers—since, as you probably know, it’s considerably more expensive to get new customers than to keep existing ones.

Use this email or email series to remind your subscribers what’s in it for them if they stay subscribed. You also can share a special discount or store credit to entice them to come back.

A few more honorable mentions:

Lead nurture or “drip” campaigns (These are particularly helpful for B2Bs, since they help you nurture prospective leads without the pain of manually following up).

  • Happy birthday email.
  • Leave a review/give us feedback.
  • Post-event follow-up.
  • Event reminder.
  • Abandoned-cart reminder.
  • Wish-list sales.
  • Back-in-stock notices (This can be very effective for e-commerce companies).

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