When you’re adding expertise to your skillset as an email marketer, it is imperative to learn the techniques that drive the best results and move to email automation. Automated emails can generate much higher response rates, with almost 75 percent higher open rates and 162 percent click-through rates, when compared to bulk emails. They are more personalized and targeted because they are based on a user’s actions, and they save you time because they are set up in advance. 

Most of the email marketing software offers email automation, but there is a drawback to all of this: Although email is easy to do, it’s also easy to do poorly especially when it comes to email automation. You know the saying, out of sight is out of mind. Once your automated email campaigns are set up and running, you might neglect them. So make sure you’re optimizing your email automation right from the start with these 12 tips.

1. Know Your Email Automation Goals

To drive better results from your automated email campaigns, know your goals. This means know your goals for the series if it’s more than one email, and for each individual email within that series, as well as for each automated email you use. For example, if it’s a transactional email like a shipping confirmation, do you want to reinforce your brand with that email or simply confirm shipping? If it’s a welcome email, is your goal to set expectations, or to drive traffic to a landing page? Be clear on the goal before you do anything else.  

2. Strive for Great Content in Your Automated Email Campaigns

Your automated emails will only be more clutter in the inbox and easy to ignore unless you strive to deliver great content. As an email marketer, your number one concern is to be wanted. Not just delivered, not just opened, but actually wanted, desired and anticipated. This is particularly true if you’re doing a series of emails. Deliver content your customers enjoy, find useful, and want to get, and your emails will be anxiously awaited.

3. Write Content that Sounds Human

It’s email automation. Your emails are being sent automatically with no participation by you. But they shouldn’t read like a machine wrote them. No matter what you’re marketing with automated emails, your messages will have more impact if they read like a human wrote them…especially a human who cares. 

4. Use a From Name that Makes Sense

The From name you use for your automated email campaigns matters because that is the first place most people will look when deciding whether to open an email. There isn’t a right or a wrong From name to use, but put some thought into it. Will someone be more likely to open an email from your company name? Or from a person? You probably don’t want to use a From name like Sales, although you might be able to get away with Customer Service as a From name. The point is to think about it, then test different From names to see which works best. 

5. Spend Time on Your Subject lines

Subject lines are likely the second thing someone will look at when deciding whether to open your email, yet marketers tend to spend too little time on them. They deserve more time! When it comes to your email marketing automation, subject lines can get your emails opened, or ignored, or reported as spam. And when it comes to email automation, you have an opportunity to train people to watch for your emails by using well-thought out subject lines that are somewhat similar and consistent. 

6. Lead Your Recipients Along a Path

When you’re planning your email marketing automation strategy, plan to lead your recipients down a path if you’ll be sending a drip campaign or other type of series. Think of each email in the series as another signpost or a stepping stone that is slowly but surely leading the recipient toward your end goal: a sale. If you’re a B2B marketer offering content assets, think through the order that makes the most sense for the recipient. If you’re a B2C marketer trying to convert someone from a prospect to a customer, think through your offers.  

7. Use Little Asks for Little Yesses

When you’re developing your automated email campaigns, avoid going for a big ask early on. I see this a lot with B2B marketing when the first automated email that’s triggered asks the recipient for a meeting. That’s a big ask. Instead, determine little ‘asks’ such as reading a blog post, downloading a guide or watching a short video. The more often the recipient says “yes” to a little ask and likes what they get, the more likely they are to say “yes” to a big ask when it comes…like that meeting.

8. Be Sequential with Your Email Automation

Rather than creating several stand-alone emails to be sent one after another, create well-aligned emails that can be sent in a sequence in an email campaign. If you require, save time by re-using content from one automated email campaign in another. That’s okay as long as you tweak the messaging to fit exactly into the sequence you’re dropping it into.

9. Make the Sequence Logical

What is a logical thought pattern for a prospect as they get these emails from you? In what order should your information be presented to make the most sense? For example, let’s say you sell printed wedding supplies like invitations. You could line up the topics of your emails based on when brides typically move on to the next step in the planning process. They probably purchase save-the-date cards first, then invitations, then materials for the reception, like menu cards or giveaways. 

10. Use Designated Landing Pages 

Make sure you use a landing page specific to the email marketing message you're sending out, not to a generic web page. And make sure the landing page matches the corresponding email in look and feel to ensure a seamless experience and decrease friction. 

11. Label with Logic 

One piece of advice outside of the creation of the emails: When you’re setting up your automated email campaigns, label emails with logic to avoid confusion later. Choose a naming system for labeling your emails and campaigns and stick to it, one that makes sense to other people too. If someone can’t look at the label and know exactly where that email fits in with your automated campaigns, you’ll have problems when content needs updating or even deleting. Also be consistent with the naming of assets that are part of the campaigns. For example, if you offer a tip sheet on pet care, use a specific label like July 2018 Tip Sheet on Pet Care so it’s easy to know what that asset is, and not something generic like Newest Tip Sheet, which won’t mean anything to anyone in a few weeks.

Bonus Tip: Pay Attention

Even if you apply all 12 of these tips to your email automation, make sure to review your automated campaigns on a regular basis to ensure the content is still current. Also diligently track your email reporting to make sure emails are getting delivered, open and acted upon.

Getting Better at Email Marketing Step-by-Step

Using email marketing automation can make your job easier as user behavior triggers emails and keeps people moving through the sales pipeline from prospect to customer. It’s just one more reason why email is such a cost-effective and powerful digital marketing tool. Master automated emails to generate even better results, but also make sure you stay on top of all the ins and outs of advanced email marketing tactics and techniques. Because each step you take to optimize your email marketing program will incrementally improve your ROI.  

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