What if you could press a button and all your lead generation and nurturing tasks would take care of themselves, leaving you free to focus on other aspects of growing your business?
Well…you can. It’s called email marketing automation, and when it’s done right, it nurtures your database with personalized, useful content that turns prospects into customers and customers into brand-loyal advocates.
Marketing automation comes with a few risks; first and foremost, the danger of bombarding prospects with information they’re not interested in. Hitting your list with the wrong kind of content at the wrong time is a waste of your time and resources, and risks burning bridges with potential customers who may opt to unsubscribe.
One of the most effective ways ways to implement email marketing automation is through what’s called a drip campaign. A drip campaign is a series of emails sequenced to go out to your list at specific, predefined moments, such as a site visitor opting in to your newsletter. The drip sequence is strategically timed to coincide with each prospect’s location within your inbound marketing funnel, and is designed to help keep them moving along through that funnel.
Drip campaigns are a powerful lead generation tactic. According to HubSpot, businesses that use marketing automation as a lead gen tactic experience a 451% increase in qualified leads.
An effective drip campaign doesn’t have to be too complex. A typical drip campaign has 3-5 emails in the sequence. Messaging that is simple, friendly, and approachable will go a long way toward making your campaign effective.
Integrate automation with inbound marketing strategy. Any email drip campaign you implement should support and promote your inbound marketing goals, whether that be lead generation, customer loyalty or business growth. Consult your core business goals before designing your drip sequence.
Segment your drips. Customize your campaigns based on segmented email lists so that the messaging meets the audience wherever they are in your sales funnel—nurturing campaigns for new prospects, engagement campaigns for recurring customers, and so on.
Automatic ≠ robotic. Too often, automated emails sound highly impersonal, the digital equivalent of speaking in monotone. It doesn’t have to be this way! Your marketing emails should sound as friendly and approachable as an email to a coworker. Your customers are human and so are you—so there’s no reason to talk like a robot.
No general blasts. Blast emails are a no-no for two reasons. One, customers have their guard up against anything remotely resembling spam, and an automated general blast will set off their sensors. Two, blast emails put you at risk of veering into robot territory; it’s hard to maintain a personal and personable tone in a blast email. Address your drip emails to individuals, and write to them like individuals.
Skip the hard sell. Make sure your drip emails contain useful, concise information about your company and how it will benefit the recipient. Save the hard sell for in-person conversations later in the sales process. Drip campaigns are just meant to make introductions and get the conversation started.
Plan the sequence flow strategically. Your drip campaign should follow a logical progression from one email to another, nudging recipients a little further down your sales funnel with each new message. Abrupt changes in topic from email to email will confuse and alienate your contacts.
Don’t wear out your welcome. If you haven’t received a response after you’ve completed your sequence, don’t continue to hound your contacts. Shift them onto a lighter nurturing list such as a monthly newsletter. It’s better to keep prospects engaged through a less frequent point of contact than to risk losing them altogether from too much communication. Perhaps in a few months their needs will change and the timing will be right for them to respond. Until then, make sure you’re nurturing, not being a nuisance.
Remember that email marketing automation isn’t meant to completely replace traditional business development. It can be helpful to streamline day-to-day lead generation and list nurturing tasks, but eventually a human is still intended to take over once a prospect makes contact and it is time to close the sale.
It’s important to stay engaged throughout the automation process as well, monitoring campaign performance, analyzing the results of A/B testing, and making adjustments based on how your audience responds to the content.
Marketing automation doesn’t eliminate your business development work, but it does help you work smarter, leaving you more time for strategy and making that personal connection with well-qualified leads.