You know when your circle of friends is 20 minutes into a heated discussion about, say, which R.E.M. album was the best*, and then somebody interrupts just to say how long it took to find his shoes this morning? You’ve made it abundantly clear what’s relevant to you at that moment, and yet he insists on verbally retracing every step around his house with all the clarity of a Michael Stipe murmur.
If your email program’s not automated, you’re basically that friend. To everybody on your email list. All the time.
(Also, something came up, and I can’t hang out with you this weekend.)
When email inboxes are getting 4% more crowded each year, and over 60% of people say that most of those emails are irrelevant, dropping a well-timed email into the inbox is a great way to stand out. Automated emails are triggered by an individual user’s actions (or lack thereof). This ensures that you can cater to specific circumstances without having to lift a finger, all while enjoying an 83% increase in your conversion rate. Not bad for a not-hard-at-all day’s work.
Sending a good automated email can make the reader feel like you have a personal connection, but a poor one can come across as gimmicky and too promotional, like your Facebook friend who’s always pushing her health drink business. So check out these 5 kinds of automated emails that you should be sending, like the good pal you are.
1. The welcome email.
Being a good friend, surely you’re already sending the introductory emails that 3/4ths of people expect to get, so you can just nod your head in agreement through this part.
No pressure, but with an open rate up to 4 times higher than that of other mail, the welcome email is one of the most important automated emails you’ll send. Having just handed over their information, it only follows that the reader is pretty interested in what you have to offer right now, so an immediate welcome email can go a long way towards capitalizing on this interest and maintaining it.
That being said, they were nice enough to invite you into their personal inbox (or at least the inbox they designate for brand correspondence); you owe it to them to make it worthwhile. If they can’t discern your emails from the 8 million other brand emails they get, they’ll soon move on. Introduce yourself by making it clear what kind of emails they can expect. Are they signing up for discounts? Store news? Knock-knock jokes?**
A good welcome email also incentivizes them to action, whether it’s to complete their site profile, browse articles, or maybe start shopping. You don’t want to go for the hard sell, but presenting them with a sampling of your best content or an offer they can’t refuse might get them to keep clicking.
2. The Re-Engagement Email.
No matter how sweet that welcome email is, it won’t keep a few people from growing distant. Maybe they’ve neglected their accounts, left your emails unopened, or abandoned their cart. People forget; things come up. It happens. Still, since inactive subscribers can hurt your deliverability rates, it doesn’t hurt to jog their memory with a friendly hello. A friendly one, mind you, not a sales pitch. A little more, “Hey pal, thinking of you!” and less “my kid’s scout troop is selling popcorn, can I put you down for bacon ranch or kettle corn?”
For instance, if they never completed their site profile, you can drop them a friendly note the next day with a link to the incomplete parts. Better yet, show them a snazzy checklist with the finished sections marked off, and the unfinished parts hanging in the balance. People have a natural inclination to complete things, and the idea of filling in those missing links might be the kick in the psychological pants they need to hang out with you some more.
Effective re-engagement email doesn’t just tell someone to come back, it gives them a clear path to a specific action they can take. In other words, don’t be that friend who says “hey, let’s hang out” but doesn’t offer up any suggestions, because I’m already that friend, and we’re just going to walk around the block in circles if neither of us takes any initiative.
3. The Confirmation Email.
Speaking of that friend, there’s nothing worse than not knowing where things stand. Was my order accepted? Did my request for more information go through? Did we decide for sure that we were going to that costume party, or did I walk 12 blocks in full Thing 2 attire for nothing?
The confirmation email can be a giant sigh of relief to the customer, and a breath of fresh air to your online marketing strategy. Not only do confirmation emails have an open rate of 70%, but they’re also going to people who are proven customers. Because selling to an existing customer is 3 times more likely than converting a new one, this is an extremely valuable audience.
So first, let your reader know things are golden, then surprise them with something else while you still have their attention. Point them in the direction of some content they can enjoy! Show them how they can make the most of their new subscription! Be the kind of brand they’d be proud to be a Thing 1 with!
4. The Thank You Email.
One of the most important lessons your parents might teach you — apart from “Santa Claus doesn’t visit you if your room isn’t clean”*** — is to say please and thank you. Not only is it the polite thing to do, but simple gestures like that can increase brand loyalty.
Still, being nice doesn’t mean you can’t give them something to do! Whether you’re expressing gratitude for signing up, requesting information, or thanks for sticking around all this time, you want them to keep engaging with you. Setting up a quick thank-you email to be triggered immediately after their first conversion can very well initiate a secondary conversion.
Because they’ve taken action with your brand, they’re clearly aware of what you have to offer, but you’ve got more tricks up your sleeve. Point them towards a similar product, an article they haven’t read, or a feature they’ve yet to explore. I’m no Miss Manners, but I’m sure she’d tell you it’s common courtesy to end your emails with a nice CTA. Also, sit up. Stop slouching. Elbows off the desk!
5. The Unsubscribe Email.
People grow apart. It’s a fact of life. You find a new group of friends, or maybe you just find out how they voted. (Who knew the Prohibition Party was even still a thing?) If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably seen this coming: decreased site activity, the lack of conversions, and open rates screeching to a halt.
But fear not! Even if someone does hit “unsubscribe,” it’s not necessarily the end of your friendship. Say you’re sorry to see them go, but keep it short, because there’s still hope for keeping them on your list. One of the most common reasons people unsubscribe from a list is because of the volume of emails received. In fact, 53% of people believe brands send them too many emails. Providing an option to receive fewer emails, such as cutting that daily newsletter down to a weekly digest, may change their mind. It’s worth a shot.
If you can’t get them to stick around, it’s important that your unsubscribe email leaves a positive impression. Everyone who’s signed up for Hulu’s free trial, forgotten about it, and then quickly unsubscribed after getting a credit card bill remembers Hulu’s last-ditch effort to keep you around. Sure, seeing a quick, humor-filled video might not keep many people from canceling, but the experience may lodge itself back of their brains for the next time they decide to splurge on a streaming service. At the very least, it may remove the bad taste left by watching season 8 of The Office.
So…why aren’t you automating?
Given the ever-increasing amount of data available to marketers, there’s no reason not to go ahead with automation. Automated email programs build relationships, bring in revenue, and can can be set to accommodate a near-infinite number of scenarios. The sky’s the limit, but just barely: geotargeted emails triggered by weather events boast open rates 2.5 times that of traditional promotional emails.
Other emails could include a follow-up to ensure people are happy with a service they’ve purchased, compilations of articles related to their browsing history, or even a birthday greeting. In fact, birthday emails are especially effective, bringing in more than double the revenue of mass mailings. Just make sure your data-driven approach doesn’t involve reminding them how old they are. Come on, be a pal.
*Personally, I don’t think Reckoning gets enough reckonition.
**Knock-knock. Who’s there? Otto. Otto who? Otto Mation is a great way to boost conversion rates! (feel free to use this)
***Please tell me that’s a thing and I’m not just wasting my time.