The phenomenon that has taken the marketing landscape by storm decades ago, is still used as a vehicle for 1:1 customer engagement in B2B sales, today. Ever heard of automated email marketing? We would bet our last dollar you have. After all, over 3 billion people will use email by the year 2020 – almost half of the world’s population!
Alas, email marketing in B2B sales no longer looks like your grandfather’s old approach to selling. Forward-thinking companies are working more and more towards marketing and sales alignment to optimize the funnel and streamline the lead nurturing process.
Okay. But what’s marketing and sales alignment? And, what’s lead nurturing, anyway?
Have you noticed that whenever your sales results are not meeting your expectations, your marketing and sales teams always have something to say about one another?
But, when both teams are working together, with common sets of definitions on ideal customers and which message should go with each touchpoint, you’ve got a lead nurturing process that actually works!
When marketing and sales are aligned, the customer journey is defined, making moving prospects through the marketing funnel and sales pipeline a more effective and winning process.
Automated email marketing – What, How, and Why?
Automated emails are marketing emails that are automatically sent to recipients using “predefined triggers.” These triggers enable us to send an automated message based on a user’s behavior. Has the user opted-in to listening to your podcast? Has the user downloaded one of your guides? Whatever action the prospect has taken, an email is automatically sent through an automated email marketing program: “if this” – “send that.”
Building an effective email automation sequence
Let’s look at four key processes you need to cover before hitting that Enter key to trigger a sequence.
1. Decide whom do you want to target
The first step is to narrow down the kind of buyers you are looking to target by analyzing their demographics and interests. What are their requirements? What are their goals? What are their needs? Answer these questions, and you will establish buyer personas, ultimately making it easier to find more of the same buyers.
You should be looking at what problems your customers are facing, and where the needs gap is. When you figure that out, you can craft the right messages, target consumers, and nurture them further.
2. Produce content you can include in automated email campaigns
Using the information collected in the first step, aim to have content that matches the needs of your target audience. But, according to Marketing Profs and the CMI, 63% of businesses don’t have a documented content strategy in place. If the goal is to generate leads, you need content to inform your prospects. Provide a resources section on your website: guides, white papers, infographics sheets, etc. Send an email to your recipient with a link to an article on your website.
3. Set up the automated email sequence
When launching an email automation sequence, you need to have a vision of guiding users to take action. You need to work with “the-end-in-mind” to see which messages will move prospects down the sales funnel, and which will be most effective for future campaigns.
Here is an email sequence in action:
- Sign up to receive news on a website
- Email 1: Useful content
- Email 2: Use cases and social proof
- Email 3: Call-to-action (CTA) to sign up for a demo
Congratulations! You’ve just set up an automated email campaign.
4. Measure. Rinse. Repeat.
The thing about automated email marketing is that the work is never done. It is a constant process of re-evaluating and redefining the campaigns. Opt-in style has to be improved, offers need to be personalized, and the messages need to be re-crafted again and again. You need to continuously test subject lines and email messages to improve results. After all, emails with personalized subject lines have a 29.3% higher open rate.
Avoiding common automated email marketing mistakes
Despite all the potential of email automation, there are certain risks which need to be considered. Keeping these risks in mind and avoiding them can help fine-tune your automated email marketing campaigns. Let’s explore.
1. Automating before you know what works
A mistake we often see is crafting automated emails in bulk based on untested assumptions. Should the second email be a case study to increase the attractiveness of your offering or a quote from a security expert to reduce anxiety?
At Outfunnel we aim to first learn where leads get stuck and try different approaches to address these issues manually. Only after seeing the responses they generate (or rather, don’t generate) do we take the next step and automate.
2. Turning your automated emails on without testing
No matter how well-versed you are with automated email marketing, or how well you have built the strategy, testing is key to ensuring that everything runs smoothly. Testing, testing, and more testing! The golden rule of email marketing.
3. Sending too many emails
If you automate a lot of emails, your exhausting your leads. Start small, and gradually add more automated emails to the series. The time gap in between will help your users adjust to the email frequency and you won’t be put at risk of email overload.
What does automated email marketing look like in 2019
Stay current with email marketing trends when choosing the right platform for your business. Here’s a list of what best-in-class platforms incorporate:
According to Litmus, 46% of email is now opened on a mobile device. You must make your emails mobile-compatible. Design has to be there, and, of course, messaging.
The right automated email marketing platform makes it easy to create and send personal-looking email sequences. When the most effective and optimized words are used to target a prospect, with copy that resonates and delights, closing rates increase. Leading companies are investing in content marketing in 2019 more than ever.
The right automated email marketing tool often has a machine learning component to it. Machine learning is used in B2B email marketing tools by providing a set of data to effectively perform a specific function through trial and error. Research shows that there is a 23% increase in conversions when machine learning is used for subject line testing.
Pick the right tools to automate your email marketing
Now that you have a better handle on what an automated email marketing campaign does and looks like, it’s time to take your marketing and sales teams to the next level.
There are various complex and expensive email automation platforms out there, but smart companies can find a solution for less than $100 per month (see how we at Outfunnel go about automating our email marketing).