How to create an email marketing automation strategy
Last updated: September 6, 2023
To succeed in 2023, enterprise marketers need to scale their email marketing — without losing the personal touch their customers expect. The solution? Marketing automation.
Marketing automation is technology that automatically manages marketing processes and campaigns, across multiple channels. With pre-scheduled, automated campaigns, marketers can guide customers through a cross-channel customer journey that’s tailored to their individual needs, without having to manually choose who gets which email.
Just getting started with marketing automation? Want to take your strategy to the next level — or shopping for new marketing automation solutions? You’re in the right place.
Get ahead with innovative marketing automation! Unleash conversions & engage audiences:
In this guide, we’ll go over email marketing automation, the biggest benefits of marketing automation, and tell you how to use it to build better campaigns:
What is an Email Marketing Automation Strategy?
You could drop copy into a marketing automation solution, click schedule and leave it at that. But if you stick with one-size-fits-all messaging, you’ll miss opportunities to connect with your audience and convert new customers.
An email marketing automation strategy is a plan describing how you’ll automate workflows, triggers, and personalized content to engage your audience and earn business. This involves automated sequences of emails that are sent based on user behavior, events, or specific criteria.
If you’re doing it right, you’ll reach your audience more efficiently and effectively while minimizing manual work.
7 Tips to Plan and Enhance Your Email Marketing Automation Strategy
1: Collect Customer Data From Every Touchpoint
So you can send a much higher quantity of emails through marketing automation. But how can you ensure that each of those messages are still targeted and personalized for everyone in your audience?
The more you segment your audience, the easier it’ll be to tailor communications based on someone’s activity, content history, purchase history, demographics and behaviors. But it’s really hard to do this accurately if your data’s not current and complete.
So before shopping for marketing automation solutions, ensure your data’s as clean as possible. Some places to start:
- Consider using a customer data platform to consolidate data from all of your marketing channels into one place. Besides just taking in data, CDPs also add incoming information to each user’s customer profile according to automated workflows. This keeps all of your customer profiles current across every channel. (So your segments will be as actionable and narrow as possible!)
- Adopt uniform standard data labels and collection procedures across teams to minimize the need for data cleaning and standardization.
- Clean your database at least once per quarter following these best practices.
2: Define Your Email Marketing Automation Goals
What do you want to achieve with marketing automation? What are your biggest priorities? How do you want marketing automation to improve customer journeys and drive conversions?
Keep these questions in mind as you build your marketing automation strategy. Some common use cases include:
- Nurture new leads through cross-channel outreach campaigns.
- Introduce new subscribers and customers to additional content and resources with an email welcome series. (See how Becker’s Healthcare got 1,000 new signups with their welcome series here!)
- Win back lapsed subscribers with a re-engagement campaign.
- Avoid unnecessary churn by firming up your payment funnel. Through automated campaigns, remind customers with expiring credit cards to renew their payment information or recover payments from customers with failed transactions.
- Earn your customers’ trust and reduce early churns through transactional and payment confirmation emails.
3: Segment Your Audience for Precise Targeting
We touched on the importance of segmentation earlier. Once you’ve defined your ICP, you can start organizing those customers into different marketing segments based on their job title and location, industry, behaviors, purchase history, content browsing history and more. (Find more ways to segment your audience here.)
4: Create Personalized Messaging
After creating your segments, use your website analytics, email reports and customer feedback to determine what each segment needs to hear from you. What knowledge, resources and tools do they need to succeed in their roles? To get promotions or customers? What’s their comfort level with your product? How do you want them to feel at each stage of their customer journey? Use this to write personalized emails for each of your audience segments.
5: Maximize Your Email Deliverability
Imagine taking all of the steps we’ve listed so far, only for all your emails to end up in spam. If your deliverability tanks, you won’t be able to reach the inboxes of your target audience – and it’s much harder to rebuild your sender reputation.
Protect your sending reputation and deliverability with these tips:
- Maximize email engagement. Inbox service providers use your open, click and click-through rates to determine whether your list finds your emails relevant and trustworthy. So monitoring and optimizing your engagement stats is the best way to protect your deliverability long term.
- Don’t use spam-trigger words: Words like “100% free” and “too good to be true” might accurately reflect your offer, but ISPs flag these emails with these words as spam. To stay out of spam, avoid using these words in your subject lines.
- Run re-engagement campaigns at least once per quarter: Disengaged subscribers drag down your metrics and ultimately harm your deliverability. From a deliverability perspective, you’re better off deleting these people from your list (and trying to re-engage them later on) than continuing to email them.
But some people might opt into staying on your list if given the option. To separate the latter from the former, run a re-engagement campaign prompting people to opt into receiving more emails from you. Then remove anyone who didn’t opt in from your list.
- Use a marketing automation solution with a dedicated deliverability team. For instance, Omeda’s deliverability team monitors deployments to spot potential issues before they harm your sending reputation.
6: Conduct A/B Testing on Your Email Marketing Automation Campaigns
Small variations in your strategy can have a big impact on your success. But it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which changes will yield conversions until you’ve tested it for yourself. As you send your emails, conduct A/B tests to compare different subject lines, design variations and preview text against one another. With this information, you can replicate the strategies that work and stop the ones that don’t — and rest easy knowing it’s backed by data.
7: Measure and Analyze Results
Once you’ve set up your campaigns, monitor them for signs of success or places to improve. Pay close attention to steep drops in engagement between one message and the next, as this could indicate an issue with your email design or automation setup.
Also check your reports to see how your audience engages with your emails. Opens, clicks and click-throughs can give you a good idea of how your audience is responding to your messages. But for best results, you need to know how each individual engages with your messages on a more granular level.
Omeda provides several reports to make this easier, including:
Heatmap reports: The heatmap report tells you where your audience clicks most frequently. Use this to decide where to put your CTAs.
Opens by Device: See how your emails perform across different devices and formats. Check these reports just after new iPhone and Android rollouts to make sure that your designs are still optimized for your recipients’ devices.
Tracking Links Clicked: This tells you how many people clicked each link within an email. If you’re sending a newsletter with multiple articles, use this to evaluate which articles drive the most website traffic.
URL Click Report: The URL Click Report tells you which recipients clicked each link in your email. Use this to inform your segmentation and content strategy to get even more clicks going forward.
Clickbot Summary Report: Up to 50% of all website and email clicks are fake, which could distort your reports and decision making. While many ESPs — including Omeda — automatically remove fake clicks from email reports, it’s still worth knowing how much of your email traffic is real. Omeda’s Clickbot Summary Report tells you how many clicks were counted and negated due to the automated click activity that occurred at the receiving servers. You can also see why each “fake” click was negated and use it to diagnose any domain-level issues.
Frequent Questions About Email Marketing Automation
What is email marketing automation?
Email marketing automation refers to the use of technology and software to streamline and automate various aspects of an email marketing campaign. Typically, marketers will use predefined rules, triggers, and workflows to send personalized emails to a specific audience at the right time. This targeted approach allows marketers to deliver timely and relevant to each of their subscribers without excess manual work. Everyone gets the information they need and marketers reduce the risk of error or campaign waste.
What is the difference between email flow and email automation?
Email flow refers to the process of strategically arranging and sequencing emails within a specific campaign. For example, you might send every subscriber with an expiring credit card a reminder to renew their payment 30 days before their next payment, then send additional reminders 20 and 10 days before the payment date.
Email automation is the technology that you’d use to execute this process, from querying your audience for people with expiring credit cards, to personalizing each individual email and sending them at specific times and dates.
What are the benefits of email automation?
Create customized audience journeys in less time: Drip campaigns are evolving from simple email series to orchestrated campaigns covering emails, ads, and other channels. This gives marketers more chances to connect with prospects, but it also demands more and more resources. But with marketing automation, you can create drip campaigns more quickly, then run them on autopilot for weeks or months.
Engage and convert website visitors: Through website behavior tracking, you can see how your leads are engaging with your site and adapt your strategy in response. Over time, your website “learns” more about the visitor’s preferences and directs them to pages that will encourage them to make a purchase. Besides generating revenue for the organization, this also improves the user experience and increases the likelihood that they’ll return for another purchase.
Personalize customer experiences: We already touched on the increasing demand for customization. While it’s a common misconception that automated emails are robotic, marketing automation can actually result in more personalized outreach. The best automated emails are targeted to specific segments of a customer base, like people who downloaded the latest eBook or attended a related webinar. In that case, marketing automation functions more like a friend telling you what book you should read next.
Increase ROI: If your segments and targeting are on point, marketing automation targets each audience member with the right message at the right time.
Improve email performance: Marketing automation campaigns have ways to filter unengaged recipients out of future emails. These contacts are also suppressed from future use, reducing your risk of spam complaints and deliverability issues.
What are the risks of email automation?
Lack of personalization: If your targeting is too broad, or your messaging is flat, your automated emails won’t sound authentic or meaningfully address your audience’s problems.
Spam and over-messaging: It’s easy to accidentally spam your audience if you’ve got your marketing automation program on autopilot. Besides hurting your email engagement metrics, this also opens you up to spam complaints and deliverability issues.
Data accuracy and quality: Marketing automation campaigns rely on precise targeting and, in turn, accurate audience data. If your audience data is incomplete or siloes, your automated campaigns won’t be as targeted or effective.
Quality issues: Whether you’re sending 10 emails per day or 10,000, quality still matters. If you’re not speaking to your audience’s needs, your campaigns still won’t generate clicks, conversions or sales.
Loss of flexibility: Over-automating your marketing communications can make it more difficult to respond to market conditions or current events in real time.
What is an email automation sequence?
An email marketing automation sequence is a series of pre-scheduled, automated emails that are sent based on specific triggers or events. These are designed to guide recipients through a carefully planned journey, provide them with relevant content, and encourage specific actions, such as making a purchase, signing up for a webinar, or completing a form.
Have more questions about email marketing automation? Request a demo with our team of email marketing experts to see how Omeda can work for your organization.
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