The value of using automated emails—those triggered by customer actions, such as a purchase or download—goes deeper than just saving the marketer the trouble of sending individual emails manually. Consider just a few of the many ways an automated email could escort a customer to the next step in their engagement:
- Updating a customer about the price or availability of a product in their wish list
- Reducing cart abandonment with reminders and/or discounts
- Reminding customers about the upcoming subscription renewals for products and services
- Alerting customers about travel changes
- Onboarding new customers with multi-step triggers
For those who still doubt if an automated email marketing system is worth the time and money, consider these six data-backed reasons to implement the automated tool.
1. Higher Open Rates and Click-through Rates
According to Smart Insights, automated emails produce 71% higher open rates and 102% higher click-through rates than their non-triggered counterparts.
It’s not surprising, considering that triggered emails are effective because they’re relevant and timely. Email marketing that includes automated responses based on customer behaviors capitalizes on the fact that the business has its customer’s attention and is sending an email based on his interest and timeline and not that of company’s.
What are some of the controllable factors that can impact open rates and click-throughs in triggered emails?
- Great subject lines- Businesses should experiment with subject lines that create mystery or controversy, provide value and/or indicate importance and/or urgency. Length matters too. A global study found that subject lines with only three words have the highest open rates.
“This isn’t cool.”
“Today Only Closeout!”
“Customers hate THIS”
“Flights from $25”
“Our little secret.”
“BOGO ends today!”
- Personalization and segmentation- Businesses can increase open rates and click-throughs by adding a personal touch with a name and/or mention of a past behavior or purchase. Segmenting should go beyond the typical demographics to include things like recency, spending history, and purchase frequency while being cautious not to overlap email content.
- Psychology- Research shows that certain tactics, such as the use of cognitive dissonance in marketing content, increases click rates.
The loss aversion theory states that customers prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains. Choxi does a good job of using loss aversion in its automated emails by urging customers to use their $10 credit within 48 hours.
Reciprocity—the idea of feeling compelled to repay someone for doing something nice for you—also comes into play. It’s the psychology behind the free return address stickers—also known as “front-end premiums”—that animal rescue organizations send out. They’re hoping that most people would feel guilty getting something for nothing and eventually send in a donation.
In automated email marketing, businesses can use the psychology of reciprocity by giving away free white papers, webinars, promotional codes or ebooks in exchange for information.
The scarcity principle also plays into triggered email marketing. When a customer browses information about a webinar but doesn’t sign up, businesses can have a triggered email warning of limited seating remaining. Or a customer who recently browsed men’s shirts might receive an email citing urgency and limited stock, like Mizzen+Main’s does here.
2. Higher Conversion Rates
B2C marketers using email marketing automation have seen conversion rates as high as 50%, according to eMarketer.
All businesses are looking to increase revenue, and Juniper Research reports that relevant emails delivered through automated campaigns drive 18 times more revenue than generic email blasts. Why? Here are some of the specifics:
- Capturing lost profits- Businesses using automated emails for things like cart abandonment reminders may find that even a small percent of triggered emails can substantially increase revenue. Conversion rate for cart abandonment can be increased with enticements—such as a discount code for 20% off.
- Immediate engagement- Likewise, a “how-to-get-started” email—like Jet’s below—that’s triggered when a customer joins a membership club, could increase conversion rates.
- Guided call to action- Automated emails can serve as a guide to customers, with businesses steering them toward the next level of engagement. Triggered emails produce the most timely calls to action possible, and catching a potential customer who is already well-qualified will almost always increase conversions.
- Stronger lifecycle marketing- Triggered email drips can maximize lifecycle marketing—customer engagement over time—for both B2C and B2B products and services. For example, a B2B that offers on-demand software can send triggered emails based on the chosen plan, giving the subscriber more personalized content at each interaction. Appropriately matched content at each use case can increase customer satisfaction and conversion rates.
- More leads- Businesses that use email marketing automation generate twice as many leads as those using email software, according to Autopilot.
- Better leads- In addition to generating more leads, businesses report that email automation has helped improve the quality of leads passed to their sales teams and hence increase the revenue per sale. Specifically, according to the Lenskold Group, 60% of marketing teams reported that automation improved the quality of leads and 28% of marketing teams said that their average deal size had increased. This is likely to do automation’s ability to help a company educate buyers and strengthen customer relations.
- Faster response to leads- Automation also increases the speed at which the sales teams can get notification of a lead and make a call. A study published in the Harvard Business Review found that companies that contacted potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were 60 times as likely to qualify the lead as those who waited 24 hours or longer.
- Cross-promotion opportunities- Something as simple as including a related promotion in digital receipts with automated emails may boost sales. In fact, in a study by Experian, just adding a cross-sell recommendation in shipping confirmation emails increased transaction rates by 20%. Check out how Crate & Barrel uses an order confirmation as an opportunity to recommend other products that the customer might like, and promote their other brands, CB2 and The Land of Nod.
- Quick ROI- Focus Research reports that 75% of companies using marketing automation see a return on their investment in just 12 months.
While email marketing in general is reported by Wolfgang Jaegel to have a 4400% return on investment, automated email marketing ups the ante by not only providing a great return on investment, but also a timely one.
The key word here is investment, because according to Venture Beat Insight, even the 22% of marketing automation users who consider the technology to be “pricey,” said it’s still worth it.
It’s also interesting to note that another 10% of those surveyed cite marketing automation as being inexpensive, and 47% consider it fairly priced.
3. Greater Relevancy
The Lenskold Group reports that businesses using email marketing automation are 133% more likely to send relevant messages that are in tune with the customer’s purchase cycle.
That’s good to know if you want customers to open your emails and stay on your email list, because according to Chadwick Martin Bailey, 61% of respondents surveyed said that the number one reason they don’t open emails from businesses or non-profits is that they’re not interested, and 56% of people would unsubscribe the content that’s no longer relevant.
So what needs to be taken into account to maximize relevancy and minimize opt-outs?
- Timing of trigger—the email is based on a user action; e.g., a real-time shipping update
- Geographic location—proximity to a store or event; e.g., a real-time weather update for the traveler’s destination
- Demographics—age, gender, income, race, profession, etc.; e.g., sending a Millennial an email about retirement will likely lead to an unsubscribe
- Past behavior-—previous downloads, purchases, engagement; e.g., if the customer has downloaded a white paper, businesses might suggest a webinar
- Customized customer relationship management data; e.g., an automated email from a supplier asking for an update on their inventory when a stocked unit count goes lower than the set threshold
Here’s how Worx uses triggered emails to remind customers what they recently viewed and recommend other relevant products they might like.
It’s hard for these types of automated emails to be perceived as irrelevant when the business is simply reminding customers what they just looked at.
4. Faster Segmenting and Scheduling
With the Direct Marketing Association reporting that 42% of organizations use at least six different customer segments, it’s easy to see how automated email marketing can significantly decrease the time it takes to segment and schedule messages.
Email marketing automation frees up time for marketers to do other things. With a simple click or drag-and-drop, marketers can add variables to match the right offer or message to a prospect using predictive analytics that incorporate preferred variables, such as location, behavior and demographics.
Of course, increased efficiency may mean reduced staffing costs. After all, good email marketing automation software can allow one person to do the job of two—or more—employees.
5. Greater Customer Retention
In addition to being cheaper to keep existing customers than to acquire new ones, the Gartner Group points out that 80% of your future profits will come from 20% of existing customers.
That’s a pretty strong incentive to keep them happy.
Email automation can help businesses do that, by improving their customers’ experience through follow-ups, personalization, prompt responsiveness and nurturing.
Among other things, that could mean setting up automated emails to:
- Remind customers about appointments
- Ask for feedback
- Inform customers when the subscription is about to end
- Remind customers when a credit card for automatic billing is about to expire
- Let customers know when an upgrade or out-of-stock item is available
- Offer customers anniversary reminders or special promotions on their birthday
- Remind customers when they’re due for an annual physical, biannual dental cleaning or regular oil change
In addition, businesses can set their programs to recognize an absence of behavior, which then launches an email encouraging the customer to re-engage, as Duolingo does below.
6. Increased opportunities to sell, upsell and gather data
According to Adestra, 58% of marketers say that the biggest benefit of automation is increased opportunities to sell, upsell or gather data.
Triggered emails can be used for progressive profiling—gathering information over several different landing pages or forms. By taking caution to work from a master list to avoid asking the same question more than once per client, businesses can gather more detailed information.
Behaviors before, during and after a purchase can all serve the purpose of selling or upselling. Here are some examples:
- A potential customer clicks on a link to read a review and receives an email offering a 30-day, risk-free trial.
- A customer receives a follow-up email saying that the company hopes they are enjoying their product and reminding them that it’s almost time to order a new water filter/vacuum bag/ink cartridge.
- A customer emails the help desk with an issue and receives an email asking them to take a customer service survey, as SquareSpace did below.
Investing in automated email marketing can increase profits in a relatively short period of time. But it’s vital that businesses realize that implementing triggered emails isn’t enough. They need to be used regularly, properly and with a strong strategy in place and there needs to be plenty of personalization. “Automated” shouldn’t be considered a synonym for “robotic.”
When it comes to email marketing automation, some businesses stray away from it because they’re hesitant to make adjustments to their current process, or they aren’t sure of the benefits, but the facts don’t lie. These six data points not only support the use of email marketing automation, but they also present a compelling case for every business to adopt the practice to maximize efficiencies and profits.