Automated email series (also known as followups) are the area of my professional interest, the object of my continuous research, — and more. They are also an integral part of AliDropship’s broader email marketing strategy, which is why I have one or two practical insights to share!
Launching my first automated email series for AliDropship ever, I wasn’t even counting on any measurable effect.
Back then, in 2017, I decided to try it out just to make sure we’ve employed all promotional methods possible to help the project grow and flourish.
The result, however, was astonishing.
It only took that email series two weeks to become one of our top 10 most efficient promo channels. Two weeks later, it climbed to the 5th position! These days, it keeps being one of our most reliable sources of incoming website traffic and purchases.
So, what is the corporate standard we’re following to make our automated email marketing strategy so successful?
5 steps to launching automated email sequences that will work for your benefit for years
As the person who’s been responsible for the automated email series creation, setup, and monitoring since day 1 of their presence in our marketing strategy, here’s what I can recommend with regard to their planning and execution.
Step 1. Pick a secure mass mailing service
Automated email series (or followups), as you likely know, is a sequence of logically linked emails. The mailing system sends them out to your followers automatically in the order you specify in advance. Normally, the very first message is sent at the moment of subscribing, as soon as a new reader’s email address appears in your list. The remaining mailing schedule is completely up to you to configure.
Therefore, the followups’ core benefit is their autonomous nature. Being set up once, they can work for years without your constant participation or monitoring, and (quite literally) bring you leads, orders, and profits while you sleep. Obviously, it requires a careful choice of the mass mailing service you’re going to trust with this demanding task. Pay closest attention to the provider’s reputation, offered payment plans, the available built-in email templates, and the overall usability of the interface you’re going to rely on.
My advice: Choose the single opt-in subscription method. The less desirable double opt-in system requires your audience to reconfirm their mailing details, and any extra actions potentially discourage people from subscribing.
Step 2. Integrate subscription forms into your website
To allow your site visitors to subscribe to your emails in the first place, you need to have at least one subscription form enabled. It is a common practice, however, to have a number of forms available across your site. You can put them on the Home page, in the footer, in your pop-up windows, on all your landing pages, on the contact page, etc.
My advice: Start with placing subscription forms on the landing pages of your promo campaigns. Therefore, people coming on your site from social media posts, PPC ads, search engine results page, etc. will be able to share their email addresses with you easily. The Email Subscription Form Integration service from our dedicated team is here to help you out if you need expert advice!
Step 3. Prepare a lead magnet for your subscribers
It might seem that there’s no particular reason for your website visitors to voluntarily share their email address. However, the thing you’re giving them in return can change their attitude dramatically.
For example, online stores typically offer a discount on the first order in exchange for the user’s email details. This urges first-time buyers to leave their address in the subscription form.
Blogs, in turn, promise to keep the subscriber updated on the latest published articles free of charge. Certainly, it is highly appealing to their audience.
And what about the businesses offering complex products or sophisticated services? The best solution for them is to give away a useful, unique, professional piece of information that is unavailable elsewhere.
My advice: Consider creating a detailed guide on using your products or service, or an e-book showcasing your offers. You’ll be distributing this piece of content for free in return for a new site visitor’s email address. If you need expert assistance, simply request an Irresistible Lead Magnet to be made individually for you by our digital marketers.
Step 4. Write the texts you’ll be distributing with automated email marketing
Regular newsletters are usually all about urgent announcements and updates. But automated email sequences must be valuable for any reader getting them today, the next month, or the next year. Their contents must stay forever relevant, letting you keep the premade sequence run unsupervised for as long as possible.
It’s always a good idea to share expert interviews and recommendations, broad industry reviews and tips, and ongoing coupon codes and special offers in your automated email series. In other words, feel free to distribute any pieces of ‘evergreen’ content. Insights that can’t become outdated quickly and don’t oblige you to review and rewrite them too often will do best.
My advice: Create separate and slightly varying sequences for specific segments of your readers’ audience. For example, the messages that your buyers receive can (and should) differ from the emails you’re sending to the people who are just considering making their first purchase from you.
Step 5. Define your automated email marketing settings
By this point, you already have a sufficient subscribers’ database and the texts ready to be sent out. Now, your goal is to understand and specify the best mailing frequency possible.
The first message from your sequence is sent to every new subscriber automatically, seconds after they confirm their email address. All the consecutive letters’ delivery, however, depends on the setting you specify. Normally, it is recommended to send a letter per day during the first three days. Then, make the intervals a bit longer: two or three days, depending on the length of this particular email sequence.
My advice: Make sure your readers are ready to perceive and process this specific piece of information at this particular stage of their shopping journey. Is the nature of your product or service well-known and understandable to the readers? Then, it might be enough to send 5-10 letters over the course of 2-4 weeks. And if your product is expensive or complex, if it requires the buyers to gain some knowledge and/or make savings beforehand, it might be reasonable to make up to 20 or even 30 letters spanning about 6 months.
Ready to follow the same steps with your own mass mailing strategy?
What to write in your automated email series?
Now, it’s time to talk about the most crucial aspect of automated email marketing: your letters’ contents.
I’d like to go back and highlight one particular thought once again. The idea of sending emails automatically via a pre-set up sequence is exactly opposite to the well-known concept of newsletters.
As a rule, newsletters are sent daily, weekly, or monthly to share some time-sensitive pieces of information with the reader. Product pre-launch notifications, new arrivals, recent industry reports, seasonal market trends, upcoming sale announcements, blog or social media updates, etc. are great examples of content to share through newsletters.
When it comes to automated email marketing, however, the strategy should be monumentally different. These letters, as I already mentioned, must stay relevant and valuable for months and years after their creation. What should they be about, then?
Below, I’m sharing my tried and tested recipe for a trust-inspiring and purchase-stimulating automated email sequence. You are welcome to apply this sample schedule to any kind of online and offline business!
The first letter of your sequence is normally sent to your new reader automatically, right after he or she agrees to provide personal mailing details in exchange for some benefit you’ve initially offered.
Obviously, this letter must contain the thing you’ve promised! Whether it’s a coupon code, a link to a webinar, a file with a guide, access details for a course, etc., share it in the very first letter and thank the reader for subscribing.
As a rule, the first email has the highest open rate in the whole sequence you’re sending out. The reason, as you can guess, is simple. Readers expect to receive this particular bonus or valuable piece of information, and click on the message subject line to get it. That’s why it’s vital not to betray their trust at the very beginning of your potential cooperation by being too pushy.
Remember that you’re not selling anything in your first followup! Its purpose is to bring value to the readers, captivate them with your content, and make the first step to gaining their loyalty and respect. Yes, you can add a couple of links to the most viewed informational, educational, or entertaining pages on your site to this letter. Still, keep it in mind: you’re only doing it for the sake of heightening the receiver’s interest in you.
Letters #2 – #4
These ones aren’t aimed at selling, too.
At this point, you need to focus on transforming your new reader into an engaged brand follower who genuinely enjoys the content you’re sharing and is accustomed to receiving high-quality, game-changing information from you. Thus, it’s reasonable to treat your audience with free materials on how to solve their burning issues that are somehow related to your product offering.
You don’t even have to list and showcase your products at this stage of building new customer relationships. Instead, you must demonstrate and prove that you understand what your readers are truly concerned about. They need to be confident they can trust your expert advice on this.
Letters #5 – #9
Now, it’s acceptable to finally start showing and describing your products or services.
Again, your offer shouldn’t look annoying or seem to be out of place. It should be obvious to the reader that you’re not mentioning this particular product simply to sell it point blank. Rather, it should look like a logical consequence of all the helpful strategies, insights, and tips you’ve shared earlier.
To make the readers even more well-disposed to your offering, create an all-time valid coupon giving up to 10% off. You’ll be including it in these and all further automated email marketing campaigns as an additional incentive.
Keep alternating between informative and promotional emails, and don’t forget that the latter ones shouldn’t be focused on selling only. Automated email sequences work best when they’re a healthy mix of a sales pitch and practical advice for the receiver.
Letter #10 and further ones
Starting with the tenth email, you can add extra 5% to the subscribers’ special discount. This is your gratitude to the followers for staying loyal and well-willing to your brand.
Follow the same strategy of combining sales-focused content with knowledge-packed emails while adding new letters to your sequence. Don’t forget to make longer intervals between these emails, and if possible, increase the discount volume periodically.
Want to get even more tips on online businesses promotion from AliDropship’s Marketing Director? Read Polina’s articles that she shares as a Forbes Councils Member!
How to update your automated email marketing strategy?
Even though such emails can work well without your constant control, you can boost their efficiency significantly through making occasional changes into the ready sequence.
For example, adding new letters to a currently running sequence usually results in a spike in your on-site traffic, especially if you upgrade your discount offer at the same time. Even though a sharp spike is temporary, a consistent growth in the number of your site visits will still be noticeable in a long-time period.
Surely, adding new details to your already existing letters is highly beneficial as well. Whenever there’s a new piece of evergreen industry information available, a new product or service you’re planning to offer on a continuous basis, or a new value-added page or article on your website, consider reflecting these insights in your email series.
Summing it up, a well-planned automated email marketing strategy lets you basically befriend your subscribers. It helps you establish yourself as a caring, human-oriented business that puts customers first. And as long as your venture exists, such an approach will keep strengthening your corporate image, winning you more loyal audiences, and making a measurable difference to your financial performance. Isn’t that way more than you would expect from a seemingly minor instrument that can run perfectly on its own while you’re occupied with anything else?
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