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3 automated emails every website needs

Marketing automation is this buzzword that is becoming increasingly popular of late. The idea that you could put your marketing on autopilot is very appealing, especially to those marketing teams that are already stretched for time and resources. However the more I hear people speak about it the less I think they understand it.

There are cutting edge examples of marketing automation use push notifications and SMS based on a users location (sometimes called geo-fencing), however this type of marketing is still in its infancy and is most definitely not for the time/resource poor. There are much simpler and quicker wins to be found elsewhere. Welcome to automated emails. Most marketing automation is actually just automated emails given a sexy name — because email isn't sexy (yet!). Most email marketing systems can send automated emails and are not difficult to set up. The biggest challenge for most people is finding the time to learn how to use their software.

User triggered automated emails are very under-utilized currently and have a world of potential. Here are three simple examples that every marker should be using to be on the path to automated marketing goodness.

Opt-in/welcome campaign

I said these were simple examples. My first example is an opt-in/welcome campaign. Most websites do not have a welcome campaign, or they do it very poorly. I'm not referring to confirmation emails when subscribing to an email list. Not at all, that is a given. I'm referring to a proper, engaging, welcome campaign.

After the person subscribes to your list they should receive a confirmation email. Once the user confirms their email subscription the welcome campaign begins. This campaign can consist of any number of emails spread out over any number of time. The purpose of the campaign is to introduce the user to your brand/website and what to expect from your email communication. Where you go from there is up to you.

Noah Kagan at OkDork has the best welcome campaign out of anyone/any company I have ever encountered. His campaign is awesome to say the least. Over the month of when you first opt-in you receive about an email a week introducing you to him and his blog. Over the month he shares with you the best of his content. Only after this first month is over are you put into his regular email list. If you are new to a blog and don't know where to start what could be better than this? This is digital customer service done well.

The best welcome campaigns are just that - a welcome and an introduction. An introduction doesn't start with an upfront ask, it doesn't start with the hard sell. It starts with getting to know one another. Only after that do you move to the ask. Welcome your new opt-ins and nurture them. People signing up to your email list is a privilege, not a right.

Transactional emails

Transactional emails are triggered when a user completes an action on your website. This may be completing an eCommerce transaction - buying some clothes - or something else. Transactional emails are easily the most prevalent form of marketing automation. You pay money, you get a receipt. It is obvious and it isn't really thought of as marketing automation, however it needs to be treated like it.

A transactional email may be the only email a customer checks from your website and you need to make sure that you make the most of the opportunity. Do you know the performance of your transactional emails? Do you even know what they look like? Do you know where they can be improved? Could you put related products at the bottom of the email related to what they purchased? Could you include a coupon for their next purchase on your website? How can you better use your transactional emails to encourage people to return to your site?

Transactional emails are marketing automation. Treat them as marketing and an opportunity to speak to the customer. Think beyond the receipt - it doesn't just have to be one.

Abandoned Cart Email

An abandoned cart is when people add products to their shopping basket and then leave without making a purchase. The user considered purchasing but didn't follow through. They have shown interest in your products - if only there was a way to follow them up after they have gone automatically. Enter the abandoned cart email.

I've only ever seen abandoned cart emails be used by big eCommerce sites before, however there is so much value in them. The people abandoning their cart have taken the time to go through most of the transaction before calling it quits. In terms of leads these are your hottest. The question now is why aren't you following them up? Because you don't have their email? Well we can change that but we will need someone who can code.

In order to build truly awesome abandoned cart emails you will need to get a developer on board (sorry). It will be worth it though. Once set up it is set up forever. This is the technical part. You don't need a form on your website to be completed in order to capture its data. You can capture it as it is being entered using JavaScript and other magic. However you need to treat this data very differently to that you would for those people who have completed the transaction. You can watch the email field. When it is completed and appears to be a valid email (more JS magic) you can temporarily store it. 15-30 minutes later check if a transaction was logged against that email, if not send the abandoned cart email to the captured address. As the user has not confirmed their transaction you can't add this email address to your mailing list, however you are within your rights to follow them up.

Following up existing customers is much easier if you have a log in function, however the above will work for all cases.

Marketing automation doesn't need to be technical beyond your wildest dreams. It doesn't even need to be complicated. It just needs to start with a few simple emails either welcoming someone, asking them if there is anything else you need or just asking them if they have forgotten something. So go and start automating your marketing!

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