How to Succeed at Email Marketing without Really Trying

Email Marketing Automation Strategy, or, How to Succeed at Email Marketing Without Really Trying

Lost your email marketing automation strategy mojo? You’re not alone. Get your mojo back with practical ideas from marketers like you.
Article Outline

Email marketing automation strategy is the cornerstone of the modern marketing department. Are you happy with your email marketing efforts? Or are you looking for ways to improve results and optimize processes? Whichever way you answered, you’ve come to the right place. Recently, Act-On teamed up with Demand Gen Report for a fun, refreshing, and informative session full of email marketing automation strategy pro-tips that can increase your efficiency and boost your results without taking time away from everything else you’ve got going.

Get the Lay of the Land with an Email Marketing Audit

It’s a tall order: create data-driven automated programs that produce results. But the upside is impossible to ignore: Email has the potential to be a highly profitable channel for comparatively less cost than channels like digital ads.

So where do you begin? It starts with an email marketing audit

Before you can improve on something, take stock of what you’ve got. The beauty—and pitfall—of email automation is that it runs without you, so it’s easy to “set it and forget it.” The first step to success is an email marketing audit. Do it once a quarter, or at least twice a year. This will set you on a path to regularly uncovering what’s working and what’s not, and it will lead you to uncover opportunities where you can enhance your lead generation and the customer’s experience with your brand.

What sorts of things should you be looking for in an email marketing audit? We’ll let our own email marketing superstar, Kelsey Yen, explain:

Act-On’s Kelsey Yen discusses the benefits and learnings that can come out of an email audit.

Choosing Email Marketing Automation Strategy KPIs

What do you measure to better understand engagement? There are the standard email KPIs: open rate, click-to-open rate, opt-outs, etc. But how do you go deeper to understand trends and outliers that pose opportunities to improve the message and the cadence of your email marketing?

So what does success look like? It’s helpful to have some industry benchmarks:

  • Open rate for B2C senders: around 20% 
  • Open rate for B2B senders: around 13-15% 
  • Click rate: 1-3%
  • Bounces: <2%
  • Opt-out rate: <1%
  • Spam complaint rate: <0.1%

Remember that the industry standard benchmarks aren’t necessarily your own benchmarks, so start by gaining a baseline: take an average of your various campaigns. This will help you individually assess each campaign and see how they stack up against the rest. Approaching your email marketing automation strategy this way will allow you to  determine which campaigns are your best performers, and which are your bottom performers. By establishing these, you can assess what’s been working and what hasn’t. 

See how Act-On’s team uses Open Rate and Click-to-Open Rate to assess email marketing automation strategy.

What other metrics should you consider?

  • Early exits
  • Opt Outs
  • Content downloads
  • Conversions
  • Page visits
  • MQLs
  • A/B test results

Email Marketing Automation Strategy Journey Mapping

Once you’ve done an email marketing audit and chosen your KPIs, it’s time to do some journey mapping: find out if you’re sending the right messages at the right time. This exercise is great for anyone who has lost their marketing mojo and wants to understand if there’s a gap in your communication, and where you can add that additional touch.

First stop: Sales. Partner with your sales team to understand what your win-loss record looks like, then identify personas that you want to target with your emails. A marketing automation platform like Act-On allows you to see a timeline of all the actions these personas have taken, to give you a clear sense of what their experience looks like. 

See how Act-On uses journey mapping to define our email marketing automation strategy.

A big part of an effective journey mapping exercise is knowing when to part ways. It happens to the best marketers – someone in your audience loses interest. That’s OK! At that point, it’s better to remove unengaged subscribers from your regularly scheduled campaigns. There are ways to win back contacts who have lost interest in your brand. Learn how to succeed with re-engagement campaigns.

Segmentation is Key to Email Marketing Automation Strategy

In order to provide more personalized experiences, you need to segment your audience. A study found that when marketers use better segmentation, they can see 39% more opens and 24% more sales leads

Watch the video for an example of journey mapping for email marketing automation.

What types of segments should you create? The most common is persona- or industry-based approach, where you’re creating emails geared towards the main demographic for your business. But there are other ways you can segment on top of that approach.

One of the ways is through behavior: create groups or segments based on the contact’s habits, needs and wants. This is where journey mapping really comes in handy – it informs you of what attributes to consider when grouping contacts into email campaigns. 

Next, identify who’s engaged and who’s not. Once you’ve identified the unengaged group, create a sunset policy–remember that it helps no one to keep sending this group emails when they don’t want it. Then turn your focus to the most active and engaged users and encourage engagement with clear and concise CTAs (calls to action). 

Act-On’s own Alex Cunningham walks through a case study for a successful email segmentation strategy.

The point of all this is personalization: leverage profile and behavioral data to automate highly relevant, highly customizable experiences for prospects and customers. As you make these adjustments, keep these personalization DOs & DON’Ts in mind.

  • DO use adaptive send times – send communications based on time zone or predictive best time
  • DO use testing – see if the content you’ve mapped is actually resonating
  • DON’T rely on anecdotal data – perceived challenges aren’t always fact for everyone
  • DON’T use too much jargon – the last thing you want is for your audience not to understand you

If you’re unclear on how to build effective nurture programs, we can help you learn how to feed the funnel.

tl;dr: Email Marketing Automation Strategy Pro-Tips

Make technology work for you, but don’t just set it and forget it. Schedule regular email marketing audits — shoot for at least twice a year. And when you set goals, know your baseline, so you can celebrate and share your success!

Remember that success depends on whether your email reaches your audience’s inbox. It doesn’t matter how great your content offerings are if your subscribers won’t have a chance to engage with it. Deliverability is the top priority!

Finally, you’ll want to make sure that your mail is properly authenticated, the messages are targeted, and the audience is engaged.

Want to make your email marketing feel effortless? Watch the full webinar and learn more tips from experts about to succeed at email marketing without really trying.

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