Crafting Meaningful Communication with Email Automation

May 14, 2014: Kristin Williams, Digital Publishing Assistant Team Lead

You’ve probably heard the saying “less is more.” Email is no exception to this rule. One ExactTarget study asked people why they unsubscribe from emails. The top reasons? Receiving emails too frequently and boring or repetitive content.

Consumers are looking for emails that are relevant to their needs and interests—quality, not quantity.  Automated email tools can help tailor your messages so they only go to those subscribers who need it, avoiding oversaturating your readers with content that may not apply to them. These systems can respond to behaviors, lifecycle segments and much more in order to create meaningful communication with your consumers when they respond the best.

Simple automated messages, or autoresponders, provide an automatic response to a specified trigger or action. For example, a common use for this is a follow-up email to a new subscriber, welcoming them and letting them know what is in store by subscribing. This can be a great chance to further connect with someone that is already interested—after all, they just signed up to hear more from you! 

With an autoresponder, you can:
  • Welcome a new subscriber to your email list.
  • Send an email on a specific date, such as wishing your subscribers a “Happy New Year!”
  • Wish your subscriber a “Happy Birthday!” or thank them for following you for another year.
  • Ask them each month to fill out a survey.
Automated email programs, also known as email workflows, can offer greater customization options that allow you to connect with subscribers in a thoughtful manner. A major benefit of automated email programs is the ability to create workflows that can have different responses based on subscriber behavior and react to a wider variety of trigger options than autoresponder messages. Consumers can be segmented into different groups based on whether they open an email (or don’t), demographics, products they are using or interested in, or other information you may have collected previously. This is important to subscribers because it means they receive only the messages relevant to them.

For example, you might be hosting an event you want to notify current subscribers about. You send out an email to your current subscriber list and set up several tracks to direct subscribers.

Track 1: Did not open the email
  • Any subscribers that do not open the email are resent the email in three days.
Track 2: Did not register
  • Any subscribers who do not register are sent an email just before the event deadline to remind them about the event and encourage them to register now.
Track 3: Registered
  • Anyone who registers for your event is sent an email confirming registration and receives a reminder a few days before the event. They are also sent an email after the event thanking them for coming and asking for their feedback.
As the program runs, the system will update with new subscriber interactions, allowing it to react appropriately to any changes in a subscriber’s status.

Automated email programs allow for integration with multiple communications channels. They can be connected to Salesforce or other CRM systems to collect data or track contacts. They can also be used to notify your telephone representatives or direct mail team when a contact reaches a specified point in the program.

In addition to targeting your consumers, there are many other ways you can tailor emails even further. These tools can be used both with and without automated email programs.
  • Send time optimization delivers emails based on when subscribers are likely to open them by analyzing individual behaviors on a continuing basis.
  • Personalize content based on subscriber interactions and interests. This can add a friendly touch to an email (though, if over used, it can smell like spam), but there are many ways you can customize an email for a subscriber. Subject lines, content and links can all be modified. For instance, subscribers associated with a specific representative or location could be shown that contact information. Consider tailoring your emails to a subscriber’s demographics, interests or past interaction with you.
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