Your buyer emails and subscriber list (if you have one) are some of your most valuable business data for driving sales. Taking advantage of this data can drive serious amounts of revenue to your online shop, but email marketing trends have changed significantly since the 90s. Despite what you’d think given the resurgence of bleach-stained shirts, denim-everything, and Doc Martin’s boots, some trends should stay in the 90s.
Gone are the days of sending out blast updates to your entire email list or even sending blast updates to segmented lists. We are now in the age of marketing automation software, which is like Email Marketing 4.0. But don’t be intimidated by the spiffy name—you don’t need a special degree (or really any degree at all) to learn how to use marketing automation tools.
How to use marketing automation software to create cadences
Marketing automation can be especially effective for increasing your repeat shopper rates and email conversions. Unlike email blasts which are manual, click-and-send processes that happen once, marketing automation tools create campaigns called email cadences that respond to triggers you set. You can think of email blasts as someone shouting to a crowd of people through a loudspeaker, whereas email cadences work more like individual conversations.
The goal of these conversations is to bring people closer to making a purchase. Who are you more likely to listen to—someone shouting at you, telling you what you should do, or someone listening to what you have to say and responding intelligently?
Cadences don’t rely on actual words to “listen” to what your customers say. Instead, they look at the actions a person takes after receiving your email. If someone deletes your email without even opening it, chances are they aren’t interested in what you have to say. But if they open your email and click a link to view a product, you can infer that they might want to buy something.
If flow charts make you as sad as they make me, think of cadences as a choose-your-own-adventure game instead. Just like the pioneers in The Oregon Trail games, your customers are on journeys—buyer journeys. And as people on journeys must do, your customers make decisions that determine where they end up and how they get there.
For example, you might set up your cadence to automatically unsubscribe people after they delete three of your emails without opening them. Or you might designate a link click as a trigger. If someone clicks a link in one of your emails, that tells your marketing automation software that the customer is interested in what you’re doing and that they might be interested in receiving offers like rush shipping and discount codes.
Thankfully, no one will ever die of dysentery from an email cadence, but they might stop receiving emails from you if that’s an outcome they decide based on the cadence triggers you create. Conversely, when people respond positively to your emails, it can help you decide who to create promotions for. It’s all about gauging how people react and responding accordingly.
Which metrics you should pay attention to
So how do you gauge people’s reactions? If you want to build the most effective email cadences possible, these are the two most important metrics to look at in your marketing automation tool.
Click through rate (CTR)
This number represents how many people clicked a link in an email out of how many people received it. So, if 100 people received your email, 20 of them opened it, and 3 people clicked on a link, your click through rate (CTR) is 3 percent. This is par for the course when it comes to email marketing—average email CTR is 3.48 percent—though more targeted email lists can yield better click through rates.
Click through rate matters because it tells you if you’re actually sharing content and products that interest people. The higher your click through rate, the better job you’re doing at reading your customers. The better job you do at reading your customers, the more money you make.
Conversion rate is the end-goal of email marketing in general, and it represents how many people bought something out of how many people received an email. I hate to break it to you, but this rate is even lower than click through rate, though it’s hard to calculate an accurate average. Individual company averages work better here than industry averages.
This metric is less valuable than CTR because many more factors impact conversion rate. With CTR, factors such as time and date sent, subject line, link location, email design, and more affect whether or not someone clicks a link. But with conversion rate, elements on your website or online store page also affect people’s actions. At the end of the day, your email cadence’s conversion rate might be high or low, but it’s difficult to tell how much of this is due to the quality of your email cadence.
Two marketing automation tools for small businesses: Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor
Now comes the fun part—picking out which marketing automation tool to use. As you’ll quickly discover, there are a lot of options out there for marketing automation software, but Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor are two of the best tools for small businesses. I recommend looking at a few options before deciding, so you might consider visiting a few business software review websites to do some research.
Mailchimp offers marketing automation tools for a variety of small business types. Automatically send subscribers happy birthday emails, product recommendations, and reminders to check out when they add products to their carts but don’t finish. Mailchimp offers other automation features, and they also let you build landing pages and social ads without leaving their site. You can create a free account, which lets you manage up to 2,000 contacts, but you can enjoy their creative, zany videos without even making an account.
Campaign Monitor works with companies of all sizes, offering powerful marketing automation tools. Instead of offering a set number of automations like Mailchimp does, Campaign Monitor lets you create custom cadences that personalize buyer journeys. Using the visual editor, you can easily designate triggers that determine when and what communication customers receive from you. Campaign Monitor offers free accounts for up to five contacts, and their plans are reasonably priced.
No matter which marketing automation tool you choose to go with, always keep the customer at the front of your mind. By working backwards from landing a sale and revisiting metrics often, you’ll be well on your way to building effective email cadences in no time.
Interested in reaching out to your buyers? Use our buyer messaging tool, available in your Teespring Dashboard.
Forrest Brown is a writer for TechnologyAdvice, where he writes about the intersection of business and technology. Originally from Atlanta, he lives in Nashville with his wife and calico cat.