What Is Marketing Automation? | Marketing Automation Considerations

How much time each week do you spend writing and sending emails, creating social media ads, and analyzing your marketing campaigns?

Do you know exactly which campaigns are bringing you the most return on investment?

How often do you spend time trying out new marketing strategies? Or are you juggling managing your business at the same time as daily marketing tasks?

Is this lack of time stunting business growth?

I hear you loud and clear! 

You have to wear many hats when running a business, but do you ever get the feeling that because you’re so busy, you find it difficult to take a moment to work out what can be automated and be one less thing to worry about?

It’s a bit of a Catch-22, isn’t it?

But what would you say if I told you that marketing automation has the power to drive up to a 14.5 percent increase in sales productivity and a 12.2 percent reduction in marketing overhead? 

Or that automated emails alone outperform campaign emails across the board? Imagine what you’d achieve with 1558 percent higher conversion rates and 1361 percent higher revenue per recipient (RPR). 

These are just the averages, but I hope they highlight just how beneficial marketing automation can be for your business and its growth.

Read on to discover:  

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is software you can use to automate various marketing activities—including email and SMS marketing, creating social media posts, and using paid advertising—to engage, nurture, convert, and delight customers.

Good marketing automation platforms go beyond email clicks and opens. They take into account what your subscribers are doing outside of emails, such as browsing certain products and pages on your website or interacting with you via social media.

You can use marketing automation across all stages of the buyer journey. Here are some examples to give you an idea:

There’s more on the strategy behind each of these shortly.

Benefits of marketing automation

Remember those statistics I mentioned earlier that prove why marketing automation is such a valuable part of your strategy? Let’s dive deeper into these and the other top benefits of marketing automation.

1. Save time and improve efficiency

Once your marketing automations are set up, they require little effort on your part while making your processes miles more efficient.

This frees up the time you’d usually spend on day-to-day marketing tasks, which you can use instead to develop and improve your strategies.

Not only will you see more return on investment (ROI) for your marketing efforts and team, but you’ll also likely achieve your goals much faster than if you didn’t have any automation in place.

Just remember to test and fine-tune your workflows to keep them efficient.

2. Improve customer relationships and their experiences

Automation also makes it quicker and easier to personalize your marketing efforts according to your customers’ behaviors, actions, interests, needs, and wants. 

By enabling you to send highly segmented, personalized communications exactly when your customers are most receptive to them, marketing automation removes friction from the customer journey, making it easier for your customers to buy, buy, and buy again.

And because marketing automation systems can help you to analyze your communications beyond email clicks and opens, you’ll also gain a better understanding of your customers and subscribers across channels.

Finally, automatic post-purchase communications mean you can generate more reviews and customer feedback to support your acquisition strategies.

3. Make more money

Automating your marketing means you can better streamline the conversion and closure stages of the customer journey. 

You’ll be able to reduce your abandoned cart rates while automating promotions, upsells, cross-sells, offers, discounts, and sales to grow your revenue efficiently.

Not to mention, marketing automation software can also help you to boost your revenue even further by sending data-backed product recommendations to your subscribers to tempt them into clicking “buy.”

4. Grow your business faster

What do increased efficiency, better customer relationships, and more sales mean? You’ll grow your business significantly faster with marketing automation than without it.

Recent studies show that a massive 80 percent of marketing automation software users saw an increase in the number of leads, while 77 percent also had an increase in conversions.

Not too shabby for a bunch of marketing messages that go out by themselves!

Marketing automation considerations and how to get started

From growing your email list to segmenting your audience, there are a couple of steps to go through before automating your emails and other marketing messages. Here are some quick tips to get you started.

Growing your email list

Your email list is your business’s lifeblood. 

You have complete control of your email list so there’s no need to worry about social media algorithms or Google updates getting in the way of business and revenue growth.

Not to mention there are 3.9 billion (and growing!) email users across the world checking their emails regularly, so it’s clearly a business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing channel that’s far too valuable to ignore.

There are lots of ways you can grow your email list. Here are a few ideas and resources to help you get started:

Discover more tips to grow your email list


Segmenting your audience and subscriber base

Beyond automating your emails and marketing messages, you can also use marketing automation software to automatically segment your audience based on things like:

  • Demographics (age, gender, location, etc.)
  • Shopping preferences and behaviors
  • Level of engagement (average open rates, click rates, etc.)
  • Average order values
  • Purchase frequency
  • Acquisition source
  • New vs. existing subscribers
  • VIP customers

By rethinking the batch-and-blast and sending personalized, targeted messages at the right time, you’ll increase conversions and return on investment for your marketing campaigns while improving your email deliverability and sender reputation.

And if that’s not all, highly targeted email campaigns can make three times more revenue than other campaigns, as well as resulting in half the number of unsubscribes.

Learn how to convert your first-time buyers with segmentation


Questions to ask yourself before automating your marketing campaigns

Before designing your automated marketing workflows, consider your answers to these questions:

  • How do your subscribers become customers?
  • What content do your customers want to receive?
  • How many of your website visitors browse but don’t buy?
  • What would convince your website visitors to buy?
  • Do demographics influence certain buying behavior for your store?
  • How do discounts impact whether a customer makes a purchase?
  • Are your customers buying gifts or something for themselves?
  • What messages will you send and to which audience segments?
  • How are these messages triggered?
  • What will happen next (after a customer clicks a link in an email or buys something, for example)?

Alongside gathering this information about your sales process, customers, and ideal workflows, you’ll also need software to help you run your marketing automation strategies.

To help, check out this article about the best email marketing platforms, which also includes some top tips on how to choose the right software for your business.

Marketing automation strategies in action

Once you’ve got subscribers to your email list, here are some examples of automated marketing messages you can send to improve their experience while growing your revenue.

1. Welcome series

An automated welcome series is a sequence of messages that are sent after someone signs up to hear more from you—and it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce your brand to new customers.

Your welcome series can be delivered across email, SMS, or both. You could even use social ads to help keep your brand top of mind while your potential customers go about their daily social scrolling.

Welcome emails, in particular, are some of the most powerful emails you’ll ever send as they can result in 86 percent higher click-through rates and 83 percent higher revenue per recipient (RPR) than your average email campaign. So you might want to start with setting up your welcome emails if you haven’t already done so.

Innermost, a UK-based wellness brand, sees a fantastic 40 percent conversion rate from their welcome emails alone! 

Their emails include things like free shipping offers, press mentions, and testimonials. But I particularly like their “10 reasons you’ll love us” email because it highlights the best things about their brand and products in a visual way, which busy email readers can digest quickly.

Innermost's Automated Welcome Email

2. Abandoned cart flow

Automated abandoned cart emails and text messages are messages that you can send after someone adds one of your products to their cart but leaves your website without buying.

Include a link to their cart to make it easy for them to complete their purchase, and maybe even follow it up with a discount or other juicy offer to further tempt them into buying.

Businesses with average order values of $100 to $500 recover four to five percent of their abandoned carts on average, so you could be missing out on a lot of sales if you haven’t set up an abandoned cart series yet.

Living Proof, a Boston-based haircare brand, saw a fantastic 21 percent increase in their RPR after launching their abandoned cart emails. Read their story here to see exactly what they did.

3. Browse abandonment

If a whopping 92 percent of your website visitors aren’t there to buy, you’ll need a strategy in place to win them over and convert them into subscribers or customers.

While enticing them with an offer to sign up to your email list is an important first step, you could also create an automated browse abandonment flow

For any website visitors who create an account on your site but don’t put anything in their cart, you can entice them into buying by showcasing your bestsellers, customer testimonials, discounts, and other offers in an email—much like you would with an abandoned cart flow.

Skinnydip London, an Insta-famous British lifestyle brand, sends their browse abandonment emails almost as soon as someone leaves their website. 

Their subject line of “See something you liked?” follows best practices, while their use of emojis and attractive email design grab a shopper’s attention.

Skinnydip London's Automated Browse Abandonment Email*discount code edited out

4. Win-back campaigns

You can use win-back campaigns, sometimes also called re-engagement campaigns, to re-engage any subscribers who haven’t opened, clicked, or engaged with your emails over a set period of time—usually 30, 60, or 90 days.

Your existing customers are nine times more likely to convert than first-time shoppers, so win-back campaigns are really powerful—and can be automated easily with the right software.

Hunt A Killer, a murder mystery subscription box brand, provides a great example of what you can do to improve your win-back campaigns.

If a customer cancels their subscription, Hunt A Killer sends them a survey to find out why. They then use this information to segment their customers and send them relevant win-back emails.

For example, they send customers discount codes and promotions for cheaper products if the reason for cancelation is financially-based. Or if a monthly subscription doesn’t fit, customers are told about Hunt A Killer’s non-subscription products.

Hunt A Killer has seen a 58 percent increase in email conversions—and I don’t doubt that their win-back campaigns have contributed to that fantastic growth!

5. Post-purchase communications

Post-purchase communications are any messages you send out to your customers after they’ve made a purchase. 

This might include a win-back email if they’ve gone silent on you, but you can also send shipping confirmation emails, feedback requests, or even just a quick email to thank them for their purchase.

Post-purchase messages are an important piece of the customer retention puzzle, but they can sometimes be left to the wayside in favor of acquisition-focused messaging.

As there are lots of ways you can use post-purchase communications, let’s take a look at three different brands and how they’re approaching some of their communications.

Only Curls, a British haircare brand, is a great example of a business that’s sending useful “how-to” post-purchase emails. 

Once an item has been dispatched, they send customers a quick note to tell them so, alongside some top tips on how to use the product to get the most benefit from it.

From a customer’s point of view, these emails are helpful and confirm that they made the right decision to buy from Only Curls. 

These emails also help Only Curls to proactively answer any questions customers might have while preventing buyer confusion, which should help minimize their return rate.

Only Curls Automated Post-Purchase Email

HYLETE, a fitness-lifestyle brand, sends quarterly customer surveys as part of their post-purchase email strategy. 

These surveys help HYLETE with segmentation, so they can send emails that will resonate most with each recipient—whether it’s unique product recommendations or photography that speaks to customer preferences.

And let’s be honest, what customer wouldn’t want to receive an email that feels like it’s been designed just for them?

Not In The Dog House, an online pet store, is another business that’s caught my eye recently. 

As part of their post-purchase communication strategy, they use ads on Facebook and Instagram to thank customers for their purchases. 

Omnichannel marketing example: Not In The Dog House Instagram Ad

Not only is this a unique way to say thank you—and a fantastic example of omnichannel marketing—but it makes their customers feel loved. 

And what does a loved up customer do? They rave about the brand to friends, family, and colleagues… and will probably buy again, too!

6. Upsell and cross-sell promotions

Remember when I said your existing customers are nine times more likely to convert than first-time shoppers? This means upsell and cross-sell promotions are your friends!

These promotions involve suggesting other products your customers might be interested in, but they’re more powerful if they’re based on what someone has bought from you in the past or what they’ve looked at on your website.

Say someone buys a washing machine. All being well, they won’t need another one of those for at least five to ten years. But washing detergent? They’re probably going to need that immediately.

Or what about someone who’s bought a party dress? Will they want a matching pair of shoes to go with it? And what about a clutch bag or jewelry?

If you’re using a smart email marketing platform then you’ll likely be able to filter out products within emails based on subscriber groups, tags, and segments, so each recipient receives an email that makes the most sense for them.

Precision Hydration is a UK-based ecommerce business selling electrolyte supplements. Let’s take a look at their upsell and cross-sell strategy in action. 

They have an online sweat test, which people can fill out to find out more about how they sweat, and what this means for their exercise regimes and hydration needs.

Precision Hydration sweat test and results

Afterward, Precision Hydration uses the results to showcase specific groups of products to different subscriber segments each time they send an email—from the very first email right through to upsell, cross-sell, and other promotional emails.

Testing your automations and analyzing success

Once you’ve set up your marketing automations, they need to be reviewed regularly to ensure they’re still working effectively for you.

You might want to A/B test your emails and automations. A/B testing is where you send two variations of the same campaign to percentages of your subscribers to see which one performs better. You could test your subject lines and send times alongside the actual email content and formatting.

The team at luxury skincare brand, 111SKIN, has A/B tested a number of their automations—and just by changing the featured image in their first welcome email, they’ve doubled their average order value (AOV)!

Here are some key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to keep an eye on within your marketing automation software to help you determine what’s working, what’s not, and where an A/B test could be most beneficial:

  • Deliverability: How often are your emails successfully reaching subscribers’ inboxes? Stay out of the spam folder by segmenting your emails and regularly cleaning your list.
  • Open rate: How many people are opening your emails? Aim for 20 percent and over by emailing your engaged subscribers and A/B testing your subject lines.
  • Click rate: How many people are clicking the links in your emails? Aim for 2.5 percent or more by personalizing your emails and sending relevant content.
  • Conversions: How many sales are your campaigns and automations generating? Use this to help you decide what content is resonating better with your audience.
  • Revenue per recipient (RPR): How much money are you making from individual subscribers receiving your emails? Keep doing more of what’s working and change up what isn’t.
  • Revenue from email: Which campaigns and automations are driving the most revenue and exactly how much are they generating? Now you know what to keep doing more of and what ROI you’re seeing from your efforts.
  • Average order value (AOV): How much do your subscribers spend per order on average? Look out for your big spenders so you know who to keep especially sweet.
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV): How much money do you predict a customer will spend with your company over the entire time that they’ll do business with you? Knowing this will help you with your marketing budgets and planning.

Learn more about analyzing and optimizing your email automations

Final thoughts

If you’re spending too much time manually sending emails, creating social media posts, and analyzing your marketing campaigns, then it’s probably time you considered marketing automation software.

You’ll be able to make your processes miles more efficient while getting time back to focus on achieving your goals and developing new marketing strategies, which can only be a good thing for long-term business growth.

Ready to level up your marketing? Check out these six marketing automations to have in place now—and certainly before the holidays!

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