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Expert Interview: The One Mistake to Avoid When Automating Your Email Marketing

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Our President and CEO Robert Burko was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series to share his email marketing expertise. The series, which is hosted by TechnologyAdvice’s Clark Buckner, explores a variety of business and technology landscapes through conversations with industry leaders.

Robert joined Buckner to discuss effective email marketing and how you can build the best marketing automation program.

Here are a few highlights from our conversation [Full Interview Below]:

TechnologyAdvice: One of the best aspects of email marketing is the ability to reach customers directly, in the ways they want to be reached. Can you talk about that?

Robert: The catchphrase around the Elite Email office is, “We achieve success when we send the right message to the right person at the right time.”

That’s truly the secret ingredient of effective email marketing. The nice thing is that you do get so much data, so the answers are out there. For example, if you try to sell me women’s shoes, I’m not going to buy that. If you try to sell my wife men’s suits, she’s not going to buy that.

So you have to know the email you’re sending out to your audience is important, but when they open that email, it also has to be incredibly relevant. If it’s not, they’re not going to open it in the future, and they’re certainly not going to buy anything. There’s no way you have a mailing list where every single person has the same demographics.

That’s why we made it so easy on a lead email to segment your list in all these different ways, so you can send this version of your email to that group, and another version of your email to another group.

So, we’re seeing a huge trend in terms of that relevance and the nice thing is it benefits both the recipient, who is now getting better emails, and the business, who is now converting more, because people are actually engaging and clicking that “buy now” button.

TA: What are some of the most important strategies to think about as you create the best marketing automation campaign or program possible?

Robert: Marketing automation is great, everyone loves things on autopilot. The one thing I hear from business owners and marketing managers around the globe is that they don’t have time. That’s the commodity we’re all missing. It’s so scarce these days. So when you automate a process, you are essentially getting back some of that time —  and it becomes measurable, which is great.

The mistake people make is when they try to automate a process before that process has been refined, and before that process has been polished.

So I always say the first thing you want to do is really focus on your actual emails. And even a step before that is to focus on where your leads are coming from. Who is getting these emails? Where’s the data coming from? Is it a lead captured from your website? Is it a trade show? How are you funneling people into the machine? We always talk about feeding the machine. How are we feeding our marketing automation machine?

So we have to know where the data’s coming from. Well, to know where the data’s coming from, we have to stop and say, “How do we speak to these people? What are their pain points? What are they trying to accomplish? What are their goals?” Because now you have to build emails that really speak to that.

So we know where they’re from, we know who these contacts are, we know who the subscribers are. How do we build an email that A, has the right subject line that’s going to make them want to open it? Because people can skip over it if it doesn’t look captivating. And B, once they do open your email, how do we put super relevant content in that message that they’re going to want to engage with?

And so much testing is needed at this phase before you start automating it. Because if you don’t have the right subject line and you automate it, great, you’re going to get less opens throughout your entire marketing automation software program. So I always say, “Spend some time A/B testing your subject line.”

Send out a newsletter and give 10 percent of your audience one subject line, 10 percent of your audience the other subject line, and see who wins. The key thing is actually seeing what comes out ahead. Because now you know the winning subject line.

Now lets talk about content strategy. It’s amazing how many emails I look at where they’ve completely forgotten the call to action. Or they’ve neglected that people read left to right, top to bottom. So the most important part of the email is the top left, and the least important part is the bottom right. And, every email you send out is mobile optimized. It need to look great on mobile, on tablet, on desktop, everywhere.

And it has to be strategically sound in terms of what are we trying to achieve? How do we push them through our funnel? What is our call to action? You have to test and refine it. Because once you create the gold standard email, when you go to automate it, you know you have a best in class marketing automation program that is rooted in sending out highly effective emails.

Listen to the entire show below in order to hear the full conversation, or download the show to listen later. You can subscribe to the TA Expert Interview Series via Soundcloud, in order to get alerts about new episodes.

This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice. Interview conducted by Clark Buckner.

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