This is a contributed post from our friends at Campaign Monitor

A successful email marketing campaign can increase engagement with your products and services and convert that into sales. However, because email plays such a major role in most digital marketing strategies, most users will likely receive a chunk of marketing emails each day of the week, all informing them of brand updates or showcasing the latest products.

Standing out in a subscriber’s crowded inbox means shying away from a purely promotional perspective and, instead, approaching email as an omnichannel customer experience. In a 2018 eConsultancy report on the future of marketing, 93% of marketers believe people want experiences from brands, not just products. That’s where email marketing automation comes in.

However, just automating the basics, like including a subscriber’s name or scheduling an email to go out the same day each week, isn’t enough. Here are four simple things email marketing automation software lets you do that make a big difference for customer experience. 

1. Send Automated Welcome Messages

Want immediate engagement with your content? Set up a trigger in your email automation software that sends new subscribers a welcome message once they sign up to your mailing list. Only 40% of marketers employ welcome emails, but they’ve proven to produce some of the highest open rates of any email you send.

Source: Really Good Emails

The main purpose of a welcome email is to acknowledge the new person on your list. It gives immediate feedback to your new subscriber that their sign-up was successful. It’s also a great way to make a good first impression and set expectations about the kind of experience they can look forward to from your email campaigns.

For increased engagement and potential conversions, don’t stop with just a simple “thank you” at the end of your message. Invite subscribers to learn more details about the services you offer—this serves as a good call-to-action that builds on the momentum of their signup. It’s not always easy to understand the ins-and-outs of complex industries, like financial services, healthcare companies, and insurance agencies. Make it easier on your subscribers—offer them the chance to help you explain what your services can do for them.

2. Let Customers Choose Communication Preferences

Email marketing is opt-in, but many factors still drive people to unsubscribe from mailing lists. If you think you’re doing everything right with email content, it may boil down to communication preferences. Part of a good customer experience involves  putting subscribers in control of how they want to read your emails. Therefore, you need an email preference center.

email preference center example
Source: Campaign Monitor

Here are some helpful tips on how you can use  an email preference center to improve customer satisfaction:

  • Allow subscribers to select how frequently they receive your emails
  • Give subscribers the option to select the kind of content categories they want to hear about
  • Share the option to change their email address
  • Add a link to the preference center in the header or footer of every email 

3. Use Click-to-Call CTAs to Start a Conversation

Email marketing is often viewed as a one-way communication channel. You send an email to customers or prospects, they read the message, and they either click on your CTA or they don’t. If you are selling a more complex product like homeowners’ insurance or healthcare, the person reading the email is probably going to end up needing questions answered before they make a purchase. By providing a customer service or sales phone number in your email, you can potentially capture customers who are almost ready to buy without risking sending them into the wilds of the web where they’ll potentially click away to a competitor’s website or get discouraged when they can’t find what they were looking for on yours. Also, make sure to include a click-to-call button to make it easy for mobile users to call. By putting click-to-call buttons and phone numbers in your emails, you’ll not only establish trust (people trust brands that display a phone number) you’ll increase your email engagement and conversion rates.

Source: Invoca Email, Meet Phone Calls

You can also go a step further in providing a bespoke customer experience by using a call tracking and conversational analytics platform along with your email marketing automation. This not only allows you to get attribution for calls that are made from the emails you send, but you can also track your customer’s journey from the email, to your website, and to the phone so you know exactly what made them convert (or not) so you can optimize your marketing. You can also use the call tracking platform to route calls from emails or a particular web page to the right call center representative and provide them with context for the call. This means the caller goes to the right person without being transferred and they know why they’re calling to create a seamless, personalized customer experience.

4. Personalize Offers for Better Conversions

Personalization is a marketer’s biggest priority when it comes to improving customer experience through email. 67% of digital marketers say they want to improve personalization—and that’s achieved with tailor-made content based on previously collected data on subscriber needs and preferences. 

Good list segmentation is crucial for this step, as well as setting up triggers in your automation software for key points in customer interaction. You can segment lists according to:

  • Location
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Industry
  • Past email activity
  • Buyer personas
  • Website activity

However, where you can really excel with automation is sending emails based on behavioral triggers. Try sending personalized content that follows up when someone consistently views specific portions of your website or hasn’t engaged with you in a while. Triggered emails have a 152% higher open rate than traditional emails. 

5. Ask for Feedback

Typically, an email campaign is one-way communication: your content delivered to the subscriber’s inbox. They then read it and decide whether to act on it or engage with it. Sometimes, it ends there, but it doesn’t have to.

Source: Really Good Emails

Build a closer relationship between you and your subscribers by giving them the option to respond and engage in a two-way conversation. 

For example, you can set up your email automation software to send emails asking for customer feedback on your products or services. This lets customers know their satisfaction and happiness are important to you—as they should be.

Collecting all of this data gives you valuable insight into what your subscribers want to see from your brand. That way, you can take the necessary steps to improve customer experience—and show your audience you’re willing to make changes on their behalf. 

It’s easy to fall back on email marketing as a tried-and-tested way to talk at your subscribers rather than with them. However, it’s key to remember that all the power is in your audience’s hands. Your audience will only engage with your messages when they want to, or when it’s relevant to their needs or interests—so, it’s important to put in the effort to truly connect with your audience and create a two-way conversation. 

Use email marketing automation to facilitate this connection rather than detract from it. Use it to humanize otherwise bland messaging, give subscribers the information they need, and involve them in continuous improvement.  

Ash Salleh

Posted by Ash Salleh

Ash Salleh is the Director of SEO at Campaign Monitor, where he works closely with content, copy, and analytics teams to improve site-wide optimization. Prior to his time at Campaign Monitor, he also provided SEO and digital marketing expertise at Zappos and Axiata Digital.