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“Work smarter, not harder” is a business phrase as ubiquitous and well-known as “the early bird gets the worm.” It might be clever wordplay but what working “smarter not harder” really boils down to is finding ways to be more productive.
Small business guru Gwen Moran tackled this in a piece for Fast Company. Her article took a close look at how to better manage time. One is to create organizational systems and refine them to be more efficient. Another is being patient and getting fully trained on something instead of diving in and wasting more time learning along the way. She also brings up the idea of working when productivity is at its peak, something that productivity devotee Chris Bailey calls biological prime time.
Gwen Moran also explains that one great way to work smarter is to delegate: “You’re likely spending more time than is necessary on the things you’re not good at—when you can delegate those tasks, you free up time to do the work you’re best at.” While Moran focuses on handing over tasks to people, it is also possible to find ways to entrust certain actions to technology. For those in the marketing space, especially small business owners, utilizing email marketing automation is an outstanding productivity hack.
The Basics of Email Marketing Automation
It’s worth noting that despite the popularity of social media marketing, SEO, and content marketing, email marketing continues to be the best marketing method when it comes to generating leads. Email marketing provides you with a very receptive audience—ideally everyone on your mailing list has either bought goods or services from you before, or they explicitly signed up to receive these emails. These are leads that are closest to converting or that will offer repeat business.
Email marketing lets you communicate with this critical market segment directly. Most email marketing platforms will allow you to delegate a variety of email message functions. The beauty of automation is that it can help you communicate even more effectively with your target audiences.
Trigger Email Strategies
One of the best-known forms of automation in emails is the use of email “triggers.” These work by simply setting up your email marketing to send out specific emails that respond to events or actions relating to a customer.
Welcoming or Anniversary Emails
There’s nothing better than being able to make new email subscribers feel like they are part of a community, and that is exactly what automation can help you do. Have a pre-arranged series of emails to pop up in your subscribers’ inbox in the weeks and months after they have joined your list just to make them feel welcomed. Guide them through your products or services and use every opportunity to remind them why they joined.
In a similar way, remind subscribers who have been with you’re a while that you are grateful they have stayed with you. Automate emails with promo codes or special offers that go out after someone has been on your email list for one, two, or more years.
Reactivate Inactive Users
Just like you want to welcome those who have just joined your list or reward those who have remained, you can also automate messages to go out for individuals who appear to be straying from the flock. Set up emails will special “We’re Missing You” promo codes to go out after a user hasn’t engaged with an email in six or ten months.
Email Drip Campaigns
Automation is exceptionally helpful when it comes to email drip campaigns. Setting up a drip campaign is the email equivalent of telling a story. It starts, is briefly sustained, and reaches a conclusion. Email drips can be condensed to take place over just a week or drawn out over a few weeks or months.
A clothing manufacturer, for example, might have an email drip campaign that takes place over an entire summer to promote seasonal items. Or an HVAC company could prepare a series of email drips in early fall in anticipation of furnace and heating installations for the coming winter. Email drip campaigns offer a carefully plotted and sustained strategy for getting subscribers to take action.
If there is one tried and true rule when it comes to any campaign it’s that there is always something to learn from it. Knowing how your last campaign performed will be invaluable when plotting your next one.
That’s why campaign analytics are incredibly helpful to businesses when it comes to formulating strategies. The analytics of your email marketing platform will let you pore over data and campaign reports. You can see which emails received the most attention and which ones were most effective at converting leads. Getting a comprehensive understanding of your successes and failures will undoubtedly lead to better campaigns.
In all these ways, email automation takes these tasks off your plate, letting you set certain strategies up once. Once the automation is in place you can focus on other parts of your business. Making the most of your time? That is working smarter, not harder.