When to Automate
You should use automation for the following:
- Transactional emails (order notification, shipping notices). There is NO reason not to automate these. They are a terrific waste of your time to not automate, and there is no benefit to doing them manually. But they DON’T have to sound robotic. You can make them sound human.
- Flash sale emails (special discount offers to your subscribers). A flash sale does not need to be a personal custom message to every subscriber. The idea of a flash sale email is a fast, time-sensitive offer, sent out to your list, in order to give you a quick bit of revenue. Ideally you have your list divided into segments by the product/service they are interested in. For instance, customers who have bought ‘x’ from you, are all in their own segment in your email marketing platform; and customers who bought ‘y’, are in their own group. By doing that you can offer the ‘x’ people things related to ‘x’, and the ‘y’ people, things that are related to ‘y’.
- Welcome emails. Whenever someone signs up to your list, newsletter, they need to get an automatic welcome email. In this message, you welcome them to your group and tell them a bit about yourself, and what to expect, and what is in it for them.
- Download emails. Basically, this is also a transactional email but deserves special mention. Whenever someone gives you their email in exchange for your ‘free e-book’, or whatever your offer is, you should have the link to their download emailed to them automatically. You should also send them a ‘welcome to our email list’ email as well.
When not to Automate
Email used to be between humans. In the past, people would love receiving emails, even if it was a sales email, because it was not bulk-email or spam, or some computer-generated message. Therefore, open rates use to be MUCH higher. And then marketers got involved and ruined everything. People started getting pummeled with sales email, spam, bulk email etc, etc. And now the open rates are MUCH lower and continue to drop. Many people don’t even check all the mail in their inbox anymore.
But it doesn’t stop there! Savvy netizens even create a ‘bulk-email’ address which they use any time a website or company requires them to give up their email. And they NEVER check this email. They have their own personal one which they never give out. This is their response to the enfilade of spam.
There was too much non-human automatic garbage email, and people started ignoring it.
Is all hopeless? Will people even read your hand-typed personal email?
Yes, there is hope, you should not use automation for:
- Customer relations emails. Writing to your subscribers to find out how they are doing and if there is anything your company can do for them. This improves customer retention, helps handle PR situations, and boosts loyalty to your brand.
- Sales emails. These will require SEVERAL follow up emails, and it is not simply a $5 offer from a flash sale. A flash sale is a one-time email, and you’re done. A Sales email is a series of messages, to move the subscriber down the sales funnel. It should definitely be done manually. It is the same conversation that a sales person would have with a prospect in person, but done via email instead. It can’t be automated. This is for higher ticket items. For anything under $10, use flash sale emails. For anything more, you need to email the person manually. You can of course use blocks of pre-written text when appropriate, on things you find yourself repeating over and over again.
Automated Emails don’t have to sound robotic
Just because there are automatic does not mean they have to be devoid of warmth and human touch.
You can inject personality, charm, care and humanity into your automated emails. It is companies that do this which differentiate themselves from the rest and get higher open rates.
Sending transactional emails to a list of 10,000 is no problem. 100,000 emails? Piece of cake.
But, sending personally crafted sales emails (which all require manual & custom replies by you) may be a challenge. It could probably take enough time to be a full-time position in your company.
But is the time invested worth the revenue it would produce?
How many hours would it take for one of your staff to personally email and respond to 10,000 subscribers/customers?
How much revenue would it generate?
Would it be more efficient to do it in an automated sales email series instead?
Do what any smart marketer would do: try it, test it, find out, and get certainty.