Are you automating your emails with trigger and drip campaigns? (an overview and 3 good tips)

Lately I’ve been working with clients on automating their marketing tasks, specifically their emails. The more I work in this channel, the more I realize how wide-open a frontier — with a huge upside — it is for cross-channel merchants.

Most medium- to high-end email service providers (ESPs) offer some sort of automated functionality. This gives marketers the opportunity to create “set-it-and-forget-it type” campaigns.

When you acquire a new prospect, for example, you can create a triggered drip campaign. A drip campaign involves a series of emails that are sent to prospects at pre-specified intervals, say once a week over a four-week period.  Each email is designed to either highlight a key company benefit (part of the unique selling proposition), or have a series of progressively stronger offers.

Most ESPs have application programming interfaces available to their clients. By having your IT folks set this up, your ESP can automatically communicate with your database. In simple terms, once a prospect becomes a customer, no more drip emails are sent to them as they move to a different bucket (customer) in your email database. And once prospects become customers, they’re promoted into a different automated email series.

You can set up campaigns for all of your customer statuses — prospects, single, multibuyers, past customers, gift purchasers, cancels and so on. The sky is the limit based on your creativity.

Furthermore, some ESPs have pretty good list management tools available for automated and/or one-off campaigns. For example, a client of mine chose Bronto’s solution, which allows it to store 100 different customer attributes. It can then create campaigns based on whatever criteria meets its needs from Bronto’s list selection module. Want to send an email to someone whose birthday is coming up? It’s simple: Whatever data you collect from customers and prospects can all be sliced and diced within a good ESP’s system.

Try the following three ideas for triggered email campaigns:

  • customer satisfaction surveys X number of days after a purchase;
  • tell-a-friend offers when customers becomes multibuyers; and
  • customer reactivation emails. Instead of doing a query each time you want to send a reactivation message from your internal database and uploading a new list, just create it for X number of days/months/years and the message automatically goes out.

Of course, no new form of direct marketing should be done without testing. Test offers, creative and especially the timing of your messaging.

You’ve worked hard, now let email marketing automation help you drive revenue! Are you automating your marketing efforts? Tell us how it’s working by posting a comment below.

How to Spread Exponential Customer Goodwill

Last week I sent out an email for a client to its recent past customers. The email’s goal was to reactivate those customers, and the copy was written as a message from the company’s CEO.

At the bottom of the email in a P.S., I added the opportunity for these customers to let the brand know why they weren’t ordering from it anymore.

So the email was sent, and the responses came back to me. There were some complaints that were easy fixes and others where people were upset with the company.

My philosophy on this situation is simple: Customer complaints are customer advocates waiting to happen. That’s right. Once you resolve a customer’s complaint — in a way that he feels like you care — you have a good shot at retaining that customer for life.

And here’s another interesting outcome from this email campaign: Many of the customers who received the email responded with thank-yous to the CEO for taking the time to ask why they left.

It’s amazing how a little customer care from a typical nameless, faceless corporate entity changes peoples’ attitudes and perceptions of a company. And when the CEO gets involved, the goodwill level goes up exponentially.

I missed the TV show “Undercover Boss” after last week’s Super Bowl (it’s on my DVR; I’ll review it after I watch), but I think its message applies here. The general premise of the show is just how much a CEO can learn about his/her company, customers and employees just by getting involved.

To me it’s a no-brainer. My CEO philosophy was formed a long time ago, thanks to Tom Peters (he’s my mentor, even if he doesn’t know me) and his principle of management by wandering around. In other words, get out of the corner office — i.e., ivory tower — and get involved with your “X” (fill it in, folks).

But enough about CEOs. The feedback the company received at the behest of the CEO’s email was handed out to the senior customer service team. Systematically, all complaints are being resolved.

Now I want to ask you something: Do you think these customers, with their newly acquired “warm fuzzies” about the company, will tell their friends? Absolutely! And they’ll likely do it via social media channels, too. I call that spreading exponential good will.


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