Timing > List size?
If I had a dime for every time someone asked ‘How huge is your list?’, I would have enough to buy hoardings at Times Square, NY or Piccadilly Circus, London (or maybe both..gasp) and put this instead - 'List size doesn’t matter. Timing is everything’.
The value you add to your email list and profits you generate from there depends a lot on the timings of your emails. In this blog we will talk about different times in the journey of a customer when you can should send an email (a.k.a email sequences)
Let me show you an example first.
Suppose you run a website selling hats. I browse through the collection, put that mauve fedora hat in the cart and think I will wait or check more websites before I buy from you.
If you send me a discount code to reconsider buying 10 days after I was at your website, forget the sale, I won’t even remember the website.
And you just wasted your email. And you risk getting unsubscribed.
Hurts? Well, only if I had received the reminder to check the cart and use the discount a day after I was visiting the website. It might have put your website on top of my head and a discount would have swayed me.
This is only one example of how an automated email could have earned the hat website a sale and a happy customer. This is what we mean by email sequence.
What is an Email Sequence?
Email Sequence is a series of emails that are sent out automatically on a schedule depending upon the actions of the customer/subscriber. Email Sequences are known by different names such as drip emails, lifecycle emails, email marketing automation, and autoresponders.
Email sequences can be utilized in nurturing your leads, welcoming and engaging your customers, on-boarding, and reminding customers to renew. Unlike email campaigns, all of this is automated.
But automating this takes planning, understanding customer behavior, writing tons of emails for different scenarios, tracking every single conversion. I wouldn’t say it is effortless. But worth your time and effort.
Whatever the size of your list and business, I would recommend implementing email sequences.
You won’t just believe a stranger on the internet. I know. So let me tell you how an email sequence can benefit you.
Helps you scale
You only have to set up email sequences once and then they can work like clockwork. It’s like having an online evangelist or salesperson that keeps running your business even while you sleep.
You have to map our subscriber’s journey only once and then emails will keep them engaged based on how they open emails, how they avail discounts if they took the trial or not if they visited a particular page or not. There are so many variables and if you had to do this one at a time for every subscriber, you would need to have the hands of an octopus.
You are not an octopus. You are human with two hands and one brain.
Email sequences work whether you have 100, 10K, or a million subscribers. So it truly helps you scale your business.
Segmentation leads to quick conversion and value for subscribers
Email sequences’ are designed to turn subscribers into customers. Since these are sent based on their past interactions with your website or emails, you can judge their needs almost precisely. You can segregate based on low, medium and high intent and send messages appropriate for each stage.
Once you send the subscriber exactly what they need to hear, you will turn them into customers.
It also adds immense value to the subscriber as they are guided in the journey on your app and can rely on emails to remind them of renewals or read your valuable emails.
More emails create a greater opportunity to engage with interested customers and close the deal as you are able to address their objections, provide them discounts and re-iterate the benefits in your email sequence.
Once subscribers start engaging with your emails, then it is a matter of nudging them a bit more to close the deal. You also make yourself familiar to them and that psychological activity builds trust.
Trust means…sales and cash flow!
Types of email sequences with examples
A welcome email is the first direct communication to a subscriber from your brand. It’s the first impression, so make it count.
Three things to keep in mind when crafting your welcome email:
- Keep the tone congratulatory and positive
- Guide the readers on what to do next
- Keep your design and voice of writing brand aligned
Check out this email by frame.io that has all these elements:
This is also a great chance to maintain your deliverability rates by asking subscribers to whitelist you. Here’s how the Evercoach does it in their PS section
Onboarding emails are great to help subscribers reach the ‘aha moment’ where they finally realize the value of your product. This will help in customer retention & greater revenue. This is the playground to turn a free trial into a paid membership.
Headspace offers a 14-day free trial. You get an email from them, every day until your trial ends to encourage you to use the app for meditation, unwinding and relaxing.
This email is great because:
- It focuses on benefits rather than features
- It is sent precisely according to where the subscriber is on the journey, on day 1 here. So it feels personalized.
- It educates the reader & focuses on building a habit rather than saying ‘use our app daily’.
From personal experience, I can tell that emails did influence my decision to buy the subscription as I read about the benefits of meditation every day in their emails.
Yes, marketing works on marketers too.
It’s always (always) better to send renewal reminders before the renew date. Build a smart campaign, not just one email. You can use automation features in your ESP to stop these emails once the subscriber has paid.
This will help bring your brand at the top of the customer’s mind and If there is an issue (or if they are happy/satisfied), they are more likely to tell you that. And, if you can get a customer to renew earlier, it means fewer emails you have to send them & that’s less likely to bother them.
Abandoned cart sequence is a great opportunity to turn a lead into a customer because the person has already expressed a high intent to buy.
Create a single abandoned cart email or a series that displays the name, product image, and price for items customers have left behind. You can even add a product recommendation block to suggest similar items from your store. To really close the deal, you can offer an incentive in the form of free shipping, discount code or extended free trial.
This one by Society6 offers a 30% off on items abandoned in the cart.
Cart abandonment emails don’t have to be dead serious/pushy. This one by Casper adds little fun by using a creative headline:
The main aim of re-engagement emails is not to push sales but to get customer’s attention. For Apps, it’s great to boost DAU or MAU. Here is an example by Return Path to nudge the subscriber to update their email preferences and re-engage or unsubscribe for good.
There is no set rule for when you should send this. You can set your own condition & limit of inactive days of a subscriber before you send this email.
With upsell/cross-sell sales emails, you can give your customers an amazing opportunity to buy additional items that complement their initial order.Although they promote a purchase, these emails don’t have to scream “buy me now!” but instead they give emphasis on “I think this item will also benefit you.”
Here is how Airbnb does it. When you book a stay with them in a city, they recommend that you can book.
Tracking Email Sequence
Tracking your email sequence is important for two reasons:
- To compare it with other sources of leads and customer
- To constantly improve your email sequence
Let’s look at the 3 important metrics to track:
User acquisition cost: Check what’s the cost of sending someone 10 emails before they buy a $10 book vs other channels like social media. This will help you analyze if you should put more effort and money into email sequences or focus on other channels.
Conversion rate: The motive of an email sequence is to push the subscriber further down the funnel. Even when they have made a purchase, the next sequence is to get them to buy a higher-ticket item or take a subscription. So you have to analyze which emails in your series are the most effective in making people take the desired action.
If the conversion is dropping somewhere, either something is broken or content doesn’t resonate with the audience.
Time to customer conversion: This is the time/no. of emails, it takes to move someone to the next step of the funnel. This can also help you decide how many emails you should send. If almost all of the subscribers are getting convinced after email 3, then you can shorten your sequence. If it’s taking longer, you need to optimize your content.
4 tips for non-lousy email sequence
What’s your goal?
Always think about what’s your goal with an email sequence and does it make sense to have an email sequence or just the one-time campaign? Once you have a goal, that will guide all further decisions. You will know the basis to segment your list, craft your message and choose the frequency.
Personalization makes your email… memorable. It’s an automated email at your backend, but it doesn’t have to feel like that in the customer’s inbox.
From simple to sophisticated, there are many ways to personalize. Basic personalization tactics include using a subscriber’s name in the subject line, while advanced tactics can include changing the content of the email based on a subscriber’s gender, location, or other preferences.
Can personalization also come from how you tell your story? To understand, look at this one favorite example of mine, from Highrise. This is an onboarding email they use:
It’s simple, yet highly personalized
As told by the founder in his blog post, he would change the content of the highlighted block every single day. That takes a minute or two but makes it instantly feel personal and directly from the founder.
Just providing great content and value in emails is not enough. You have to lead the reader to the next step. The next step is guided with a clear call to action.
What do we mean by clear CTA? It means that:
- It is distinctly visible among the rest of the content.
- It is specific - Uses a precise copy of what will happen when the reader clicks on the button/link.
- It is placed after you have given some context about the emails.
Ignore all these, and do what’s right for you
As a marketer, it’s important to be objective and only implement something if it works for you and not the ‘growth hacker’ who is claiming he knows exactly what works. Basic principles of persuasion, likeability, etc are the same but you still have to test your email sequences for what works particularly for your audience.
How to do all this, without overwhelm?
In a nutshell, to make email sequences work for you, learn to get the frequency right, be personal, send emails in response to user-activity and include a clear and strong call to action in every email.
That’s a mouthful.
But it can make a lot of difference if you use the right ESP...
SendX has pre-built triggers and actions for a variety of email marketing use cases. Whether you are a blogger, e-commerce or SaaS marketer or run a newsletter, we've got your email sequence needs covered.
You don’t have to add your credit card or go through a lengthy sign-up process to try SendX. It’s free for the first 14-days and then you can choose any affordable plan and continue.