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A Starter Guide to Email Marketing Automation for Lead Generation

Email Marketing Automation is…

Email Marketing Automation, in this context, is a process of converting cold contacts into warm leads via automated emails that are triggered by different events.

#EmailMarketing has an average ROI of $38 for each $1 spent. Take a look: Click To Tweet

If you’re new to the marketing scene, that might seem a little complex. To put things simply, it’s a way of using automated emails to get to know your target audience better and move them toward purchasing your product. And voila, through that process, you’ve generated leads!

Note: Lead generation is not the same as contact generation. In order to send emails, you must already have contact lists (generated or purchased) to send emails to.

Why Does it Matter?

Let me just share a few stats to give you a general idea:

So WHY is email marketing automation so effective? Because it allows you to see how your audience is responding. The insights it gives you is unlike anything any other marketing channel can provide. With email marketing, you can see who is opening, who is clicking, what they’re interested in and then use that information to retarget them and push them through the sales cycle.

Need-to-Know Terms

Before we get in too deep, let me share some of our frequently used terminology.

  • CTA – Call to action. The link, button, or image in an email that you want your contact to interact with.
  • CTR – Click through rate. The percentage of contacts who have opened and clicked some element of your email.
  • TOFU, MOFU, BOFU – Top of funnel, middle of funnel, bottom of funnel. You want your contacts to move from TOFU (not very interested) to BOFU (ready to purchase). Your content will move them down the funnel.
  • Workflow – A sequence of emails designed to move your contact from TOFU to BOFU.

The Tools

You can’t begin to build automated emails without the right tools. At Red Branch Media, we use both Campaign Monitor and HubSpot to create our email blasts. Here’s a quick run-down of some of their pros and cons.

  • Campaign Monitor Very user-friendly interface, easy to use, and has great analytic information. The automation tool is simple to understand and use. However, there are limits to personalization in terms of email design.
  • HubSpot Everything is customizable, but you have to know how to use at least basic HTML and CSS to create dynamic emails. The automation tool is also more customizable, along with being more complex.

In case those don’t tickle your fancy, here are some other options to look into:

The Process

  1. #1 Acquire Lists

There are a number of ways you might gain a list of contacts. One of the most common and effective ways is through blog hosting. You write content which people can see and opt into. Admittedly, this can be a slow process if you’re just starting out. In B2B marketing, contact information is collected when someone:

  • Downloads a resource
  • Subscribes to a newsletter
  • Subscribes to updates
  • Downloads a free trial
  • Buys a product

Or, in a last resort, you can always buy email lists. It’s a controversial topic in the marketing space, but we’ll leave that choice up to you.

  1. #2 Send 2-4 TOFU Emails

Once you’ve got your lists, you want to start off with some email campaigns that contain broad, easy to access TOFU content. Whatever your product is, these first few emails should be like an introduction to it. Some examples are: Newsletters, blog posts, resources, quizzes, etc. The purpose of these sends is to find contacts that are at all interested in your product.

A great idea for these first TOFU emails is to have multiple CTAs at different levels of the funnel. One CTA could say “Read More On Our Blog” (TOFU), another “Download This Checklist” (BOFU), and finally “Free Trial” (BOFU).

Note: Your TOFU sends may not have great open rates or CTRs. The point is to weed out contacts who aren’t going to convert and give personalized attention to those who will.

  1. #3 Segment Your Lists

Email marketing automation tools allow you to see which of your contacts opened your emails, and which clicked certain links. You can consider contacts who opened your email engaged, even if they haven’t yet clicked a link.

Those contacts who clicked are also engaged, but now you have some more information about who they are and where they are in the funnel; You can put these contacts into their own list segments. To start out, you might have segments for contacts who are TOFU, MOFU, or BOFU.

#4 Put them into a workflow

Once you’ve segmented your lists, you have the opportunity to put those segments into personalized workflows.Wherever your contact has indicated they are in the funnel, your workflow should move them further down.

One great resource for developing workflows is a tool called Lucidchart. With it, you can visualize and develop incredibly complex workflows. But for now, your basic workflow should contain 3 or 4 emails that move the contact from TOFU to BOFU.

After your cold contacts have been funneled through personalized workflows, congratulations! You’ve generated yourself some very warm leads who are just ripe for converting.

Analyze & Optimize

But you’re not quite done yet!

The final step in email marketing automation is analyzing and optimizing your results. Look at how each of your emails and workflows performed. Did some subject lines have better open rates than others? How about your CTAs? This is your chance to change things that aren’t working and model them after the things that are.

If this all seems like a little too much, keep in mind that you don’t have to go it alone. Red Branch Media’s email marketing department can take care of it all for you.