In an ideal world, you’d be able to reach out personally to every lead. You’d develop a one-to-one relationship as you guide them through your offering. When they were ready to talk about purchase you’d be right there. But there’s no way you can give each lead that level of personal attention right out of the blocks, and keep all those balls in the air.
The result can be leads that remain stuck in one place when they could be moving towards purchase. That same fate can befall customers whose subscription is coming up for renewal, or subscribers who don’t interact much with your messages. Again, a blast isn’t going to cut it. But with email workflows, you can automatically fork a lead or customer over to the right emails at the right time, making sure they’re always seeing the content they need to see to move down the funnel.
1. Welcome Emails
Welcome emails typically pull in 320% more revenue than other promotional emails. There’s a 42% bump in open rates for single welcome emails – to 50% – plus a 50% increase in engagement for the half year afterwards. And a well-structured welcome email flow, not just a single email, is associated with a 13% revenue increase over the benefits of single-email welcomes.
The best welcome email workflows are supportive rather than harrying – you want to guide people to the next micro-conversion, not irritate them. Fiverr does this pretty well: immediately on signup, you get this:
Simple messaging and an obvious next step make it a design win, but it’s a workflow win because it leads to:
Which hits your inbox right afterward. Again, the design’s hard to argue with – but it’s both triggered by my behavior, and encouraging of the next step – to return to the website and get started. The email offers multiple points of reentry so drop me right where I’m interested in being, rather than asking me to go to the website’s homepage or a landing page. Welcome workflows should segue into onboarding or fork depending on website activity.
2. Lead Nurturing
Up to 50% of leads are valid, but not sales ready. But it takes multiple contacts from both marketing and sales to move those leads into a position where they’re sales ready. So lead nurturing has the theoretical potential to double usable leads.
Email is one of the most effective and efficient ways of contacting leads and nurturing them to sales readiness, but blasts won’t address the specific issues, objections and pain points of each lead that would encourage conversion. Handcrafted emails work pretty well, but they’re unsuitable for large numbers.
When you can automate analytics and targeting, you can deliver content based on who you’re talking to, what they like, where they are in the buyer cycle and – crucially – what they did last. That’s how you can get 50% more sales-ready leads for 33% less outlay: Workflows can deliver the benefits of individualization and the advantages of automation.
If you have leads who have demonstrated interest in more midcycle content, like whitepapers, ebooks and videos, fork them onto lead nurturing workflows that deliver that content, encouraging that lead’s interest.
As you develop more accurate data from your workflows, you can more accurately target these leads with content that’s proven to encourage conversion. Fork off this workflow onto specific lead nurturing workflows based on data about lead behavior and segmentation, with an option to hand leads with consistent midcycle and purchase indications over to sales (and trigger an internal sales flow while you’re doing that – see number 10 for more on that.)
3. Cart Abandonment
For e-commerce companies, cart abandonment is just the biggest revenue leak there is. Across e-commerce average cart abandonment rates are 68.5%, veering ten or so percentage points either side of that figure depending on space, device and other factors (mobile cart abandonment, by the way? About 97%.) When you find that actually, about 72% of those customers return within 24 hours to complete their purchase things don’t look quite so bleak – but cart abandonment industry wide still costs about 19% of customers – one in five. Retargeting emails are a key component of abandonment reduction and automatically triggered, forked workflows fit naturally.
If you’re an e-tailer, you’ll need to integrate your email platform with your e-commerce platform so actions in your store can trigger initial workflows and interact with email triggers like clickthroughs to navigate the right customer down the right fork. Abandonment emails are time-sensitive and a multi-email campaign is often required. At their simplest, they can simply remind a customer that they have something in their cart, like this one from 53:
Segment workflows by reason for abandonment, which is deducible by the point in the purchase process at which it’s abandoned. People who filed a cart but never tried to check out? Probably browsing; offer them an encouragement to return and complete their purchase, but know that some of them were shopping around and never planned to buy.
People who got as far as shipping costs and bailed? That’s going to be about half of abandonments; offer free shipping to encourage completion. Fork these workflows back into re-engagement after purchase or after 24-36 hours without a response, and keep the abandonment workflow relatively short, so you’re not hassling people.
Customers get bored and email lists decay. People change their email client – or they change jobs, and their @work.co email’s not a lot of use when they’re putting in their 8 hours someplace else. Sending emails out to dead inboxes is just taking an angle grinder to your deliverability score. But some email addresses are like the kind of 90s slacker Keanu Reeves used to play; they’re not dead, they’re just really, really disengaged. Again, email workflows let you target and address the right customers in a personalized way without excessive time commitment.
Flag inactive contacts by ‘age’ – time since last activity. Between three and six months is good for most businesses, but your mileage may vary depending on what’s normal for your customers and the length of your buying cycle. Some companies measure buying cycles in years, others in weeks or days.
If you have multiple offerings with different buying cycles you need to segment your re-engagement workflows to take account of differing buyer needs. Inactivity can be measured by lack of response to emails, lack of website visits, or nonuse of tools or apps. However you figure it, that inactivity period is your trigger; any customer who hits it gets forked onto the re-engagement workflow.
Effective re-engagement models focus on offering something new – an enticement, some value to encourage customers to get back into contact with you. For B2C, that could be a special offer, or classic triggers like urgency, scarcity, or exclusivity.
Tell someone time is running out, there are only a few left and only people who got this email can get 10% off and you’ve ticked every box. For B2B, reciprocity – offering something for free to encourage the desire to do something for you in return – can work; so can simply asking for re-engagement, or reminding the customer of the value of your offering. This example from Sidekick exemplifies the technique of value restatement, combined with a subtle urgency trigger: a request for resubscription and an offer to automatically unsubscribe the user, making the choice clear.
Finally, while a majority of people prefer email as a contact method, not everyone does, so consider a button in your re-engagement emails that puts you in touch through social or SMS instead.
5. Highly Engaged Contacts
If catching your disengaged contacts before they slip away makes sense, how much more sense does it make to reach out to the customers who already love your brand and ask to deepen the relationship? Unlike re-engagement or abandonment, where you’re asking people to change their behavior, here you’re asking people for more of the same. If you can take a repeat customer and turn them into an evangelist, the business case is obvious: people trust word of mouth referrals above everything else. Maybe that’s why 86% of the most effective marketers consider customer evangelism a priority. For marketers, workflows provide an opportunity to encourage, incentivize and reward evangelism effectively and economically.
Start by identifying the evangelists you already have. Track them down on social media- most channels have inbuilt mentions tracking, while free tools like Mention.com offer multi-channel tracking – or use Google Analytics to see referral paths. Tools that collate data across multiple channels to give you single-customer views and present that information in aggregate are most effective at quickly identifying evangelists. From here, you can figure out which customers share evangelist-like traits and fork them onto a pre-evangelist workflow that seeks to nurture their tendency to evangelize.
This means more interaction and more tightly planned forks than other workflows because these people like to interact with your brand, so the experience you’re offering has to be interactive; don’t barrage them – listen to them. Since they actively seek participation, the option to have a conversation – an actual one, over the phone- will probably strike these customers as a benefit. What you get back from them will be ‘almost word-for-word the best possible marketing message you can have,’ says evangelism guru Alex Goldfayne. This can be reoriented toward the rest of your contacts as the marketing message that appeals to the best of your customers.
6. Field Updates
After seeking to build workflows triggered by on-site behavior, social activity, email responsiveness, and a million other metrics, it can be really easy to forget one source of obvious, yet vital information that changes all the time: the information fields in your own database on your customers. These change when people get older, get married, get divorced, when they move house, move job, move school… and they change more often than you’d think. 78% of the names on your list will undergo a field change in the average year.
These changes are usually quite major and meaningful for the customer concerned. In fact, that reads like a list of the most stressful experiences a person can undergo, so they’ll probably welcome a friendly, supportive voice in their inbox. B2C customers moving to new homes, cities or jobs will want new products and services to go with that, and appreciate useful content. B2B contacts changing roles will be even more in need of content that helps them excel. And when B2B contacts change organizations, you just got a contact at a new organization. Shouldn’t you drop them an email?
Build workflows that anticipate likely wants and needs based on field change and age, gender, education and any other relevant metrics. Treat these workflows as onboarding customers into a new demographic, by offering them products that customers from their new demographic usually want. People who just had a baby are going to be much more interested in baby clothes, people who just moved cities are going to be short on furniture – and interested in where the good bars, restaurants, and so on are, so it’s an opportunity to put content in front of them too.
7. Cyclical Purchasing
Cyclical purchasing can apply to physical products like razorblades, light bulbs, contact lenses and so on, or to subscription-based services like the whole as-a-service tech industry. The two meet in the burgeoning subscription e-commerce sector, with the Dollar Shave Club and Warby Parker.
Either way, you’re looking at purchases that recur cyclically at relatively predictable intervals. When that interval is approaching, the customer has a choice to make: stick with you or go somewhere else (or stop shaving and wear glasses).
If you have a recurring purchase that happens on a predetermined cycle, like monthly or yearly subscriptions, or three-month supplies of perishables, you have some warning of when the cycle is coming around again. Fork those customers onto a workflow that shows them some extra love and reminds them of the value of your offering. For B2C customers, a couple of reminder emails that include a value proposition might work well. B2B customers might benefit from an infographic demonstrating the success of solutions like yours in helping them pursue their business objectives.
If you have variable cycle lengths – say, monthly, quarterly and yearly – you can build a suggestion into your reminder emails that a longer subscription cycle might be more economical and save on repurchasing time. After repurchase, fork these customers onto post-purchase email workflows.
8. Upselling and Cross Selling
Upselling and cross-selling are staples of e-commerce. But when you attempt to interest B2B customers in other parts of your offering, or encourage subscribers to move to a premium account, you’re also cross-selling and upselling. They’re effective ways of increasing revenue while serving your customers better, which is why they’re such popular strategies. And they’re ideally suited to email workflows for implementation.
Triggers for cross-selling can be purchases. When someone buys a drill, they might be interested in drill bits or screws; when a pair of boots goes in the basket, socks are a natural suggestion.
When a purchase is a digital item like a movie, it’s a natural choice to send an email offering similar movies. (I’m not sure how Fargo is like The Birdcage, but that’s a different conversation.)
Emails that offer standardized ‘you might also like’ and let you slot your suggestion into the template are a natural fit and can be combined with cart abandonment efforts. Upselling emails are better suited to truly cyclical purchase patterns like subscriptions or periodical perishables. Here, you can offer upgrades to customers whose behavior matches that of current premium members prior to their upgrade, or use business analysis tools to monitor business customers’ performance and trigger upgrade workflows by revenue or popularity.
9. Live Events
Live events offer customers the opportunity to interact directly with your brand. You get urgency and scarcity, as well as additional value from being up close and personal, with the opportunity to ask questions in real time and create a genuine dialogue. If your offering is expertise oriented, that’s particularly important, but live events can benefit many types of organization. They’re also versatile, allowing for recording and rebroadcasting or for a variety of event types. Whatever type of event you’re using for event marketing, you can use email workflows to generate interest and increase conversions.
Segment by the likelihood that customers will attend the event. If it’s a true live event, there will be a core of attendees and a wider group of people who won’t show up but are interested. For webinars where attendance requires less commitment the effect will be diminished. Fork these groups into different workflows and offer non-attendees a highlights reel in their inbox. Show attendees reminders in the run-up to the event, emphasizing value.
Remember that the very things that make an event a utility also make it a cost. You’re asking people to set aside a certain time, to commit to deeply engaging with your content – and that’s for webinars. True live events can involve hours of travel for some attendees. That’s going to generate some pushback, so preemptively objection handle with content marketing that focuses on long-term value derived from the event and encourages anticipation. Fork attendees into post-attendance emails that ask for feedback.
10. Internal Rep Alerts
We need to be ready to address sales leads as soon as they become ready. While email workflows are too impersonal and imprecise a tool for selling, they’re ideally suited to alerting sales reps that a lead just qualified.
When you know which actions precede initial contact from a sales-ready lead you can alert your reps with an internal alert workflow that lets them know it’s time to reach out. Conversion events, email opens, low-funnel content access or behaviors all offer trigger material. You’ll typically see these workflows triggered by leads spending time looking at pricing, provision, and product pages, but exactly when to trigger these workflows is a matter of calibrating with your customers and your business, so expect a couple of misfires early on. Build these workflows to put all the information rep needs in front of them, including data on the lead and content that might fit into their first outreach email, allowing sales to intercept sales-ready leads the moment they’re ready to take that step.
Email workflows offer businesses the chance to yoke their customer data to email automation and address the right content to the right lead or customer at the right time, driving up crucial metrics including repeat custom, initial sales, and re-engagement.
About the Author: Richard Bayston is a freelance blogger and copywriter covering tech, digital marketing and content strategy for SMBs. I’ve also been known to write on health and fitness. Find out more: Richard@RBCopywriting.com or @RBCopywriting. The rest of my time is spent arguing amicably with my wife and Googling the answers.
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