How to Get Started with WordPress Email Automation
In 2022, there are 4 billion people using email, and this number is expected to grow in the coming years, according to Statista. About 50% of email users report that they enjoy receiving emails with offers from their favorite brands. Moreover, 47% of consumers prefer getting customer service through email, as stated by Netomi.
It gets obvious that the amount of work will grow in line with your WordPress business. Automated email campaigns for WordPress can get you leads, increase website traffic, and even improve retention without any manual work from your side.
What email types can you automate?
A welcome email series sets the ground for a relationship with your new contact and helps you stay top of mind for them. That’s why timing and the right tool are so important — a potential customer has to hear from your brand the moment they express interest.
Lead nurturing emails
Lead nurturing emails are essential for moving customers further to the decision stage of the funnel. Automation tools use “if-then” commands to send emails based on the lead’s interactions, allowing potential customers to receive relevant content on each stage of their purchasing journey — without any involvement from your side.
Birthday and other emails that celebrate customers’ significant dates are a great way to implement personalization and show your appreciation to clients. With automation, you ensure that each customer receives a custom message or offer on the right day.
Order confirmation receipts and tracking numbers reassure customers that everything goes as planned, thus improving the client experience. Moreover, these emails can contain upselling and cross-selling elements, discounts, social proof, etc., to drive further sales. By sending automated confirmation emails, you cut customer service workload and boost it.
Woodpecker claims that a single follow-up email can increase the average reply rate up to 13%. Automated follow-up sequence based on data from a tracking tool ensures the right timing. The chance of sending an email to the wrong person also decreases substantially.
Important announcements, newsletters, blog post selections aimed at a large group of people — i.e. broadcasts — are usually automated with several customizable elements.
Abandoned cart reminders, wishlist follow-ups, event notices are your second chance to catch a customer’s attention and nudge them to return to doing business with you. Automation helps to easily keep everyone on track.
Make your first automated email campaign in 7 steps
#1 Choose an email automation tool
There are tons of email marketing software in the market, so to avoid wasting time, decide what features are absolutely necessary for your business. Generally, the email automation tools’ functionality differs based on the following:
- Team size. The amount of people using the tool affects the price and the number of features. If your budget is limited, you may start small and then upgrade to a larger-team pricing plan.
- Email types. While most platforms support all types of email, you might want to double-check if your pick has the right functionality just for you.
Based on your list of expectations, check with the functions provided by the tool of your choice. On top of that, you may need:
- A/B testing. This feature helps you test and decide which email formats work the best.
- Send time optimization helps to choose the most relevant time for receivers in different time zones.
- Email templates let you quickly craft nice emails. Make sure you can customize them with your logo, images, and links.
- HTML and plain text. You should be able to create both without sacrificing quality or branding.
- Contact management to track the engagement and score your leads.
- Dedicated IP to prevent sharing your IP with other domains and improve security.
- List verification to send emails to high-quality subscribers only.
- Reporting to evaluate how your email marketing tactics are performing.
#2 Define your goals
What is your biggest pain that you want the tool to help you with? Most often, email automation tools are aimed to:
- Increase conversions
- Drive more traffic
- Reduce churn
- Grow social media following
- Get more reads on your blog and so on
To set your email marketing goals and therefore decide on the necessary features of your email automation tool, follow two steps:
- Identify your audience — learn who they are, why do they read your emails, and what platform do they use for reading;
- Choose metrics to measure performance. Most commonly used are open rate, CTR, conversion rate, list growth rate, and email ROI.
As you have set your goals, determine time constraints. Scientists prove that deadlines help to focus on hitting the targets.
#3 Segment your mailing list
By dividing your email list into groups based on chosen characteristics, you can speak to your customers more personally and relevantly. Moreover, basic list segmentation by user’s location or job title can increase open rates by 14%, as shown by Mailchimp.
You can use any data your email collection software gives you for segmentation; there aren’t any rules. Some common segment ideas include:
- Demographic data is any measurable characteristics of a person — gender, age, location, job, and so on.
- Behavioral data lets you understand what your customers do with your product, what else they buy, how often they do that if they are free or paid-subscription users, and what they last interacted with in a newsletter or on your website.
- Sign-up date. Segmentation by this parameter lets you better onboard new users and reward your most loyal customers.
- Email client data to know whether you should focus on mobile or desktop optimization and customers’ email preferences.
Most email automation programs allow you to select criteria to target a specific group of subscribers. Some even let receivers correct their information and automatically record these changes into the database.
#4 Decide on a schedule or trigger actions
Speaking of automated mailouts, marketers refer to two types of campaigns — drip-feed and lead nurturing. The drip marketing technique is usually used to educate and move customers down the funnel. They are about giving the correct information at the right time.
Lead nurturing emails depend on the user’s action and are meant to develop a relationship with a prospect to convert into a customer. Since these emails are triggered by something a person has done — or hasn’t — they are more personalized and valuable.
Drip campaigns are great for guiding customers down the funnel when you don’t have enough resources to create highly personalized content. They don’t require extensive analytics and perfectly announce new product arrival or give a holiday coupon. In other words, drip campaigns work well for immediate sales.
Nurture campaigns pursue more long-term goals and require more data along with careful planning. These emails work to nurture customer loyalty in relationship-focused marketing.
#5 Build an email campaign workflow
A workflow is a predetermined set of actions that you assign your automation tool to take for you. After you have decided who is going to receive your emails, aka did your list segmentation, set the criteria that trigger the campaign.
For instance, in MailOptin, you can choose from blog/newsletter subscription, completed purchase, content download/share or webinar signup, review left, customer support entry, event registration, abandoned cart, lack of activity, and more.
#6 Write email content
To be effective and not get marked as spam, automated emails should provide value to the reader. Think about how your content helps to solve your customers’ challenges. If unsure, run a survey or base your content on recent testimonials.
To make your automated email look more personal, give them the “manually-typed” appearance by using some simple tricks:
- Send emails from your own email account
Emails sent from a third-party address tend to land into the Updates or Promotions tab and rarely get read. Make sure your email marketing solution can connect directly to your business email.
- Don’t rely on images too much
People use plain text in manual correspondence, so a nicely styled image immediately instills the “automated” feeling. Also, images are harder to format to look good both on desktop and mobile.
Another reason to use fewer visuals is that email clients may hide images in your email, harming your branding and making the email look less genuine. Also, there is an opinion that emails containing less than 500 characters land in the Spam folder more often than others. You may want to check out the list of email deliverability tools to use to improve your CTR.
- Have an avatar
Gmail and Outlook show avatars next to the user’s email address. Those let the receiver estimate the importance of an email just by looking at the sender’s image. Usually, individuals set their own photos, while businesses stick to logos.
- Use custom fields
Most email automation tools substitute the receiver’s name and company to personalize. But you can go even further by adding your own custom categories like the field they work in or the last item they have purchased. Although, make sure you set fallback terms, which are the words used in the custom fields if there is no available data.
#7 Test your campaign
Before you’re ready to launch your email campaign, go through it to ensure everything looks good. Look at:
- Number of contacts to eliminate errors
- Workflow chart
- Sending settings
Use the testing feature to see how the campaign looks to an average user. Send a test version to your own account or your team and see if it lands in the Primary tab. Open the email on different devices to check if it formats properly.
You can also run A/B tests to check the readers’ reaction to the current lead generation trends and improve your email campaign’s performance. The most important elements to test are:
- Subject lines
You might want to experiment with the length, topic, personalization (such as adding a name greeting), and promotions (like offering “30% OFF”).
The first line of your email serves as a hint to its content and can affect the open rate. You may compare versions with and without a preheader as well as test different topics.
- Time of day
Marketers believe that some days are better to send an email than others. You may want to check this theory and schedule your newsletter to send on different days or times to see any changes in opens or CTRs.
- Call to Actions
CTAs are an effective way to collect emails. Simple and straightforward CTAs like “Buy now” may bring more conversions than more specific copies like “Capture More Leads With a Drip Campaign”. Color might also matter.
Some audiences prefer short content to long-form. You may also test language (e.g., positive vs. neutral) and dynamic vs. static content.
Tip: Don’t forget to track and measure results
After launch, monitor the campaign performance to step in if something goes wrong. Keep the list of metrics that will allow you to see what you should improve to get the desired ROI. The primary metrics for email marketing are:
- Open rate
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- Unsubscribe rate
- Complaint rate
- Conversion rate
- Bounce rate
- Share rate
- List growth rate
List of plugins for WordPress email automation
MailOptin is a marketing automation plugin that helps to create conversion-optimized signup forms for WordPress websites and send automated emails to the collected subscribers’ list drawn from your favorite email marketing software. Set up event-triggered email campaigns to notify users about the new blog post, send digests, segment your emails by exit intents, time on site, shoot newsletters, and so on.
MailOptin synchronizes with MailChimp, AWeber, HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, Constant Contact, Sendinblue, and some more.
Mailster is a self-contained solution that requires no third-party software to work with WordPress, and thus it provides a vast selection of features. Create emails from templates or using a drag-and-drop builder, set up triggered email campaigns, segment your email list, and view detailed analytics right in the WordPress dashboard.
Mailster is compatible with SendGrid and Amazon SES. Plus, it is a premium-only tool without any free trial.
MailPoet is another plugin that can be used on its own with WordPress (a free plan is available). You can use it to create subscription forms, build emails from scratch or using templates, make and manage email lists and send automatic signup notifications and welcome emails.
With WordPress email automation, you can cut the number of tasks competing for your attention. At the same time, you don’t have to sacrifice subscriber engagement. Even better, automated emails can build deeper relationships with customers and help you grow your business.
To succeed, use the tips above and collect enough data for proper planning. Know exactly what you want to get and what part of your work you want to delegate so you can choose the right automation tool. As you do this, all you need is to track KPIs and only interfere when you see something that should be improved.