In the world of content marketing, technology has given us an amazing toolbox, enabling us to scale our creativity and get more done with automation. Among the many technology categories that serve content marketers, email marketing automation tools are arguably the most beneficial, allowing us to personalize and connect with buyers at scale.
But what tools, features or functions within the email realm do you really need? And how will they complement your content strategy? Let’s look at the best email marketing automation tools that will help you execute your plan.
Are You Spending Too Much Time on Email Campaigns?
Email marketing is essential to content marketing. It offers you the ability to communicate directly with those who actually want to hear from you. The opportunities are massive, as you use email to share valuable content while engaging and nurturing your buyers.
But you shouldn’t have to get lost in the weeds just to execute. Without automation, you are likely performing the same tasks over and over, which takes up too much time. Content automation, in general, has the ability to save your team precious time. That’s especially true of email marketing, where you can set up many different campaigns that engage buyers without trudging through manual work.
If you’ve tried automation and haven’t found the right fit or are just beginning to consider it, having the right email automation tools will make your life so much easier!
What Is Email Automation, Exactly?
You probably have some idea about what email automation is, but to get us all on the same page, let’s define it. Email automation is setting up a series of emails that are sent automatically to a specific list of people (prospects, subscribers, etc.) after a triggered event. It’s been found to be extremely effective with 119 percent higher click rates and 60 percent more conversions when compared to one-off, broadcast emails.
Since they typically perform better and save your team time, email automation adoption is a smart move, one that many brands use to keep pushing buyers through the marketing and sales funnel.
How Does Email Automation Support Your Content Strategy?
Your content strategy is your master blueprint for how you’ll leverage content to drive goals. It identifies the key aspects of content marketing, including mapping out your customer journey. In this element of the strategy, you are outlining the typical paths that a buyer will take from awareness to purchase.
Throughout this journey, you’ll need content to meet them at every leg of it. Buyers need this information and knowledge to support decision-making. One of the best ways to reach them is through email marketing.
Email automation provides a perfect toolkit to execute these touch points, setting up triggers based on their actions, which then start an email campaign. Depending on how you define your triggers, you can also segment your audience to ensure you’re sending the most relevant content to that buyer.
Trigger Examples in the Customer Journey
Here are some common tactics and conversion points that many companies use to trigger email automation.
Blog Subscription Sign-up
When someone subscribes to your blog, send them a welcome email that contains a quick intro and asks them to confirm. Then your new email subscriber will start receiving blog update emails. This is a great jumping off point for additional nurturing as these subscribers have shown obvious interest in your domain and product or service category.
“If you build engaged audience members who devour your content, and thus, trust and like you, they will begin to change their behavior. They will stay longer as customers. Or they will buy more. Or they will close faster. Or they will bypass your sales team altogether and just buy from you.”
Joe Pulizzi – Founder of Content Marketing Institute
If you offer free trials of your solution, and you have a new user, it should trigger a campaign that onboards them, offers them help, and continues to promote a paid subscription post-trial.
Demand generation has quickly become part of the content marketing function. Developing high-value guides, eBooks or whitepapers and using them to capture prospective customer data is a proven tactic that most successful companies invest in and deploy heavily.
Depending on what kind of content a consumer downloads, and where it sits on the customer journey, you could trigger many different automated campaigns, including ones that nurture with more content or push for a sale.
Responses to Previous Emails
Based on the behavior of one of your subscribers (ex: they open or click something within an email), that action can become it’s own trigger that indicates their interest in something specific. This may prompt a shift to a new email series that is applicable to their interest and preferences.
What Makes an Email Marketing Automation Tool Awesome?
Most platforms have many of the same features, but some do it better than others. When comparing options, these are features that make the tool a great fit:
- Advanced and complex communication sequencing
- Ability to orchestrate numerous communication paths simultaneously
- Accessibility of detailed stats beyond just opens and clicks
- Integration options with other software tools or with eCommerce
- High usability that doesn’t require lots of training or coding skills
Email Marketing Automation Tools: The Best Options to Support Your Content Strategy
Next up is going through a few of the most popular tools for getting started with email automation and highlighting how they can make your life easier and help you stay consistent with your content strategy.
Note that we have not included enterprise-level solutions as they are often much more robust and likely too advanced for beginners.
Sendinblue: Features Galore
Sendinblue has one of the most robust line up of features for email automation. In fact, automation has its own menu. Here’s why it made the list:
- Multiple workflow set-ups that can run parallel and use the same contacts
- Connect contacts in a chain, which means after the contact moves through one workflow; it can be added to a new one
- Multiple entry points, actions, and conditions to choose from
- Contact details that enhance the user’s profile can be added
- Pre-made sequences available to reduce set-up time
Mailchimp: Ready-Made Automations and High Usability
Mailchimp does not have as vast of an array of features as Sendinblue does, but it’s a good choice for those that need less complexity. It has a menu of ready-made automations and is very user-friendly. If you are starting out with email automation, it’s an excellent tool to get you ramped up and familiar with the practice.
ActiveCampaign: Visual Automation Builder Pioneer
ActiveCampaign’s claim to fame is that it was the first to use a visual automation builder, which gives it a great UX grade. Of note, ActiveCampaign has predictive sending and predictive content features to trigger content. It also makes A/B testing a snap.
Moosend: Adding AI to the Automation Mix
Moosend is a platform that works well for beginners but also has some advanced features. It offers you the ability to send email triggers based on weather as well as AI cross-selling capabilities.
Omnisend: Built for eCommerce
Omnisend was designed for eCommerce brands, allowing them to control marketing with an omnichannel approach. Because it focuses on eCommerce, there are preconfigured sequences for cart abandonment, repeat buyers, and discount offers based on activities or birthdays. It also is very smart about triggers based on customer behavior, helping eCommerce businesses thrive.
Keap: Automation for Service Businesses
Keap (formerly Infusionsoft) is a unique mashup of CRM and email automation, tailored specifically for small, service-based businesses who are actively trying to acquire new leads, nurturing them through automation, and invoicing them once they become customers. The software comes equipped with dozens of pre-built campaigns to automate both prospect and customer touch points, and help small businesses get more done with less work.
Ready to Hit Send?
By leveraging email marketing automation, you can ensure that you are delivering meaningful content to buyers based on where they are in the funnel. With the right platform, you’ll save time and boost engagement and conversions.
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