August 6, 2013

Automated Lifecycle Campaigns: Set them up, but don’t forget them!

by Emily Keye, Marketing Strategist at Bronto

As marketers, it has been drilled into our heads how important it is to incorporate lifecycle marketing campaigns into our standard promotional email program, and if you have ever implemented these types of campaigns, you know it’s well worth it.

Lifecycle campaigns, such as a welcome series, post purchase series, birthday triggers, re-engagement series, etc., should foster much higher engagement, not to mention brand and customer loyalty because the content is relevant and timing is based on a subscribers' action or lack thereof.  Let’s not forget the most important aspect to us marketers, which is that we can automate ALL of these campaigns.  Automation is the key to effective lifecycle marketing.  Because these automated lifecycle campaigns perform so well, sometimes they also get the stereotype of being “set it and forget it” campaigns. 

In the ever-changing online world, you never want to set something up and then just forget about it.  There are several variables in email marketing that can always be tested and optimized, and you never want to make a mistake like having a broken link in one of your best performing campaigns.  Make sure you are revisiting your automated lifecycle campaigns on a regular basis. 

Here are a few tips that will allow you to continue to optimize these automated lifecycle campaigns and have them perform even better for you:

Test Subject Lines: You can simply test several different “types” of subject lines to see what gets you the highest response rate.  Try out command driven subject lines vs. provocative questions.  Test symbols in subject lines and see how they perform.  Personalization is also a good variable to test in subject lines and makes a lot of sense in lifecycle campaigns like a birthday message.  Check out this post by Kellie Boggs as she explains the Bronto Marketing Platform's testing options and other types of tests that you’ll also want to perform, such as offer testing and content testing.

Update Creative: As time passes, design elements will be changed on your website and your email templates.  Don’t forget to go back and make updates to these automated campaigns.  There is nothing worse than completing a major site redesign and then having a welcome message sent to a new subscriber and the branding looks totally different with your old site's design.  You may also want to update the look and feel of these messages during the holidays/seasonally.

Update Content: New products arrive and old products go, so make sure that your automated campaigns reflect these changes. You don’t want to be linking to an out-of-stock or discontinued product in your welcome message, do you?  It may even be beneficial to update offers and coupon codes on a monthly/quarterly basis to avoid coupon abuse.  The bottom line is that content is ever-changing and you’ll want to check back on these automated campaigns every few months to make sure they are up-to-date.

Test Timing: Timing is everything!  I discussed the importance of testing the timing of message sending in this blog post.  All of the same best practices apply to automated lifecycle campaigns.  Another important aspect to note when it comes to automated lifecycle campaigns is that if there are several messages in a series (for example, four welcome messages in a welcome series), you’ll want to test the timing between each of the messages, too.  Should you allow subscribers to flow through the entire welcome series before they start receiving promotional emails?  This is also an element worth testing.

We all know that a marketer’s job is never-ending.  Even though you have automation in your email marketing arsenal, there are always opportunities for improvement.  Take these few tips into consideration and try a few of them out before the upcoming holiday season.  Let’s see if you can improve engagement and drive more revenue.

Comment below and let us know what you look at regularly in your automated campaigns. 

Emily Keye
Marketing Strategist at Bronto

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Emily Keye, Marketing Strategist at Bronto

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