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Leverage the power of automations to start sending better email.

Save time and impress your customers with Email Automations in MailChimp

Email campaigns are the best way to communicate with your customers. Email is very widely used and simple to use for marketing. All you have to do is get your audience’s permission to send them your automated emails and you can keep your customers coming back for more and more of your services or product!

If you have someone’s email address that is WAY better than having them follow you on Instagram or Facebook. In the former case, the social media network owns the relationship between you and your customer. You are at the mercy of Facebook. They decide when your customers see your content–sometimes in an unethical way.

The great thing is, when using email, YOU own the relationship. YOU control when people see the content and how it’s presented. If you control the audience, you can intentionally build a relationship with those people. THAT is how you create raving fans 🤘 (or just longlasting business relationships).

What’s even greater about email marketing is that you can get started for free with MailChimp, as long as your list isn’t over 2,000 people! With only mild limitations, you can use MailChimp to start sending emails by the end of this article.

Today you’re going to learn everything you need to know to start sending automated email campaigns using MailChimp. (Although pretty much everything could be translated to other platforms like ActiveCampaign, Intercom or some other email marketing service provider).

We’re going to break up this process into three different stages. Each stage builds upon the last, so we recommend following along with this article in order.

  1. Audience
  2. Content
  3. Schedule

Let’s take a look at how a Clock Shop Would Use Email Campaigns

Got a Clock in the ‘Rari? When it comes to email marketing, the industry your small business is in shouldn’t matter, especially if it’s B2C. The same core principals apply no matter what you do.

We’re going to use an odd example, because chances are you might be a part of an industry that is difficult to market.

Audience building keeps your revenue growing

TimeLord Clock Co LLC has a clock repair shop and a sales floor where they sell Grandfather clocks upwards of $15,000 dollars or small kitchen wall clocks that are $30. Immediately we can tell there are at least 3 very different customers in this audience: people needing clocks fixed, people in the market for big ‘ole clocks, and people looking for a modest kitchen timepiece.

So how do we let these people in need of your products/service know you are there? Gathering emails together to form an audience.

Your audience can come from a couple of different places. Most people won’t just give up their email anywhere on the internet. There needs to be a specific reason for them to share their email address. The best way to get people to join your email audience is to offer something free.

Here are three possible freebie scenarios:

  • When someone buys a product or gets a clock fixed, the staff at TimeLord Clock Co ask for their email address. (If you’re getting started in MailChimp we can import this group of people with a CSV)
  • Someone is on the TimeLord Clock Co website and they enter their email to sign up for 20% off their online order.
  • At an Oktoberfest event, people get a chance to win a free clock from TimeLord Clock Co if they sign up with their email address.

There are two main buckets that your audience will fall into: your potential customers & your past or current customers. Being aware of these two different groups is important.

Your customers that have already made a purchase from you are the best customers you have. Don’t forget about them.

Potential customers

  • I’m trying to find out how to get my clock fixed.
  • I want to find an antique clock just like my grandmother’s.

Current customers

  • I want another clock, I’m going to buy it as a gift for my nephew.
  • My clock isn’t working, I need it to be fixed.

While you are building your audience, you should organize it in MailChimp by using tags. Tags are categories to group people together based on their interests, what they have purchased in the past, and on what type of content you think they would like. So you might have one like OktoberFest 2019 or something like Purchased Clock

Especially if you’re uploading contacts for the first time, now is the time to make sure you have properly categorized your contacts so that you don’t lose track of what they are interested in or where they came from.

When to use Mailchimp Automations to Build an Audience Relationship

What’s awesome about automations is that you can set them up to go out automatically when they need to (as the name states 😁). So, if you have a segment of your audience called “Owns Antique Clock” you can set up an automation to begin as soon as someone is added to that segment.

That means from the moment they are added to that segment they might be sent the first email that gives them a tip about not using Windex on their clock because it ruins the wood. Here you’re establishing a relationship as an expert in the clock industry.

Here’s what your automation might look like:

  1. Person added to list > Thank them for using your service/product and let them know you are there to help.
  2. 30 Days Later > Send Email 1
  3. 90 Days Later > Send Email 2
  4. 90 Days Later > Send Email 3
  5. 75 Days Later > Send Email 4

So your “Clock Repair” automation would go out 4 times a year. In two of those we include tips on how to safely clean your clock, in one of them we wish the customer a Merry Christmas, and in another we remind them that if anything goes wrong with the clock, we can take care of it for them!

So at any given moment you might have 67 people in the Automation, but they would all be in different stages based on when they first signed up.

Automation allows you to add new tags to your subscribers once they’ve received an email in from a particular stage in your Automation.

Later on, you can also send new campaigns based on who is in a campaign. So if you wanted to send out an email on Black Friday, you could target a segment based on what stage they are in your automation.

Content keeps your audience happy

Your audience informs your content. Your content educates your audience. It also opens the door for them to talk to you or stop by your store. You want to give your customers and future customers any possible excuse to talk to you and start buying from you.

Spend most of your time on content creation.

Your content is the meat between the two slices of bread. If the content is no good, then the work you spent on your audience and scheduling is wasted.

Plan your content in a Word Doc or Notion note before you hop into Mailchimp. This will prevent you from getting flustered and distracted in MailChimp. Know what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say/format it.

Customize Your “from name” and Email Address

Mailchimp allows you to customize your From Name and your email address as long as you’ve correctly verified it. This is a great opportunity to make things look professional and catch your clients’ eye.

For example, I might be using the general email from Skymouse, but I can add a custom “from name” in order to make the email feel a bit more personal. It’s probably better to not use your personal email address, though, because you might be a bit more likely to show up in people’s spam folders.

Write a Killer Subject Line

Your email’s subject line can make or break that email’s open rate. The best way to measure the quality of a subject line is by analyzing open rates. You want to shoot for somewhere around 30% open rate for most industries–especially if the list of emails is reliable.

A good subject line should be enticing and mildly provocative. One of our big secrets is being specific in your subject line. People hate vagueness. They want the nitty-gritty.

Warning: The right content matters.

Don’t send emails about expensive grandfather clocks to a college student who just bought a $30 kitchen clock for his mother. Know your audience. Keep them organized using tags and groups.

This should be common sense, but it’s worth saying: don’t mislead your customers. Your subject line should be an accurate explanation of the content of your email. If you break the trust of your subscriber, they might unsubscribe or never open your emails again.

Here are some subject line examples of things your customers could be interested in:

  • Get them before they’re sold out: Vintage Clocks have arrived
  • Up to 65% off Black Friday sale on ALL wall clocks
  • I’m sorry, but do you have the time? Now selling pocket watches.
  • Don’t be late! Turn your clocks back this November

Preview text is your second best friend. Also, most email platforms have an option for adding preview text This is the text that you see in many email clients (Such as Gmail and Outlook) that comes after the subject line. Usually, the first lines of the email are pulled through by default, but most times it’s something useless like “Does this email look weird” or various other similarly dumb things.

Your email preview text should be something that teases the PRIMARY GOAL of the email a bit more. So if the primary goal is to get subscribers to check out the vintage clocks on your website, you can use the rule of specifics and tease out some of the specific clocks that are for sale.

The main goal is to generate interest in what you have to offer.

  • Leaping Lizards! We’ve got a clock from the original broadway set of “Annie!”

Quick Tips for Great Email Content

Look at examples of great email designs. A quick Google search is all you need to get your creative juices going. This is the first thing we will do before we make any of our own email templates and designs.

Use Merge Tags to customize your email content. Merge tags are a great way to create a customized experience for your users. You can use values based on their email, name, birthday and even what they purchased! A good example is instead of starting off your email like “Hi, we wanted to show you some clocks” you can say:

“Hi *|FNAME|*, we wanted to show you some clocks, like the *|LASTPURCHASE|* you bought.”

Which automatically converts to something like:

“Hi Steve, we wanted to show you some clocks, like the German Cuckoo Clock you bought.”

Make sure the layout is clean. Clutter is bad. If you don’t have a designer to help, that’s okay. Just use a template or a plain text email. It’s more important that you communicate information clearly than getting complicated. If you have the time, make the format your own. People get tired of seeing the templates.

Pictures are effective, just make sure they aren’t too big. This will help it load faster on mobile devices especially. You really don’t need images wider than 600px wide. Most times they can be smaller than that. (Mailchimp helps you resize photos in their content studio.)

Get to the point. Unless this is a newsletter or long-form email, don’t go on and on. If this is about a sale, just say it and move on. If you want to get them to click on your store link, then make that button very obvious.

Using video is very effective (but keep it short). This requires more time to record and edit, but it can be worth it. Video is one of the best ways to advance your relationship with your subscribers. Keep it short! We recommend not going over 1 minute.

Schedule your automated emails for the perfect times

Scheduling ensures you’re being consistent with your emails. Luckily, Mailchimp has great scheduling capabilities so you can set up automations then forget about them (figuratively of course…you want to see what is converting).

When choosing times to schedule your emails to send, keep in mind when your customers will be checking their email, how much attention they can give you, and when you emailed them last.

Expensive clocks have a long sales cycle, which means you want to keep getting in touch with your customers and future customers over a long period of time.

Warning: Don’t pester your customers. If you send emails too often, you can very quickly annoy them and they will unsubscribe, which means you can’t send them emails ever again.

Over time many things can happen with your customers–you want to make sure you’re helping them along the way and not neglecting them.

Be helpful! You want to get to the point where you’re helping your customers and they appreciate and look forward to your emails.

  • My clock broke and I keep forgetting to fix it.
  • I’m moving and I want to get a new clock that matches my new kitchen, but I didn’t realize that until I saw your email.
  • I want to keep my clock clean, but I forget how to do it right.

An automation is the best way to put your emails on autopilot. If someone buys a new clock you can include emails about the 5 ways to make sure your clock keeps on ticking. This builds a relationship with the customer and helps to grow your relationship with them. You can’t build too much trust with your customer.

So now you’ve got the basics down of how to plan, create and launch an automated Mailchimp campaign. This is only the beginning, there’s so much you can do with Mailchimp and they’re adding features all the time.

For more tips and tricks to marketing your business, check out the rest of our blog!

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Photo of Patrick Hanus

Patrick Hanus

Hi, I'm the other co-founder of Skymouse Studios. I enjoy making people laugh. I'm a huge fan of design and illustration. If it's late at night, I'm probably sleeping or writing a TV show.

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