Creating great articles is one thing, but how do you keep the readers on your site engaged and interacting with more content? Automation programs are helping publishers understand exactly what their audience wants through accurate analytics, targeted email messages and a more personalised experience.
What do we mean by automation programs?
Primarily we’re talking about publishing targeted content in a planned sequence of emails that encourages your readers to engage and move closer towards your desired outcome. That could be an immediate subscription sale, an event booking, or something as straightforward as clicking through to a particular web page.
Simple automation programs you could start using right away
The perception of automation programs is that they are complicated to set up and daunting to plan. But there are some very simple automations you can set up almost right away.
Here are a few ideas:
- Simple triggered sign-up email: If you have an opt-in box on your website, encourage visitors to subscribe by offering an exclusive piece of content. Maybe a mini-video training series or a step-by-step guide to achieving a desired outcome. Then send a triggered email thanking them and detail the benefits of being subscribed.
- Targeted content based on current preferences: These emails can point to other articles relevant to what the reader is currently subscribed to or what he/she has recently downloaded to encourage constant engagement.
- Discover more with suggested content: these campaigns can be setup to provide recommendations to additional content that doesn’t require a subscription in order to show the value provided by your brand. They should point to content and topics that have not been explored yet, to show the breadth of your offering.
- On-boarding email sequences: Just like in the Radio Times example below, don’t stop with one thank you email. Follow up an action with exciting updates and offers to entice them to purchase again. Take your time to introduce new subscribers to your brand.
- Date-based emails: Set up simple automated emails such as birthdays, anniversaries (e.g. “It was 5 years ago today when you first subscribed to our magazine. As a thank you, we’d like to…”), and subscription renewals to remind them to subscribe again.
Let’s take a look at a couple of successful campaign examples:
In June 2015, The Radio Times wanted to increase the revenue potential for their upcoming Radio Times Festival by informing customers about the sessions they had already booked, and enticing them to buy more tickets for additional sessions.
The key things that made this campaign a success were:
- Building excitement: The email campaign kept customers informed of new performers, celebrities and other sessions that were being added to the event.
- Segmenting the audience: They very carefully separated their audience based on which tickets they purchased, and amended the content to suit that.
- Careful attention to mobile devices: Radio Times created a simple template that would look equally engaging on any mobile or desktop screen.
Future Publishing wanted to promote some of their new film and TV guides and decided to go with a personalised, one-to-one approach.
They started with an initial campaign to ask their audience to choose their favourite movie or TV series with just one click. To make this more fun for the subscriber, they inserted the first name of each recipient on an image of a Director’s clapper board. Each subsequent click triggered a series of emails with personalised recommendations for the film and TV guides, depending on the subscriber’s choice.
Key things that made this campaign a success.
- Innovative use of personalisation: They found a fun way to personalise the emails by using the recipient’s name on a clapper board image.
- Carefully segmented content: Recipients were sent content based on their individual preferences.
- Automation sequences led to higher than average open and click-through rates: The individual sequences resulted in a remarkable 71% average open rate.
Automation increases engagement
According to our recent 2016 Econsultancy/Adestra Email Marketing Census, the key challenges for marketing automation were time and lack of resources. The good news, however, is that once you give your programs the green light, they do all the hard work for you. All you have to have to do is monitor the analytics and enjoy the improved reader engagement.