Email automation doesn’t have to be scary.
It can actually become the most important part of your business, since it helps you connect with new leads, turn them into customers, then into fans—no nerdiness, coding or tech skills required. It can even happen while you’re sleeping (or eating vegan burritos). No matter what type of business you run, from an online course website to a vegan burrito delivery service, email automations are a powerful way to connect with folks interested in what you’re doing.
(Note: Even if you don’t use Mailchimp, you can set the following email automations up in any newsletter service.)
In fact, you probably already use it without realizing, since you’ve got a welcome message when someone signs up for your list (Mailchimp automatically sends one, unless you turn it off or use a customized welcome automation instead).
Unlike campaigns in Mailchimp, which are one-offs, automations happen every time specific people meet specific criteria, like buying a product or signing up for a demo. And once an automation is running, you can segment people out. For example, if you’re pitching your product and someone buys on the 2nd email, you don’t want them to get the 3rd pitch. By tracking who buys what from you, you can take your automations to a whole ‘nother level. You can learn how to do this in Chimp Essentials.
This is the whole point of mail automation–sending the right emails to the right people at the right time. It’s as simple as that. So let’s look at three of the most helpful automations, beyond the welcome email and basic Mailchimp setup.
Turning leads into customers with Mailchimp
You know how sometimes you go to Costco and there’s stations set up with delicious free samples (sometimes even vegan burrito samples, although the frozen ones aren’t ever as good as the ones made fresh)? That’s because people want to try (or taste!) before they buy.
The same is true with digital products, like ebooks, online courses and software. Which is why automation sequences, like onboarding, that help give people a taste of what you’re offering can be so helpful—and by helpful, I mean profitable.
My highest converting automations sequences are the ones that do a few things really well:
They educate. If I’m selling an online course on the business of freelancing, I’m going to offer an email automation sequence that teaches people some valuable lessons about the business of freelancing first. I’m going to let folks sign up for this free series on the homepage of course, and I’m going to drip out daily lessons to them to really give them as much education as possible. The best lessons won’t be held back or hidden behind a paywall either. I’m going to lead with solid gold. Showing these subscribers how useful the course can be helps build trust.
They self-select. For myself and many other people who sell things online, I’d rather make sure someone is a great fit for my product first, before money is involved, then take their money only to give them a refund later. Automations triggered before any purchase is made allows people to get a taste of my teaching style, my language and exactly what they’re going to get with my offering. That way, if they come to realize what I’m offering isn’t for them, they can unsubscribe and not have to ask for a refund.
They share and build relationships. The best way I’ve found to sell is to tell other people’s stories. All the automation sequences dispatched (get it?!) before I ask for a sale involve sharing how other customers have used what I sell to do better or profit more. I share case studies, success stories, videos of people who’ve been customers for ages and short testimonials. Such tangible data helps build even more trust, because it’s not just you saying how awesome your product is. It’s other people saying it
Then, they ask for the sale. Once I’ve educated subscribers, shown them exactly what they’ll get and shared other people’s stories about what I’m selling, I can ask them if they want to buy. Here’s where things get fun: I only want to ask if they didn’t buy yet. Sometimes folks sign up for a free sample which has 10 days of automations but they buy on day 2. Or day 9. I don’t want to pitch to people who’ve bought already because it makes me look silly. Imagine you buy a freelancing course, then a few days later get an email telling you how amazing the course is and that you should buy it today! Preposterous. Mailchimp lets you be smarter than that. Coupled with what you learn in Chimp Essentials, you can automatically segment out people who’ve already purchased your product from your automations. That way they can still get the educational emails (if they want), but won’t see pitches for any products they already own.
Within each email in a Mailchimp automation sequence, you have the ability to create segment conditions. If you’re using Fixtail (or something like Shopify or WooCommerce) to send purchase information about subscribers to Mailchimp, then you can segment people out if they’ve purchased a specific product. This is how the right email is sent (or not!) to the right person at the right time.
Turning customers into fans with Mailchimp
Too often businesses don’t pay enough attention to their most important people—their customers. They work so hard at making the sale but then put almost no time into what happens after the sale.
Which is too bad, since that’s the best time to connect with your new customers, right after they buy. Once you add purchase and order information to subscriber details, so you can set up automation sequences that trigger the second they become customers.
Here are a few things post-sale automations can do to really benefit your business:
They say thanks. Call me a polite Canadian, but I like to say thank you when someone does something for me, whether it’s holding the elevator or buying something I sell. I like to let folks know that, even though it’s an automation that’s being sent, I noticed their purchase and was appreciative of it. You can even get fancy, by creating personal video thank you messages in a pretty neat app called Bonjoro. The first email in a post-purchase automation can simply thank a person for buying and maybe ask if they have any initial feedback.
They give a reminder about access details and important URLs. Typically, if you’re selling something digital, after a purchase people are taken right to the thing they just bought: a course, an ebook, a piece of software. But, after they use it a bit, they get distracted (probably by cat videos), they might forget how to log in, where their downloads are, or other important information. The second automated email I send in a post-purchase sequence is a reminder email that gives all the details they need to keep handy.
They show customers how to get the most out of what they bought. Just because someone bought from you doesn’t mean the education should end. Indeed, if you want your customers to become fans of what you do, the education can’t stop. Sometimes people don’t know how to properly use what they’ve purchased—like software—or don’t know how to get the most out of it—like a course. By teaching them all the ins and outs of what they bought, they’ll be more likely to use it. And if they’re using it, they’ll like it more and tell others. For bigger items, I tend to drip education out in 4-8 emails, with each email covering one important topic.
They help ensure customers are using what they bought. A post-purchase sequence can help your customers actually use what they bought from you. Are they watching the lessons in your course? Have they started using your software? Reading your ebook? If they aren’t, you can ask why or offer to help. If they are, and they’re digging it, you can give them a way to review their purchase (on Amazon, on the App Store, wherever).
They take their pulse. After I’ve thanked, reminded, educated and made sure someone is using what they bought, I like to ask them how likely they’d be to recommend the purchase to others. This is done with a simple survey or poll in Mailchimp. Basically, “would you recommend this to others?” If they respond yes then I trigger a follow-up email that gives them a way to share it and join an affiliate program, if there is one. If they say they wouldn’t recommend it, I reach out to find out why. Either way, the feedback is invaluable.
By engaging with customers after the sale, you can take them from simply buyers of what you’re selling to fans of you and your company. Fans are much better than customers too. Fans are a part of your sales team. They’ll tell everyone they know about what you’re doing and selling. So treat them well.
Turning fans into repeat offenders with Mailchimp
Whoa, kudos for making it to the final step! You’ve turned subscribers into customers, and customers into fans. Now you’re ready for the final step: turning those fans into repeat offenders. And I’m not talking about stealing vegan burritos for a living (burrito bandits, if you will). I’m talking about doing what it takes to make folks want to buy from you… again.
If you know exactly what someone bought and when, you can do some powerful stuff with Mailchimp automations. You can turn a $20 one-time purchaser into a long-term fan who spends thousands of dollars on your products/services over the course of years (or even decades). Let’s look at some of the most useful automations to get your fans to come back for more:
They offer replenishment. This doesn’t just apply if you’re selling subscription-based foods, like Soylent. Replenishment emails also work if you sell software that uses credits or you sell subscription based digital products that are close to the renewal date. I’ve seen them work really well for charity organizations that offer virtual animal adoptions (I may virtually adopt a lot of animals…) to let folks know what another yearly donation can mean for their adopted friend. By reminding folks what they’ll lose out on if they don’t renew or replenish, you give your business the best chance to keep them as customers for longer. You can even offer deals or discounts for returning customers to make them even more eager to buy more.
They pitch additional products. What I’ve noticed with my own customers is that getting them to buy the first time is the hardest part. It takes the longest, it requires more work on my end (which is totally fine, I like working) and it’s the most trepidatious a person will be, since they don’t know your business that well yet. On the other hand, once someone becomes a customer of mine, they’re more likely to buy more of my stuff. And not just a bit more likely either, a whole lot more likely. Most of my customers have bought more than one thing from me. That’s why having an automation sequence that triggers if someone buys one thing, but hasn’t bought another is super useful.
They reward your biggest fans. Since I sell several things: courses, software, and the occasional random product, I like to know which subscribers are the biggest financial supporters of what I create. That’s why I like to reward the people who’ve spent the most money with my business and do something special for them. I like to ask for their mailing address if they spend more than a certain threshold, so I can send them something fun in the mail. This gesture helps create a better connection with the people who are the most supportive. And hopefully, it helps keep them stoked to buy from me in the future.
To sum it up
Hopefully now you can see that email automation isn’t so scary. In fact, it’s super useful to any business that sells online.
Make sure your leads get to know you before you try and sell them stuff. Educate them, show them why what you’re selling is valuable, show them there’s more than just you talking about your products.
Make sure your customers know how to, then use what they’ve just bought. Teach them the ins and outs or little tricks. Show them what they bought is valuable and how they apply that value to their own lives or businesses.
Make sure you keep them coming back for more. Give them a reason to. And then treat them like super stars when they do.
This is why I teach Chimp Essentials—so you can learn how to setup automations like the ones I listed above. Because when you know how to do things like that that, you can get pretty smart with how you set up and segment your automations.
The best part is you can set these automations up and almost-forget about them. You do need to check in on them from time to time to make sure they’re converting well, helping a lot and being read. But that said, they’ll still work for your business whether or not you’re sleeping or eating those delicious vegan burritos!