I’m often asked the question by start up entrepreneurs “What would be the first thing you recommend I implement in online marketing?”, without a moments hesitation I answer ‘Automated Emails‘. All most everyone has emails straight to their pockets these days with the rise of the smartphone! With that said, email automation should be a high priority for small business owners, small businesses seem to fall behind the 8 ball when it comes to automating email communication with their existing customer base and their prospects. One of the main reasons this is important is because once it is automated, it’s going to get done! Simple as that. How many times have you meant to put aside time to send a value add email to your existing customers letting them know about tips and tricks around ‘xyz’ and just never got around to it, or you’ve Automated Email Systems For Businesswanted to follow up communication with a new prospect regularly to give them education and greater insight into the products and services you offer but just never found the time. Most of you are probably thinking ‘owww if only I had a dollar for every time that’s happened’. Lets face it – small business owners are busy, we’re flat out reacting to the day to day rather than being proactive. This is exactly why I think it’s important to spend the time nutting out some really great emails for customers, prospects, new business acquaintances and put them on automation. Now it doesn’t take too long if you put the time aside to nut out 12 really good emails. Lets over compensate and say a couple of hours on a Sunday night… perfect chance to unwind at the end of the week, lock yourself away for some quite time and sync a few beers or a wine – once it’s done you then have a years worth of contact material for your existing database and for new leads. Stick it on autopilot and forget about it until next year. Sounds good to me.

Main Benefits Around Automated Email Systems for Small Business

  • They ultimately save you time
  • The emails you were going to send, actually get sent
  • You keep frequent contact with your database and new leads – keeping you front of mind
  • You can use the emails to link to larger blog articles on your website, thus sending more traffic to your website and getting people even more comfortable with your brand and perhaps even giving them the opportunity to have a look at other blog articles on your website… or if you’re lucky they may even check out the products and services you have available
  • Gives you a chance to demonstrate your knowledge in your field of expertise and build rapport
  • You get the warm and fussies when someone replies to your automated email thanking you for taking the time to share your insight
  • Spend the time to do it right once and then automate, rather than putting in half the effort here and there in a rushed email
  • Finally, it brings in business

Over the years we’ve been working as an online marketing consultant in Australia, we’ve worked with most of the top rated automated email and email marketing platforms available to date. We’ve been involved with the setup and ongoing maintenance of these systems for a lot of our consultancy customers. Here is a short video on the systems we recommend to people getting started. There are some bigger contenders out there but they also come with a much larger price tag and probably want to be reserved for when things get serious!

Our Top 2 Recommended Automated Email Systems For Business

The best 2 we’ve come across include AWeber and SendPepper when it comes to starting out. In fact, we actually use SendPepper in our business. Mailchimp does offer a free platfrom that is best for people with no budget, but it’s fairly limited as far as being an automated platform until you upgrade to the paid membership levels.

Ultimately we recommend SendPepper as it is packed full of features, allows for more streamlined importing ( a lot of competitors don’t allow straight importing of contacts without initially emailing them to confirm they want to be added to your list – which usually means you lose 50 – 75% of your list if importing contacts after a trade show for example ). If you ever do outgrow its features – it’s the baby product of Ontraport which is one of the biggest and best in the game, with all the bells and whistles! Better yet merging from SendPepper over to Ontraport can be done really easily. The only downfall with SendPepper is some people can find it a little convoluted to use and maintain – this is why we recommend this for our more technically experienced customers or for those that we’re going to be managing. If you need help with this we have a range of coaching platforms available for business owners looking to get this implemented. The other downfall with SendPepper is that it doesn’t integrate as easily with other 3rd party applications as AWeber does, for example AWeber will easily integrate with other plugins like Gravity Forms, various shopping cart platforms etc whereas SendPepper is a little more restricted when it comes to easy integration. Ontraport, how ever is a little more forgiving.

best automated email platform for business

On the other hand for those that are just after a really easy to use service that still has some good features and functionality – then we recommend AWeber. It’s an awesome service and comes preloaded with heaps of templates and optin form designs that are simple to use. Although I tend to recommend against pretty templates in email marketing, but each for their own. We don’t believe it’s as good an automated email platform as SendPepper but if we had to recommend something for those that want ease of use, it’s the way to go.

Where can I use Email Automation in my business?

As far as email automation, many business owners simply think of lead follow up. There are many more aspects of your business that can be automated, here are the main points I think every business owner should consider. As these are either emails that will take up your time or more often than not – never be sent!

  • Long Term Lead Nurture (regular monthly emails of tips and advice on their respective interest)
  • New Prospect 45-day Follow-up Funnel (regular automated communication based on their interest trying to produce a sale)
  • Event Registration & Follow Up (Seminar)
  • Event Registration & Follow Up (Webinar)
  • Automated Testimonial Requesting Email
  • Automated Customer Satisfaction Survey Email
  • Referral Generation Campaign
  • Social Media Connection Requests
  • Client Cancellation (it will happen, so let’s put automated emails in place to provide follow up support and do our best to reattain their business)
  • Birthday / Anniversary of Purchase emails
  • Networking Follow-ups (so that people you meet at networking events can be easily dropped in to the system and receive a personalised email from you thanking them for their time)

Biggest Mistakes In Auto Emails

Now, this is where things get touchy – but it needs to be addressed. From my point of view, I’m going to address some of the biggest mistakes I see in automated email campaigns.

  • Too much focus on a pretty design. How many times have you received an email from XYZ and all the pictures haven’t been shown and instead you see big crosses (X) everywhere? Well you’re not the only one. This is why I think convoluted designs in emails isn’t the way to go, after years in the IT consultancy role I can tell you that most non IT savy people either don’t know how to chose to download the extra content (thus showing your pretty design) or freak out when they receive an email full of big ‘X’ all over the place. This is why I recommend sticking to plane text. It’s also easy to read across all platforms, you need to remember that a lot of people are receiving emails on a smartphone these days and often those graphically full designs can be hard to read on a tiny screen.
  • Frequency. Realistically, people don’t want to hear from you more than once or twice a month. If it’s a new prospect you may like to keep things more regular initially, but otherwise – take it easy. You don’t want to become one of those emails people automatically delete before opening.
  • Don’t make it SELL SELL SELL. Give some good information and show off your knowledge.
  • Last of all, I think it’s important to stay true! What I mean by that is… people receive too many stale ‘corporate’ emails from companies each and every day. They’ve had enough of that. They want to receive emails from someone that is being true and actually displaying a human that they can relate to. After all one of the main goals of these emails is to build rapport and get people comfortable with you.

If you would like our help with getting these services in place you can contact us or find out more about our online marketing services. For anyone who does get in touch, I have some great tips around grabbing attention in the inbox, email layout and the use of benefit hooks, harm hooks, curiosity and the zeigarnik effect and when to use them.

If you’re interested in this post you may like our information on 5 common mistakes business owners make when building a website.

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