How many emails do you delete, or scroll past without a second thought?

Probably a lot. Have you ever wondered why? There are several reasons that some of your customers don’t respond to the messages you send.

But there’s one big, important one.

The biggest reason that people dismiss emails is that they’re irrelevant.

You miss out on the power of email marketing when you send messages that aren’t personalized. Sometimes it’s content that people flat out aren’t interested in, and sometimes it’s not the right content for their current stage of the customer lifecycle.

Personalized automation helps you target the right audience with the right content at the right time. To send better emails and get the most out of each one, you need to understand how automation IS your lifecycle marketing process – and start using it for your emails.

ActiveCampaign Product Marketing Manager Zach Hanz hosted a webinar to share how automated, personalized lifecycle marketing impacts the effectiveness of your emails.

Email is the single most tried and true channel and most proven revenue driver for any business. Some marketing platforms explode and fizzle like fireworks, but emails are an eternal flame of marketing effectiveness.

Watch the webinar above, or read the recap below. You’ll learn:

  • Why aren’t your emails working?
  • What is lifecycle marketing – and how does it work?
  • How do you send lifecycle marketing emails?
  • How to make your emails engaging: 4 tips for success

Why aren’t your emails working?

Emails are king in marketing – they’re cost-effective, customizable, and have tremendous reach. But if you aren’t personalizing, email can still fall flat.

Here’s a day in the life of the average email inbox.

In the webinar, Zack shared an inbox that got approximately 53 marketing emails in 1 day. And here’s what happened when the emails weren’t personalized or relevant to the recipient:

  • 45 emails wound up in a promotions folder
  • 24 emails had preheader text issues
  • 21 emails had image-off issues
  • 6 emails were a single image
  • 7 emails had personalization mistakes

Most emails are underperforming. But your emails don’t have to.

What is lifecycle marketing – and how does it work?

Lifecycle marketing is the process of giving your audience the kinds of communications and experiences they need, want, or like as they move from prospects to customers – then to advocates.

It’s the easiest way to maintain relevance by accounting for where people are in your “funnel.”

How do you get more out of your email marketing? The challenge is to not just view it as email marketing but as lifecycle marketing.

At ActiveCampaign we prefer an infinity loop (instead of a funnel). We prefer to loop because the customer journey isn’t linear. Once your leads become advocates, they will bring your business more referrals and new prospects – and the cycle continues over and over.

Each stage of the lifecycle marketing loop dictates what type of content a person gets on a rolling basis.

You want to be able to send unique messages to people based on which stage they’re in, and automation is the key to making that happen.

Lifecycle marketing: the 5 stages of automated email content

Every stage of the funnel (or infinity loop) has people entering it at any given moment. They need relevant, timely content to keep them engaged – otherwise, you miss opportunities and risk being forgotten.

In each lifecycle stage, you can have multiple automated email workflows, with a series of relevant content designed to move them into the next stage.

Zack walked through 5 stages of lifecycle marketing that define the types of automated content people receive to move through the lifecycle.

  1. Awareness: This stage is for brand new prospects who don’t know much (if anything) about your business. People in this stage may have come from a webinar, live event, or content download.
  2. Consideration: This stage is when prospects are actively thinking about a purchase.
  3. Decision: At the decision point, the contact decides to buy – or not buy. The ones that don’t can move into automations that follow-up with them down the road. The ones that do become customers.
  4. Growth: The goal with any customer is to drive further adoption and repeat purchases. This stage offers those opportunities.
  5. Advocacy: Once the customer has shown some consistency, it’s time to create loyalty. Now your customers can become a whole new lead generation channel for you through word-of-mouth and referrals.

Each stage has goals (and with them, specific automations) that help move people from one stage to the next.

A person who just learned your name needs some nurturing. Someone who has visited your website once or twice might be ready to dip their toe in the water.

The content you deliver through each stage can vary and even overlap. Zack presented this image as an example of what lifecycle marketing content can look like.

Different content will work in different stages to move a contact through.

  • Awareness: Free resources and helpful blog content
  • Consideration: Help guides, videos, and customer stories
  • Decision: A continuation of broader education and onboarding resources; thank you emails, support offer emails, and guides
  • Growth: Expansion, upsell, and cross-sell email offers
  • Advocacy: Emails with coupons and loyalty program incentives

The next step – once you know what your stages are and what types of content to send in each of them – is to do an audit to understand if you have them covered and accounted for.

Look for groups who fit each stage:

  • Are they getting relevant content?
  • Are they getting ANY content?
  • Who in your contact list hasn’t gotten ANYTHING in the last 3-6 months?
  • What are the trends in who those people are?
  • What group do they fall into?

Covering all those bases will make you’re staying top of mind with everyone on your list. And to make sure that the most relevant content is going to the right people, you can use segmentation and advanced targeting to further personalize the customer experience automation.

How do you measure performance based on personalized automation?

After you define your lifecycle marketing stages and their respective automations, measure the performance of the content emails you send in each one. Monitoring each stage leads to more impactful testing and better engagement results.

Are open and click rates enough to learn from? Not really. A general open rate doesn’t tell you much about how each of your lifecycle marketing emails are making a difference for your customers. A click-to-open rate is a little more informative because it notes specific actions that happen.

To properly measure the success of your automated content emails in each stage, consider:

  • Which stage of the lifecycle?
  • What types of emails get opened and clicked?
  • How many contacts and free trials turned into buying customers?
  • How many free trials began after X email?
  • Did the recipient take the intended action in X email?
  • How old are most of your prospects?
  • How many are in each stage of the lifecycle?
  • What type of email went to which group?

A 20% overall open rate won’t tell you about why contacts who have been on your list longer than 3 months still aren’t buying. When you dig deeper into metrics, you can start testing more segmentation options or different versions of messages you want to send. That way, your goals are more specific too.

As you test, think about how your messages relate to your goals and how a contact will interpret it.

If you are blasting the same messages to everyone or unsure of what your goal actions are, look at your data. That will help you start sending relevant content that has a clear action attached.

How do you send lifecycle marketing emails?

Creating your lifecycle marketing plan and the content in each is one thing. Now you have to send everything.

And the best way to do that is through automation.

First, understand what data you already have and what data you still need so you can identify your segmented groups, choose your content, and choose your automation flows.

Second, run a one-time catchup automation to mark every contact in your database with your newly identified groups in the lifecycle. Features like tags and lists can help segment your groups.

Finally, set up an ongoing triggered automation for each segment you identified.

In your lifecycle stages, you can identify contacts as things like Trials, Expired Trials, Cancelled, and Customer.

As a contact moves through the lifecycle marketing stages, the tags for each segmented group get added and removed. This way, you can understand how (and when) contacts move through different lifecycle stages.

And then, you create your emails.

How to make your emails more engaging: 4 tips for success

You can make your lifecycle marketing emails more engaging with these 4 tips for success.

  1. Email is a channel for action – it’s not a place to consume content. When someone opens your email, you want them to complete an action inside. All of the content in your email should focus on helping them complete the action.
  2. Your CTA is king. Every email can essentially be boiled to this template: “Here’s X thing you want to do.” And a clear, compelling CTA of “Do X thing.” Use data to create a CTA that speaks to your understanding of why this action is relevant to your customer.
  3. Mind your real estate. Compelling copy and CTA must always be above the fold. The rest of your email is just extra reinforcement. And don’t sleep on the preheader! It’s another above-the-fold chance to convince someone to take action in your email.
  4. Learn to VENT – Is it Valuable, Engaging, Necessary, and True? The VENT Method is a checklist for every communication. For every communication you send, ask yourself if it’s each of these things?

When you use lifecycle marketing to create your messaging, you get more targeted, actionable emails that you can truly see measurable impact from your messages.