Are Marketing Automation Software Autoresponders Killing Email Marketing?

Marketing automation software for email deployments can be the secret sauce for many marketers’ success.

But I wonder if abuse is slowly killing email marketing. This is the topic from my recent blog at Target Marketing Magazine titled Are Autoresponders Killing Email Marketing?

Smart marketers offer an invitation to opt-in for our emails. Often there is a carrot dangled in front of us to opt-in, such as a few dollars off an order, a free report, the promise of being the first to be informed, or because we made a purchase transaction. Of course, legit emailmarketers always assure privacy and provide a link in their emails to unsubscribe. 

As an outcome of this strategy, marketing automation software companies report impressive stats about autoresponder welcome email performance:

  • The average open rate for welcome emails is a whopping 50%, making them significantly more effective than email newsletters.
  • Welcome messages typically have 4 times the open rate and 5 times the clickthrough rate of other bulk mailings.
  • Subscribers who receive a welcome email show more long-term engagement with a brand.

What these stats don’t reveal is the long-term effect after time of high frequency marketing automation software autoresponder emails.

Of course, monitoring opens, clicks and unsubscribe rates are a good early warning if you’re emailing too much. If your unsubscribe rate is 0.5%, according to various email deployment firms, you’re performance is great. Even 1% is good. Some email providers suggest industry unsubscribe norms are acceptable at 2%.

But I wonder how many of us have given up on the step to unsubscribe and simply delete. 
A few days ago I made an inquiry for a direct mail list from the automated website of a mailing list organization. I gave them my email (a fair trade for quickly accessing counts). Obviously, the organization’s automated system knew I had run some counts. I didn’t order that day, but suggested to a client that they place an order. An hour later, an autoresponder asked if I needed help with my unfulfilled order. 

Smart, I thought.

But then the next day, another autoresponder email arrived. While a bit annoyed with seeing still another email not even a full 24 hours later after I didn’t purchase, they presented me an offer of 15% off my order. 

Smarter, I thought. 

Until I realized that had I ordered the day before, I would have paid full price (and would never have known because no doubt the marketing automation software would have placed me in a totally different sequence of follow-up messages). Such is a marketers’ challenge with autoresponders. Annoy me by sending them repeatedly, or too soon, surprise me with a 15% discount, but tick me off when I realize I could have paid more than needed had I ordered on the spot. 

Poor email content, little purpose and too high frequency of emails isn’t the fault of marketing automation software. It’s the fault of the marketers who are abusing a program that regularly, and systematically, automates the email marketing contact cycle. 

Monitoring clicks, opens and unsubscribes reveals the true answer to these questions. But sometimes one wonders if the relatively inexpensive cost of email marketing is encouraging some marketers to abuse sending email, and that they’re not paying attention to their email marketing metrics.

Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.