Last Updated on by Karl
Ready, get set, go!
The race is on… every marketer is looking for ways to pump sales and revenue with email marketing. According to Capterra, 89% are already using email as the primary channel for generating leads to grab as many customers as possible and convert them into loyal fans.
Let me guess. You’re trying to do the same.
If this is challenging for you, you’ve come to the right place.
Enter email marketing automation.
Today, we’ll look into email automation and its different types. I’ll also discuss best practices to help you boost sales, grow your business, and amplify revenue. (I know you see those dollar signs.)
So without wasting any of your precious time, let’s dive right in.
What Is Email Automation?
In short, it’s an automated email marketing campaign. But you probably already guessed that, being the genius that you are.
But on a more technical note, email automation is a great marketing tool that helps automate workflows. It lets you send the right message to the right people at the right time.
Email marketing automation uses a set of predefined rules that trigger emails to subscribers depending on their actions.
For example, you need to send a welcome note to anyone who signs up for a newsletter.
By automating this task, all you have to do is create the email once, and it's repeated every time the trigger you defined is met.
So you can send a welcome email to anyone who joins your email list without you ever having to lift a finger.
You’re probably thinking, this is great. But how can my business actually benefit from automated email campaigns?
Well, here’s the answer to that question.
Why Use Email Automation?
Imagine having an email marketing expert on staff who worked 24/7, never got tired, and always sent the right message at the right time so you made more money while you slept.
Oh, and they didn’t ask for a dime in compensation.
That is exactly what email automation can do!
Want to use email automation yet? Here’s why you should.
Send More Relevant Messages
Highly relevant marketing messages can drastically improve your campaign results and ROI.
Imagine if you’re looking for clothes for your 6 month daughter. But you keep receiving emails about how to revamp your kitchen.
I don’t know about you, but if this kept happening to me, I’d hit the unsubscribe button ASAP!
Irrelevant messages make customers feel like they’re being bombarded or spammed with emails all the time.
If you want people to open, read, and engage with your emails, you’ve got to keep them interested in what you have to say.
Sending relevant messages is the best way to do that.
Increase Customer Retention
80% of business professionals claim email marketing increases retention. And according to Bain & Co, a 5% increase in customer retention can boost profitability by 75%.
When someone receives personalized content or relevant upselling/cross-selling products through real-time communication, they feel more valued.
It shows you care about them. And that means they’re more likely to interact with your business and become long-term customers.
I mean, wouldn’t you keep going back to a brand that understands your needs, pain points, and emotions?
That’s precisely what personalized product recommendation emails aim for.
Accenture states that 57% of customers spend more on brands they’re loyal to.
So how do you create loyal fans?
Simple, make them fall in love with you – with a box of candy and flowers. 🙂
Jokes aside, everyone loves to be pampered. How about showering them with love through free samples or discounts based on previous shopping experiences and personal preferences.
But sometimes, simply showing them how much you care about them (with relevant emails) can work magic.
Take for instance a shopper who’s received personalized recommendations through upselling or cross-selling emails. They’re more likely to return to your brand over and over again.
And the best part is loyal ones are more likely to recommend your brand to others. More visitors means more business! Yeah!
Don’t you just love it when things magically get done? I mean, you don’t even have to ask anyone to do it.
This is what happens when a person completes a trigger. For example, a pre-written welcome email helps onboard a new customer every time someone joins your email list.
A tool like Convertkit makes this stupid easy to implement and is probably one of the best email automation tools out there. We've also compared it to two giant email marketing tools – see Convertkit vs MailChimp and Convertkit vs ActiveCampaign.
Automated email marketing allows marketers to send a series of emails and continue meaningful interactions with the target audience. A series of welcome emails guides people effectively at different times in the sales funnel.
Improve Customer Engagement
Don’t you feel blessed when someone offers you a tissue or a glass of water when you need it the most?
Email automation tools can do something similar.
Many tools gather vital information about the target audience. For instance, they identify times recipients are more likely to open and read emails. Now, you can automate delivery times to ensure subscribers receive email messages at the right time.
Furthermore, they can help create more engaging content depending on a customer’s previous actions and their position in the sales funnel. That means you can interact better with them at every stage.
Did someone read a blog post on your site about hiking? It can automatically send them an email with discounts on a hiking starter kit or another post with recommendations on what they may need.
Build Brand Image
Haven't we all judged a company based on first impressions?
Well, your customers are doing the same while reading your emails.
Besides being a highly personal channel of communication, your emails are an extension of your brand. Every aspect of the email influences the reader, from the tone to the layout to its design.
With the help of marketing automation platforms, you can create the perfect email and create a killer impression of your brand. Moreover, the way you send emails or suggest personalized recommendations speaks volumes about how much you value the relationship with your customers.
Emails are great at offering subtle messages that prompt a customer into action – just like when someone taps you lightly on the shoulder to get your attention.
Automation ensures that your customers not only open the emails but complete the intended action by clicking on the call to action. It helps drive them deeper into the sales funnel. And the deeper they get, the closer they are to a conversion.
For example, you can send an email to remind customers to return to an abandoned shopping cart or offer them upselling/cross-selling products. These timely messages prompt customers to continue engaging with your brand, and eventually complete a sale.
Proof That Email Automation Works
If you're anything like me, you’re probably skeptical and want to see statistical proof of the benefits of email automation.
I could list several dozen, but for now, a couple of impressive statistics should give you a good idea of how effective an automated email campaign can be.
- An automated email message can generate a 70.5% higher open rate and a 152% higher click-through rate than a standard marketing message. (Epsilon Email Institute)
- Conversion rates from automated emails are 2.5 times better than mass emails. (Metrilo)
- Automated emails can drive 320% more revenue than non-automated emails. (Campaign Monitor)
- According to Optinmonster, 49% of businesses use some form of email marketing automation.
The question now is, are you a part of this statistic?
If not, it’s time to hop on board.
Types of Automated Emails and Examples
Just in case you’re wondering, all automated emails are not the same. Businesses can use different types of automated emails at different times for different people.
In this section of the blog post, I’ll discuss 10 popular types of automated emails and how companies are successfully using them to help take their email marketing campaigns to the next level.
1. Welcome Email
Don’t you love it when someone opens the door for you and greets you with a cheerful hello?
Well, that’s exactly what your welcome email feels like to new subscribers who register on your website.
So go ahead and use this opportunity to introduce them to your brand and take advantage of their early excitement and curiosity.
Simply add a prominent email subscribe box to your website where everyone can enter their email address. This is especially beneficial for an ecommerce site.
So whenever someone signs up, they’re added to your emailing list. With the help of an automated email marketing tool, emails are sent out immediately. And since Smart Insights claims that 90% of users go cold after an hour, the sooner, the better.
Welcome emails can also boost sales. Including a discount code creates an incentive for a new subscriber to make a purchase.
Notice how Birchbox offers first-time subscribers a “15% off the next purchase” discount.
Even the simplest, entry-level email marketing tools can help you create campaigns like this. GetResponse is a fine option. Still on MailChimp? Check out our comparison to watch GetResponse destroy it 🙂
2. Welcome Email Series
A series of welcome emails allows marketers to keep subscribers’ engagement and interest up for longer as well as stay in constant contact with them.
Research shows that 96% of visitors aren’t ready to buy on their first visit. However, with continuous meaningful communications, you can build interest and persuade them to buy later.
Tailor your welcome drip campaign to match communications with a subscriber’s interests and preferences.
I bet you’re wondering what content you should offer.
To help you get a good idea of how this works, I’ve got an example of an automated email series from Ingrid & Anders.
Much like an initial meeting, your first email should be a handshake and a formal introduction to your brand. So marketers need to talk about who you are and what the company stands for.
But keep it short and sweet. Your aim is to build momentum for future emails.
A few days later, more content is dripped.
The second email reminds recipients why they signed up. This is the time to start offering some of your great deals. Aim at introducing a popular product or blog post to increase commitment to your brand.
Notice how Ingrid & Anders introduces its VIP program and includes at least two CTAs.
The third email takes things further, aiming at driving traffic.
Consider sending them a gift, like a special deal or a discount code, to motivate them to purchase. Also, share content you think they might like.
I recommend using about 3 to 5 welcome emails. The key is to keep an eye on the engagement. This allows the content in the subsequent emails to be optimized according to the subscriber’s preferences.
If a recipient doesn't engage after the final welcome email, consider removing them from your list. It’s possible that they’re no longer interested in your brand.
3. Abandoned Cart Emails
Baymard states that nearly 70% of e-commerce shoppers abandon their carts.
An automated email prompting a shopper about the abandoned cart allows businesses to recover lost sales, generate greater revenue, and drive traffic back to their site.
So how can you make the most of this opportunity?
Your aim is to remind them about the basket of items they’ve forgotten on your website. An email sent at the right time may help recapture the shopper’s interest.
See how Allbeauty uses automation to send a quick reminder that the customer placed something in their cart but didn’t proceed to checkout.
This is email marketing automation at its best.
But there’s another benefit of abandoned cart emails. Besides helping you gather valuable information about the customers, businesses can highlight products that get abandoned a lot.
You could either fix the product page or consider dropping the product from your inventory.
4. New Product Announcements and Promotions
I love getting gifts, I mean, who doesn't. But one that matches my tastes and lifestyle needs is extra special for me.
Now, an email announcing the launch of a new product or special offer that aligns with my preferences and habits feels just like that gift.
Email automation can help you do the same for your customers. Based on their interests, you can offer personalized recommendations. According to MailChimp, this increases sales per email opening by an average of 150%.
Lord Jones created a great marketing email. Who wouldn’t be interested in trying these gumdrops!
This strategy can be as part of a content marketing campaign to promote new blog posts.
5. Remarketing Emails
A customer browses your website and leaves without buying anything. Now you want to prompt towards a purchase. After all, they came looking for something.
An automated email can reach them within minutes of leaving your site.
When someone browses a website, browser cookies track the visitor’s behavior and actions.
Marketers can access this navigation information. With the help of automated emails, they can create personalized email marketing campaigns and achieve better marketing results.
Here is an example of how Nordstorm sends this kind of email to a visitor who left their website without buying a product.
6. Upselling And Cross-Selling Emails
Ask any business owner- they’ll tell you that it’s much easier and cheaper to retain customers than to find a new one.
That’s why entrepreneurs are proactive about customer retention strategies that address their needs and pain points.
And because email marketing is the easiest and cheapest way to engage continuously with customers, automating helps reduce the cost of marketing.
If you want to drive repeat sales, you need to offer timely, relevant content. The most effective method to do that is to send emails triggered by customer behavior.
For instance, in ecommerce, the most common trigger is a purchase. Automation helps businesses send emails with customized recommendations that align with a customer’s purchasing history.
There are two ways to go about doing this.
With an upselling email, you can offer add-ons or a better, more expensive product related to the original purchase. For example, the following email suggests the person consider upgrading to an iPhone 12.
On the other hand, a cross-selling email suggests other products you can buy with the original purchase.
Look at the way Dollar Shave Club sends an amazing email to someone who ordered a shaver cartridge. It helps generate awareness about other items that cross-sell nicely with the original purchase.
Always make sure that your upselling and cross-selling incentives resonate with your customer's interests and flow naturally.
But as a general rule, automate follow-up emails to keep in touch with customers after buying a product.
For instance, send an initial follow-up within a week of the purchase to ensure the order arrived as expected.
Then, automate an additional follow-up a few months later to inquire if the customer was satisfied with the purchase.
7. Rewards and Loyalty Programs Emails
I just love loyalty programs. I mean, could there be better than being rewarded for shopping?
That’s why you need to keep your loyal customers up to date about their points. It’s the easiest way to inspire long-term commitment and motivate them to engage with you more.
See how Domino’s sends an email to update the customer about reward points. It also informs how many points they need to collect to get a free pizza.
This motivates the customer to return over and over again. According to Accenture, 57% are eager to spend more on brands they’re loyal to.
Consider segmenting this list according to spending habits. This enables you to send the right emails to the right group.
The goal is to trigger regular spenders to spend more. So it’s better to target existing customers who clicked on a promotional email or someone who visited your website but didn’t proceed to checkout.
Since they’re already familiar with the brand and products, they’re more likely to trust a special perk that you offer.
Incentives such as the following will give them a reason to come back and complete a purchase:
- Coupons only for loyal customers
- Buy one, get one free
- Limited-time discounts
Marketers can offer product recommendations, special deals, or ways to earn extra points through automated emails to entice these customers to buy again.
Consider rewarding a person who achieves a particular milestone, such as purchasing a certain amount of goods within a set timeframe.
8. Win-back Emails
After working hard to convert a visitor into a paying customer, the next step is to convert them into repeat customers. Win-back emails are one way to do that.
There are several ways to use them effectively.
You can tailor an offer based on their tastes, order history, and online behavior.
For instance, this type of marketing email can be automatically sent to customers that pass the average time between orders without placing an order.
So it’s a highly personalized way of targeting a dormant, unengaged customer and swinging their buying potential your way once again.
Here’s an excellent example of a re-engagement email.
With reference to the subscriber’s absence from the store, an email offers a 15% discount to entice a purchase and provides a link back to the website.
Your re-engagement campaign should include a couple of emails to wake up an inactive subscriber. The key is to space them out so that they do not feel spammed.
9. Lead Nurturing Emails
How do you convince a visitor who is not ready to purchase into a paying customer?
Easy… make sure your business is on the top of their minds.
Using automated email marketing, set up a series of lead nurturing emails to educate people about the benefits of your products and why they should use them.
Patrick McKenzie recommends a series of 6 emails spread out over a month, with each email increasing in “salesyness” a little more than the previous one.
He recommends the following email flow:
- The problem email educates readers about problems with their current method and barely mentions any products.
- The benefit email highlights the benefits of using a particular product and how it can help improve their lives.
- The transition email outlines how simple and easy it is to switch to the recommended product.
- The tools email is like a quick buyer’s guide and includes a call to action for purchase or sign up.
- The case study email discusses a case study on how customers have used the product to solve their problems. It typically includes a signup option for a free trial/free plan.
- The resources email is the final email of the series. It suggests other eBooks, blogs, or templates to help the person learn more about what the product does.
Here’s how Neil Patel approaches lead nurturing in an all-text email. Three CTAs link to the article while the 4th links to his webinar – the next step in his buyer’s journey.
10. Milestone Emails
These are emails sent on special days, such as the anniversary of a client’s sign-up or birthday. And since customers love attention, this is your chance to recognize each one as an individual, not merely part of a crowd.
All you need to do is keep a record of important dates. An automated email is automatically sent each time that date rolls around. Remembering these days strengthens customer relationships, boosts loyalty, increases email CTR, and cranks up revenue.
Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Paula’s Choice offers a reward on a purchase anniversary. This post-purchase email offers the customer 15% off plus free delivery as a way of celebrating this special moment. Moreover, it’s a great way to appreciate them for choosing the store.
Birthday emails are another kind of automated emails that show that the business cares about its customers. And it encourages them to make a purchase. Now that’s a classic example of killing two birds with one stone.
Notice how Loomi uses excellent marketing skills in their email.
Email Automation Tips
By now, you’ve got the basics down. So before I go, I’d like to share a few best practices to help you optimize your email automation.
Create a Text-based Message
Most people block additional images that are in the email content, especially when using their smartphones. So instead of wasting time and effort on something your subscribers might not even see, stick to plain old powerful text messages.
So what should you be using?
Well, that depends on the nature of your business and the type of email. For example, welcome emails to new subscribers need to be catchy, entertaining, and full of value.
On the other hand, an ecommerce business can use this opportunity to alert loyal customers of upcoming sales and promotional offers. Or an email about a new product launch can drive people to a specific page and maximize sales and revenue.
The key is to spruce up the content with new types of content so as not to bore your readers. Remember, always offer relevant content and a clear call to action that prompts the reader to take the desired action.
Segment Your Email List
Segmenting your email list gives you the power to send targeted emails to the right person at the right time. It allows you to customize emails and personalize experiences for recipients, thereby improving the effectiveness of your email campaign.
Your list can be segmented depending upon demographics, when a person joined, how many emails they open, and whatnot.
Identify Optimal Times to Send Emails
Suppose a person typically opens their emails in the morning before going to work. In that case, you need to automate email delivery for this time slot to ensure that person opens and reads it.
So find out when your customers are more likely to open and read your email. More importantly, when are they more likely to interact positively with it?
The time of day and the day of the week will differ from brand to brand. So track your open rates and test different times. Take advantage of these moments, and automate your email blasts to correspond with them.
Create Compelling Subject Lines
We’re all guilty of judging an email from its subject line.
So if you want to grab the recipient’s attention and ensure they open your emails, you need to make a killer first impression. And a great subject line can do that.
If you want your subject line to do the heavy lifting, here are a few stats from Snov Labs:
- Subject lines with 6-10 words are opened the most
- 62% of emails are opened because of a personalized subject line
- Emails with the following variables have the highest email marketing conversion rate
- The customer’s name – 3.71%
- The product name/details – 3.18%
- The company name – 3.58%
Permit New Subscribers to Manage Personal Preferences
Customers are happier when they can set up their own subscription preferences. Receiving content of their choice means they’re more likely to open, read and interact with your emails.
So ask subscribers what they want, such as topics that interest them and how often they wish to be contacted. Their answers will facilitate segmentation efforts, making your job much easier.
Make Emails Accessible for Everyone
The World Health Organization says that nearly 15% of the world’s population has a disability. So it’s important that everyone accesses, perceives, and interacts with the email content. A beautifully designed email that isn’t accessible can negatively impact your brand image and cause you to lose a portion of your target audience.
So make sure to choose appropriate font sizes for the content of your emails. Also, keep in mind how color schemes influence the readability of your text, links, and buttons on different background colors. Furthermore, ensure that emails are mobile-friendly and can be adapted for various mobile device screen sizes.
Focus on Active Subscribers
We've all heard “There's power in numbers.” But this may not necessarily be true.
A lengthy email address list is good, but not all subscribers contribute to the bottom line.
To build a profitable email automation sequence (note the emphasis on profitable), you need to focus on active subscribers. These are the ones that open your emails, engage with your brand, and frequently buy things.
Additionally, consider sending product review emails to their email address. They’re more likely to respond and offer vital customer feedback.
However, it doesn't mean you should ignore inactive subscribers. Remember, at one time, they were interested in your company. Encourage them to rejoin your ‘active’ email list before removing their email address.
Create Drip Campaigns
Some people make friends instantly while others take to warm up to a new person.
Your customers can be like that too.
Some people may buy a product or sign up for a course right away, while others may need time to make up their minds. A drip campaign is a great way for marketers to boost content marketing efforts by gradually “dripping” useful content that aligns with a customer’s interests. Moreover, the email flow is a great way to stay in constant contact until they convert.
Choose the Right Email Marketing Automation Tools
One of the most frequently asked questions is how to choose the right email service.
There are countless email automation services, each with pros and cons.
Unfortunately, many businesses end up investing in the wrong software. To avoid making this mistake, start by looking for one that offers the features your business needs and affordable subscription packages to help you stay within budget.
Now research the market. Look at online reviews and ask companies currently using that particular email marketing automation tool.
So what core features should an email marketing service have to generate the best results?
The most important ones are:
Ease of Use
The tool should be easy for everyone to use. Preset automation workflows and ready-made free email templates are important automation features.
Does it offer customer support, preferably 24/7? More importantly, documentation and walkthrough videos can educate users and help overcome common troubleshooting issues.
The email service should mesh with your current tech stack, especially your CRM software.
You want your emails to be delivered, opened, and the call to action clicked. A quality email marketing platform can ensure emails are compliant with privacy and anti-spam laws.
Others can help make your emails more appealing, from crafting eye-catching subject lines to creating compelling content.
Read our guide to avoiding the spam folder.
Level of Sophistication
What level of marketing automation does your business require? Entry-level tools can help by automating a series of welcome emails. A more sophisticated one can help craft a more personalized customer journey.
Neil Patel suggests using email marketing services that segment your email list. This helps you set up workflow triggers that respond to customer habits.
You should invest in a tool that helps you manage your subscriber list. Therefore it should permit you to import email lists from other sources, identify inactive subscribers that negatively impact deliverability, and support lead generation efforts.
Track Campaign Performance
It’s vital to monitor the performance of your email campaigns. So what should you be looking at?
Some important KPIs include:
- Bounce rate
- Open rate
- Conversion rate
- Unsubscribe rate
Monitoring these metrics and using A/B testing can help tweak email marketing campaigns.
But I’d say your best bet is to go for a marketing email solution that offers a free trial. That way, you’ll get firsthand experience about its features. More importantly, you’ll find out if your team can easily use and integrate it with other marketing tools you’re currently using.
Over to You
If your aim is to lure in as many customers as possible, congratulations. You’ve got an inborn entrepreneurial spirit crucial for success.
Now all you need is the right automation tool to help you save time and make more money.
That means it’s time to bring email automation on board.
Unfortunately, many businesses haven’t tapped into its potential. And you don’t want to be one of them.
So use automated emails to reach your customers better and improve interactions. Send the right real-time, one-to-one messages to the right person at the right time.
Moreover, get a hold of valuable insights about your target audience and gain a better understanding of your preferred demographics to refine your marketing channels. Also, strengthen customer engagement, increase retention, and boost loyalty. Over time, your automated email campaigns will help generate more leads, sales, and revenue.
With the email marketing best practices mentioned above, it’s time to take your business to the next level.
Are you prepared to start automating your email campaign to drive more meaningful results and grow your business?