Email Marketing Automation: Why & How

What is Email Marketing Automation?

According to Campaign Monitor:

As opposed to newsletters and one-off campaigns that you create and send to a whole list of people in one go, an automatic email campaign is set up once and then automatically sent to a particular individual when that person meets a certain trigger.

What Can I Automate?

Are you using email marketing automation?

If not, you may be passing up an important timesaver. What if you could reach your customers based on their behavior and engagement? Wouldn’t you love to be able to reward your best customers with extra perks like discounts and early access to special sales?

Here are some excellent ways to use email marketing automation:

1. Welcome Sequence

The welcome sequence triggers automatically when someone joins your list. It first delivers your lead magnet — the free content you promised in exchange for the user’s email address.

OptinMonster found that “ … an automated welcome email series instead of a single welcome email can increase revenue by 13%.” A sequence is often a series of five or six emails sent a certain number of days apart. That’s set up when you add your sequence to your account.

For example, you may send the lead magnet link first, with an introduction to who you are and what you do. Your goal is to make the user feel valued and important as you help them understand how you can make their life easier.

Other emails can be focused on success stories, ways your product can be used, or aspirational photos that remind the user why they are interested in your product.

Here’s an excellent example by Peloton, who makes high-end interactive exercise equipment. I like this email because it shows the reader faces of their instructors, which adds a personal component, and the instructors, while they look fit and toned, look as if they could be your physically active co-worker or best friend.

welcome email series

And let’s be truthful, the instructor photos are aspirational; who doesn’t look at these folks and imagine themselves looking like that? Even if we’re not wiling to admit it …

Lead Nurturing

Depending on the type of product you sell, your customers may or may not be ready to buy immediately. Now that they have given you their email address, they are a warm lead, which means they have expressed interest in you, but perhaps aren’t quite to the credit card number phase.

Email marketing automation can help you nurture those users through the buying process. Especially with an expensive product like Peloton, it will probably take most purchasers a bit of time to get used to the idea of spending $2000 or so on a piece of fitness equipment.

Here’s an excellent example of a lead nurturing email from Zapier, a service that provides automated integration between online services. It’s apparently triggered by the user’s lack of use of their service and offers help setting up automations, or zaps in a lighthearted way.

email marketing automation

According to DemandGen, leads that are nurtured with personalized content convert into sales at 20% higher than those who aren’t.

Hubspot reports:

Triggered email messages yield 67.9% higher open rate and 241.3% higher click rates than standard email messages, according to Epsilon . In other words, when you use a person’s behavior — let’s say that downloaded content about email workflows — to trigger a relevant email based on that action, it will perform well.


Abandoned Cart

We’ve all gotten the e-commerce triggered email. That is, if you’ve ever left an item you were thinking about purchasing in your shopping cart. The subject lines are often “Did you forget?” or, “You left something behind.”

According to Drip, roughly 75% of all shopping carts are abandoned. That means only one in four customers complete the purchase. You can recover those sales before you even know the cart has been abandoned.

SaleCycle estimates that nearly half of all abandoned cart emails are opened and over a third of clicks lead to purchases back on site. If you have an e-commerce site, set up cart abandonment emails now.

Thank You Emails

Smart marketers use thank you emails to, of course, thank the customer for buying, but also to show related products. If you just bought the top, you’ll never be more tempted to get the matching pants or jacket than right after you’ve purchased.

Here’s a good example of a welcome/thank you email from Search Engine Journal that tells me what to expect and invites me to download additional resources.

email automation

What Can Email Marketing Automation Do For Me?

Save Time

If you had to respond individually to every customer who abandoned their cart, you would spend most of your time glued to the keyboard. Email marketing automation allows you to create more customer touches without taking all of your available time. Automation allows you to set up the email once, and it will fire when the conditions are met.

You can also sell to anyone in the world with an internet connection, so there’s no need to worry about lost sales while you sleep.

Keep You Front of Mind

I subscribe to emails from businesses I might like to use someday. Not now, but when I have more time, more money, or am not confined to the house. I might forget about some of these companies by the time I’m ready to buy.

I mainly subscribed to them just to keep them top of mind. Don’t minimize the importance of staying top of mind. Without overwhelming them, be sure you’re a regular presence in the user’s inbox.

marketing automation

Recognize Special Occasions and Birthdays

According to OptinMonster, automated birthday email offers can boost conversion rates 60% over non-timed emails with the same offer. A birthday discount or coupon might push the user to treat themselves.

How to Automate

Most major email marketing providers offer at least some form of automation. One automation I use regularly is tagging. You can add tags to users who click on certain links, open or don’t open each email I send.

Over time, I’ve begun to learn what my list is most interested in; and what does not entice them to click. I don’t collect demographic information, so behavior is my primary source of segmentation.

The providers I’ve used (ActiveCampaign, MailChimp, ConvertKit, AWeber among others) make automation simple. Most provide a graphic interface map that shows you exactly what happens when a message is triggered. You can control time intervals between the emails, so if you want to send daily, weekly, monthly, or a certain time after the previous email you can do that.

Here’s how ActiveCampaign’s automations work.

email automation

Give automation it a try if you haven’t already — start with a simple automation like tagging, or a welcome email. You’ll love saving time while you still reach your customer and nurture relationships.

You May Also Enjoy …

How to Build an Email List

How to Build an Email List

Add “build an email list” to your to-do items for customer retention. Email marketing has the highest ROI of any other channel.

Top 10 Email Marketing Strategy Mistakes I Hope You Don't Make

Top 10 Email Marketing Strategy Mistakes I Hope You Don't Make

Your email marketing strategy is a critical piece of your overall marketing plan if you’re a small business or solopreneur. Combined with social media, content marketing, and your website, email marketing contributes to your online presence in a unique way.


Talk Back to Me