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What is Email Automation? Workflows, Strategies & Examples

Posted by Kevin Yun | Jun 9, 2022

When it comes to marketing, SMEs have to manage with less.

Time, money, and resources can all be limited, but that doesn’t mean your marketing efforts need to be. Thankfully, plenty of marketing hacks out there help SMEs compete on a larger scale.

Take email automation, for example.

With over 4 billion email users worldwide, an effective email automation strategy can help you streamline processes and save time. Whether you want to reduce the number of manual tasks that take up your time or increase the frequency with which your audience receives your messages, automating your emails can be a useful solution.

In this blog post, you will learn everything you need to know about email automation; how to set a trigger, workflow strategy, and timeless examples to guide you.

Buckle in! It's a long ride ahead.

What is Email Automation?

Email automation is the use of 'triggers' to send behavioral emails. It's the act of reaching subscribers with the right message at the right time with a series of timed or action-based emails.

Automating your emails saves you the stress and effort needed to schedule and send emails manually.

With an automated email series, eCommerce marketers can attract, connect, and build sustainable relationships with prospects and consumers without much hassle.

How Email Automation Works

For email automation to work, you need a foolproof email marketing strategy and reliable email automation software.

For context, let's say you run an eCommerce business and would like to persuade cart abandoners to finalize their purchase.

Firstly, you need to design a series of cart abandonment emails. You want to ensure each email addresses a distinct phase of a cart abandoner's journey.

With a well-planned series, automate the process by setting triggers. The trigger can be either timed or action-based.

For example, you can automate your email sequence with triggers to send the first email in your cart abandonment series an hour or two after a customer abandons their cart.

This way, your email automation tool makes the solemn appeal—with incentives and discounts—for consumers to come back to their cart without any additional effort from your end.

3 Major Benefits of Email Automation

The best eCommerce marketers are creative lots. They don't invest their time in a task they can allocate to the bots.

If you want to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of eCommerce marketing, you must learn to automate the more mundane tasks so that you can focus on creative work that gets your juices flowing.

Below are three reasons we recommend you automate your emails.

1.   Build Personal Connection

In a typical eCommerce store, buyers are always busy buying, and sellers are always busy selling; buyers and sellers don't give much thought to the individual's identity at the other end.

This was an okay scenario less than a decade ago.

But nowadays, with 77% of sales and marketing professionals believing that personalized marketing experiences make for better customer relationships, 'customer experience' is a thing.

Customers frequent eCommerce stores that offer personalized/customized services. Simply put, if you can't build a personal connection with your buyers, it's only a matter of time, they'll flee.

With an automated email series, buyers and sellers can build intuitive and personal relationships. Plus, you get to enjoy the power of targeted messaging, always meeting customers with the right message, at the right place, and at the right time.

2.   Increase Brand Awareness

To date, word-of-mouth marketing is still the easiest way for any brand to create a lasting first impression. If there is anything email automation can do for you and your business, it’s to keep customers talking.

Invest in email automation and enjoy increased brand awareness amongst consumers. However, for your automated email activities to create awareness amongst the intended audience, you need a pragmatic marketing framework.

3.   Takes Repetitive Tasks Off Your To-Do List

Automated emails do not require regular inputs from you. They continue working even while you sleep. With automated emails, you can make customers feel satisfied with your service, win leads, and attract brand advocates without lifting a finger.

How to Create a Winning Email Workflow

80% of the US population use emails. Implementing automated workflows in your business is an excellent marketing strategy.

If you want your automated emails to keep you connected with subscribers and help you lead industry conversations, follow the steps and processes outlined below.

  • Choose an Email Marketing Platform

Your journey to creating great email workflows begins with your email marketing software. Because whether you like it or not, your email automation effort is only as solid as the software behind it.

For maximum returns, work with an email marketing software with a reputable track record in the eCommerce space.

The best email marketing tools come equipped with powerful marketing features such as segmentation, A/B testing, analytics and reports, integration, and more.

Such tools can help businesses of all sizes and across all industries find high-quality leads, maintain a relationship with those leads, and increase their conversion rate.

  • Set your Goal

Like every outstanding achievement, email automation requires goal setting. It would be best to highlight what you plan to achieve with your email automation efforts.

  • Do you want to win new leads?
  • Do you want to make already existing customers do business with you more often?
  • Do you want to attract brand advocates?
  • Or do you want to use incentives to remind cart abandoners that you’ve got a soft spot for them?

Regardless of what you want to achieve with email automation, you've got to set your goals straight and make them known.

  • Decide on the Number of Touchpoints

Email automation works with touchpoints. For instance, if you want to win new leads with automated emails, you need to create a series of conversion emails.

Deciding the number of touchpoints requires that you create a series of emails , keeping in mind the exact phase of your buyer’s journey where each email comes in.

  • Set Enrollment Triggers

Triggers are the actions that determine whether an individual in your email list is liable to receive your automated emails or not.

For example, let's say you want to get cart abandoners back to buying ways.

You've created your series of emails with touchpoints and the campaign is ready to go.

Now, since not all customers abandon their cart, you need to set enrollment triggers to ensure that the emails in this series go out to just abandoners.

Your enrolment trigger can start with a simple reminder email a few hours after cart abandonment. Then, you can send a few other follow-up emails with an attractive incentive.

  • Add a List

Automated emails work best with a segmented list. Indeed, you might have acquired an extensive mailing list filled with prospects and customers alike. That's great!

But if you want to win with automated emails, you must identify your target audience and segment your list.

For example, if the goal behind your email marketing strategy is to attract new customers who live in a specific location, include only the contact information of prospects in your list that live in that specific location.

The good news is that most email marketing platforms come with segmentation features that let you create subscribers groups based on:

  • Geolocation,
  • Autoresponder engagement,
  • Click-through,
  • Purchase behavior, etc.
  • Work with Time

21% of emails are opened within one hour of delivery. So whether you're trying to win leads or get existing subscribers to take any action, no one would blink an eye if your message doesn't hit their mailbox at the right time.

To set actionable time delays between emails, you need to understand the buying or selling process.

Study your prospects or customers; explore their schedules and possible routines. Map out when they frequent their inbox and automate your emails to hit their mailbox when they need it.

  • Implement if/then Branches

A series of conversion emails can get a subscriber to take the desired action at the first, fourth, or seventh email—or never—it doesn't matter.

Implementing if/then branches helps you regulate how your email workflow operates. With the if/then programming in play, your automated emails work based on the user's action.

When a subscriber takes the desired action, the automation sequence stops.

  • Review your Settings

At this point, it's alright if you feel fed up with all the processes you'd have to automate to create a winning workflow. The good news is email automation pays triple-fold; you just have to put in the required energy.

Reviewing your settings means cross-checking your touchpoints, optimizing for mobile, exploring your triggers, checking the time between each mail, and examining your if/then programming.

  • Go Live

After reviewing your settings, if you're sure everything is in order, we recommend you test run your automated workflow. You can create a small list using your co-workers' emails to test run the campaign.

If everything works accordingly, you’re good to go. Add the list of subscribers you intend to reach with your email marketing efforts and go live.

  • Update and Reiterate

We'd love to tell you that it's okay to take a breath of fresh air, relax, and allow your automated emails to do the heavy lifting.

But since the goal is to ensure that you create a winning workflow, you’ve still got work to do.

Stay on top of the email automation process. Analyze it closely, weighing efficiency and durability.

Highlight what’s working and what’s not working and iterate accordingly. If you want to win with email automation, you can't rest on your laurels; consistently update and reiterate—at least once a month.

Examples of Email Automation

Now that we learned the best practices for creating a winning email workflow, it's time to ensure your email automation efforts accurately lays the groundwork for increased revenue. To that end, here are some examples to guide you.

#Bezar Welcome Email

Automated welcome emails serve as one-way tickets to get the party started. Stamp a great first impression with your welcome email, and you will attract tons of loyal customers.

Bezar welcomes new subscribers with an iconic email. First, it waves off all forms of formal conversations and creates room for ‘coffee talks’ with the simple one-liner; 'we're bizarre and totally cool with you calling us that.'

bezar welcome email

Image source: really good emails

Then it introduces its marketplace while highlighting affiliate opportunities new subscribers can immediately get ten bucks for.

Takeaway: when automating welcome emails, don't get pushy. Also, try not to act like an inexperienced business; put your brand identity out there and make it personable.

Yes, it's just an email! But your words can tell if, in real-time, the subscriber will get belly bear hugs or an unpleasant welcome.

#PackHelp Onboarding Email

Welcome emails show subscribers that they're good for the ride; onboarding emails kickstart the journey. If you welcome new sign-ups with automated welcome emails, you can get them to explore your store with onboarding emails.

PackHelp starts its onboarding email by first showing due appreciation to its new subscribers. The 'we’re glad you are here tagline' makes subscribers feel at home with the community—paving sustainable paths for an effective sales process.

Packhelp onboarding email

Image source: really good emails

We love this PackHelp onboarding email because of its gentle nature—no aggressive or corny sales tactics here. The 'what interests you the most' question and subtle description make it easy for new subscribers to navigate their way around the store.

Takeaway: Automated onboarding email is not a 'nice to have; it's a must-have.' it's the easiest way to remind new subscribers that your store exists to serve them better and that their decision to receive regular emails from you would yield maximum returns.

#Airbnb Transactional Email

Consumers make purchases every day. Sometimes, they forget to keep track of their daily expenses. Indeed, you're not their accountant and might not be in the accounting business. Still, you need to automate a transactional mailing process for every client —more details about the 'why' in the takeaway section.

There is nothing special about Airbnb’s transactional email. And truth be told, you don’t need to get worked up trying to make your transactional emails look special. For transactional emails, accuracy is more important than design.

airbnb transactional email

Image source: really good emails

Airbnb’s transactional email is simple and straight to the point. It gives a detailed description of the transaction and ensures every party involved knows what’s at stake and what’s not.

Takeaway: transactional emails show your store's credibility while helping your customers remain accountable for their purchases. Transactional emails play crucial roles for stores in the SaaS and eCommerce space, especially when it involves recurring fees.

Product Hunt Re-engagement Email

Don’t blame consumers when they abandon their carts halfway. And don't get all edgy if long-term customers stop frequenting your store without due notice or good reasons. Instead, get creative.

Re-engagement email workflows help you remind customers that you’re still in business and that not patronizing you means they’re missing out. Product Hunt's re-engagement emails iterate this fact in precise and straightforward terms.

Product Hunt reengagement email

Image source: really good emails

The specific and direct messaging dragged our attention to this automated email. Product Hunt knew this wasn't time to beat around the bush. Their customers were not responsive, and they needed to get them back to buying ways. And yes, this re-engagement email did a great job.

Takeaway: re-engagement emails are the lifeblood of every eCommerce store. You might not fancy the idea, but some of your best clients would stop visiting your store at some point. You can either push your luck and win their attention back with re-engagement emails or smile at unpleasant goodbyes.

Crush Your Sales Goals

In a world where personalized customer experience runs the gamut for B2B brands, you need a smart sales sequence to succeed.

Yes! We've highlighted the dos and don'ts of email automation in this blog post. The harsh truth is that creating a marketing email that converts takes time.

You won't yield any result if you go through this content without completing the required work. Simply put, if you want to crush your sales goals and win with automated emails, start automating.

You've got this!

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