What is email automation?

91% of marketers say automation is critical to their success–in fact, automated emails can generate up to 320% more revenue than non-automated emails. For brands that are just starting out or businesses that are trying to modernize their marketing practices, the idea of automation can sound a little intimidating. You may start thinking of complex AI processes, confusing datasets, and most of all, the hefty costs that could come with automation services–but email automation isn’t as complicated (or expensive) as you may think. In fact, you may already have all of the tools needed to begin automating emails. Let’s delve deeper into exactly what email automation is and how you can make it work for your business.

What is email automation?

Email automation is the process of sending automated emails to subscribers according to a set of defined triggers. These triggers are usually based on specific actions taken by subscribers, such as joining your email list, filling out a form on your website, or even clicking on a call-to-action button within an email. By automating your email processes, you can ensure that your subscribers receive the right information from your brand at the best time and ultimately turn them into loyal, happy customers.

What are the benefits of email automation?

Personalization

Your ultimate goal as a business is to get customers to purchase your product or service, but there are different ways of getting to that point, and it’s crucial to make sure that your methods of communication are accommodating all of your potential customers. Personalizing your emails lets you target and segment subscribers based on where they are in the customer journey, their preferences, and their previous behaviors. 

For example, if you have a subscriber who just joined your email list, you may want to ease them into eventually making a purchase by educating them about your product or service first instead of hitting them with emails that show off everything you offer. Part of proving to your customers that you value them is showing them that you hear them and are truly trying to give them what they desire.

Scalability

As your business continues to grow, you will inevitably get to the point where manually emailing your customers is not only exhausting, but not feasible–you might’ve already hit that roadblock if you’re reading this. When you have hundreds or thousands of customers who may all be in different stages of your customer journey and who all expect a certain level of personalization, automation is the only viable, long-term solution. It also gives you and your team the time to stop doing monotonous tasks, such as adding your audience’s contact info to your list of subscribers or having to figure out how and when to split your audience into separate email lists. Instead, you’ll be free to think of better ways to reach your customers and improve your overall marketing processes.

Accuracy

Email automation also helps you glean more information about your customers and cuts down on the guesswork. As you take subscribers through an automated email journey, you’ll start to notice patterns in which aspects of your emails are most appealing as well as which aspects are less attractive. You can even create a scoring system to rank particular elements of your emails and content according to what is likely to resonate best with specific segments of your customers. Using this information, you’ll be able to build out more accurate buyer personas and to keep tailoring your brand to fit their needs.

How to get started

Define your goals

Email marketing works best when you have a plan in place and targets you want to hit. Is your goal to create more brand awareness, boost conversions, or increase engagement? Maybe it’s all three and more, but start by thinking about how email automation can best help your brand’s specific needs. Ask yourself:

  • What are my brand’s weak points when it comes to email communication? 
  • Do my current email processes flow cohesively and efficiently?
  • How do I want my customers to feel when they go through my email journey?
  • How can I use email automation to increase the overall efficiency of my other marketing channels?

From here, you’ll have a much better idea of where to begin and of which automations will be most effective in communicating with your audience.

Assess your content

Consider the emails you already have as well as any content you’re currently marketing to your customers. Are there aspects of your brand that you could implement more in your email communication? For example, if your website has a blog, you can include a few relevant posts in a nurture campaign email. Or if you have an interesting webinar coming up that your customers could learn a lot from, advertise it in your monthly newsletter. This goes back to the necessity of personalization and relevance. Communicating regularly with your subscribers is important, but only when you’re presenting something of value.

Qualifying criteria

Once you know what the goal of your campaigns are and how you can use your content to bolster your email journeys, it’s time to lay down the rules of your automations. You can qualify your subscribers by a number of different characteristics. This can include static criteria, such as age, location, budget, etc. as well as more dynamic traits, which could include actions your subscribers have taken on your site. Once you take some time to discover more insights about your customers based on these characteristics, with the help of your ESP, you can trigger specific emails according to the rules you’ve set.

What are some email automation tools I can use?

Email Service Provider

You’ll need to start by choosing the right email service provider (ESP) for your brand’s needs. Quite a few factors will go into the decision, such as ease of integration, cost, and, of course, automation capabilities.

Here are a few options to take a look at it:

  • Klaviyo – good for setting up lots of integrations (for example, Shopify) with ease and mass volume marketing.
  • MailChimp – good for brands that are just getting started and those wanting flexibility with pricing.
  • Sendinblue – good for website tracking and SMS integration.

Scalero can also easily integrate with these ESPs after the process of creating your emails.

Email Deliverability Tool

Of course, it’s important to ensure that your emails actually make it into your subscribers’ inboxes, but your deliverability can also impact your sender reputation–and having a poor one can cause ISPs to send your emails to spam or even block them altogether.

To avoid any deliverability issues, check out a couple of tools you can implement into your ESP:

  • GlockApps – with this tool, you can see exactly where your emails are ending up—whether that’s in the inbox, spam folder, Gmail’s promotional or social tabs, or if your emails are being delivered at all. They also test authentication records such as SPF and DKIM, sender IP address reputation, and message spam score and provide you with a detailed report on which specific elements of your emails are contributing to your spam score.
  • Postmark’s Spam Check – for a straightforward and easy-to-use option, you can try Spam Check. All you have to do is copy and paste the HTML code of your email into their spam score checker. The tool will then give your email a score of 0 or above, depending on how “spammy” the email reads as. Any ranking close to 5 is likely to be flagged as spam, so the closer the ranking is to 0, the better. This tool is also free to use.

What are some types of email automation?

Welcome email

Surprisingly, over 50% of brands don’t use welcome emails, which is a huge missed opportunity. The welcome email is the first official email introduction to your company. This is where you not only get to say hello to your subscribers, but it’s also when you set up their expectations for future communication. 

Check out this example by Wild, a refillable deodorant brand that used their welcome email to introduce their brand, the benefits of their product, and a link to their FAQs.

Welcome email automation example

Email selected from Really Good Emails.

Cart abandonment

Sometimes your customer gets really close to buying your product but doesn’t quite hit the “order” button. This can be for a variety of reasons—yes, they could have chickened out of making the purchase, but maybe they also just got distracted, or they’ve decided to wait until they’re ready to buy. Whatever the reason may be, reminding your potential customer that the product or service they were so close to buying is still waiting for them can go a long way. According to Experian, customers who receive an abandoned shopping cart email are 2.4 times more likely to purchase than customers who don’t

Food52 sends their reminder with a CTA to go back to the cart and even gives the subscriber an extra nudge with a picture of the abandoned product.

Abandoned Cart Email Automation example

Email selected from Really Good Emails.

Recommendations

If your subscribers have already purchased from you, give them a reason to buy again by sending them an email full of similar items. Driftwood Wines, a fictional wine brand, sends the below email based on previous wines that customer has bought. It’s effective to look at price points, styles, and other characteristics of your products.

Recommendation email automation example

Email designed by Scalero.

Winback

When customers fall off the band-wagon, these emails can be quite effective at reeling them back in. If you notice a subscriber’s engagement has decreased over time or they’ve opted to not renew their subscription, you can send out an automated email with an offer to win them back. You don’t have to come across as desperate, either. Like Outdoor Voices, you can keep your winback email simple and offer a discount. The purpose of this email is to remind your customers about why they signed up with you in the first place and show them what they’re missing out on.

Winback email automation example

Email selected by Really Good Emails.

Feedback

Getting good feedback is something that every business needs, and often the best critiques come from the people you’re servicing. After your customers have completed a purchase, send them an automated email asking about their overall experience. You can include a call-to-action within the email that will direct them to another page, where they can fill out a survey or write a review. Ring’s feedback email below is a simple but effective example. You can also read this overview of getting effective feedback through email.

Feedback email automation example

Email selected by Really Good Emails.

Conclusion

Marketing technology is improving at a rapid pace–but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Even with the many options available, the most important thing is that you use the automations that are going to work best for your needs. To explore further, check out our post on the automations every brand should have. If you’d like a little more advice on how to decide on which emails to put in your campaigns and how to create those emails, send us a message. We’d be more than happy to help!

Feedback email automation example

Email selected by Really Good Emails.

Author avatar
Kristina Lauren
Kristina Lauren is a digital marketing blogger and copywriter. With over 7 years of digital marketing experience, she has taken the skills and experience she's learned and implemented them into her own freelance writing business called Innovative Writes.