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A Detailed Guide on Email Automation

31 Min read

You have probably heard of Email Automation if you work in sales or marketing.

As a marketer or a business owner, you would like to stay connected to your customers. Email automation is a powerful tool that helps you send the right message to the right people using automated workflows. These workflows are immensely effective for lead nurturing and driving sales from potential customers along with the existing ones.

With Email automation, you build a profitable mailing list and market your business in the right manner.

The following topics are being discussed in this guide, so you can directly jump to the one that you want to know about: 

  1. What is Email Automation? 
  1. How does Email Automation work? 
  1. Benefits of Email Automation 
  1. Crucial Email Automation terms you should know 
  1. How to get started with Email Automation? 
  1. Examples of Email Automation 
  1. Why should you test your Email Automation? 
  1. Best practices to keep in mind before messaging your customers 
  1. How to look for the right Email Automation tool? 
  1. Industry-specific applications of Email Automation 

What is Email Automation? 

Email automation uses of predefined rules to trigger email messages and personalize your messages based on specific actions that the customers take or don’t take, with the help of an email automation software. 

It is a way to create emails that reach the right people at the right moment with the right message- all of it without you having to do anything on your own except for creating automated workflows. 

You can link your website analytics to your email automation software and target people based on behavior, preferences, and previous sales. You can also personalize each customer’s experience and increase the relevance of your email campaigns. 

There are many day-to-day examples of email automation that we get to see, even in our inbox. Like when you receive a welcome email when you sign-up on a website, or subscribe to a newsletter.  

You get recommendations of similar products from the website that you purchase from or a quick reminder when you save something in your cart but don’t place an order. 

Automating your email campaigns reduces your repetitive tasks and saves you time for the more valuable ones, such as responding to customer queries. It helps your customers learn more about your business, encourage them to keep coming back, and remind them why they bought from you in the first place. 

How does Email Automation work? 

Email Automation allows marketers to create automated email workflows. In these automated workflows, you can add actions, events, and conditions, so that whenever a set occurs, the email gets triggered. 

Let’s assume a customer visits your website and downloads an eBook or fills out a form, etc. This adds them to your email marketing database. Afterwards, they are segregated into different categories based on their location, interests, behavior, etc. 

Then your email marketer creates an email campaign where he/she creates a set of rules/ triggers, plan drip campaigns, and schedule emails. The customer receives an email based on the conditions and campaign decided by the marketer. 

For example, say you want to welcome a customer who visited your profile today and filled his details in a webform that you placed on your website for inquiries about your product/ services. 

You set a workflow based on this action, I.e., filling the webform, that sends a particular email to all those who perform this action. The customer that enquired on the website immediately receives an email, and all the other customers as well whenever this action is performed. This way, your marketers don’t have to draft and send individual emails to every customer. 

Simply put- with email automation, the email is triggered/ or automatically sent to the targeted recipient when an event happens. 

Benefits of Email Automation 

“Email has an ability many channels don’t: creating valuable, personal touches- at scale.”- David Newman 

Businesses are busy tasks, and most of them eat all your precious time. One of the most tiring yet crucial tasks is to send emails. Creating an email list and drafting each email for hundreds of your customers manually can take ages. And even if somehow you decide to do it all on your own, you won’t be able to deliver them on time, and you are bound to make mistakes.  

For every dollar spent on email marketing, ROI can reportedly reach $44

Here is how Email automation comes into play- you can do it all right on time while saving your precious hours as well as energy.  

But this is not all; let’s see how else your business can be benefited with email automation. 

1. Re-engage lost customers 

You might have some (or many) customers that don’t buy your services anymore due to some reason. You can get them to engage again with your business by adding them to your mailing list and bring them back on board. 

You might have come across those sweet “We have missed you” emails. You can create such personalized emails for your customers as well that include coupon codes or special discounts. 

Get a list of all those customers who haven’t been active in maybe, two or three months, or even six months, depending on what works best for you, and craft compelling emails that make them come back to you and shop from your store. 

2. Deliver the right information to the right people 

Email automation allows you to create workflows for every action that a customer performs and sends emails based on those triggers. These emails are the ones that are specifically drafted for each trigger. 

Email automation ensures that you are sending a relevant email to every customer, and not making any blunders in sharing the information. 

For example, if you want to greet a new customer who recently subscribed to your email list, you can set trigger in your email automation software with a welcome email written for this very situation. Your email automation tool will deliver this email to the right recipient at the right time. 

This increases the relevancy of your emails, which is important to retain your customers. After all, 55% of customers like email messages that contain relevant products and offers. 

3. Increase your revenue 

You can create several campaigns with the help of email marketing automation. These campaigns will help you increase your sales, bring back lost customers, spread word of mouth, which will, in turn, grow your revenue. 

Automated emails generate 320% more revenue than non-automated ones. 

Abandoned carts, for example, can cost you millions of dollars, however, this revenue is recoverable. Of course, not all of it, but you can get back at least a portion of it with the help of automated emails. And even this small portion of it can hugely impact your overall revenue. 

You can plan campaigns to remind customers to buy the products that they saved in their carts, for example, and boom your revenue if even if half of them actually buy those products! Along with those products, you can also recommend them new ones based on their search history and persuade them to buy them. 

4. Provide a personalized customer experience 

Who doesn’t like personalized messages? Well, hardly anyone, that’s our guess! 

The benefits of a personalized message are endless, but this blog isn’t. So, we’ll just tell you directly- Personalized messages help you sell better. 

We know what you must be wondering, how does an email automation system help write a personalized message? 

The answer is- it doesn’t. Email automation cannot write a personal message because it’s an artificial system, and a personalized message requires a human touch. 

An email automation system eases your process of sending most of your emails so that you can provide a tailored approach to your emailing process, after all, emails with personalized subject lines increase the open rates by 50%

5. Retain more customers 

When you segment your customers according to their demands, interests, and response, it gets easier for you to retain them for long. Since you only send them the emails that they want to receive, they don’t get carried away from your brand, and their interest is always steady with your business. 

With email automation, you send them only the tailored content and successfully retain their attention. 

Crucial Email Automation terms you should know 

Email automation is a technical cave, and you need to illuminate it with the torch of the right terminology that is commonly used in the industry.  

So here are some of the crucial email automation terms that you should know before starting with the process. 

1. Email service provider 

Email Service Provider (ESP) is a company that provides email marketing services. Companies like Yahoo, Google, and Outlook fall under this category. 

2. Email deliverability 

This is the rate of emails that successfully landed in your recipient’s inbox. Any email that bounces back or lands into the spam folder is not considered successfully delivered. 

3. Bounce rate 

The number of emails that are not delivered to the customer’s inbox and bounced back to you are depicted by the bounce rate. These emails are those which are rejected by your customer’s email server. 

4. Click through rate 

CTR is the ratio of the total number of users that click on a specific link in an email to the total number of total users who view that email. 

5. Email Campaign 

It’s a series of emails that a business sends to the customers in order to fulfill a goal. For example, if you are sending emails to recover abandoned carts, then all those emails will become a part of the abandoned cart recovery campaign. 

6. Trigger 

Simply put, any event that makes your system sends an email is a trigger. It means it triggers a particular action when a condition is fulfilled. 

7. Spam 

Any email that is sent without a specified goal or to those who haven’t subscribed to your emailing list will land as a spam. 

8. Open rate 

Open rate shows the number of times when your emails in a specific campaign is opened. It sounds simple; however, ESPs don’t consider an email opened unless the link in the email is been clicked upon. 

9. Opt-in / subscribe 

It’s when someone opts or subscribes to your emailing list. 

10. Sequence 

This specifies a sequence in which the emails are sent after a certain action is taken by the customer. 

How to get started with Email Automation? 

The process of getting started with Email Automation is quite similar for whatever kind of business you deal with or any type of sequence that you want to create. Let’s hop in and find out how you can start with your automated email campaign. 

1. Find out who you want to attract 

First and foremost, don’t send an email if you don’t know who you are sending it to. It’s obvious though, isn’t it? How can you send an email to someone, or anyone without knowing the purpose of it? 

This is a sure-shot way to land in the spam folder, so stay away from this. Know your recipient. 

Analyze the customers who have bought from you in the past or subscribed to the mailing list, segregate them based on their interests and behaviors, and then tailor your approach towards them. 

2. Do research about the issues of your existing customers 

Keep your existing customers happy. And to do that, you can start researching the current issues that your customers are facing while using your service/ product.  

Understand the situation they are in so that you can curate your incentives for these customers. This way, you will be able to give them exactly what they are looking for, and even more! 

3. Use the info collected to create an incentive 

Now that you have data on every query that your customers have ever raised, use this info to create your incentive programs. Create a buzz around those topics, make user guides as a solution, and help your customers figure out what your business is providing them. 

You can use this data for opt-in messages as well; that’ll help you get people to sign up for your emails. Then you can offer them to sign-up for a free trial of your product and convert them! 

4. Direct people towards the action you want them to make 

Tell people what to do. Direct their path towards what you want them to do. Create a map before you start any campaign as to how a customer will walk towards the CTA. 

A welcome email, then some follow-up emails followed by the guide you created in the step above- what’s next then? 

You either move the customers to a sign-up list or if they do not wish to become your customers yet, then you can show them the door towards subscribing to your newsletters. 

Whatever you do, just make sure you make them take some action, or else none of this would make any sense. 

5. Draft your emails 

Okay, now this is where you get ready for the battlefield. Your customers don’t get to see what you do behind the screen; they read your emails and decide what to make of you. 

Now your emails can either seal or break the deal and decide the fate of your campaign. A compelling, well-crafted email can take you a long way and get the customers to convert, or at least subscribe. However, if not done correctly, it can cost you more than just your money.  

Yes, more than money! Because you are not only doing all this hard work to sell your product/ service- you are also building relationships with your clients. 

While drafting an email, think about what kind of relationship you want to build, what message are you trying to send? 

Make the customers feel like a part of your community, give them a warm welcome, and deliver what you commit. 

With every email you write, make sure you deliver quality content worthy of your customers’ time. You can find some helpful email tricks and tips here for the next one that you craft! 

6. Create a sequence in the email automation tool 

Sequence is an order of emails created by you to decide which emails will be sent and when. In order to create a sequence, you add emails in that sequence and then specify what triggers will deliver those emails. 

Your sequence of emails will vary depending upon the services that you offer and who you’re targeting. 

For example, the following is a typical sequence in a marketing automation process: 

  • Welcome email- Send immediately 
  • Email #2- send 2 days after the welcome email 
  • Email #3- send 4 days after the welcome email 
  • Free trial/ discount offer- 5 days after the welcome email
  • Offer reminder- 1 day after the last email 

Once the email sequence is complete, you can add the prospect in the customer list if they sign up, or in the newsletter subscription list if they don’t. 

7. Segment your audience 

Once the customer opts in to your email list, you can segregate them based on the type of their opt-in. These opt-ins can be based on the following: 

  • Blog opt-in- Segment customers based on where they opted in 
  • Opt-ins based on the pages they visited 
  • Opt-ins based on their location 
  • Opt-ins based on their actions (abandoned carts or purchased products), etc. 

You can A/B test these opt-ins to see which ones gain you better results! 

8. Analyze and optimize your results 

As you A/B test your email automation process, you can analyze the results and make necessary changes in your approach. 

To improve the opt-ins, you can change the words, the opt-in style, or the incentives. Similarly, you can analyze your email’s open rates and try new subject lines to understand which one works best. 

It’s important to note that your language and way of communication with your new subscribers will be different than the existing ones, and you’ll need to split those two. 

9. Design trigger-based email automation workflow by tracking prospect’s behavior 

Triggered emails are those which are fired by a specific action taken by the customer. And your process of automating your email campaigns is mostly based on this step. Behavioral triggers are very important to send the right message to the right customer.  

With the help of marketing automation, you can create workflows that execute a variety of actions based on the behavior of the customers. Automating your marketing campaign based on behavioral triggers ensures that the system executes every part of the campaign at the right time. 

Behavioral triggers are a low-hanging fruit, since they are easy to approach and use. 

Examples of Email Automation 

This topic is divided into three parts so that it gets easier for you to understand how email automation is used in day-to-day businesses. 

1. Simple Email automation 

An email automation solution for beginners, one can say! 

Autoresponder Emails 

Autoresponder emails are a set of emails that are sent according to a predetermined schedule. For example, suppose that a customer downloaded your fitness application and registered into it. He then receives a welcome email immediately based on this action.  

The next day, you will send him the information on how to use the app, after that an email that contains a fitness program according to the customer’s requirement, and so on.  

All you need to do is set a sequence of emails, and the rest will happen on its own. 

Birthday Emails 

These are the emails sent on a specific date. Now, don’t think these are only the birthday wishes emails; they are any emails that need to be sent on a specific date and are recurring.  

For example, say you have an auto repair shop, so you can set an automated email for every customer to remind them about their annual inspection date. 

2. Advanced Email automation 

These are a bit more complex in nature, but can still be easily managed with the help of email automation tools. 

Trigger campaigns based on email behavior 

You remember the customer that downloaded a fitness app in the last section. Let’s call him Jake for our ease. Now Jake opened a link in your newsletter that is about nutritious dieting.  

As a result, he’ll receive another email a couple of days later that contains more specific information on the same topic. Now, we can assume that since he opened this link, then he’s interested in knowing more about nutritious dieting. 

Tagging 

Till now, we just assumed that Jake is interested in nutritious dieting, but to make sure, we can use tags. Tags are a kind of attribute in a database. 

For example, with the tag ‘nutritious dieting’, Jake’s interest in the same is noted (tagged) when he clicks on at least two articles of the same subject in your newsletter. Another tag could be ‘nutritious dieting- strong interest’- for someone who checks more than five articles of the same subject. 

3. Professional Email Automation 

Email automation is not just about sending emails. It’s more than that. Did you know that you can collect data from your website with the help of email automation, even before a potential customer signs up for your newsletter? 

How, you ask? Let’s find out! 

Website tracking 

Let’s talk about Jake again. Say, he’s taking a look at your fitness app website for the first time. Since you have implemented a newsletter software tracking code on your website, you can get his information even before he signs up for the app.  

Once he signs up, you can then connect his pageviews data to his contact information. No data is lost since the tracking cookie is active from the very beginning. 

Based on visitor data, you can send more personalized emails. If Jake visits the pricing page several times, but still doesn’t make the purchase, then there’s a chance that he finds the app expensive.  

In this case, you can offer him a discount or send a coupon code in the email, and ask if there’s any particular reason why he’s hesitating in making the purchase. 

Workflows (If-Then-Else conditions) 

Now let’s take an example of the abandoned cart. You can create workflows for these customers who have added your products to their carts but aren’t yet purchasing them for a long time.  

These workflows will be triggered by If-then-else conditions, based on certain actions that the customer takes. Some marketing automation tools might even let you adjust your newsletter content to match certain tags or actions- the process is limitless. 

eCommerce tracking 

The workflows that you created in the previous step can be linked to the e-commerce website to create dependencies between the newsletter and the actual purchase.  

Though it’s technically a more complex procedure compared to the website tracking code, it is still manageable with a little help. 

Lead scoring 

One of the benefits of email automation, as stated above, is that it also enables data collection. At the same time, it can also help you score quality leads! 

Every salesperson’s dream is that he closes deal with each call, and if the lead scoring is done correctly, it simply takes them closer to that dream. 

You can assign certain points to every action that a customer takes – from visiting the website to making a purchase. As soon as the customer hits a certain point, the salesperson will be notified. Note that the customer is unaware of these points, it’s only for the use of the sales team. 

Another noteworthy fact here is that not only the newsletter tools, but even CRM can help you with this process, since we are talking about leads here. 

Why should you test your Email Automation? 

As you must have deduced by now, Email Automation can speed up your email creation, analysis, and personalization. You create more in less time. However, it’s not a surprise that moving at such a speed can leave you prone to mistakes too. 

This is where email testing comes into play. It’s a QA process that makes sure your emails look and function exactly how they are supposed to. And the good news- this process can be automated too!  

Here’s why it’s important not to skip the email testing step even when you are in a hurry. 

1. Prevent errors and broken emails 

This is the most obvious reason to test emails before you send them to your customers. A broken email serves as a roadblock towards the action you want the customer to take, which means your conversions and revenue takes a hit. 

You might want to take care of the following errors while testing your emails: 

  • Broken personalization syntax/ merged tags 
  • Inconsistency of different devices
  • Broken links 
  • Images that don’t display 
  • Spelling mistakes and typos 

With email testing, you can make sure that your customers act the way you want them to. 

2. Protect your brand reputation 

“A bad email reputation is like hangover: hard to get rid of and it makes everything else hurt.”- Chris Marriott 

You can increase your revenue by 33% by upkeeping your brand consistency. Why? Because it builds a sense of trust and credibility among your customers. Also, it helps people remember you. 

Mistakes do exactly the opposite of it. 

A broken email makes the customer question your business and the quality of your work. Even worse, it may make them think that either you or they have been hacked! This is a nightmare, especially in the industries that use customers’ sensitive data. 

Email testing saves your business’s reputation as well as your customers’ loyalty. 

3. Ensure a great subscriber experience 

We don’t know if anyone here is a Grammar Nazi, but most of us don’t like to read content with spelling mistakes and typos. 

Your customers are more likely to feel the same way when you make errors in your emails. These errors make the customers delete the email, or worse – mark you as spam. 

Mailbox and Internet service providers considers such customer behavior in depth for their spam filtering algorithms. So, when they see that your emails aren’t being clicked upon, or being marked as spam, they take it as a sign that maybe your emails don’t belong in their inbox and send you to the junk instead. 

4. Save time and resources 

If you think that email testing will cost you time, then you are wrong. Email testing will, in fact, save you more time. 

If you catch mistakes after the emails are sent, you will end up spending more time on the damage control than you doing QA testing of the emails in the first place. 

And when the testing process is automated as well, then it takes almost no time at all! 

Best practices to keep in mind before emailing your customers 

Once you are ready with your well-crafted emails and automated workflows, there are a few practices that you should keep in mind before you hit the send button. 

1. Timing 

Consider the best time to send an email to your customers. Base your emails on triggers and events so that they align with your customer’s behavior. 

If you are sending a series of emails, then make sure to space them in a way that helps your customers rather than overwhelms them. 

2. Volume 

More isn’t always good. Sending the relevant messages to your customers is great, but sending too many of them can drive the customers away. 

Focus on the right opportunities, and only send the emails that are helpful to them at the right time. 

3. Allow opt-outs 

It’s understandable that sometimes, your business is no more relevant to your customers, and they don’t want to hear from you anymore. For such a situation, you should provide an easy unsubscribe/ opt-out option in your emails so that your (no-more) customers don’t mark you as spam to avoid your emails. 

This practice will help you save your reputation and also focus your efforts on customers, and keep the door open for those who have left. 

4. CAN-SPAM and CASL 

The primary purpose of your automated emails is to divert the customers back to your website from where they subscribed to your mailing list in the first place, since these emails are considered a form of marketing communication. 

So, you need to make sure that all your automated emails follow CAN-SPAM and CASL laws. 

How to look for the right Email Automation tool? 

Now that you’ve learned all about Email Automation, you must be wondering how you can choose the best marketing automation tool for your business. 

With a plethora of options available in the market, it’s a task to choose the right fit for yourself. Here’s how you can ease up your task to find the best email automation tool for you. 

1. Establish your needs 

First and foremost, you need to note down your requirements- what are you looking for in an email automation tool? Of course, the purpose of marketing automation is to get the emails out of the door, but considering your specific needs is essential in order to get the best mailing experience. 

You may want to consider the following questions: 

  • Do you need customer segmentation for your campaigns? 
  • Are you going to send automated emails based on customers’ behavior? 
  • Will you only communicate through emails, or would you use other channels as well? 
  • What is your budget? 
  • Do you need customer relationship management software as well? If yes, should it be a tool with an in-built CRM or the one that integrates with the CRM you’re currently using?  
  • How many people from your team will be accessing this tool? 

…and more. 

Once you note down your specifications, dive deep into each one of them and list the tools down that provide the same. 

2. Review the solutions 

Now that you know what you want, it’s time to review each option you’ve got. 

The entire search process can be overwhelming, but remember that it’s a crucial one. A simple Google search can be a good start, but you’ll need to dig deeper to find the perfect marketing automation tool for you. 

Look at product review sites 

A great way to find the software is to go through product review sites such as G2. These sites give you a customer review and include reviews from industry experts that will help you narrow your options. 

After all, there’s nothing better than the first-hand experiences of those who’ve used the software and then invested in it. 

Read software tool roundups 

Many leaders and content creators write regular articles to round-up the best tools to use this year for different categories.  

You can search for your favorite marketing publications to look for the roundup on the best email marketing automation tools and go through what the leaders are or aren’t recommending. 

Ask your acquaintances what they are using 

Ask around and do research on what your friends or other brands are using. Ask them if they like their marketing automation tool and if they’d recommend it to anyone else. 

Also, make sure to keep your budget in mind while you make your purchase. Every business has a different kind of bank balance, so keep in mind that the tool your friend uses might not be a good fit for your company. Or, maybe if your budget approves, it can be the tool that you’re looking for! 

Industry-specific applications of Email Automation 

Every business is different, so are their needs and functionalities. 

The way your friend’s business caters to their customers might not be your way to approach your customers. Same way, email automation can be used in several ways in each industry based on the customer behavior and the business’s approach towards them. 

Let’s have a look at these three industries and how they use email marketing automation at their disposal. 

1. Real estate 

Real estate industry is, honestly, very time consuming and requires efforts. Lead scoring and closing the deal is a tough call and it takes a lot of time and effort to make it all happen. 

The most efficient way for real estate agents to reach their prospects is through emails, and email automation is a powerful tool to do that. 

Here are a few examples that show how email automation is used in the real estate: 

Welcome emails 

These are the ice breakers. They are also useful in branding yourself among your customers. 

Relationship building emails 

These emails are mostly personalized to meet the needs of your customers. You only send them what they want to see. 

Targeted emails 

These emails are sent to a particular set of subscribers based on the group they are segregated in. 

2. Saa

It’s impossible to overrate the importance of emails of a SaaS company. This industry uses emails to introduce new products, help them with the new features of their products, ask for customer feedbacks, etc. 

Segmented promo emails 

These emails are sent to a segmented audience and are tailored according to their preferences. 

Promotional emails 

These are the core emails for any online business; they are used to introduce, promote and sell new products with these emails. 

Survey emails 

Everything a business does is done for its clients. And asking for their feedback is a necessary practice for any and every business. 

3. E-commerce 

Every ecommerce site strives towards boosting its online sales, and one key factor that contributes to their growth is effective communication. Since there are a number of ecommerce businesses available in the market, email automation becomes a strong tool to attract more customers. 

Abandoned cart emails 

No matter how much the buyers love the products, they always get distracted while online shopping and abandon their cart before making the purchase. This is where automated emails can help the website to get their almost lost customers back. 

Post-purchase follow-up emails 

The gesture of sending an email once the purchase is made shows that you appreciate your customers and ensure their satisfaction. You learn whether the customers are satisfied and what you can do for the betterment of their experience. 

Re-engagement emails 

People have different choices and opinions, and they keep changing frequently. One time they purchase from your website, and the next time they might forget how much they liked your products and then go for another. Hence, re-engagement emails are essential to remind your customers why they bought from you in the first place. 

Conclusion 

There are plenty of articles online stating that emails are dead in 2021. However, reports suggest otherwise. Emails sell as much as 19.8% of all transactions. 

Emails are surely a very effective marketing channel, and when used wisely, they can gain astonishing results. And if you want to witness these results for yourself, then all you need to do is follow the above steps and get started with email marketing automation right now! 

Being an avid reader, Parijat developed a keen interest in writing at a very young age. She's passionate about topics like Spirituality, History, Psychology, and Philosophy. She's now a Product Specialist at Salesmate and strives to write her own novel someday.

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