Automated email marketing is the best option for sending personalized messages. Thanks to automation workflows, you can send personalized offers to customers at the relevant time, laying the groundwork for increased revenue.
In this article, we’ll take a look at:
- what email marketing automation is
- the benefits of email marketing automation
- the steps you need to take to launch email marketing automation workflows in your own company
We’ll also discuss the most popular email marketing automation software options to help you find the best one for you. And at the end, we’ll take a look at specific examples of emails that you can start sending out to your clients in a short time.
The Potential of Email Marketing
The potential of email marketing can’t be ignored. Email ROI has risen to $58 per each $1 spent, according to the Marketer Email Tracker 2019 report.
But, considering that 72% of consumers only respond to personalized digital marketing messages, simply sending emails manually isn’t enough.
In fact, personalizing emails manually is unthinkable with a decent amount of customers or plans for scaling your ecommerce venture or small business.
This is where email marketing automation makes its grand entrance.
What Automated Email Marketing Is
Automated email marketing is a workflow where emails are sent to subscribers automatically.
However, these emails aren’t just robotically sent to anyone at any time.
If your automated email marketing strategy is properly designed and well executed, the right email is sent to the right subscriber at the right time.
When it comes to the content of automated marketing emails, a lot depends on your creativity. You could come up with almost any kind of email to send to your users. But technically, there are three main types of automated emails.
First, there are triggered emails, also called autoresponders. These can be sent after a certain set time or after any predefined user action. For example, you could set up a triggered re-engagement email that’s sent when a user hasn’t logged on to their account in a certain number of days. Or, when a new user creates an account, an automated welcome email with recommended next steps could be sent.
Similar to autoresponders are behavioral emails. The difference is that these are sent based on a user’s interactions with previously sent emails. For example, if a user clicks through your offer in one email but doesn’t complete the purchase, you could send them a follow-up with a discount code.
Besides single triggered emails and autoresponders, you can also send automated email drip campaigns. An email drip campaign is a sequence of lead nurturing emails that work together to convert the lead by the end of the sequence. These automated emails can be triggered by a particular user action, but you can also send them on a schedule.
Ultimately, all automated emails should reflect the point on the customer journey that the specific user receiving the emails is in. The emails should always be personalized in some shape or form, to match the subscriber’s intent and needs.
In a way, automated marketing emails are similar to transactional emails. However, their main goal isn’t to share routine information. Instead, automated email marketing aims to engage the user and promote your products or services.
And luckily, automated email marketing is easier to implement than it might sound. If you take the initial time to do it, you’ll end up saving a lot of time and creating extra value for your customers.
The Benefits of Email Marketing
If done right, a well-executed and personalized automated email can:
- give an inactive user a reason to come back to your service, thanks to an offer on their favorite product category (re-engagement email)
- persuade a hesitant buyer to go through with their purchase and check out the items they left in the shopping cart (abandoned cart email)
- enlighten an overwhelmed user about the features and benefits of your complex service (informational email)
When you automate your email marketing efforts, you’ll end up with emails that are on time, more personalized, and therefore more relevant to your customers. In short, email marketing automation lets you grow your business and you’re bound to benefit in various ways. Let’s take a closer look at what you can achieve if you set up email marketing automation.
Increase user engagement
First of all, automated email marketing increases user engagement. If your user sees an email that’s personalized to exactly match their interests, they’re more likely to open the email, click through the offer, and finally end up making a purchase.
Improve user experience
On top of that, email automation improves the user experience. This is thanks to the fact that automated marketing emails are more personalized — and therefore more relevant. In fact, if you send automated emails with promotions or even just references to the kinds of products that a specific user is interested in, they’re more likely to feel satisfied with your service.
Build a stronger brand
Next, automating marketing emails helps build your brand and create stronger customer relationships. Following from the previous two points, if you send your email subscribers personalized, relevant, and engaging emails, they’re bound to view your brand as reliable and helpful for meeting their needs. This way, they’ll more likely return and even recommend your brand to others.
Easily scale your email marketing strategy
Email automation lets you easily scale your email marketing strategy. With email marketing automation software, it doesn’t matter if you’re sending the email to 100, 10,000, or 1,000,000 subscribers. It’s true that coming up with relevant offers and creating the email templates takes time. But once you’re done with those, the automated email marketing software will do the heavy lifting and you’ll be able to save time and grow your business.
Finally, sending automated marketing emails helps increase revenue. Let’s take cart abandonment emails, for example. According to Klaviyo, cart abandonment emails can have open rates as high as 41.18% and can add an average revenue of $5.81 per recipient. Considering how easy it is to set up abandoned cart emails, it’s pretty much like finding money.
Always be on time with automated emails
In addition to all the benefits covered above, email marketing automation has the perk that you can always send it at the exact moment when it can be most relevant and helpful to your potential customers. If you rely on messaging your new customers manually whenever you get to it, you might either miss the clue or simply send the email too late.
How to Get Started with Email Marketing Automation
As seen, there are huge benefits to gain from automating your email marketing efforts. But in order to reap the benefits, you must first set the whole thing up.
So, how do you get started with email marketing automation?
Let’s go through the necessary steps and find out.
1. Set goals
First and foremost, you should set your goals. What exactly do you want to achieve with email marketing automation?
Most likely, your ultimate goal is to increase sales and revenue. More specifically, though, this goal breaks down into several other common email marketing goals:
- increase website traffic
- obtain new customers
- reinforce brand image
- build relationships with existing customers
- improve email open rates
However, keep in mind that these are only some of the most common goals and they’re quite general. Based on your own general goals, you should set measurable and time-bound objectives that help you carry out your strategy in a successful way.
If you’d like to find out more about this step, you can take a look at this great Mailchimp guide on how to create a winning strategy.
2. Plan the content
Based on your goals and objectives, you should now plan your content. In other words, you should decide which types of marketing emails you’ll send. You can write the actual content a bit later.
Now, is your goal building stronger relationships with existing customers and ensuring they’re loyal to your brand? In that case, you could set up personalized birthday discounts, based on the products and services your users have previously purchased.
Or, if one of your goals is to get more people to sign up for an online course, you could send a drip email campaign before the course starts, introducing the course plan and maybe even offering early-bird and last-minute discounts.
At the end of this post, there are many more automation examples to help you figure out your content plan. On top of that, there are great email templates available, with most email marketing automation tools also able to ease the content planning process.
This brings us to the next step.
3. Choose an automated email marketing tool
Now that you’ve planned which automated emails you’re going to send to achieve your goals, you can choose an email marketing tool to help you fulfill the plan.
As there are many email marketing services out there, you should choose the one that’s easy to use for you, has the most important features, and matches the needs of your marketing strategy.
According to an analysis of different email marketing services, these are the essential features that you should be looking for:
- the facility to add email contacts in bulk
- detailed reporting
- high deliverability
- campaign management tools
- marketing automation tools (of course)
On top of that, A/B testing and email segmentation could be really useful features as well.
Keep in mind, though, that it’s easy to get overly excited about fancy features when choosing an email marketing automation tool. But if you’re just starting out with email marketing, you might not need the most advanced gadgets and features, like a landing page builder, a fancy CRM, or a Facebook ads integration.
Luckily, most services offer a free trial or plan, so you can try out several marketing automation tools and make sure you only commit to the one that fits you best.
4. Assemble a mailing list
Once you’ve set goals, created a content plan, and chosen the right email marketing tool, you can proceed with assembling a contact list. Now, if you already have a subscribers list, you can simply upload it to the email marketing software that you’re using.
But if you don’t have a list, you should set up a lead capture form right away so you can already get some new signups while you’re setting up email marketing automation.
In essence, you should come up with an offer so that your website visitors will give you their email address. This can either be a simple informative newsletter or a discount code. Or, if you have the content, you can offer an ebook or toolkit in exchange for the email address. You can even use several offers to ensure a visitor finds one that’s relevant to them.
These offers can be set up in various ways: in the form of a pop-up, banner, or sticky bar, or even a landing page. Whichever you choose, you should ensure the offer is helpful, not intrusive.
You can find out more about how to build an email list from scratch by reading to this helpful guide by Unbounce. But however you decide to assemble your email list, make sure you include an option for users to unsubscribe from your email messages.
5. Create the content
As your lead capturing form is all set up and getting you new leads, you can get to crafting the actual emails.
Using your chosen automated email campaign tool, you can select the relevant email template, or start designing an email from scratch. Most decent email marketing tools have intuitive drag-and-drop editors to ease the design process — or you can create a plain-text email.
In any case, you should customize the design and copy of each automated email that you’re planning to send so that each email fits your marketing goals and your branding.
Additionally, depending on your marketing plan, you might have to create a few new blog posts, landing pages, or some social media content during this step — unless you already have all the content you need for redirecting your subscribers.
6. Automate, analyze, and test
Once you’ve assembled your contact list, and finished working on the design and copy of the emails, it’s time to set up the automation itself.
For this, you’ll need to follow the instructions on how to set up automated emails provided by the specific email marketing platform you’ve chosen. Usually, this is relatively easy thanks to the intuitive workflows that most email marketing software has. And you can always contact support to get assistance or consult the knowledge base.
After you’ve set up the automation and sent the first emails, you can use the built-in campaign tools to keep track of the most important metrics like open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and others in real time. It’s a good idea to compare these rates to your industry averages. This can help you understand how well your emails are doing.
If your email isn’t performing as well as you’d like, you can test variations of the copy, subject line, sending time and day of the week, etc.
Popular Email Marketing Automation Software: Pros and Cons
As covered above in step 3 above (“Choose an automated email marketing tool”), there are a few key features to look for when choosing email marketing automation software, like detailed reporting and campaign management tools. Still, finding the right software for you can be a hassle.
So, let’s take a look at a few popular email marketing automation tools that have the crucial elements you need for sending automated email campaigns. We’ll discuss their ease of use, features, pricing, and their suitability for either small businesses, creators, agencies, or ecommerce.
Sendinblue offers easy-to-use and intuitive email marketing automation software with all the key features. Their cheapest plan starts at $25/month, but they also have a free plan that includes unlimited contacts, up to 300 emails per day, email templates, and a mobile-friendly designer.
The free plan doesn’t offer A/B testing, though, and the emails sent on this plan include a small “Sent by Sendinblue” logo on the bottom. Also, Sendinblue doesn’t have a money-back guarantee, but thanks to the free plan you can still try out their service before committing.
In general, Sendinblue is a great choice for small businesses or anyone else just getting started with email marketing automation.
Constant Contact is also quite easy to use and has great features. They don’t have a free plan, but you can get a feel of their service thanks to the 30-day free trial. Their cheapest plan ($20/month) features 500 contacts, unlimited email sends, various app integrations, templates, and a mobile-friendly editor.
Despite being relatively easy to use, Constant Contact does have a bit of a learning curve when it comes to its campaign management tools.
Altogether, Constant Contact is a great email marketing automation software for small businesses, as their plans also include website hosting and mobile-responsive website templates.
GetResponse is often considered one of the most intuitive and easy-to-use email automation tools. They offer a free 30-day trial and their cheapest plan starts at $15/month. This will give you 1000 contacts, unlimited email sends, autoresponders, a website builder, and some ecommerce features.
There’s no money-back guarantee, but thanks to the free trial you’ll be able to find out how well they fit your needs. GetResponse does have a separate mobile app, but unfortunately, it’s somewhat limited, with only minimal customization options.
Still, GetResponse is a great choice for ecommerce and small businesses to get started with autoresponders, as the risks are low thanks to the cheap plan and the trial. Once you get the hang of their service, you can always upgrade to a more feature-rich plan.
ConvertKit offers great email marketing automation software with a simplistic user experience. Their cheapest paid plan starts at $29/month (with a 30-day money-back guarantee) and it gets you 1000 subscribers, unlimited email sends, a landing page and form builder, and a mobile-friendly editor.
There’s also a free plan available with similar perks but unfortunately, it lacks the automated email features. On top of that, ConvertKit’s email designer tool provides very few customization options. That might actually be useful for beginners, as they won’t be put off by the unlimited possibilities.
In summary, ConvertKit is a great choice for creators and small businesses. It’s straightforward, easy to get started with, and you can design emails fast.
Mailchimp’s email marketing automation software is well-known for being really easy to use. You’ll pay $9.99/month for their cheapest plan, which offers you 500 contacts, 5000 monthly email sends, A/B testing, landing pages, basic automation features, and a great mobile app.
There’s a free plan available, too, but this doesn’t have any automation features — just a limited free preview. No free trial or money-back guarantee is offered, but at least you can get an idea of their service with the free subscription.
Altogether, Mailchimp is a great option for small businesses thanks to the feature-rich and affordable plans — or for agencies, as the Premium plan is really advanced.
Try several email marketing automation tools to find the right one
To sum up, all these email automation tools have decent usability and useful features. But in order to find the email service that best fits the needs of your email campaigns, you should try out several different ones. In the end, everything depends on which service you personally find the most convenient — and how large your subscriber list is.
Examples of Automated Marketing Emails
Here are some examples of the most common types of automated email marketing campaigns. Only creativity is the limit here, so this list could be expanded with more automation examples and ideas.
A welcome email is a great way to greet your new subscribers and give them a short introduction to your service, tell them about the next steps they should take, or ask them about their preferences. Thanks to automated welcome emails, you can get to know your customers better and start sending them more relevant emails.
You can also send a whole welcome series to onboard new subscribers. A welcome email drip campaign can introduce the whole range of your products or services, or share links to important blog pages so that the customer fully understands the value they can get from you.
Abandoned cart emails
Sending abandoned cart emails is a great way to get your bounced visitors back to the checkout flow to complete the purchase. These emails are relatively simple to set up, and you’ll be able to easily increase your revenue without too much extra work. As mentioned before, it’s like finding money.
New blog post emails
Curating a blog and writing articles can take a lot of time and effort. It would be a pity if all that work went to waste because no one hears about the new posts. But if you send an automatic update to your subscribers once your latest post is live, you can ensure they get the news and the best value from your content.
Promote new features or a new event
Launching a new feature is absolutely great news for your users and an amazing marketing opportunity. If you properly introduce the new feature you can urge more users to try it out and get the most value out of it.
If you’re organizing a new event, you can send an automated email or a whole email series to get your subscribers to sign up. If it’s a webinar that you’ll be recording, it’s also a great idea to send an automated email right after the event ends, with a link to the recording or an additional resource.
Notifications about expirations and renewals
Expiration emails can be turned into much more than a simple transactional email. An upcoming expiration or renewal is actually a great way to encourage repeat business. Inform your client in advance about their subscription ending and make an offer that will make them renew their plan — or even upsell a more advanced plan.
Reminders about deadlines and appointments
Reminder emails can be part of many different automated email series. If you’re putting together a drip campaign or an email series about one of your offers, you could likely benefit from including a reminder email. In a way, these emails are similar to expiration and renewal emails, but you can send reminders about pretty much anything.
If you have a limited-time offer, you can send your subscribers a reminder about the deadline, creating a little fear of missing out. Or send a reminder about an upcoming online course, workshop, or live talk that the user signed up for.
Create an email course
An email course can be somewhat similar to a series of onboarding emails, in the sense that you can send it to your new subscribers right after the welcome email. It’s a great way to demonstrate value and authority on a specific topic and offer a sneak peek into your service. Or, your email course could be the offer you use to get the leads in the first place. If a visitor leaves their email, they’ll get the course.
In short, email courses are a great way to gather and nurture leads. You can introduce your whole brand and product range to new subscribers and make them feel they’ve gained something valuable from you already before making a purchase.
Offer anniversary and birthday surprises
Send your users signup anniversary or birthday emails and include a special promo or discount with the offer. This is a great way to build a stronger and more personalized connection with your customers and make them feel appreciated. Depending on your service, it can be a good idea to schedule the email sometime before their birthday so they can use the offer on their actual birthday.
Sending birthday emails requires you to ask for more personal data, though, which might cause friction in signup forms. In turn, this can lead to fewer leads filling out your signup form with the birthdate field included. So, you might actually benefit from sending a signup anniversary email instead. At least this is worth A/B testing.
Other informational and re-engagement emails
You can also send other informational emails to subscribers if you see that they haven’t used the full range of your features or services, or simply to remind them that your business exists. Re-engage them with an offer or send them a whole series of emails to raise interest and get the customer to sign in again. This way, they can remind themselves about your service and its benefits.
Setting up email marketing automation saves time and ensures your marketing emails are always on time. It takes a bit of work to get set up, but it’s easier to start out than it might sound.
And you won’t have to fully implement it in one go. You can first start sending only a few types of automated emails, like welcome emails and abandoned cart emails.
Once you get the hang of those and start seeing the first positive results, you can add complexity to your email marketing automation plan. Simply set new goals, make a content plan, choose additional tools if necessary, create the content, and automate away! And of course, it’s wise to keep A/B testing different subject lines, copy variations, sending times, and other aspects.
So, it’s definitely worth taking the time for email automation as you can save resources, ensure your emails are always on time, build stronger customer relations, and increase sales.
Follow the simple steps in this getting-started guide and start your journey towards a winning automated email marketing workflow.
Kaarle Varkki is a professional copywriter, passionate about web development, UX, and digital marketing. When not creating content to help his clients achieve their goals, he can be found writing poetry or making kimchi in the kitchen.