What Is Email Marketing Automation and Why Does It Matter?

Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways of reaching your customers. Sending emails is very cost-effective and offers an impressive ROI. Furthermore, email marketing automation means that after some initial setup, this form of marketing is mostly “hands-off,” giving you more time to spend on creative thinking and building relationships.

Email automation enables you to send email responses that are triggered by customer actions. This means you can send an email at the optimal time to encourage a conversion. Automating your email also means you can easily send personalized communications and adjust your message for different target markets.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Email automation offers several benefits to marketers, including saving time, easier-scaled marketing campaigns, and increased sales.
  • There are several different types of automated emails. You can choose the type that will best suit your audience and business.
  • Exploring the advanced functionality of email automation software can help you to optimize your ROI and create a better customer experience.

The Benefits of Email Automation

It’s pretty obvious why most brands use at least some form of email automation. After all, nobody is going to sit and tediously copy and paste a message to email out manually to thousands of subscribers.

But email marketing automation has many benefits that aren’t immediately obvious at first consideration.

Ensure a better user experience

Automating your emails means that you can personalize the content to suit whoever you’re sending it to. More personalization means more relevant content and better user experience in general.

Image source: https://optinmonster.com/ecommerce-personalization-examples/

On its most basic level, automated email personalization allows you to automatically insert the customer’s name and other details into the email. Reading an email addressed to “Dear John” feels much more personal than “Dear customer.” Even though most people know this personalization is automated, they’re much more likely to read and take action on the contents than they would with a generic email.

You can also use personalization to adjust the email’s content. For example, you could have specific content targeted to the user location or mention products they’re likely to be interested in based on shopping history.

All of this makes the email more relevant to each user, which can only be a good thing. Nobody wants to get an email of content that’s irrelevant or not useful to them.

Scale up your marketing strategy

Using email automation means you can quickly set up a set of rules and triggers to move each user through your marketing funnel based on their actions.

This is not only faster but also more efficient than attempting to carry out your marketing strategy manually.

For example, email automation takes the pain out of checking weekly to see which customers made a purchase in the last seven days and emailing them all manually. Instead, you are able to simply set up your processes so that a specific email is automatically sent to all customers who made a purchase.

Optimize delivery times

Sending your emails to their recipients at the time when they’re most likely to open and read them can make a huge difference to your open and conversion rate.

If you send an email to someone that hits their inbox at 3:00 a.m., and they have a lot of emails to get through the next day, there’s a good chance they won’t see it at all.

Image source: https://optinmonster.com/the-best-time-to-send-emails-heres-what-studies-show/

Increase revenue

Transactional emails are those sent automatically when a user performs a specific action such as downloading an ebook or completing checkout on an e-commerce site.

Sending this type of email can help to increase the amount spent per customer significantly. For example, an order confirmation email could be used to direct the user towards other products they might be interested in based on their recent purchase.

Maintain engagement with subscribers

Sending an email is an easy way to say to your customers and prospects, “Hey, we’re still here!”

Not everyone uses social media on a regular basis, and even if they do, there’s no guarantee that they’ll see your brand communications in their feed. Unless your blog is absolutely riveting, there’s a good chance they won’t remember to visit it regularly either.

Sending regular emails is a simple way to keep in touch with people that doesn’t require them to make any more effort than clicking in their inbox.

Email Automation Examples

You can get a better idea of how to use automated email marketing in your business by studying some common examples of how other brands use it.

1. Email welcome series

A welcome series is one of the most common forms of email automation and is an effective way to save time and build relationships with new followers.

This technique involves a series of pre-written emails that can be personalized and automatically sent out on a schedule whenever someone signs up to your mailing list.

A welcome series could be as short as a single email thanking the user for signing up, or it could include a year’s worth of weekly emails or even more.

2. Abandoned cart email

An abandoned cart email is another common example of email automation that most e-commerce sites use.

With this type of automation, the site automatically sends out an email to customers that have added items to their shopping cart but have not checked out.

The average cart abandonment rate is over 68%. This type of email can significantly reduce this rate by acting as a reminder and a prompt to buy for customers who were unsure about their purchase or simply got interrupted before they could complete their purchase.

3. Birthday emails

If you collect your customers’ date of birth, sending a personalized email message on their birthday is a great way to make them feel valued and build a stronger relationship.

Birthday emails can be an effective way to increase sales too. Sending an exclusive discount code as a “birthday treat” can encourage customers to make purchases they wouldn’t have normally considered.

4. Email reminders

You can use automatic email reminders to warn customers of upcoming account expiration, remind them of an appointment, or remind them it’s time for a routine service.

Automatic email reminders will not only save you a lot of administration time, but they can help to encourage repeat business too.

Image source: https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/guides/email-automation/

5. Regular newsletters

With automation in place, you can be more efficient in creating content for your emails as you can write them in bulk and queue them up to drip-feed over the following weeks or months.

6. Email course

An email course is a specific type of welcome series, although you won’t necessarily send it to new subscribers only.

Offering a course can be a highly effective way to attract new subscribers, and it can help drive conversions or demonstrate how to get the most out of your products and services.

Advanced Email Automation

With email marketing automation, you can make things as simple or advanced as you wish. You can get a lot of benefits from basic automation, but by taking things a little further, you can really start to optimize your conversions.

Segment your subscriber list

Some email marketers maintain a single subscriber list and send emails out to everyone on the list. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, particularly for sending out basic newsletters.

However, segmenting your subscribers based on certain criteria such as location, job position, industry, and where they signed up to your mailing list can help you to personalize your emails for better click-through and conversion rates.

Create specific landing pages for email visitors

Rather than sending people who read your emails directly to your home page or a particular blog post, you can create landing pages designed specifically for mailing list traffic.

Split test your emails

Making small changes to things like the title of your email or the position of CTAs can make a big difference in how many people open it, read it, and take action.

Most email marketing software has split A/B testing functionality, so you can send out two or more versions of one email and compare data such as open rate and conversion rate to see which version was most successful.

What to Automate: 51 Email Marketing Tips to Help You Decide

Marketing automation tools save marketers a lot of time – but there are so many more benefits beyond that. These tools also let us gather insights about how our subscribers are consuming and interacting with our messages.

Marketing automation tools also allow us to better serve our customers by sending meaningful, targeted content that really makes a difference in their lives.

Use the following 51 tips to get better results from your marketing emails – and make an impact with your subscribers and customers.

1. Segment, Segment, Segment

Use segments to organize your subscribers so you can send them more targeted, relevant content.

2. Consider a Master List, Too

Segments are powerful engagement tools – but consider also having a single, master list of subscribers to send broad updates to.

3. Automate What You Can

Automate as many email marketing activities as possible, from campaigns to follow-ups, to save you time for other marketing tasks.

4. Welcome Subscribers to Your List

Create a welcome series for new subscribers, and an onboarding series for new customers.

5. Keep Email Content Useful

Make sure your marketing emails give subscribers information they don’t already have, or solve a problem for them in some way. Don’t just talk about your company or products.

6. Mix Up Your Style

To keep readers interested, think about mixing up your campaign design styles, delivery days. Just make sure you’re tracking the results to uncover what your subscribers prefer.

7. Get the Message Right

Your marketing emails are not just “newsletters,” they’re messages. Tailor those messages to your prospects, and consider sending different messages to different segments.

8. Include a CTA

Don’t leave your readers hanging. Give them a next step. Include a CTA (call to action) in every email.

9. Solve a Problem

Your customers are looking for answers to their problems. Give them some of those answers in your marketing emails and you’ll grow the relationship exponentially.

10. Grow Your List With Social Media

Add signup forms to your social media profiles to turn followers into subscribers.

11. Engage Your Followers

Create a contest or sweepstakes for your social media followers to encourage social engagement and gather email addresses.

12. Include Share Buttons

Include social share buttons on your emails so you readers can continue the conversation with their friends and colleagues.

13. Keep Emails Short

Everyone gets flooded with emails every day – so keep yours concise and quickly consumable. If you want to share a large piece of content, add a link so your subscribers can read it online.

14. Go Easy on the HTML

To make your emails appear more personal, use plain text. If you need to use HTML, use it sparingly.

15. Treat Your Subscribers Like Celebrities

Your subscribers have given you permission to enter their inboxes. Treat them like VIPs and give them special benefits such as advanced access to new products or sales.

16. Announce Your Upcoming Events

Holding a sale? Got a big event coming up? Let your customers know, and they may help you spread the word.

17. Inject Your Personality

Corporate speak doesn’t belong in your marketing emails. Let your brand personality shine through and connect with your readers as people.

18. Keep the Inspiration Alive

Choose a tool like Evernote, Instapaper, or Pocket to collect, save, organize and access content you come across in your day-to-day life. This content can serve to inspire you when it comes time to write your marketing emails and design your campaigns.

19. Show Your Appreciation to Loyal Customers

Reward your best customers with special discounts, first looks at new products, and early access to sales and promotions.

20. Personalize Your Messages

Use the merge tags built into your mailing list provider to create a more personalized experience for your subscribers. Welcome them by name in the introduction, and when appropriate, even in the subject line.

21. Let Your Goals Determine Your Sending Frequency

Determine how frequently you’ll send emails to subscribers based on your specific business goals. Would once a week get you to your goal more efficiently, or would emailing every day work better?

22. Create a Schedule

Timelines can help your entire marketing team do a better job. Determine how often you’re going to send emails to your customers, then put those send dates on a calendar so your strategists, writers, designers, and developers can row in the same direction.

23. Keep the Layout Neat

An ideal email layout should stay around 600 pixels wide. Any wider, and the reading experience may be impacted on mobile devices.

24. Test Your Emails in Various Email Clients

All email tools are unique and can render email content differently. Test your marketing emails in different email clients to ensure all of your customers are getting the best reading experience possible.

25. Send Test Emails

For a quick and easy way to test your emails before you send them to customers, send them first to yourself and your colleagues. Then you can catch glitches like broken images and typos before they reach customers.

26. Use Inbox Preview, if Available

Many marketing automation tools offer inbox preview options to view your emails before you send them. If you have this option, it can be a nice alternative to sending test emails to yourself.

27. Time it right

Pay attention to your open rates at different times on different days of the week. Your readers might have a preference about when they receive emails from you – and sending emails within that window can guarantee better results, and a better relationship with your customers.

28. Avoid Spam Filters

Sending unsolicited emails to a list of people is against the law, and will likely get trapped in spam filters. But even emails sent to people who have given permission may end up in junk folders. Take the time to understand how spam filters work so you can create email campaigns that have a higher likelihood of reaching recipients.

29. Proof Your Message for Deliverability

As you’re proofing your email for grammar, spelling and readability, don’t forget to proof for spam-triggers, too. Avoid common trigger words like free, offer, and click here.

30. Measure Clicks

Track how many subscribers clicked the links in each email you send out. This will help you determine their areas of interest and help you create more successful campaigns in the future. Don’t just track clicks the day after you send the email, though. Look at them a week or two in the future, as well. This will tell you a lot about your subscribers’ reading habits.

31. Measure Bounces

Pay attention to your email bounce rate after each campaign. Soft bounces mean the email address was legitimate, but for some reason your email couldn’t be delivered to it. Hard bounces mean that the email address might not exist anymore. Clean your email list of the hard-bounce addresses right away, but keep an eye on those soft bounces over time, too.

32. Measure Unsubscribe rate

Also pay attention to your unsubscribe rates. Do certain types of campaigns spur more unsubscribes than others? Do you get more unsubscribes when you send more frequently or less frequently? Use this information to serve your subscribers better.

33. Measure Website traffic

Check your website analytics after each email goes out, and make a note of which emails cause traffic spikes.

34. Leverage Dashboards

Most email marketing automation tools have easy-to-use dashboards you can use to understand your email performance and subscriber interactions.

35. Split Test Your Campaigns

Split testing, also known as A/B testing, is when you send two different email versions to two different groups of subscribers. The results of split testing will help you determine what subject lines, offers, email designs, and content work best with your unique audience.

36. Showcase Your Most Popular Products

Highlight your best-sellers with gift-guide or special-collection email campaigns. These work particularly well around holidays.

37. Send a Holiday Greeting

Get into the spirit of the season and thank your loyal customers during the holidays by sending them a thoughtful email greeting.

38. Maintain Permissions

Remember, sending unsolicited emails to lists of people is not only annoying, it’s illegal. Keep on the right side of the law – and the good side of your customers – by reconfirming subscribers’ permission if you haven’t sent any emails to them in the last 6 months.

39. Re-engage Customers

A customer re-engagement campaign can reinvigorate subscribers who haven’t made a purchase from you in a while.

40. Use a Drip Sequence to Stay in Touch With Cold Leads

As a marketer, you have a lot of responsibilities on your plate. Use drip email nurturing to take the task of staying in touch with cold leads off your plate. Then you can focus your time on pursuing warmer leads.

41. Develop a Promotion Schedule

Map out all of your sales and promotions throughout the year so you can better plan your email campaigns to support them.

42. Use Data to Personalize Messages

Many marketing automation tools have social-profile lookup features built-in. Even if yours doesn’t, spending some time getting to know who your subscribers are by looking at their social media profiles and posts can help you create a more personalized email experience for them.

43. Make Use of Behavioral Triggers

Behavioral triggers are the actions or behaviors of your subscribers that reveal information about where they’re at in the buying process. For example, if a reader clicks on a link to a sales page from your email, you can know that they are interested in learning more about that product or service. Then you can create follow-up campaigns that give them the information they need to make a purchasing decision.

44. Send a Special Offer

Repeat customers deserve special treatment. Use segmentation and behavioral triggers to send a targeted promotion to those customers.

45. Recommend Products

Suggest products your customers will love by including recommendations based on their purchase history.

46. Nurture Leads

Using email automation to nurture leads who aren’t yet ready to buy can help build a strong relationship and build trust even before a purchase has been made.

47. Use Concise Language in Your Subject Line

With all the emails we receive every day, we scan our inboxes quickly. The more concise your email subject line is, the better chance it will get read and opened.

48. Start Subject Lines With Action Words

Like a CTA, a subject line should move subscribers to click. Action verbs can be very effective at getting readers to take action and open your email.

49. Up the urgency

Sometimes you need a little stress to get people to act. Subject lines that create a sense of urgency – when used sparingly – can increase your open rate.

50. Pose a Question

Ask a question in your subject line or body content to prompt readers to open and click through your email to get the answer.

51. Don’t Forget the Preview Text

If your marketing automation tool allows for it, customize the preview text that appears in your subscribers’ inboxes right below the subject line. This is like a sneak preview of the content of your email, and can help entice subscribers to open your message.

Let Your Email Work for You

When planned properly, email automation can be a real powerhouse that is constantly working for you in the background while you focus on with other priorities.

Of course, it’s still important to make sure that the content you’re linking to in your emails is high quality and relevant, or you’ll be wasting the opportunity.

If you are ready to get more traffic to your site with quality content published consistently, check out our Content Builder Service.

Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today — and generate more traffic and leads for your business!

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.