As a business owner, finding ways to conserve precious resources—including time—is vital. You want to spend your time focusing on growing your business, not sending out emails or responding to customer service inquiries. There are some things you simply shouldn’t have to take on by yourself, and email marketing is one of them. Fortunately, you can save time and money with email automation.
The use of predefined rules to trigger email messages and personalize your messages based on specific actions customers take—or don’t take, using email or marketing automation software. Some examples include when you automate welcome emails sent when a customer signs up for a mailing list, similar product recommendations after a user has bought from your site, or a quick reminder that the customer placed something in their cart but never finished checking out.
Email automation takes repetitive tasks off your to-do list to free up your time for other valuable tasks, such as responding to customer questions. It can help customers learn more about your brand, encourage them to keep coming back or remind them of why they bought from you in the first place.
As a marketer or business owner, you’d like to stay connected to your customers. Email automation is a powerful marketing automation tool that lets you send the right message to the right people at the right time, using automated workflows, which is extremely effective for lead nurturing, and ultimately, to drive sales from potential customers as well as existing ones.
What is email automation?
Email automation is a way to create emails that reach the right people with the right message at the right moment—without doing the work every time, sending automated messages leveraging a marketing automation tool.
When you link your website analytics with your email marketing platform, you can target people based on behavior, preferences, and previous sales. Then you can personalize each customer’s experience and increase the relevance of your automated campaigns.
The benefits of email automation
Email automation lets you:
1. Personalize your customers’ experiences.
Research backs up what most marketers already know: Customers love personalization.
- 90% of consumers find personalized content very or somewhat appealing.
- The leading type of personalization experience that marketers use is email.
With email automation you can even create a series of automated emails to help grow your relationships with your customers—and your business. Improving email marketing efficiency as a marketing channel through the sales funnel.
2. Make the most of your marketing team.
Automation is changing the way that all kinds of teams do business. For email marketing teams, for example, this could mean less time spent on manually compiling email lists and scheduling messages. Instead, team members could use that time to focus on other important tasks, such as in-depth customer relationship building.
3. Improve your customer retention rate.
It's much easier and more cost effective to sell to an existing customer than to convert a new one, and with automation, you can stay in touch better than ever before. Schedule your messages so that your customers hear from you regularly—and be sure the copy is relevant to maximize its impact.
An email that reads “Hey, we haven't heard from you in a while. Pay us a visit!” is likely to end up in the trash. Compare that to this one:
"Dear Joe, we haven't heard from you in a while, and we wanted to make sure that you heard about our latest offer. The printer you’ve been buying parts for came out with a new model, and it's 20% off! Come check it out."
That's an example of a message that fills a need, which is more likely to bring back a customer.
4. It makes your marketing strategy scalable.
When you send out an email series manually, the size of your staff limits the number of customers that you can reach. Would you be able to stay on schedule if your customer base suddenly doubled in size? What if it tripled?
When you send automated emails you scale your email marketing efforts. When you've set it up so that your platform sends a message every time someone signs up for your mailing list via a custom signup form, you don't have to make sure a staff member is available to do it. Check out more email marketing campaign tips for more ideas.
Their behavior tells your system what messages to send them next without any additional demands on your limited resources.
Using email automation to grow your business
In email automation, a trigger is a specific date, event, or contact’s activity that tells your system to send out a related message. You can choose triggers and triggered messages based on your contact’s journey.
Here are a few examples to get you started:
Trigger: New subscriber
Even if your website is an e-commerce store, many of your first-time visitors won't be ready to make a purchase. If you capture their interest with a “subscribe now” button, what should you do with an email once you have it?
- 74% of people expect to receive a welcome email when they subscribe to a mailing list.
- Welcome messages get 4 times more reads and 5 times more clicks than standard marketing emails.
- They generate as much as 320% more income per email than other promotional messages.
Trigger: Cart abandonment
Email: "Forget something?"
It only takes 1 click to add an item to your cart, but following through takes more steps. About 70% of e-commerce shoppers abandon their carts for many reasons, including high shipping costs, having to register for an account, or concerns about the site’s security.
Abandoned cart emails can help you recover lost sales. Once you get to know your audience and write a clear, timely email, you can start recapturing the interest of your shoppers.
Trigger: New products or promotions
Email: "Something special for you!"
If you announce every new product release, upgrade, or promotion to every customer, your messages can start to lose their effectiveness.
Email automation helps you avoid this trap because it lets you announce products to particular customers based on their interests. In fact, if you include personalized recommendations in your email campaign, you can increase sales per email opening by an average of 150%.
Making email automation more effective
Here are a few tips to help your new automated email strategy run as smoothly as possible:
1. Track responses to collect more information.
Every time you send an automated email, you have the opportunity to get key information from each customer.
When targeting your automated emails, everything you learn about your shoppers can direct your next move. If your recipients aren't opening your discount emails or not clicking on your recommendations, try a different tactic.
2. Offer discounts strategically.
The high cost of shipping is one of the biggest reasons that people abandon their shopping carts.
You can't eliminate shipping fees or bottom out your prices, but you can send out discount coupons or promo codes to entice reluctant spenders. This can be an effective strategy, but be careful not to overuse it. If you offer too many discounts, your customers might expect to receive them more often.
3. Create automated drip campaigns.
These types of campaigns have to be relevant to work, and with email automation, drip campaign messages only go out to prospects who have demonstrated interest.
Email automation FAQs
What is single email automation?
Single email automation is a type of email automation that only involves the sending of a single email. While some marketing emails are created in series where each email leads into the next, some emails are designed to stand alone and provide value without existing in a series. Individual emails are known as single emails, while groups of related single emails are known as series. Deciding what type of marketing emails you want to create is an important first step in the process.
Single email automation is used for emails that don’t require a series. You might send a single email letting your customers know about a one-day-only deal, but an email series might be more appropriate if you’re spending a few weeks gearing your customers up for a big summer sale. Depending on the type of email you’re sending, an email series may be statistically more effective in terms of generating leads and converting them to sales.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of single email automation is the fact that you don’t have to create as many individual emails. It’s a lot easier to create a single marketing email than it is to create a 4-part series of emails. Depending on the content of your emails, you might not want to send out a series of marketing emails. For example, people don’t want to hear about a sale that they can no longer take advantage of or a product that’s out of stock. Sometimes it’s better to send a single marketing email to make sure you’re not sending irrelevant marketing emails to customers later on.
What are more examples of automated email use cases?
Welcome emails are one of the best examples of email automation. Let’s say you have a website where users can create an account. When they sign up for an account, that can trigger an automated welcome email to their inbox, which can provide basic information about getting started with your website and a call-to-action to get them to start shopping or to check out a particular area of your website.
Email automation is also used for surveys and requesting feedback. Customer feedback is a valuable tool for improving your business, and the best way to get feedback is to ask for it. When a customer makes a purchase or uses your services, you can use that as a trigger to send an automated email asking for feedback about that product or service. The more insight you get from your customers, the better you can tailor your business and its products or services to them.
Just about every transaction comes with some form of email automation. Think about the last purchase you made online—chances are you received an email thanking you for your purchase and displaying a summary of the purchase you made. You might even receive another automated email when your order has been shipped, which typically includes a tracking number and a delivery estimate date. These emails can be extremely helpful in guiding customers through the sales funnel and making them feel confident in their purchases.
Some companies use re-engagement emails as a way to reconnect with customers who haven’t engaged in a while. Let’s say somebody has an account with your company, but they haven’t made a purchase or logged into that account for several months. This can trigger automated email campaigns, which you can use to let customers know you miss them and update them about sales, new products, and coupons you might have to offer them. Re-engagement emails are a crucial part of maintaining long-term customers, which can save you a boatload in customer acquisition costs.
Every website has an onboarding process, but you don’t have to handle every step of that process manually. Email automation makes it easy to guide new customers through the onboarding process, whether you’re teaching them the basics of your website, using a call-to-action to inspire action, or introducing yourself and your team members.
There are countless other examples of email automation being used for marketing, but these are some of the most popular use cases.
How do I keep my automated emails from going to spam folders?
Avoiding the spam folder starts with making sure you’re not writing subject lines that sound spammy. The subject line is the first thing people are going to see when they look at your emails, and some readers may simply mark your email as spam if the subject line sounds like spam. You also have to consider the fact that spam filters may recognize your subject line as spam depending on the content. If your subject line includes all caps, promotional-sounding words, or things like “RE:” or “FWD:”, there’s a good chance it’s going to get marked as spam.
There are also certain email marketing regulations you need to follow, including the CAN-SPAM ACT of 2003. These regulations outline certain rules you need to follow with email marketing, which prevents businesses from spamming potential customers with marketing emails. When you’re creating single emails or series through email automation, make sure you’re complying with any email marketing regulations.
You can also ask your readers to whitelist your emails instead of marking them as spam. Some people mark emails as spam to get them out of their inbox, which can hurt your business. The more people you can get to whitelist your emails and not mark them as spam, the more trustworthy your company appears as an email sender.
The email marketing and automation tools you choose have an impact on where your emails end up, too. If you want to make sure your emails aren’t ending up in the spam folder, choose a reputable email marketing and automation tool like Mailchimp. The best email marketing tools make it easy to comply with CAN-SPAM and spam filters, so you can make sure your emails go where you want them to go.
Finally, consider cleaning up the HTML you use in your emails if they’re ending up in the spam folder. Broken HTML or different versions of HTML in an email can lead to that email being marked as spam. Certain email clients are especially picky when it comes to which HTML elements they support, so it’s crucial to make sure you’re not using any HTML that could cause problems. If your emails are ending up in the spam folder, check out your HTML code and make sure it’s all good.
Remember, fixing your emails to avoid spam folders can take a while. If your company has had several emails marked as spam by customers, odds are it’s going to take a while before your emails reach inboxes again. With email automation from Mailchimp, creating high-quality automated emails and avoiding spam folders is easy.
Start building customer relationships
Email automation helps you find your audience and engage your customers. Unlike manual campaigns, automations run in the background while you tend to other valuable tasks.
With automation, you can send personalized emails for each individual, from new visitors to repeat buyers. And if you combine email automation with customer analytics, you can refine your targeting every time you send a message—and grow your business without sacrificing that special personal touch. Be sure to check out Mailchimp's email marketing statistics by industry so you can keep track of how you're doing.
Check out how Mailchimp's free marketing automation tools stack up against the competition.