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What Is an Email Sequence? Best Practices and Examples

Email sequences are a powerful tool, if you know how to use them. Follow these best practices and get the most out of your email sequences.

Email marketing is a cost-effective way to reach your target audience, increase conversions, and improve your ROI. With the right email strategy, you can improve sales and generate site traffic while creating personalized content for your target audience.

If you’ve used email marketing before, you likely already know and take advantage of its benefits. However, sending an e-blast pales in comparison to the effectiveness of creating email sequences to lead prospects through the customer journey and encourage sales.

What is an email sequence, and how can it enhance your email marketing strategy?

Email sequences can be used for businesses of all types to retain customers and increase revenue. They allow you to send personalized messages to customers based on different targeting strategies.

What is an email sequence?

An email sequence is a series of marketing messages targeting your audience on a set schedule.

If you already use email sequence software, you know there are several types of automation that can be used to reach your audience. With email sequencing, you use marketing automation software to set up and publish these campaigns depending on the actions they’ve taken on your website.

Email sequences are also known as lifecycle emails and email marketing automation because they allow you to schedule specific content to be sent out.

Marketing sequence emails can be sent to customers or prospects, depending on the type of business you operate. They can welcome new customers and engage with them regularly to keep your brand at the top of their minds and make them more likely to purchase your products and services.

Is an email sequence the same as a drip campaign?’

Drip campaigns and email sequences are often interchangeable because they aim to target customers and increase engagement rates.

Yet, they’re not exactly the same thing. Drip email campaigns are static emails that are sent based on predetermined rules. For example, when someone signs up for your newsletter, they may receive a welcome email as part of a drip campaign.

The content of the welcome email is the same for everyone, and these emails are sent on a set schedule, with the trigger being someone entering their email address via a form on your website.

Meanwhile, email sequences consist of content that changes based on user actions on your website, such as viewing a particular page on your website.

Of course, one could argue that the action of a user signing up for newsletters on a website is an example of an automated email sequence because it happens directly after a user takes action on the site.

Therefore, these terms can be used interchangeably because they both refer to the use of automation to send targeted emails. In general, the main difference between the two is that a drip campaign is a single email sent as a result of someone taking action on the site, while an email sequence is a series of emails.

Another key difference is that drip campaigns are typically easier to set up because you don’t have to segment your audience. Instead, you’ll set up the trigger action and email. Meanwhile, email sequences benefit from segmentation because they allow you to personalize your emails to encourage more sales.

What are the advantages of an email sequence?

The main purpose of creating an automated series of emails is to nurture leads and promote sales. In addition, with the right automated email sequence, you can increase customer retention and engagement to grow your business by sending customers post-purchase, loyalty, and re-engagement sequences to bring customers back to your site.

In addition, email sequences are highly scalable, allowing you to set up an automation that does all the hard work for you. For example, instead of sending each email individually, your marketing automation software will take care of it; you only have to set it up once and monitor the campaign.

The proven benefit of email sequences for businesses is that they increase sales. More emails mean more opportunities to connect with your target audience; the more personalized the emails, the better.

You can also address specific customer goals with an email sequence by giving them discounts to bring them back to your site to finish the conversion process.

7 email sequence examples

Now that you understand what email sequencing is and how this strategy works, you can start considering how to use it in your overarching email marketing strategy. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Abandoned cart email sequence

The abandoned cart email sequence is popular for e-commerce businesses because they increase sales. Your customers may be excited to purchase items from your online store, but life can be distracting.

People add items to their carts and forget about them or stop the checkout process for any reason, ranging from researching better prices with the competition to saving the items for purchase at a later time.

Whatever the case, items added to the cart can easily be forgotten, and it’s up to you to remind customers they have great products waiting for them. An abandoned cart email sequence will involve a few separate emails.

The first one might simply remind the customer that they have items waiting. Then, after a certain period, if the customer doesn’t take action by finishing the checkout process, you may send them a second that offers them a discount for coming back.

Your abandoned cart email can show the products left in the cart, their prices, and any price drops you’re offering if they complete checkout within a certain timeframe. Additionally, if you add a countdown to your email, you can make customers feel like they need to act immediately, drastically increasing your sales.

Welcome email sequence

A welcome sequence allows you to communicate directly with new subscribers. This is your first impression email, allowing you to introduce your business and its products and services.

Your welcome emails should be a positive experience, but it shouldn’t be particularly long. Instead, you can inform your audience about the next steps or simply welcome them to the community.

If you run an e-commerce business, you may even send them a discount in exchange for their personal information.

Re-engagement email sequence

A re-engagement email sequence allows you to push your products and attract customers back to your website.

For example, if you haven’t heard from customers in a while or they haven’t made any recent purchases, you can send them an email to remind them about your great product and service offerings.

All industries, including B2B and e-commerce businesses, can benefit from re-engagement emails. For example, an e-commerce company would send a re-engagement email offering a discount to customers who haven’t made a purchase in a few months.

Meanwhile, a B2B business could send emails to prospects who haven’t opened or responded to their sales emails for a while.

Upsell & cross-sell email sequence

Upselling and cross-selling are crucial to any D2C or B2C business. When you know what customers like to purchase, you can market similar, more expensive products to them. With email sequencing, you can upsell and cross-sell to customers who have made a recent purchase.

Of course, these emails don’t have to be too salesy either; instead, you can send them product recommendations based on past purchases, with an image of the product, price, and key benefits and features.

Lead nurturing email sequence

A lead nurturing email sequence allows you to effectively target your audience based on where they are in the customer journey and lead them down a specific conversion path.

Lead nurturing marketing sequences allow you to convert leads into paying customers with the help of automation. The nurture sequence can begin with a welcome email that provides more information about the business and become more specific to the customer and their needs the more you learn about them.

Lead nurturing email sequences are beneficial for B2B businesses that must build relationships with their customers before they’ll commit to a purchase. Instead of having salespeople continuously call customers, email automation can be used to send prospects the right messages at the right time.

Onboarding email sequence

Customer onboarding email sequences take the welcome email sequence to the next level. With onboarding, you can let your customers understand more about your business and its products and services.

An onboarding email sequence should start with a welcome email after someone gives you their personal information. Then, you can discuss the next steps, which may include setting up accounts, what to expect from your business, and how you plan to communicate going forward.

In the following emails, you’ll discuss more next steps and send emails for actions users have taken, such as verifying their email, making a purchase, or filling out a contact form.

In the final emails, you can send testimonials to compel them to take action. For example, if you’re an e-commerce company, you can send them testimonials from real customers to entice them to purchase your products.

Feedback email sequence

Feedback email sequences allow you to collect customer reviews and feedback to improve all aspects of your business. For example, you can use your feedback to improve customer service, marketing strategies, and products.

In addition, the reviews you collect can be used on your website to encourage sales from new customers. Unfortunately, not every customer you have wants to take the time to share feedback with your business, especially if you don’t make the process as simple as possible.

A feedback email sequence can consist of two or more emails that ask for product, service, customer service, or general feedback about your business. You can make the process easier by allowing them to respond directly to the email or by clicking a star rating on your website.

If customers don’t respond to your initial email, you can wait a few days and send them another email, which may include incentives and offers in exchange for reviews.

Of course, you shouldn’t bribe them to give you a positive review, but you can give them discounts for sharing honest feedback with your business.

If your customers don’t respond after this, it’s usually best to let it go and not send them too many emails because it can quickly lead to unsubscriptions. However, if a customer does provide you with feedback, you can send them an appreciation email with the promised incentive or deal.

7 email sequence best practices to follow

Creating an email sequence makes it easier to attract customers who are already interested in your products and services. As a result, you can nurture leads and customers and increase sales with the right strategy. However, the process can be confusing if you’ve never set up email automation. So here are a few email sequence best practices to follow:

Set goals

Every email sequence has a goal you should keep in mind while writing and designing content. For example, an abandoned cart email should increase sales, while a re-engagement email sequence should bring customers back to your site. When setting goals, always ensure they’re SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Identify triggers

Personalized email sequences are a type of email automation, so you’ll need to identify and set up triggers that send the email to the right people at the right times.

An example of an email sequence trigger for a re-engagement campaign might be someone who hasn’t purchased a product for a set period of time.

Meanwhile, a trigger for an onboarding sequence would be as soon as someone submits their information through your website.

Outline each sequence

Once you’ve identified the types of sequences you want to use and their triggers, you can outline your email marketing sequence to help you understand how many emails should be in each sequence. Some sequences should be longer than others, but the length may depend on your sales process.

For example, B2B businesses with sales processes might have longer onboarding and re-engagement sequences than a B2C company using a cart abandonment sequence.

Keep content relevant

You don’t have to write variations of the same email to create an email sequence. You’re using automated email campaigns for a reason—to save time while providing a personal experience to customers.

Therefore, your automated email content should be evergreen and relevant to everyone. However, you can (and should) use personalization in the emails.

For example, suppose you’re creating a cart abandonment sequence. In that case, you’ll need to include the customer’s name and information about the product they abandoned in their carts, such as photos of the product, its price, and any features you want to highlight.

Write effective subject lines

Creating an email sequence can be an effective way to generate more sales and re-engage customers—if you can get them to open your emails.

Writing an email subject line is difficult because you must entice customers to open them instead of deleting them in bulk with emails from other companies.

Look at some of your most recent email campaigns to determine if subscribers are opening your emails. If they’re not, it’s time to reconsider your email subject lines.

You can set up A/B tests using email marketing and automation software to help you test which subject lines have higher open rates. Remember, your subject must stand out in crowded inboxes, so testing is an effective way to determine how to make your audience open their emails.

Include a call to action (CTA)

In marketing, you should always tell your customers what to do and expect. No matter which type of email sequence you send, you should always include a CTA to help your target audience understand what they can do next should they choose to take action.

If you create an email sequence for an abandoned cart, you should include a call to action, such as “continue shopping,” to let customers easily return to your site. If you don’t add a CTA to this email sequence, they’ll likely click away from the email and forget they saw it. H

However, adding a button makes them more likely to take action because you’ve streamlined the process and told them exactly what to do next.

Test everything

We already mentioned that you could test your email subject line to increase open rates, but you can test everything about your email sequence, including the number of emails in a sequence, CTAs, design elements, and email body copy. Testing everything will help you determine how to improve your email marketing sequence performance to improve sales and scale your business.

Email marketing is as relevant as ever

Email marketing has evolved over the years, and now you can use marketing automation to enhance your campaigns and reach your customers at the right time.

An email sequence can help you re-engage, attract, and convert customers to scale your business. Once you’ve set up your sequence, you can set it and forget it and only return to review the results and ensure it’s performing well.

Streamline your email marketing automation with Mailchimp. Our automated marketing tools make it easy to set up email sequences and test them to maximize conversions and build relationships to make your brand stand out from the crowd.

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