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Single Email or Series? Choosing the Most Effective Automation for Your Business

Take a closer look at data from 150,000 businesses that use Mailchimp to compare single and multiple‑email automations and learn which yields better results.

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Mailchimp’s marketing automation tools can be incredibly valuable for e-commerce businesses, leading to nearly 16 times more orders per recipient than regular bulk email. Marketing automation gives you the ability to create a single email—or an email series—that sends automatically based on predetermined triggers.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at our automation data—collected from 150,000 businesses that use Mailchimp—to compare single and multiple-email automations and learn which yields better results.

What the numbers tell us

We know that most people don’t read every email in their inbox, so if your goal is to sell more stuff, the data shows that opting for an automation series can help increase impressions and result in more sales.

As we saw last time, the abandoned cart series automation produces almost 37 times more orders per recipient than a regular bulk email, while the abandoned cart email automation results in around 30 times more orders per recipient.

On average, an abandoned cart series produces an order for every 43 recipients, as compared to a single abandoned cart email, which yields an order for every 54 recipients. That’s a 24% increase in orders per recipient.

Still not convinced? Let’s compare average revenue per automation for the abandoned cart series and the abandoned cart email.

But maybe orders per recipient isn’t your metric of choice. Let’s look at revenue.

Keeping in mind that sales figures can be skewed by stores with more expensive products, we find that a single abandoned cart email averages $544 in revenue, while the average abandoned cart series generates $958—that’s over 75% more revenue per automation. Oh, and did we mention this is money you make without doing anything more than simply setting up the automation?

A similar pattern holds true when we analyze first purchase automations. A first purchase email series results in twice as many orders per recipient compared to single-email first purchase automations. And once again, the average revenue reflects a comparably dramatic increase: single-email first purchase automations result in $149, while a first purchase series averages $480 per automation.

Exceptions to the rule

While it’s clear that creating a series of abandoned cart or first purchase emails resulted in more sales than their single-email counterparts, we did find a few interesting outliers.

Take welcome automations, for example. Although they outperform the average bulk email, comparing a single welcome email to welcome series tells a less definitive story than the e-commerce automations discussed above.

Average orders per recipient are almost identical for the 150,000 users’ welcome automations we studied, but the welcome email actually performed 3.8% better. When we compared the average revenue generated per automation, however, the welcome series saw a 51% advantage over the welcome email.

Welcome automations can serve a number of different purposes, from simply greeting new contacts to showing off your latest products. Because its applications vary so widely, we decided to take another look at the data, this time focusing only on welcome automations that included a product block or a product recommendation. Our results were similar: average orders per recipient were once again slightly higher in single welcome emails, while the welcome series yielded 41% more revenue on average.

It’s an interesting—albeit slightly unexpected—nuance, and it’s something we’ll continue to explore as more data rolls in. But don’t let these findings deter you from using a welcome series to help generate orders for your store.

Test, monitor, and refine

As with any insights drawn from a diverse user base, it’s important to remember that our findings aren’t necessarily indicative of the results you’ll see in your own account.

It’s also worth noting that each automation series in this study contains an average of 3 emails, a number that has proven successful for many e-commerce businesses. And while we certainly wouldn’t recommend adding a ton of emails to your automation series, you don’t necessarily have to limit yourself, either. No 2 businesses are exactly the same, so we encourage you to experiment.

Consider testing a single email against a full series for each automation, then monitor your reports to learn which automation resonates with your customers and works best for your business. And let us know what works for you!

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