Marketing Automation
9 min

A Complete Guide to Email Marketing Automation in 2021

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Managing email marketing campaigns manually takes a lot of effort and is not sustainable in the long run. However, email automation can bridge the gaps in your communication strategy by sending personalized and hyper-relevant emails to your users based on pre-set triggers or user actions. Your customers also prefer to receive tailored content over batch and blast emails. Consequently, automated emails are opened and clicked more frequently, getting 119% higher click rates than broadcast emails.

But how does it all work out? Can you use email automation to drive sales, and do you need deep pockets to get started? Let’s take a closer look at what email automation is, how to choose an email automation software, and how you can use automated emails for growth.

Automated Email Marketing: Should You Really Bother?

Email marketing automation refers to automatically sending out emails to your customers and prospects according to pre-defined actions or triggers. 

amazon order confirmation

Besides informing users, automated emails provide you with robust messaging opportunities to engage your subscribers. For instance, if a customer hasn’t used your product since they signed up for it or purchased it. In that case, you can set a trigger for accounts that have been inactive for a certain period to send automated messages explaining the full benefits of your product and instructions to get started. This is also helpful for onboarding and converting users in the trial period into paying customers.

Here’s an example from Pitch that encourages subscribers who haven’t started using the tool to get started with easy-to-follow instructions immediately:

Pitch encouraging subscribers who haven’t started using the tool to get started with easy-to-follow instructions immediately

(Source – Reallygoodemails)

If you find clients have abandoned their cart before checking out, you can send automated reminder emails to nudge them into reconsidering their decision. Here’s an example from Everlane, encouraging users to review their abandoned carts:

(Source – Reallygoodemails)

And here’s another example from Headspace, offering help to prospects who didn’t complete their sign up:

Headspace offering help to prospects who didn’t complete their sign up

(Source – Reallygoodemails)

Getting Started With Email Marketing Automation

Email marketing works; that’s a fact. Despite being a part of the marketing world for decades, it remains one of the best lead generation channels available.

lead gen channels

Besides lead generation, email marketing automation has several other benefits for your brand. As we already mentioned, sending hundreds of emails manually is a tedious process. When your business grows, it becomes even more challenging to engage everyone who interacts with it. 

With automation, it becomes possible to:

  • Scale effortlessly
  • Save time by creating an email or a series of emails and letting it run automatically
  • Increase engagement by sending emails to the right recipients at the right time according to pre-set triggers or timings.

But how do you get started with email marketing automation?

Let’s start by understanding the two broad types of automated email campaigns you may set up: Event-based trigger emails and drip-feed email content.  

I. How To Set Up Trigger Email Campaigns With 5 Killer Examples

This is the most popular category of automated emails, also known as behavioral or transactional emails. Trigger emails are ‘triggered’ by subscribers’ behavior, which means they depend on the action that a user takes (or doesn’t).  

To create an effective event-based trigger email campaign, you need to plan and build the right trigger email strategy.

Here’s a three-pronged strategy for setting up successful trigger email campaigns:

1. Identify Relevant Triggers: Identify the triggers that are most relevant to your business goals. For instance, if your goal is to increase revenue, abandoned carts could be an important trigger. If your aim is to reactivate users, sending a simple email to connect or offering a discount on birthdays and anniversaries can help.  

2. Pen Down A Thoughtful Email Copy: Writing an impactful email copy for each trigger is crucial to your campaign’s success. Use fewer words, more pictures, and strike a balance between what your user wants to see and what you want to say.

3. Opt For A Modern, Mobile-Friendly Email Design: Even the best email copy is a waste when it is not designed properly. To ensure users read your emails, consider using a professional email template builder and make use of a responsive design that’s mobile-friendly for higher user engagement. 

To get you started, we have listed a few important customer actions that must trigger an automated workflow for emails with easy to follow visual examples from real brands:

a) Welcome Emails

You can use welcome emails to thank subscribers for joining your list and providing them with more information about your company. Here’s an example of a welcome email sent by Glossier to onboard new customers. As you can see, the email does a fab job of introducing the brand and its vibe to new customers. It also introduces subscribers to Glossier’s most loved products, user communities, and various support options to make onboarding as seamless as possible.

welcome email by Glossier

(Source: Reallygoodemails)

b) Transactional Emails

Your customers expect you to keep them updated regarding their purchase through transactional emails, like order confirmations, payment updates, shipping updates, etc. Below, you can see an example of an order confirmation by Roark. Notice how this email is drafted with complete payment information, the promise of future updates, and a bold call-to-action for order tracking on the site.

Order confirmation email by Roark

(Source: Reallygoodemails)

c) Reactivation Emails

If a subscriber hasn’t engaged with your emails or subscription for a set period of days, it should trigger a reactivation email workflow to remind subscribers of your brand and how it can help them. AirBnB’s reactivation email below is a shining example of the company’s innovative spirit. As people stopped traveling physically during the pandemic, AirBnB decided to engage its users with virtual field trips to different parts of the world to keep their ‘travel’ spirit alive.

(Source: Reallygoodemails)

d) Abandoned Cart Emails

Studies reveal that abandoned cart emails have high open rates and can be crucial in recovering a significant amount of revenue from abandoned carts. We love this abandoned cart email by Lego that invites the user to complete their purchase with a click. It also promises free shipping above a specific amount, potentially tempting the user into increasing their order value.

Lego's Abandoned Cart Email

(Source: Reallygoodemails)

e) Birthday / Anniversary Emails

Sending automated greetings and perhaps a discount coupon can make your customers feel special on important occasions. Besides bringing a smile to their faces, you can also boost customer loyalty by acknowledging customers on their special days. Fitbit takes a novel approach to wishing its users a happy birthday by encouraging them to be more active for a healthier life.

Fitbit wishing its users a happy birthday by encouraging them to be more active for a healthier life

(Source: Reallygoodemails)

II. Planning A Drip Email Campaign To Meet Your Business Goals

Drip email campaigns use multiple emails sent out to subscribers on different days and times to move them to a final conversion point.

For instance, if a new user signs up to your email list, it will trigger a welcome campaign. Through this drip cycle, you can send the user a string of pre-written emails at specific times to familiarize them with your brand and gently push them down the sales funnel.

Drip Email Campaign Example for ABC Co. Source

Similarly, there can be a series of drip emails for retargeting customers that unsubscribe from your service.

Here’s an example of Netflix’s Win Back Campaign aimed at winning back customers using a pre-determined series of emails. It’s divided into three stages to re-engage users for over a month and prevent them from canceling their subscriptions.

Step 1

Netflix understands the value of retaining existing customers and follows a well-curated strategy to prevent subscribers from leaving. If you hit unsubscribe to cancel your Netflix subscription, you trigger a series of emails that start with a subscription cancellation email with a bright call-to-action inviting you to restart your membership.

Step 2

Over the next three months, you receive a series of emails listing all the new movies and TV series you are missing out on so that you may consider reactivating your subscription.

Step 3

After a series of emails with personalized content suggestions have been delivered to your inbox, there will be a highly targeted email highlighting all the benefits of a Netflix membership you are missing upon and a bold call to action button that beckons you to re-join Netflix. 

From this detailed example, it is clear that your campaign’s success depends on how well you plan it from start to end.

Some of the factors you must consider while planning a drip campaign include:

  • The goal of your campaign. Do you want to prevent churn, boost sales, build loyalty, etc.? This will also help you in identifying your audience.
  • How many emails will you send and the order of those emails? 
  • What are the analytics you will use to measure your success? Some common metrics include email opening rates, click-through rates, number of unsubscribes, spam reports, etc.

Five Proven Tips To Get The Most Out of Your Automated Email Marketing

It’s not enough to know what type of emails you can send with automated email campaigns. You must keep in mind certain basics before setting up your workflows and sending automated email messages to customers.

For instance, while automating your email campaign, it is vital to have a clearly defined goal in mind. The aim is to avoid information overload by putting a lot of stuff into a single email. Remember, your purpose is to attract customers, not confuse them. Read this helpful guide on setting goals and driving sales through email automation to streamline your email marketing campaigns. You will also find these proven tips helpful for increasing the efficiency of your automated email campaigns:

a) Segment Your Users

When you are starting with email automation, don’t be in a hurry. Instead, take out the time to segment your users according to their purchase behavior, demographics, or industry to avoid the folly of sending the same automated email to everyone. 

Suppose you run a pet products company, and a hundred of your customers are interested in pet food, about fifty are interested in cat food, and twenty are interested in bird feeders. Clearly, you cannot blast the same email to all of them. However, you can use analytics to segment your users according to their browsing history or past purchases before creating a relevant set of messages for each group.

b) Pay Enough Attention to Personalization

While some automated emails might seem a little robotic in tone, in general, automated emails can be personalized to a large extent by including simple things like the recipients’ name, location, or the product they have purchased or shown interest in. 

c) A/B Testing For Emails

As a marketer, you must be split testing your landing pages and calls to action. But did you know that some marketing automation software also lets you A/B test your emails? By introducing variations in text, title, images, and other elements, you can test multiple versions of an email to determine which one will garner the maximum number of clicks from your audience before setting it up in a campaign. 

Also, read these best practices for more ways to boost your email marketing ROI.

d) Consider Spam Filtering

The main goal of most automated emails is to drive readers back to your website or app. Consequently, they are considered a form of marketing communication and can be marked as spam. To prevent your emails from being marked as junk:

  • Use clean content without any deceptive headlines.
  • Only send emails to interested subscribers than buying databases.
  • Consider these additional tips for avoiding spam filters.  

e) Measure Your Results

You cannot improve what you cannot measure. Therefore, it is vital to have key performance indicators (KPIs) in place to measure the results from your automated email campaigns. Some fundamental performance indicators you may consider are email delivery rate, view rate, open rate, and click-through rate.

On Choosing The Right Platform For Email Marketing Automation

Now that you know the basics of automated email marketing, you’ll also need email automation software to get started. The right software for your business will typically depend on your goals. Still, it would help if you had something that integrates with your CRM to provide you with a hassle-free solution for managing your content and user data.

The other factor worth considering is response handling. Depending on your business’s size, you should be able to scale up your campaigns without any hassle. Furthermore, you should have options to send automatic welcome emails and timed responses like birthday and anniversary messages, set behavioral triggers, and time-based retargeting campaigns. 

At MoEngage, our email marketing software is also equipped to automate messages sent via other channels, like text and social media messaging, to make digital marketing extremely simple for you. Schedule a free demo to find out about our email automation features and how our customer engagement platform can fuel your growth.  

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