An Introduction to Email Automation

An Introduction to Email Automation

Shane Herring
Shane Herring

Course Developer at Atomic Education

Last Updated: June 11, 2021

If you didn’t realise it, you’re probably receiving emails sent using automation. Emails such as bank statements, Facebook updates, renewal reminders. If you didn’t, that’s awesome because that should be the goal.

Getting it right means having automated emails that don’t seem like they’re automated. In this article, I give you an introduction to email automation.

What is email automation?

Automated emails are emails that are sent because something the recipient did, or didn’t do. This is why they are also known as triggered emails or behaviour-based emails.

Automated email allows you to send real-time, one-to-one messages that strengthen customer engagement, retention, and loyalty.

Emails fall into one of two broad categories. Transactional or marketing.

Transactional emails are emails that don’t contain any marketing content. Examples include:

• Order confirmation emails.
• Shipping notification emails.
• Delivery confirmation emails.
• Password reset emails.
• Receipt emails.

You typically can’t opt-out of receiving these types of emails.

Marketing emails contain promotional content.

Examples of marketing emails include:

• Promoting products or services
• Welcome emails
• Email Newsletters
• Lead Nurturing Emails
• Re-Engagement Emails. …
• Brand Story Emails.

Despite their appearance, these types of emails are sent to multiple recipients. They’re designed to be highly personalised.

Regardless of the category of email, automation allows the generation and delivery of emails without the need for human intervention each time.

Using automation, the right email can be sent to the right person at the right time.

Why use email automation?

An introduction to email automation would not be complete without an explanation of why a business should be using it.

Email continues to be the preferred communication channel for many people and many businesses.

If you’re a Facebook user, you’ll have received emails from Facebook. Why? Because they work. If a subscriber hasn’t been to Facebook for some time, emails are designed to get them back onto the platform. From there, algorithms take over and start to show content.

Yet despite the value of automated emails, many business, small and large, aren’t using it. If they are, some businesses aren’t using it effectively.

The good news for small businesses is that it’s easy to get started and easy to get great results from even moderately thought through campaigns.

If you’re new to email automation, here are some examples of how it can be used.

– Welcome series: These welcome new subscribers to your list. The sequence takes them through an introduction to your business, a personal story of why the business was created, testimonials from happy customers, and finishing with an offer.

– Nurture series: Delivered after a welcome series, this sequence of emails guides the prospect through a buyer’s journey. They lead them from being mildly interested in your business to making a purchase.

– Onboarding series: Not for all businesses but some can use this to explain to customers or clients “what’s next”. For example, a mortgage broker can remind a client of the documents that are required and timeframes for approvals.

– Happy birthday or anniversary emails to help increase customer loyalty. The anniversary emails celebrate milestones since the reader made their first purchase.

Email automation example: Welcome series

If you’re building an email list, a welcome series is most likely the first one you should be creating. It’s how you welcome new subscribers into your business.

Welcome series should be created with no less than 3 emails and no more than 6.

The first emails is short. Usually delivering a simple “Thank you for subscribing” message and, if necessary, delivering a lead magnet.

The second could be a personal message from the CEO, Founder or other person in the ultimate leader position. This could be a story-based email telling the reader why the business was created and what problem it wants to solve.

The third could be a testimonial to build trust.

If you wanted one more, you could send a special, one-time, subscriber only offer.

Check your metrics on these emails. If they subscribed to receive an opt-in, it’s possible they just wanted the freebie and nothing more. They may unsubscribe since they’re no longer interested in our products or services. And that’s ok.

Once you’ve tuned your welcome series, expanding your email automation stable with a nurture sequence, reengagement sequence, or abandoned cart sequence.

Email automation tips

Remember, transactional emails are different to marketing emails. As you plan and create your email marketing sequences, there are a few best practices you need to be keeping in mind.

Timing – This is everything. You need to be considering the ‘best’ time of day to send your email but also the best day of the week. The time between each email needs to be carefully thought through. Too many in a short time and you’re likely to see high unsubscribe rates. Too much time and the same result.

Volume – More isn’t always better. Too many emails and they’ll unsubscribe. Too few and they’ll forget who you are and…guest what? Unsubscribe.

Testing – Always test your automated sequences. Check subject lines, preheader text, personalisation tags (first name for example), any links. Test, test and test.

Allow opt-outs – To comply with most spam laws, you must provide and easy way to readers to unsubscribe. Some email service providers will add a link if you don’t add one yourself.

Spam laws – Since the purpose of marketing emails is to lead readers to make a purchase, you need to make sure all automated marketing emails follow your relevant spam law.

Wrap up

Email marketing automation makes your job easier. By automating emails that are sent to your prospects, you can spend more time on your current customers and on people who are ready to buy. None of this has to be automataed but life will not be easy unless you do.

Using automated emails sequences helps to increase engagement and provide a more tailored email experience for your readers.

I hope this introduction to email automation has given you an insigth into the technoclogy. Using it will save time, increase revenue, and give your readers a better experience. Done well, they may never know that most of your emails were sent using automation.

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