Email marketing automation uses a predefined setup to send trigger-based or time-based emails to your contacts with an email or marketing automation software. It allows you to send personalized messages to the right people at the right moment without any manual work.
For example, you can send an automated welcome email to your new subscribers, encourage customers to recommend your brand when they leave a good review or send a nudge email to the users that have signed up for your product but never finished onboarding.
What is email marketing automation exactly?
Automation often brings people to think about production — cars, assembly lines, mechanical arms, etc. The truth is that automation has evolved to be much more than that and has enhanced the way we do everything, including email marketing.
Breaking down the definition of email marketing automation is simple. But, first, let’s think about what automation means. The Cambridge Dictionary defines automation as follows:
The use of machines and computers that can operate without needing human control.
In the simplest of terms, automation means getting something done automatically, with little to zero human influence.
Now let’s think about this in terms of email marketing automation. It means automatically collecting contacts, leads, and various other data. It means sending out emails without having to manually press “Send”. It means saving a ton of time on tasks that can lead to a lot of manual effort.
Not so long ago, sending an email for marketing purposes involved a lot of unnecessary work. You had to find the email address, craft a catchy subject line, further amuse the reader with body content, and bring it all home with an actionable CTA. Every single time, for every single email, sending countless emails per day.
Nowadays, it’s a lot easier than that. So the aim today is to answer any burning questions you might have regarding email marketing automation, what it is, and how businesses can utilize it to benefit themselves and their customers.
Seeing as email marketing is one of the most effective channels at reaching a target audience with valuable information, it makes sense that you’d want to automate and optimize the process.
Why you should be utilizing email marketing automation
1. It’s automatic
It’s all in the name: automation. Setting a process on autopilot comes with benefits in itself. The more automated something can be, the less time you can spend working on it or stressing about it. Email marketing automation allows you to automate repetitive tasks, so you can focus on the important drivers in your business, like closing deals or talking to your customers.
2. Lead nurturing is easier
Getting to your new prospect or lead at the perfect time is vital for conversion. For some companies, the conversion funnel can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Automating your email marketing campaigns can allow you to immediately send emails to leads as soon as they perform an action. Not hours or even days later, when the lead has potentially lost interest.
You can use this opportunity to give leads what they might need to continue their journey through the funnel. For some, that’s as simple as a little direction on what to do after they’ve signed up, like in this example from Monday.
Speaking of timing, according to Startup Bonsai, 58% of marketers think upselling is one of the most important uses of marketing automation. With a robust automated email marketing structure, you can send upselling emails post-purchase, potentially giving you a nice boost in ROI.
3. Automated emails are more relevant to the recipient
Think about how many times you’ve received an email and thought to yourself, “This has nothing to do with me.” One of the key features of email automation is sending curated emails to leads based on their actions and making them personalized based on their data. If the lead doesn’t take the specific action, an email response is never triggered, meaning they won’t have irrelevant emails clogging up their inbox.
Here’s an example from Spotify. It’s easy for Spotify to identify behaviours and patterns based on the user’s taste in music. Based on that information, they identified that this user listens to Lady Antebellum heavily (what a great music taste!) and sent an email with a concert ticket promotion.
Additionally, you can segment your lists to make them even more relevant to the target user. By dividing up your core audience into smaller lists, you can greatly improve accuracy when it comes to targeted emails.
4. Email strategies can be set in place in advance
One of the biggest benefits of email automation is the ability to pre-plan. Instead of sitting at your desk, thinking about how you should respond to an email, the response is determined in advance, allowing you to plan campaigns more effectively and fine-tune your marketing automation strategy.
5. You can reduce the potential of errors
Everyone has a typo now and then. We even miss deadlines. But when it comes to emails, timing is everything, and spelling people’s names incorrectly doesn’t exactly provide a great customer experience.
Take a look at the example above. Does anything stand out? Mark’s name is spelt wrong. Anytime you run a campaign that requires manual typing, you risk making mistakes like this.
For example, a joint study between Jeff Hancock, a professor at Stanford University, and security firm Tessian revealed that 88% of cyber breaches are caused by simple human error. While getting someone’s contact details might not be as disastrous as a data breach, it can increase the number of lost leads, as well as your customer acquisition costs.
With email automation, you don’t have to worry about that. You create your campaign, add your segments, and let the automation do the rest.
6. You can reduce costs
We’ve all heard this before, but the budget is there for a reason. Hiring a team of email marketers and sales assistants to send out emails all day long is expensive. Hiring one or even just a few to manage an email marketing automation platform is a lot easier and much more cost-effective.
7. Reinforce your brand with existing customers
Email marketing doesn’t always have to be about collecting new leads and converting them to clients. Sometimes, it’s about reinforcing your brand with people that are already familiar with what you do. Sending scheduled time-based emails to customers in your audience is an easy way to keep them thinking about you.
As you can see in the example above, this email is on-brand through and through. It’s directed towards people familiar with the services that TrustedHousesitters provides and gives them a quick way to engage with the brand.
8. You will understand your customer better
Sending emails is just half the battle. Getting the recipients to click and take action is what a lot of email marketers struggle with. Sending automated emails allows you to curate the content, be specific with email segments, and target specific recipients. Doing so will give you insight into what links they click on, what content they prefer, and much more.
This list can go on and on depending on your goals and needs. The point is that automation at its core is hard to avoid and even harder to find fault in. In any case, the pros outweigh the cons.
Growing your business with email automation
Many businesses around the world rely heavily on automation of all kinds to work efficiently. Without innovative tools and intuitive automation workflows, many of them wouldn’t be nearly as successful today.
A good example of how heavily a business can rely on email marketing automation is a travel agency. Using Encharge, they can specifically target customers based on their website behavior, sending out the perfect email at the perfect time based on actions the customer has taken on their website.
As we stated above, getting the timing right is vital but can be difficult without the insight that a tool like Encharge can provide.
That being said, growing your business with email automation goes beyond sending promotional messages. In fact, you could use email automation to grow your business in the following ways:
- Introduce new products and/or services.
- Educate customers.
- Send out important case studies.
- Organize contests.
- Ask customers for feedback.
- Grab the attention of inactive customers.
- + Much, much more
Automated email marketing campaigns that you can implement right now
The best-automated email marketing campaigns are the ones that you can implement immediately and see improvements almost instantly. The following list of email marketing campaigns is filled to the brim with points that you can implement today, and see results fairly quickly.
1. Welcome emails
Welcome emails are a quick, easy, and effortless way to get the attention of your new customer or lead.
The trick here is to be quick, direct, and helpful. Do you have something important that they need to know? This is the place for it.
Maybe a resource that they could use? Drop the link in the welcome message. Remember, this is the first time many of these email recipients will be hearing from you, so make it a nice, big, warm welcome.
Take a look at this example from Madewell. Right off the bat, you can see a nice big welcome message, some simple branding, and links to resources that bring immediate value to the reader.
2. Triggered behavior emails
If you’re unfamiliar, behavior-based emails (or triggered emails) are sent to people who take (or don’t take) a specific action. Depending on the prospect’s action, you can decide what emails to send, how many to send, and when to send them.
What actions do they need to take? Honestly, it’s up to you, but here are a few examples of actions taken in order to trigger a drip campaign:
- Ordering a product
- Signing up for a webinar
- Registering for an ebook or whitepaper
- Abandoning a shopping cart
- Engaging with Customer Support
- Not placing another order after a certain period of time
Many businesses will trigger an email and offer a discount or coupon for some sort of savings based on your time spent looking at a certain product, the items left in your shopping cart, and more. Take a look at this example:
Based on website behavior, this website found something that might interest the email recipient and provided a discount in order to drive conversion. To top it all off, you can see that the offer is limited. Again, this is a tactic used in behavioral email campaigns to encourage a boost in conversions.
3. Email sequences and drip campaigns
Drip campaigns and email sequences are all based on your goals and needs as a company. The purpose of a drip campaign is to slowly and periodically send curated emails to people that have the potential to convert and become a customer.
This must be done slowly as you don’t want to send a barrage of emails and annoy the visitor from ever converting, much less coming back. Take your time and feed them emails one at a time. The timing on this will need to be tested, as every audience is different.
Sometimes, in drip campaigns, it’s all about lead nurturing, sending an email from a CEO or co-founder, giving guidance to the user. Take a look at this example from Zapier:
With this drip email example, you can see that the idea is to provide some useful resources for someone that might have some questions about the platform, but the questions are not directed at any one topic. This is so that Zapier can brainstorm ideas about how to better their platform.
No-code cloud management platform Cirrusform sends a 4-email lead nurturing sequence to email subscribers that use their AWS cost calculator or attend one of their webinars:
4. Reminder emails
We touched on this briefly above, but shooting a reminder to a customer is a good way to boost sales.
Well, according to Statista, the average cart abandonment rate across various industries is an incredible 88.1%. Sending a gentle reminder could light a spark inside of a customer, sending them straight back to the cart to finish the purchase.
Here’s an example:
What makes this abandoned cart reminder email so great is that it looks like a checkout page. You can clearly see all the information you need about the purchase to help you make the final decision. Free shipping, price match, a money-back policy, and free tools come with the purchase.
A good way to picture the importance of an email like this is to picture your sales with said email and then without. Even if only 1% of that 88.1% ends up coming back to convert, then you’ve just increased your ROI. All thanks to a short little message.
5. Special events emails
Many times, when you sign up, create an account, or become associated with a brand, they ask for your birthday.
This isn’t so that they can send you a simple email.
A happy birthday email can be a powerful tool if used correctly. Birthdays only come around once per year for each customer, and it’s a massive opportunity to congratulate your customer and promote your brand.
A simple “Happy Birthday” message is pointless. Instead, attach that message to a 20% off coupon code, free shipping announcement, or another direct benefit to the person celebrating their birthday. You might just find yourself with some noticeable improvements. Take a look at this:
Website Plant found that sending birthday emails resulted in 481% higher transaction rates. That alone is enough to make any email marketer start signing digital birthday cards, but it doesn’t stop there. In fact, they also found that birthday emails increased:
- Revenue per email by 342%
- Unique click-through rates by 179%
- Open rates by 53%
But, this opportunity can come and go in a single day. If you’re not already asking for prospects’ birthdays, this is your reminder to start doing so.
A slightly more promotional version of the same birthday message that you’ve been sending friends, family, and colleagues for years can result in some serious profits.
The best part is that email automation tools like Encharge allow you to quickly set up birthday emails with a couple of clicks, as long as you have recorded the contact’s birth date.
In Encharge, you simply have to create a flow with the Birthday/Annual trigger, select the birthday date field, and connect that trigger step to a Send Email action step:
6. Survey emails
A good survey can give you insight into aspects of your business that you never thought about, but they also give you a chance to gather important feedback on things like key features, pricing plans, and the future direction of the company. You could even set up an automation campaign to send out employee surveys internally.
Take a look at this automated customer survey email example from BarkBox:
BarkBox has used this automated campaign to gather constant feedback on how they can improve month-to-month. However, it’s not necessary to send out surveys that often, it does serve as a good example of how powerful an automated email survey campaign can be.
The key to a good survey is to understand the goal before the first question is even drafted:
- Looking for what sort of features need to be added?
- Maybe you want to know how often someone uses your SaaS?
- How about whether or not people are happy with the user-friendly interface?
All of these are questions that can be answered with a survey. A survey that can be sent through an automated email campaign.
If you want to up your email automation game, you can send the survey response data back to your marketing automation tool, and segment your audience based on the answers. Mapping data from survey tools like Typeform is quick and easy in Encharge, thanks to our native integration.
7. Newsletter emails
Newsletters are powerful tools that allow a brand to promote information that the receivers might find valuable and provide relevant content. Typically speaking, newsletters are reserved for those already part of the company’s network, being a subscriber, customer, acquired lead, or prospect.
What exactly goes into a newsletter? News, of course! News about upcoming events like webinars, podcasts, live conferences, and new features and services.
Or, maybe you want to promote a very important piece of relevant content. It could even be some form of video content made to promote a new feature of your dashboard.
Whatever it is, a newsletter is a great tool for communicating with the ones that are closest to your brand, pushing exactly the information you want to be associated with and what you want them to see.
Of course, the only real automated part about sending out an email newsletter is the ability to send it out in bulk to a subscriber list. For most, if not all the content within the newsletter itself, someone will have to draft it themselves.
8. Promotional emails
Many people will give a company their email specifically because they want to receive promotional emails, showcasing how they can save some money.
It doesn’t have to be someone’s birthday to send them an email with coupons, discounts, and details on a big sale coming up. Like this Starbucks email, for example:
Many businesses use this tactic to boost the traffic to the websites and stores. In some cases, these automated email campaigns are triggered based on time simply because the business wants to keep their email subscribers interested and constantly thinking about them.
Next time you have a sale going on, try sending out an email announcement. After all, who doesn’t love a good discount?
Protip: Make sure your subject line is bulletproof. People are sometimes buried alive with various promotional emails. If the email recipient is tired of such emails, the next email you send them that promotes anything might just have a one-way ticket to the spam folder. To prevent this, when crafting your next promotional email, try applying one of these email subject line tips.
9. Re-engagement emails
Re-engagement emails are typically triggered by time-based inactivity. The longer the email subscriber goes without engaging with your brand, the more a re-engagement email is due. For example, take a look at this Duolingo email:
Automated email campaigns like this one can help your cause in two specific ways.
The first is the most obvious: It can help you retarget an existing customer and boost sales.
On the other side of things, an automated re-engagement email campaign can help you determine who to remove from your segmented lists. After a certain point, when you’ve sent some re-engagement emails and tried to rope them back in, you know that they will most likely never reply.
This might sound like a bad thing, but according to Techcrunch, the average subscriber churn rate is 13% on a monthly basis and up to 50% annually. This is staggering, but it needs to be dealt with. Removing inactive subscribers will allow you to focus your time, money, and effort on subscribers with a higher chance of converting, as well as shave off the next bill for your email marketing tool.
Best practices for email marketing automation
Although automation is a huge lifesaver for email marketers, there are some important aspects of the process that you should keep in mind. Although every business is different, there are some practices that everyone should follow.
1. Only send to verified emails
Sending emails to verified emails and only verified emails is a must. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting time and money. In addition to making sure your contact lists are cleaned frequently, it’s also very beneficial to verify the emails.
With Encharge, emails are verified in the background. This means that when a user imports a contact list, regardless of where it’s coming from, the verification process is automatic. While it’s always recommended to do a manual email verification, too, Encharge is the only email automation platform that offers free email verification that works in the background while you focus on other important things.
2. Focus heavily on data hygiene
Data hygiene is essential when dealing with sensitive data. In fact, it is unavoidable. Picture the marketing team as an engine that drives the company forward. It should be a well-oiled, squeaky-clean machine, but even the tiniest bit of dirt in the wrong place can bring the whole system down.
Proper data hygiene is what keeps your processes running smoothly, quickly, and ideally, without obstacles. To accomplish this, you or someone on your team should take some time and clean the opt-outs, unengaged, and hard-bounces from your email list periodically. Doing so will help maintain email reputation and provide you with a strong email list.
Keep in mind that Encharge removes hard-bounces automatically, again freeing you up to focus on other aspects of your email marketing strategy.
3. Segment your contacts
Segmented lists allow you to curate content based on the behaviors and qualities of the recipients. Not every email is appropriate for every contact you have. Dividing them up will help you target the right people with the right emails and hopefully improve your results.
Along with this point, you should also keep time zones, holidays, and other special occasions in mind when scheduling or sending automated emails. For example, emails received at 3:40 am are much less likely to be opened than ones sent in the mid-afternoon.
Of course, this all depends on your audience, but you can see how this could be an issue. Likewise, nobody wants to receive and read an email on the weekend.
Make a schedule, gather the results, and make improvements where needed.
Or even better — allow tools like Encharge to optimize your sending time. With the Wait step, you can instruct the automation to wait for a specific number of days/hours and only send on specific dates and times in the person’s timezone (instead of your timezone).
In the example below, the contact will receive the email only at 9 AM on weekdays:
Best email marketing automation tools in 2022
Like any aspect of marketing nowadays, there are some great tools out there to help you with your email automation. In 2022, the competition is fierce, but there are some great options out there for you, depending on your needs. Take a look at the following table for a quick breakdown.
|Tool||Starting Price||Subscribers||Features included|
|Encharge||$49 / month||2,000||• Powerful automation flow builder|
• Behavior-based segmentation and emails
• Two-way sync with Salesforce
• Seamless integration with HubSpot
• User profiles with user activity
• Dozens of native integrations
• SMS (with Twilio)
See a complete list of features
|MailChimp||$9.99 / month||500||• Forms and templates|
• Email Templates
• Multi-Step Journeys
• Custom Branding
• A/B Testing
|MailerLite||$10 / month||1,000||• Newsletters|
• Email automation
• Forms and landing pages
|HubSpot||$50 / month (paid yearly)||1,000||• CRM|
• Newsletter campaigns
• Forms and landing pages
|Drip||$19 / month||500||• Newsletters|
• eCommerce integrations
• Workflow builder
• A/b testing
|Moosend||$8 / month||1,000||• Landing Pages|
• Transactional Emails
• Custom SMTP
Data tables can be revealing, but they don’t always show the whole story. For that reason, we’re going to break each of the email marketing automation tools down a little further.
MailChimp has been at the top of the board for now, but is it still viable? If you are just starting out with email marketing, the answer is yes.
Mailchimp offers simple yet beautiful landing pages, forms, and emails. You can easily send newsletters to your whole audience or a contact list.
Mailchimp is the go-to option if you are just starting out or all you need to do is send basic one-off broadcasts.
However, the tool falls short when it comes to advanced marketing automation. The Mailchimp team rolled out multi-step journeys just last year (2020), and the feature is not up to scratch with other more robust marketing automation tools.
Another big drawback to MailChimp is that it can get very pricey if you need more advanced features like advanced user segmentation.
MailerLite is well known for being easy to use, providing its users with all the basics they need to run an automated email marketing campaign.
It provides better marketing automation features than Mailchimp, but again can’t be considered a fully-fledged marketing automation platform. Implementing more complex marketing automation scenarios can become quite tedious once you get into the nuts and bolts of the platform.
HubSpot prides itself on being a great all-in-one CRM and marketing automation tool that gives anyone and every one the power to take control of their campaigns.
Instead of focusing on email marketing specifically, HubSpot provides websites, social media, and more.
The Starter plan (starting at $50 / month) includes the free CRM, forms, one-off email campaigns, and more, but unfortunately, it does not include email marketing automation. In other words, you won’t be able to set up automated emails or automate processes in your CRM.
Marketing automation is available only on the Marketing Hub Professional plan, which starts at $890 per month for 2,000 contacts. So, yes, quite expensive.
Drip is well known in the community for being an excellent option for eCommerce businesses. Because of its sophisticated workflows and easy segmentations, connecting with subscribers in the eCommerce space is said to be a lot easier.
If you’re looking for an eCommerce business-specific email marketing tool, then Drip is a good option.
Moosend is a good, low-budget option, as it is one of the cheapest on the market. You have the option to pay based on your subscriber count or the number of emails sent, depending on which option is more affordable for you.
However, you kind of get what you paid for. Moosend lacks a lot of functionality and features, and again marketing automation is not as robust as other platforms.
Full disclaimer: this is our tool.
Encharge is a fully-featured email and marketing automation platform.
Encharge comes with an extremely powerful and easy-to-use flow build that allows you to automate your whole customer journey.
Quickly set up intuitive automation flows for email sequences across the board with the Flow Builder feature. Use segments to easily target users with high-conversion potential, stay on top of lead nurturing campaigns with perfectly timed emails, implement behavioral email sequences based on the user’s actions, and more.
The best part is that it goes beyond email, so you can also automate repetitive tasks across your marketing stack. For instance, send an SMS message when you get a new subscriber or assign your sales reps a task to follow up with a high-quality lead.
If you are looking for a powerful email automation tool that plays nicely with other apps like your CRM and payment provider, Encharge could be a great option for you.
Of course, there are a lot of email marketing automation platforms out there, and this is just a short list of some of the most popular ones for 2022. Also, keep in mind that most companies offer a variety of pricing plans.
If you need help choosing the right platform for your automated emails, feel free to book a quick call with us. We’d be happy to show you around Encharge or recommend another tool if we are not the best fit for you.
The future trends of email marketing automation
With everything that’s going on in the world of email marketing nowadays, it leaves us all to wonder: What happens next? What do the future trends of email marketing automation look like?
Well, for starters, more businesses are moving towards automation with their email campaigns.
As of right now, according to Instapage, 82% of companies in the B2B and B2C space use automated software. Because of this, B2B marketers have measured their campaigns with higher CTR, happier customers, and more conversions.
In the short term, we’re definitely looking at more ways to automate and further simplify the email marketing process. This could potentially lead to a future that is 100% automated when it comes to email marketing.
The reason tech like this would be so valuable and is the ultimate goal for email automation platforms is because it would allow you to send more relevant content, personalized messages, and direct emails, all without slowing the rate at which you send them out.
Anyone looking forward to a fully automated email marketing future has to keep in mind the implementation of data privacy restrictions set in place by GDPR and CCPA. Any future tech that is implemented will have to abide by any privacy restrictions.
Which, when we’re talking about gathering data, could be hard to do. After all, most lead data comes from third-party cookies, which are now banned. Only time will tell where it goes from here.
For now, we can expect more and more automated features.
Email marketing automation — takeaway
What is email marketing automation? Unlike manual email campaigns, automated email marketing has the potential to turn a job that would normally take weeks into a job that only takes a few hours or even minutes. It is the easiest and fastest way to get in touch with your subscribers, giving you the ability to run email campaigns in the background while focusing on other tasks.
Over 4,000 businesses use Encharge to automate their emails today. Encharge is a robust email marketing automation tool with an easy-to-use interface, intuitive features, and a great price tag. Sign up for a free, 14-day trial today and see exactly how automation has changed the email marketing game.