Email Automation: Definitive Guide for 2023

Summra Ahmad
Summra Ahmad

Last updated on

December 1, 2022

If you are like most marketers, falling in love with email marketing is inevitable. It's a foolproof way to enhance your relationship with the customer and encourage them to buy from you. While sending newsletters and one-off campaigns will have a prominent use in email marketing strategy, the most innovative companies place their bets on automated email marketing campaigns.

If you are reading this email automation guide right now, you probably need to learn about email automation, its use, and its workflows. Many teams find it frustrating to lose time when switching between apps to be counterproductive. 

Does that sound familiar? Then it’s about time you need to save time on repetitive emails, automate your outreach, gain higher visibility with each recipient, streamline the workflow, and automate email pipelines. Email automation is here to help. 

What is email automation?

Email automation is a marketing tool that sends automated emails to recipients based on their engagement with your website, products, or emails or at specified times. Email automation works on triggers. These triggers can be both time-based and event-based.

1. Time-based triggers

A time-based trigger works something like this: Suppose some loyal subscribers in your email list have their birthdays coming up. So, to reward their persistent faith in your brand, you want to give them a discount of 30% on all of your products. So, what will you do? Go and create individual emails for all of them? That’s a lot of work.

A better way will be to automate the discount email. With an email automation tool, you only have to create one iteration of the discount email and set a trigger for the days your subscribers have their birthdays.

Want to see a time-based triggered email automation workflow in action? Then here you go:

Time-based triggers example

2. Event-based triggers

Now, we discuss what an event-based trigger is. Let’s say you are offering a Christmas discount on your products. A few customers put products into their carts but, for one reason or another, forget to check out and abandon their carts.

Now, if you want to remind the customers about their abandoned carts by emailing them individually, it will consume a significant amount of your time. What you can do is use automated emails.

You can create an automated workflow and set the event to cart abandonment. Thus, an email is sent reminding them of their abandoned carts whenever someone abandons them.

Here is an example of a typical event-based triggered email automation workflow:

Event-based triggers example

What is an email automation workflow?

An email automation workflow is simply a series of automated emails based on triggers such as customer behavior or segmentation.

Let’s say that a customer has signed up for your newsletter. Signing up as a customer for your newsletter is an event that triggers your email automation workflow. As a result, the customer receives an email welcoming them to the community. After a delay of three days, an email goes out to the customer, reminding them to subscribe to your social media platforms.

The above example is illustrated in this email automation workflow from Mailmunch, a top email automation platform.

Email automation example

Why should you use email automation? 3 Benefits

Email automation is among the best tools for scaling your business and marketing campaigns. Also, with automated email campaigns, you can save a lot of time and effort and send the right automated personalized message, to the right audience, at the right time.

But the most important benefits of email automation are as follows:

Infographic: 3 Benefits of Email Automation

1. Increases customer retention rate

Automated emails can be sent to engage with customers at any time or event. Thus, they help increase the engagement rate, which in turn increases the customer retention rate.

For example, suppose you send after-sales emails to the customer, providing them with valuable information about their purchase. In that case, customers will stick around because they are getting value for their purchase. With email automation, customer retention increases to 11%.

2. Increases efficiency

According to research, triggered emails resulted in an eight times more open rate than regular bulk emails.  According to GetResponse, triggered emails' unsubscribe and spam rates are 0.58% and 0.06%, respectively (source).

Hence, with email automation, marketers can increase the efficiency of their marketing efforts. 

3. Scalable communication

With an email automation strategy, marketers can scale their communication efforts and reach the right audience across multiple behaviors and segmentation patterns. 

Also, with email automation, you can nurture leads, sometimes without the help of sales teams, and convert them into paying customers.

How to build an email automation workflow?

Now that you know what email automation is and how to use it to benefit your marketing efforts, it’s time to learn how to build an email automation workflow. Here’s how it goes:

1. Choose an email automation tool

When it comes to choosing an email automation tool, you need to look at the ease of use of the tool. A highly complicated email automation tool can take a lot of time to learn and master. Therefore, ensure that the automation tool you choose provides drag-and-drop functionality, like Mailmunch!

Mailmunch’s email automation builder is designed to be user-friendly. You don’t need to know coding to make the most of it. Here’s how you can use Mailmunch’s automation builder to build your first email automation workflow:

2. Create a campaign

The first step in building an email automation workflow with Mailmunch is to create a campaign. Just sign in to your account, and you will be taken to a dashboard where all your campaigns will be listed.

Email automatin campaign creation in Mailmunch

You will see a button in the top right-hand corner, “Create New Campaign.” Click on it, and a new “Pick a campaign” window will appear. From here, choose automation as the campaign type.

Email automation: Picking a campaign

3. Create from scratch or use a pre-built recipe

After creating a campaign, you can start building your automated workflows. Either you can build your desired workflow from scratch or use a pre-built automation recipe that you can customize to your heart’s content.

Choosing an email workflow

So, if you want to build a welcome series, for example, then choose the pre-built welcome series recipe. You can then name the campaign and choose triggers for it.

Welcome series workflow

4. Customize the workflow

After you have done that, you will be taken to the automation builder. Here you can design the emails using email templates, assign a list to those emails, assign a tag, configure the timing of the email, and add conditions to your workflow.

Customize the workflow

7 Use Cases of email marketing automation workflows

Infographic: 7 Use cases of Email automation workflws

With email automation, it becomes super easy to automate all emails of your email marketing campaigns. Here are a few automated email workflows you can create:

1. Welcome flows

Welcome emails can help establish a relationship between you and your customers. They can also set expectations and provide insight into what the customers can expect next. But welcoming every new customer by sending them welcome emails can be pretty hectic.

A typical welcome email looks something like this.

Welcome email example
Image Source

But with an automated email workflow, you can ensure that all your customers are welcomed on time. You can set conditions for welcoming different customers with an email marketing automation workflow.

Here’s an automated welcome email flow from Mailmunch

Automated welcome email workflow

2. Re-engagement flow

Businesses need to reach out to dormant leads and customers to make them engage more with their products and services. Email automation solves this issue with re-engagement flows.

To create an automated re-engagement flow, start by segmenting your email list into segments of customers who haven’t engaged with your business in a while. Use time-based triggers to send them automated emails that entice them to resume their engagement.

Automated re-engagement workflow

You can offer rewards for a purchase or a discount offer as an enticement. Here’s an example:

Re-egagement email example
Image Source

3. Feedback flow

Feedback is the backbone of every business. Without it, businesses are effectively blind. Hence, eCommerce and SaaS businesses should invest in automated feedback flows to ascertain customer satisfaction and sentiments.

Automated feedback flow

Here’s what a feedback email looks like.

feedback email example
Image Source

Sending automated feedback emails can help you gain critical insight into why customers leave your business.

Another benefit of feedback flows is that it helps in gathering information that can be used to personalize future communications with customers.

4. Cart abandonment flow

Cart abandonment is one of the biggest concerns for eCommerce businesses. With an average cart abandonment rate of 69.99%, business owners need to think outside the box to curb revenue loss. A typical cart abandonment email looks like this in eCommerce email marketing.

Cart abandonment email example

An automated cart abandonment flow can be the answer to your problems. With an automated email flow and highly segmented email lists, you can quickly reach out to customers that abandon their carts and entice them to complete the purchase.

Automated cart abandonment flow

5. Limited-time sales flow

Automated emails can be used to create limited-time sales flows. The benefit of having email automation in place for limited-time sales is that it can help reach a wide range of customers based on segmentation. Here’s what a limited-time sales email looks like

Limited-time sales email example
Image Source

For example, you want to launch limited-time sales on headphones and smartwatches. So, you can start by segmenting users based on their interests. If they are interested in headphones, you can send an automated email with headphone deals. Similarly, if they are interested in smartwatches, they should receive emails with deals related to smartwatches.

6. Milestone flow

It’s important to celebrate the achievements of your customers. And, even in this, email automation has a role to play. You can set a milestone flow to congratulate your customers who have achieved something by setting up time-based triggers such as anniversary dates or birthday dates. Want to see what a milestone email looks like? Here you go:

Milestone email example
Image Source

Milestone emails are a great way to recognize significant customers in your business. Also, it’s vital in terms of creating loyalists for your brand. You can include discount offers or gift coupons in your milestone emails as a reward.

Automated milestone flow

Email automation can ensure that recognizing and rewarding important customers and reaching out to them becomes easy.

7. Replenishment flow

For eCommerce businesses, it’s essential to have an automated replenishment email flow. As customers need to replenish their stocks after a certain amount of time, thus, a timely replenishment email like the following can remind them to place the order.

Replenishment flow email example
Image Source

If you want to know what a typical replenishment flow would look like, then here you go:

Automated replenishmnt flow

5 Tips and best practices for email automation

As effective as email automation is, there are still some best practices that email marketers need to adhere to reap the maximum benefits. Here are a few of them:

1. Pay attention to timing

If you are segmenting your email list based on demography, then you need to pay attention to the timing of your emails.

Use time-based triggers and set them to match the times when there is a high chance of them being opened.

Let’s say you want to send your email on a Thursday. People primarily open emails during working hours and then send the email at 8 or 9 AM so that the recipient opens the email when they check their emails during the early working hours.

2. A/B test your email automations frequently

Not all email automation workflows will be up to the mark. You constantly need to make adjustments to your workflows to get them right. 

A better way to find which iteration of your workflow works best is to conduct email A/B testing. By testing two versions of your automated workflows, you can identify which elements work best and which don’t.

Hence, you can replace those elements with those that work and reap the benefits of email automation.

3. Delete inactive subscribers from your list

With an automated re-engagement workflow, you can try to bring back lost or dormant subscribers.

But, after all your efforts, if subscribers don’t re-engage with your business, it’s better to delete them from your email list.

Also, dormant subscribers can negatively impact your email deliverability; they are more prone to mark your emails as spam, thus, hurting your domain reputation.

4. Adhere to CAN-SPAM 

As an email marketer, you are bound to adhere to laws such as CAN-SPAM. CAN-SPAM is a law that sets rules for commercial email marketing. These rules are:

  • Don’t use wrong or misleading header information
  • No deceptive subject lines
  • Telling recipients where you are located
  • Identify the message as an advertisement

5. Allow opt-outs 

As per CAN-SPAM rules, email marketers need to allow opt-outs. So, ensure that the automated email you send has an unsubscribe link. You can place the unsubscribe link in the email footer, as shown in the example below.

Unsubscribe options in emails
Image Source

3 Best email automation tools to try in 2023 

1. Mailmunch 

Among the top-tier email marketing tools is Mailmunch, offering marketing automation and more. Users interested in lead capture and nurturing can count on using the free plan and sending email campaigns with a simple click. Email automation is one of the prominent solutions offered alongside cart abandonment tools, white-label marketing, forms, popups, etc. 

Free templates for emails are also available that are easy to embed too. Automation with Mailmunch allows users to create their email campaigns faster and more efficiently. The best part is you can use a free plan! 

2. Klayvio

Klayvio is among the top email automation tools at the moment. With its powerful segmentation features, email automation workflows, and guaranteed email deliverability, you can reach maximum inboxes with Klayvio.

With Klayvio, you can send personalized content to the right people at the right time. Moreover, with Klayvio, you get a single platform to scale all your email marketing campaigns.

3. ActiveCampaign 

ActiveCampaign has made a name for itself as a reliable email automation tool. With smart automations, you can generate better results for your campaigns. 

ActiveCampaign allows you to communicate your message to the right people with advanced segmentation features. It also lets you see your entire customer lifecycle map in your automations.

Also, ActiveCampaign offers pre-built workflows, automation guidelines, training videos, and live support to guide and train those new to email automation.

Get ready to automate email marketing campaigns 

So far, we have discussed the workflows, benefits, and best practices you will need to make the email automation process smooth. The process is here to optimize the email marketing strategy to deliver effective results. 

It is not feasible to give updates and personalize the content without email automation - it’s just plain old school and unnecessary. Any email marketer who wants to grow their audience, boost sales, increase revenue, and nurture leads should try email automation for their campaigns. 

Email Automation: Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is an email automation sequence?

An email automation sequence is a series of emails based on predetermined criteria such as a time delay or an action taken. These emails are sent to prospects and customers after they take the desired action or after the pre-determined time delay.

2. What can email automation do?

Email automation is a marketing tool that allows you to send the right message, to the right person, at the right time. Automated workflows are highly effective in nurturing leads and increasing sales.

3. Difference between email marketing automation and a drip campaign?

The main difference between email marketing automation and drip campaigns is that drip campaigns are static campaigns with pre-determined conditions. On the other hand, email automation campaigns are dynamic and have a different set of conditions for each recipient.

Author Bio

Summra Ahmad

A bookworm and a pet nerd at heart, Summra works as Content Writer at Mailmunch. She loves to play with keywords, titles, and multiple niches for B2B and B2C markets. With her 3 years of experience in creative writing and content strategy, she fancies creating compelling stories that your customers will love, igniting results for your business.

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