Email Automation Guide - by MailChimp

Email Automation

The use of predefined rules to trigger email messages based on specific actions customers take—or don’t take. Some examples include a welcome email that sends when a customer signs up for a mailing list, or a quick reminder that the customer placed something in their cart but never finished checking out. Email automation takes repetitive tasks off your to-do list to free up your time for other valuable tasks, such as responding to customer questions. It can help customers learn more about your brand, encourage them to keep coming back, or remind them of why they bought from you in the first place.

As a marketer or business owner, you’d like to stay connected to your customers. Email automation is a powerful tool that lets you send the right message to the right people at the right time.

What is email automation?

Email automation is a way to create emails that reach the right people with the right message at the right moment—without doing the work every time.

When you link your website analytics with your email marketing platform, you can target people based on behavior, preferences, and previous sales. Then you can personalize each customer’s experience and increase the relevance of your messaging.

The benefits of email automation

Email automation lets you:

1. Personalize your customers’ experiences.

Research backs up what most marketers already know: Customers love personalization.

  • 90% of consumers find personalized content very or somewhat appealing.
  • 91% of consumers are more likely to patronize businesses that provide individualized recommendations and offers.
  • A recent experiment revealed that when shoppers knew an ad was based on their activity on the site, their click-through rates increased by 11% and revenue from the product grew by 38%.
  • In 2019, 72% of customers only respond to marketing messages that target their interests.
  • The leading type of personalization experience that marketers use is email.

You can even create a series of automated emails to help grow your relationships with your customers—and your business.

2. Make the most of your marketing team.

Automation is changing the way that all kinds of teams do business. According to a 2017 survey of information workers, respondents said they believe it can improve employee productivity:

  • 69% said automation could help reduce wasted time.
  • 59% said that they could save at least 6 hours a week if the repetitive aspects of their job were automated.
  • 72% said that they would use the time they saved to focus on higher-value work.

For email marketing teams, for example, this could mean less time spent on manually compiling email lists and scheduling messages. Instead, team members could use that time to focus on other important tasks, such as in-depth customer relationship building.

The bottom line: With automation, more gets done—and the added productivity is of higher value.

3. Improve your customer retention rate.

It’s much easier and more cost effective to sell to an existing customer than to convert a new one, and with automation, you can stay in touch better than ever before. Schedule your messages so that your customers don’t go too long without hearing from you—and be sure the copy is relevant to maximize its impact.

An email that reads “Hey, we haven’t heard from you in a while. Pay us a visit!” is likely to end up in the trash. Compare that to this one:

“Dear Joe, we haven’t heard from you in a while, and we wanted to make sure that you heard about our latest offer. The printer you’ve been buying parts for came out with a new model, and it’s 20% off! Come check it out.”

That’s an example of a message that fills a need, which is more likely to bring back a customer.

4. It makes your marketing strategy scalable.

When you send out an email series manually, the size of your staff limits the number of customers that you can reach. Would you be able to stay on schedule if your customer base suddenly doubled in size? What if it tripled?

Automation makes email marketing scalable. When you’ve set it up so that your platform sends a message every time someone signs up for your mailing list, you don’t have to make sure a staff member is available to do it.

With email automation, customers automatically integrate into your system as soon as they perform any of the actions that you track. Their behavior tells your system what messages to send them next without any additional demands on your limited resources.

Using email automation to grow your business

In email automation, a trigger is a specific date, event, or contact’s activity that tells your system to send out a related message. You can choose triggers and triggered messages based on your contact’s journey.

Here are a few examples to get you started:

Trigger: New subscriber
Email: “Welcome!”

Even if your website is an e-commerce store, many of your first-time visitors won’t be ready to make a purchase. If you capture their interest with a “subscribe now” button, what should you do with an email once you have it?

Welcome emails have become like thank you notes after a job interview. There’s no rule that you have to send them, but people notice when you don’t:

  • 74% of people expect to receive a welcome email when they subscribe to a mailing list.
  • Welcome messages get 4 times more reads and 5 times more clicks than standard marketing emails.
  • They generate as much as 320% more income per email than other promotional messages.

When you get a new subscriber, following up with a warm welcome can help turn new leads into customers without any extra effort.

Trigger: Cart abandonment
Email: “Forget something?”

It only takes 1 click to add an item to your cart, but following through takes more steps. About 70% of e-commerce shoppers abandon their carts for many reasons, including high shipping costs, having to register for an account, or concerns about the site’s security.

Abandoned cart emails can help you recover lost sales. Once you get to know your audience and write a clear, timely email, you can start recapturing the interest of your shoppers.

Trigger: New products or promotions
Email: “Something special for you!”

If you announce every new product release, upgrade, or promotion to every customer, your messages can start to lose their effectiveness.

Email automation helps you avoid this trap because it lets you announce products to particular customers based on their interests. In fact, if you include personalized recommendations in your email campaign, you can increase sales per email opening by an average of 150%.

Making email automation more effective

Here are a few tips to help your new automated email strategy run as smoothly as possible:

1. Track responses to collect more information.

Every time you send an automated email, you have the opportunity to get key information from each customer. You can learn whether or not the person:

  • Opens the email
  • Clicks through to your site
  • Uses an offer
  • Buys a suggested product
  • Continues to browse once they’re on your site

When targeting your automated emails, everything you learn about your shoppers can direct your next move. If your recipients aren’t opening your discount emails or not clicking on your recommendations, try a different tactic.

2. Offer discounts strategically.

The high cost of shipping is one of the biggest reasons that people abandon their shopping carts.

You can’t eliminate shipping fees or bottom out your prices, but you can send out discount coupons or promo codes to entice reluctant spenders. This can be an effective strategy, but be careful not to overuse it. If you offer too many discounts, your customers might expect to receive them more often.

3. Create automated drip campaigns.

Some people interact with your company several times before they become customers. Drip campaigns gradually “drip” useful content about a company, product, or industry.

These types of campaigns have to be relevant to work, and with email automation, drip campaign messages only go out to prospects who have demonstrated interest.

Start building customer relationships

Email automation helps you find your audience and engage your customers. Unlike manual campaigns, automations run in the background while you tend to other valuable tasks.

With automation, you can send personalized emails for each individual, from new visitors to repeat buyers. And if you combine email automation with customer analytics, you can refine your targeting every time you send a message—and grow your business without sacrificing that special personal touch.