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Introducing every marketer’s new best friend: email marketing workflows. Known for being high-converting and low-hassle, automation is the tool responsible for taking your already-great ideas to the next level, while also telling as many people about them as possible.

There’s a lot to be said for innovation, brainstorming, and thinking forward—but when it comes to email marketing, not every idea needs to be constantly reinvented. Once you’ve decided your primary email goals and initial strategy, it’s time to get going on your workflow.

While it may seem tedious at first, workflows are what’s going to empower you to scale your success and remain efficient.

Why marketing automation workflows are important

Choosing an email service provider that allows you to customize your email workflows and set up triggered automations will take away the stress of creating new emails at every point in your customer’s journey.

Using email marketing workflows means scheduling an email to go out whenever triggered by a specific variable, whether it’s the date or a customer’s action.

Because most customers may not be ready to buy something when they initially interact with your company or website, a strategic workflow will collect their information and provide positive reinforcement in their inbox at appropriate times. And it doesn’t just build the relationship between you and your potential customer—it’s likely to convert them into a buyer.

In fact, B2C marketers who leverage automation have seen conversion rates as high as 50%.

The one thing you need to first

Before you get to automation, you need to start thinking about your segmentation.

Your workflow prep work includes an engaging opt-in message, determining and asking for valuable customer information, and then finally dividing your email list into groups based on these variables. These groups, better known as segments, enable you to automate customized content that applies to part of your audience, but not all of it.

For example, if you ask your customers for their general location, you can let them know about events in their area, rather than sending a schedule to all of your subscribers regardless of where they live. That way, your subscribers only see the events that are relevant to them. Building your lists is also the time you’ll need to ask for any other relevant information, such as their birthday, anniversary, or special interests.

Once you’ve gathered the correct information, you can create list segments according to age, location, interest, or other variables. Organizing segments and clarifying their purpose will create a more efficient workflow when you start automating. You’ll thank yourself later!

3 emails you should be automating

When it comes to the question, “How many emails should I be automating?” the answer is as many as possible!

While that doesn’t mean you should be automating all of your emails, a strong email marketing workflow provides for your customer’s basic needs and opens you up to spontaneously surprise and delight them in other ways.

Some marketers think automation takes away the fun of email creativity, but it’s actually the opposite—it empowers email marketers and makes way for your creativity to flow.

When you no longer have to worry about welcoming new subscribers and reminding current subscribers about abandoned shopping carts, you’re free to spend your energy on brainstorming new email content and designs.

You probably can’t automate all your emails right this second, so we’ve created a framework you can use to get started but also return to along the way.

Here are three times you should send an automated email using your high-converting workflow:

1. When a new subscriber joins your list

Congratulations, you’ve got a brand new subscriber! Your opt-in forms are working, your story is resonating with people, and that’s reason enough to pause for celebration—but don’t forget to invite your newest addition along and make sure they know you’re glad they’ve arrived.

How it’s done: The welcome email is one of the most important—and fun—automations you’ll send. This email is purely lighthearted and gives the subscriber a thank-you for opting in while they’re most excited about your brand. However, there are a few essential elements to include in your welcome email or series that will help you maximize this opportunity:

  • Welcome them and deliver any promised offers. (Some marketers offer downloadables, discount codes, or exclusive content in exchange for an opt-in.)
  • Introduce yourself. This could include any range of your mission statement, customer testimonials, or the history of your brand.
  • Remind the subscriber why they signed up in the first place. Tell them how often they can expect emails and remind them of the value you’ll be providing straight to their inbox.
  • Show them other ways to connect with your brand and share your best content with their friends, such as social media or an online community forum.

Why it works: Studies show that welcome emails are 42% more likely to be read than your average email, so you’ll want to make it count. They help boost long-term brand loyalty, continue an already-established connection, and set the stage for other emails you’ll send them later down the road.

See how Snap Kitchen does a great job of using a welcoming tone, providing helpful information, and making the reader feel good about their decision to opt-in:

2. On an important date

One of the most overlooked essentials for a marketer is an up-to-date calendar. You probably know that seasonal marketing helps your company remain relevant during the holidays, but what you may not have considered are the many other dates that are specifically important to your subscriber.

How it’s done: When you take the extra effort to consider dates that are relevant to your customers, you’ll end up with more personal and exciting ideas for automated workflows than just national holidays. If a good friend didn’t acknowledge your birthday then asked you to buy something the next week, it probably wouldn’t go over so well, right?

Same applies to your subscribers. Remember, it might seem counterintuitive—after all, people join your subscriber list because they like what you’re doing—but successful email marketing isn’t about you or your brand. It’s about the value and benefits you can deliver to your subscribers.

Here are a few ideas to begin brainstorming:

  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • The recurrence of an event they attended last year
  • A milestone in your business-customer relationship

Why it works: Date-based automation takes the focus off the brand and onto the customer, which is only good news for your business in the long run. When you focus on making your subscribers feel known and appreciated, they will, in turn, create positive associations with your emails and products in the future. Oh, and did we mention that birthday emails have a 481% higher transaction rate than promotional emails? Happy birthday to you.

Facebook nails the simple, thoughtful birthday message:

On the other hand, Grammarly sends emails to customers on their anniversaries with the product. It also includes a promotion, which maximizes a positive experience in an attempt to create a conversion:

3. Based on consumer behavior

Automating email marketing messages based on consumer behavior is one of the most impressive ways to update your workflow. It’s the thing that will make your customers think, “How did they know?!” That’s a pretty cool feeling to meet your customers exactly where they are, for both you and your customer.

Automating behavioral workflows is an easy way to create a more active brand presence, rather than one that passively reacts. These workflows give the appearance of being right there where your customer is, and the best part? It’s all automated. (Don’t tell them that, though—it may ruin the magic!)

How it’s done: This one is going to depend specifically on your business and where your subscribers hang out the most. If you haven’t already, it’s a great idea to map out your customer journey and see the exact decision process they’ll go through as they interact with your content. That way, you’ll be able to anticipate their next moves and encourage them to make the leap and convert. (Campaign Monitor has an awesome tool for visually creating your customer’s journey—find out how here.)

Here are a few suggestions for when you could automate emails based on a consumer’s behavior:

  • When they search for something similar to your product online
  • When they submit a form on your website
  • To give them a reward for being engaged
  • To provide recommendations based on their purchase history
  • When they fill an online shopping cart but don’t checkout, otherwise known as abandoning a cart
  • When they click a particular link from a previous email

Why it works: Behavior-based workflows work because you’re not only noticing what your customers are doing, you’re also meeting them there and providing help along the way. They’re thinking about going on vacation? You show up with a few enticing ideas. They’re searching for a new pair of shoes? You let them know what you think they’d like and maybe offer a discount code. According to a study by MarketingSherpa, 39% of email marketers said that automating behavior-based emails was their most effective email strategy.

Pet supply store Chewy does a great job of sending a follow-up email after a customer purchase:

Also, consider the way Peel sends a thoughtful abandoned cart message:

Wrap up

Spending time on improving your email marketing workflows is the best way to maximize your chances at high-converting messages. It might take a few extra minutes up front, but you’ll save time and earn dividends later. When you consider your customer’s actions, important dates, and notice when they join your list, you prove a brand worthy of their time, attention, and money. And that’s not something you can automate.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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