Email automation: What it is, why it matters and 14 examples to inspire you

Email marketing has consistently proven it’s value, but automation can take your efforts to another level.

In general, email marketing is a type of marketing that shares details about your business, products, services, discounts and other information with your customers and potential customers through emails.

See these 48 statistics that show every dollar spent on email marketing is well spent.

Let’s dive into what email automation actually is, why it matters and 14 examples that provide inspiration as you get started.

What is email automation?

Email automation is a series of emails you automatically send to your prospects or customers. Using a tool, such as DailyStory, you can schedule emails to send based on your audience’s interactions with your business.

Unlike email newsletters and one-off campaigns, email automation allows you to create a campaign one time and then automatically reach individuals when certain triggers are hit. That means emails will continue to send long after you set up that automated campaign without you lifting another finger.

An example would be signing up for an account (whether it’s Twitter, Netflix or anything else) and then immediately receiving a confirmation welcome email. Of course, when done right, that automated email is encouraging you to act or engage in some additional way. In this case, it could be a request to complete your profile.

Why does it matter?

Email automation enables you to both save time and be more effective in the timing and point of your messages.

Just set up a campaign initially with automated triggers included. That’s it. Then, your brand is meeting your customers and potential customers wherever they are in their purchasing journey with your business. It’s about scalability within your own business as you continue to grow. 

This leads to a greater return on investment (ROI) for you efforts.

With about 64 percent of businesses using email automation, it truly is the most popular form of marketing automation currently.

And while businesses are often focusing their marketing efforts on getting new customers, email automation can do the work on nurturing and engaging with your existing ones.

This is important because it costs five times more to acquire new customers than it does to keep your existing ones.

Dive deeper into why email automation matters to your marketing.

Examples of email automation

There are almost limitless ways to engage with your customers and potential customers through automated emails, depending on your goals and the nature of your business. These 14 examples can help inspire you to get started:

  1. Welcome new customers (or subscribers)
  2. New customer onboarding
  3. Abandoned shopping cart reminder
  4. Gather feedback on your products or services
  5. Inform customers of upcoming expirations (or renewals)
  6. Birthday messages
  7. Anniversary messages
  8. Appointment reminders
  9. Milestone messages, such as the 100th visit for example
  10. Nurture your leads (see more about email drip campaigns)
  11. Promote new content, such as blogs or videos
  12. Offer an email course
  13. Event or webinar reminders
  14. Replies to customer complaints that explain your complaint process and ensure you’re working on fixing the issue

In conclusion

The key to a successful email automation strategy is not only the marketing platform you’re using but also the depth and quality of your data. 

The triggers that can send off the right email at the right time to the right person are all based on the integration of your systems and the type of data you have on each consumer.

In other words, the better you know a customer or lead, the more uniquely you can design an email automation campaign around that individual to better engage with him or her.

DailyStory can help with email marketing automation (as well as in other types of digital marketing). And our platform offers even more than automation capabilities. Schedule your free demo with us today.

Also, check out these seven opportunities for social media automation that you might not have thought of yet.

17 types of automated emails you can start using today

New to automated emails? The good news is that they are an incredibly effective tool when blended into your larger marketing strategy.

The bad news is that you might not know where to start.

But that’s okay!

Depending on your brand and business, there are a number of “low-hanging fruit” type of automated emails that you can begin with and go from there.

Automated emails have a 70.5 percent higher open rate and 152 percent higher click-through rate than generic email newsletters, according to Epsilon.

Dive deeper into email automation and what it is. And see these nine reasons why email automation matters in your digital marketing.

Here are 17 types of automated emails that you can start using today. Let’s get to it!

Welcome emails

The idea behind a welcome email is probably pretty obvious: You want to confirm an opt-in and greet your new subscriber.

Of course, welcome messages don’t have to be limited to a single email. You can set up a series of welcome emails that can pace out introducing your brand, your team, customer experiences and so on. (Learn more about setting up a welcome email series that gets you leads.)

Welcome emails are a critical type of automated email because they serve as your first impression. They lead to higher engagement and boost customer conversion.

In fact, welcome emails generate an average open rate of more than 80 percent and a click-through rate of more than 25 percent, according to GetResponse.

Just remember that you also can remind users what they will get from your emails (exclusive content or content highlights, special discounts, so on). You also can share where users can review their subscription settings (and make adjustments).

Onboarding emails

This type of automated email is all about educating your new customer.

Onboarding emails typically share product or service features, as well as hidden benefits people might not be aware of.

You can consider these a series of training emails in which you’re helping your customer get the most out of your product or service. Perhaps you want to educate them about how to download and use your app. 

Whatever the purpose, when customers fully understand everything you’re giving them, you’ll see better customer retention and fewer refund requests.

Engagement follow-up emails

These automated emails are intended to follow up on a subscriber’s actions, such as whether a recipient opens and clicks your original email (or not) can trigger an automatic follow-up email within a certain period of time to “seal the deal” or help convert that subscriber.

For example, if you send a promotional email out, you can have an automated follow-up email set up to send to anyone who didn’t open the original email, featuring a more targeted subject line and/or even a free, limited-time offer.

Special event emails

A really popular option is to set up birthday and/or anniversary emails for your email database.

You’re essentially sending well wishes for a birthday or other special date.

It not only helps build a relationship with your subscribers but also can help lead to conversions depending on what deal or discount you might additionally offer.

Personalized, targeted emails have a higher open rate as well.

Make sure that your automated email service can support custom-value triggers, such as birth dates and opt-in dates, depending on what type of special event you want to automate for.

Cart abandonment emails

This can be critical to increasing your revenue.

The rate of online shopping cart abandonment is reported to be at almost 70 percent, according to the Baymard Institute. Imagine if you can capture even a fraction of this for your business.

Typically, this type of automated email expresses that not only has the user left items in his or her cart and leverages something to help secure the sale. Sometimes, the reminder alone is enough, but you can also offer a discount, free shipping, etc.

About a third of cart-abandonment email clicks result in a purchase, according to SaleCycle.

You have the opportunity to turn this automated email into a series as well if you desire, timing your reminders and potentially increasing your incentive for recipients to complete the purchase.

Just be aware that you’ll want to confirm that your automated email service can integrate with your e-commerce website in order to trigger these emails.

Retargeting emails

Depending on whether you have retargeting pixels installed on your website, you can set up an email automation that reminds users via email of a product or service they were viewing on your website but did not purchase (or add to their cart).

This can be more advanced to set up but still very effective.

Order notification emails

These automated emails include receipts, invoices, shipping updates, refund confirmations and even order cancellations.

They are entirely dependent on your customer’s purchase activity and can either be fairly basic in design and messaging or encompass a little flair, depending on your brand.

Content download emails

If you’re using content marketing for lead generation, then you should already be familiar with this type of automated email.

In general, you offer some sort of content that a user can download (be it an ebook, webinar, kit, so on). In exchange for this free content, the user gives you his or her contact information. You then use this information to both add the user to your database and send your free content to his or her email inbox.

This is a common practice that you’ll see used on many websites by businesses.

Thank you emails

These can result from almost any action a subscriber takes, depending on your business.

Whether it’s a first-time purchase or an interaction with your customer service (“Thank you for contacting us”) or something else, it’s critical to express gratitude to your subscribers and/or customers. You do value them after all.

Think through interactions people typically have with your brand. Where is it important to automate a considerate thank you message?

Of course, your messaging can include a discount or other offer as well if you like.

Appreciation emails

These differ slightly from “thank you” emails because the idea is to reward your best or most loyal customers.

You can take this opportunity to offer a special coupon, heartfelt message, exclusive content, etc.

Satisfaction emails

If you have a feedback survey system integrated with your email service, it’s possible to create automated emails related to the satisfaction of your customers. 

One email would trigger if the customer is happy, and another would trigger if the customer is not. 

It’s key that you put yourself in the shoes of the customer when creating these messages. An email automatically sending to someone who is not happy (or perhaps even angry) cannot sound fake or inauthentic. 

Feedback, review emails

When you have any amount of customer retention, you’re missing an opportunity if you’re not automating emails to solicit their feedback or customer reviews.

Everyone appreciates being heard and acknowledged, so give your customers that opportunity. What you end up hearing from them could help improve your product, service or even your marketing strategy.

Every business wants to see more positive reviews on Yelp, Google and so on. Simply asking can work better than you might assume. However, you can consider an escalating automated series that asks at first and then offers an incentive (such as a discount, gift card, free shipping, etc.) in the follow-up.

Reminder emails

If you have customers who purchase on any sort of cycle (such as a prepaid year of membership, for example), it’s helpful to have automated reminder emails that let your customer know it’s about time to purchase or renew.

Anything you can do to elevate this messaging can help with the retention and/or conversion. For example, you can include a list of the benefits they’re currently enjoying, as well as a sneak peek of anything new coming in the future.

Of course, reminders can be tied to events, webinars, product launches, you name it.

Referral emails

What’s better than snagging a new customer? That customer referring you to his or her friends, of course.

Perhaps you have an ongoing referral incentive for customers, or maybe you offer referral incentives periodically. Either way, you should communicate that to your customer base.

Referral promotion can be included in a welcome or onboarding automated series or set up separately once a customer has been with you for a certain period of time.

Win-back emails

No matter what, customers will fall off, so it makes sense to have an automated email that sends out after a certain period of time to help win your customers back.

This can include a “miss you” message, as well as an offer to help promote the conversion.

You can choose the frequency. One suggestion is that the first automated email can send 120 days without any purchase activity, a second email 240 days without any purchase activity and a third email 365 days without any purchase activity. The messaging (and even the offer) can differ depending on the length of time.

Traditional ‘drip’ emails

A drip campaign is a common phrase in email marketing and refers to a method of nurturing your leads to help convert them over time to customers.

True, many automated email workflows can be considered drip campaigns, but we would be remiss to not single out the concept separately since there are a number of variations you can employ to nurture your leads, such as upselling.

The idea is that you map out a series of emails that slowly build up the value of your product, service and/or brand to the recipient in order to ultimately result in securing a new client or purchase. 

Farewell emails

If you offer a service that customers can opt out of at some point, it’s worth considering an automated farewell email.

The idea behind it is transparency, gratitude and customer care. It is your opportunity to make a “last impression” on your customer, so be authentic in your messaging. It could very well result in his or her eventual return (or second thoughts about leaving in the first place).

For example, you thank them for the time (perhaps years) they’ve spent with you.

When starting with email automation, list your priorities and start with whatever is the most simple. Monitor that campaign’s performance, and when you feel comfortable, you can add additional automated emails and campaigns.

Check out these seven opportunities for social media automation that you might not have thought of yet.

DailyStory offers a range of automation tools. Whether you’re looking to email, text or send a push alert notification, consider scheduling a free demo today.

Building a Data-Driven Account Based Marketing Platform

When I think about building software for marketers, I’m building on the experience I’ve had from previous businesses and some of the challenges that I experienced.

Building DailyStory

Because of this business influence, I believe DailyStory is taking a distinctly different view of what a marketing automation platform should look like. Specifically, starting with the end in mind.

Why are we doing that?

That’s a question I ask a lot. Are we doing “that” because we have metrics that tell us “that” works? Or, are we simply doing what we did before because that is how it’s always been done?

One of my big takeaways from my previous business was you should always be asking why.

When I had the opportunity to run the Telligent business again for Verint, it’s something I pushed on. I wanted to know why and where we invested our marketing dollars. What worked and more importantly, what didn’t.

This could be as simple as “Why are we using those keywords?” to “Why do we ask for all this information just to let someone get a PDF?

To often what I found is that the answer was, “because that is how we’ve always done that”. 

So, when I started whiteboarding DailyStory I created four “buckets” of problems that I wanted to solve for:

  • Awareness – awareness of the prospective customer and their journey.
  • Acquisition – how people go through the journey to become a customer.
  • Analysis – metrics around the journey.
  • Action – make changes in how you facilitate the journey.

Imagine these on a wheel, as this is a repeating process: once you take action it elevates your awareness.

You could easily substitute ‘process’ for ‘journey’. I like the word journey because it humanizes the experience.

Awareness

When most marketers say “awareness” what they typically mean is how a customer is aware of their product or brand. I’m turning that on its head a bit – awareness means:

How aware are you of what your prospective customer’s journey is?

What’s amazing about this is that when it comes to digital this is literally the easiest thing to find out.

Web analytics tools tell a large part of the story: where did people start, where did they go, and where did they leave. How long did the spend in different parts of my site? Where did they convert?

And that works exceptionally well. Unless you have a slightly more complicated selling process.

If you have a semi-complex selling process there is likely a level of awareness that you are missing. For example, once a customer begins the journey (e.g. completes a landing page form or fills out an exit intent) what do those specific people do?

For DailyStory that is opportunity number one: helping digital marketers, specifically those working on an account based marketing approach, close that knowledge gap.

Acquisition

Once you have a better understand of the journey, the next step is to tune the acquisition aspects. For most digital businesses this means landing pages, pay-per-click and other opt-in tools such as exit intent.

Let’s pick pay-per-click as an example. My biggest challenge with pay-per-click is the lack of clarity between dollars spent and dollars returned. For example, one of the businesses that I work with expects to get $2 back for every $1 spent. But that 1:2 return rate is what they think they get back. They don’t have a way to measure more deeply.

What About Conversion Rate Optimization?

I’ve read a lot about conversion rate optimization (CRO) – that is ‘optimizing’ the journey around the customer to increase the conversions to the next stage of the ‘funnel’. While I don’t disagree with the concept, I don’t agree with measurement.

The measurement shouldn’t only be increasing the quantity of leads/contacts, it should also measure increase in quality of leads/contacts.

When the focus is on quantity vs. quality the result is well known: marketing celebrates all the leads they’ve created, sales doesn’t follow up on any of them.

For DailyStory that is opportunity number two: measure the quality, not the quantity.

It doesn’t mean CRO is thrown out the window, but it does mean you care much more about measuring the amount of new business, not just the potential business.

Analysis

In his book Megatrends, John Naisbitt wrote, “We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.” By the way, he wrote that in 1982 and who would have known how well that statement would hold up.

I couldn’t find the exact stat, but a few years back I stumbled across another gem. It went something like this, “we create more knowledge in one year than we created in all the years previous combined.”

And that is opportunity number three for DailyStory: focus on the analysis, not the data.

When I was considering a new business (this wasn’t the first), I did a tremendous amount of MNW research (morning, nights and weekends). Once I circled up the marketing software space I found it was littered with technology. There is some very amazing technology out there, but what was lacking in nearly all was tying that amazing technology back to the business.

I want DailyStory to help bridge that challenge.

Action

That brings me to the final ‘A’, Action. One of the books I read this year that has influenced a lot of my thinking about building a new software product is, Switch.

The reality is, it’s hard to change. It’s easy to keep doing what you did before because that is how it is always done.

My intent with DailyStory is that it is software that helps facilitate change and feeds back into the beginning to change the awareness that marketers have about their customers.

That means that the software will have testing built into every step. Testing in the sense of being able to test out different content, test different landing pages, test different calls to action and more.

The Power of Software

What I’ve outlined above is the business-led design that the software follows to enable marketers to help their customers along the journey they take.

DailyStory is building capabilities that align with each of these steps. Sometimes it is our software, sometimes it is integration with other systems, like Salesforce or Slack.