If you’re serious about understanding your customer, delivering seamless user experiences, and boosting your bottom line, then email automation is the way forward.
Read on to learn how marketers can use email automation to map user behaviour, transform customer experiences and drive more conversions.Create your first email automation workflow on sendinblue >>
Meaningful and personalised communications should be of utmost priority for any business looking to build a loyal customer base. Effective communication comes down to two things – timing and relevance.
The best way to optimise your user experience, and in turn earn more customers, is to engage your leads with valuable information, guidance, or an incentive at the perfect moment.
Of course, this is easier said than done. If you have a large database of contacts, how can you know when each contact is ready to be engaged? And where are you going to find the time in your already hectic schedule to start sending out individualised messages at different times?
Introducing email automation!
Email automation is one of the aspects of Marketing automation, that allows you to build scalable and repeatable processes where your most manual and repetitive tasks are automated. It allows you to save countless hours of tedious labor while dramatically improving your customer experience. Everybody wins!
Thanks to the emergence of solutions tailored to smaller teams (and budgets) the entry barrier for email automation is now lower than ever.
What is email automation?
Email automation refers to software or a process that automates the sending of targeted, action-triggered emails, based on a predefined set of rules or conditions. These triggers can be behavioural (i.e. visit of page) or time-sensitive. It is part of Marketing Automation, but applied specifically to emails.
With email automation, you can target your contacts based on behavior, preferences, and previous sales. This kind of intel means you can welcome new subscribers, reach out to people who abandon their online shopping carts, and guide prospects through a nurture stream – automatically.
Marketing automation works through the use of automation workflows that correspond to user information or actions.
For example, automatically sending a welcome email when a new contact signs up to your email list or sending out an email to wish your customer a happy birthday.
Automation is one of the fastest growing trends when it comes to email marketing.
More and more brands are moving away from large quantities of emails in an effort to drive more quality and personalisation for customers.
Email automation is the most effective way to scale these important one-to-one communications.
What’s the difference between email automation and email marketing?
Email marketing is generally defined as the sending of email campaigns to a list of contacts (one to many). These campaigns are usually addressing broad goals such as making a big announcement, promoting a seasonal sale, or a limited-time promotion.
Email automation, on the other hand, allows you to send hyper-targeted emails to your prospects (one to one) based on specific actions a user takes on your email or website. These messages are designed to achieve a specific goal related to the actions that users take along the customer journey.
Let’s take a look at some of the other key differences between email marketing and email automation:
- Manual work
You have to do a lot of manual work to make sure that your email blasts are hitting the right targets at the right time. With marketing automation, you can alleviate the tedious work of crafting individual emails and focus on creating multi-stage, automated campaigns to nurture your leads while you get other work done.
Email marketing only tracks the actions taken by recipients of your email campaigns, like click-through and open rate. Email automation, on the other hand, tracks every digital interaction that a lead has with your business.
Having the full picture of how a lead moves through the funnel allows you to devise highly targeted campaigns based on customer behaviour.
- Audience information
Email marketing tools only know the information that you provide on your leads. Marketing automation offers the opportunity for dynamic lead scoring.
This means leads can be scored automatically based on certain actions or demographic data, allowing you to tailor campaigns based on that intelligent scoring information and deliver win-ready leads to your sales teams.
- Revenue attribution
It’s important to be able to demonstrate exactly how your marketing efforts contribute to your company’s bottom line. With email marketing, it’s easy to see if your lead has clicked on your call-to-action purchase link. Then you can go to your CRM to see if that lead has become a customer.
But that doesn’t necessarily link your email efforts directly with revenue. The lead may have engaged with a dozen more touch points before they converted. Marketing automation allows you to track the full user journey allowing you to map consumer behaviour and the exact path to purchase.
What are the benefits of email automation?
Relying on basic email marketing isn’t scalable for growing companies.
The more leads you have in your database, the more campaigns you need to run, and the more time consuming it becomes to create mass blasts that yield the results you need.
Email automation is a solution that can grow as your company grows. You can run multiple campaigns, create lead nurturing programs, score your leads, and attribute revenue directly to each marketing campaign.
Automating your customer outreach not only saves you and your team countless hours of admin, it allows you to build better user experiences and strengthen customer relationships through perfectly-timed and meaningful communication.
Here are some of the key benefits of email automation:
- Improve customer relationships
Studies show that 66% of consumers unsubscribe from emails because they aren’t relevant.
By sending emails in response to specific actions or characteristics, you can more easily address the needs of individual customers when they’re most receptive.
Maintaining personalised, individual conversations is essential to guide your contacts through the customer lifecycle and foster long-lasting loyalty. Marketing automation lets businesses scale these personalised interactions more efficiently.
This is essential to forge emotional connections with your contacts and offer genuine value.
- Better conversion rate
By automating workflows you can make sure that you’re not just sending the right message, but that you’re delivering it at the right time too. Marketing automation can increase open rates by 71%.
The ability to create custom workflows with perfectly timed messages is essential to optimise the customer experience and maximise your chances of converting leads into customers.
Precise targeting of contacts will lead to heightened interest, increased visibility in the inbox, and better deliverability and conversion rates.
- Boost revenue
You don’t just want to convert prospects to customers, you want to build brand champions!
Over time you can use automation to perfect the targeting and timing of your nurturing messages and speed up the conversion process. This increase in conversions will naturally boost your bottom line.
It also means your team can spend more time finding and pursuing high-value prospects to nurture and convert into high-value customers.
Loyal customers who recognise your value are more likely to invest further in your solutions. Relevant and timely messaging is the key to customer loyalty and the lifeline of every successful business.
- Better user experience
Automation can absorb your most tedious and repetitive tasks, so you can spend more time working strategically on building more consistent, relevant, and streamlined communications.
The experience for your customers is seamless and your business looks organised, attentive and responsive.
Automating personalization also minimises the risk of human error, which makes email communications more dependable and accurate.
This is essential to deliver a consistent brand message, build trust with your customers, and provide an overall optimised user experience.
What are the best use-cases of email automation?
The welcome email
First impressions matter. This means you need to think carefully about your first touch point with your customer – the welcome email.
Welcome emails lay the foundation for your customer relationships and give you the chance to introduce yourself, all while learning your customers’ needs and preferences.
When a new client signs up on your website, you need to capitalise on the opportunity to forge a connection at a time when they’re most interested in your offering and message.
To be effective, your welcome message should:
- Welcome new subscribers to your community and give them a taste of your wonderful personality
- Make readers want to explore more about your business or content
- Re-state your value proposition
- Guide the reader on the next steps they should take
- Surprise subscribers with a bonus. This could either be a coupon if you have a store or a bonus piece of content that they can download immediately.
The abandoned cart follow-up
Research shows that 60-80% of visitors on eCommerce sites end up leaving the store before making a purchase after adding items to their cart.
Adding items to your cart shows a high-level of purchase intent from prospects – a sign that should not be ignored! Smart businesses can capitalise on this action by quickly following up with prospects who abandon their cart to encourage them to return and finalise their purchase.
In fact, serious studies show that the abandoned cart recovery rate after an abandoned cart email varies in depending on the price range of the order, but it averages a bit below 5%.
Here are some tips to encourage prospects to complete their purchase:
- Remind them of what they left in their cart
- Provide reassurance on common concerns that might have prevented leads from completing their purchase (delivery time, return policy, customer reviews of the products, etc.)
- Offer a discount on their purchase
- Notify them if the product is low on inventory or if there is a sale that is about to expire
The Birthday email
Birthday emails are one of the simplest and most effective automation workflows that you can set up.
The only information you need is date of birth to set up a simple workflow to automatically send a birthday email to your customers.
According to Experian, birthday emails generate a 481% higher transaction rate than promotional emails.
It’s a small gesture and shows you care, while requiring very little investment on the side of the business. It’s an opportunity to delight your customers, to foster loyalty, and boost positive brand sentiment.
Plus, they are more likely to feel like treating themselves with an unplanned purchase, so make sure to capitalise on their heightened buying temperature!
Here are our top tips to make your birthday email stand out:
- Keep your email light, friendly, and fun
- Offer a personalised gift coupon based on your customers’ interests
- Include a mystery offer to generate intrigue and increase click-through rates
- Make sure your email design POPS! Your customer is likely receiving lots of messages on their special day, so you want your email to stand out.
The product category follow-up
If you want to send hyper-targeted emails, it’s essential to understand your target contact’s interests. Marketing automation makes this simple with basic tracking.
For example, if you have an e-commerce site, you can send a targeted email to your contacts based on a visit to a specific category page or after buying a certain item, like shoes or cosmetics.
Sending your follow-up email right after a contact has been browsing a specific category allows you to catch your potential customer when purchase intent is high.
Here are our top tips to convert customers with a product follow up:
- Customize your follow-up message product recommendations
- Include a promo-code to thank them and encourage repeat visits
- Include helpful information that addresses common questions about your products or services
- Add a survey to learn more about your customer’s interests and buying habits.
- Ask for a review of a recent purchase.
One of the biggest challenges marketers face is understanding where leads are in the purchase process.
Marketing automation allows you to you can create a “lead scoring” workflow so you can assign points to leads and categorise them based on specific information or actions on your site or within your emails.
Once you have lead scoring set up, you can begin to gradually move your prospect through the path to purchase. This is called lead nurturing.
Lead nurturing involves sending a series of targeted messages based on a prospects lead score and where they sit in the funnel.
These emails usually include a series of content, resources, product information and offers and discounts, according to your lead’s proximity to making a purchase.
Using relevant and timely information in this way helps to build trust and transform anonymous visitors into loyal customers.
Here are our top tips to nurture your most important customers
- Establishing a real human connection from the offset is essential to make your customers feel valued. Every one of your customers has their own pain-points, needs, and aspiration, so it’s important to personalise your communications to each recipient and treat them like actual human beings.
- Segment your email lists: Create dynamic segmentation based on your lead scoring model. Once you create your lead scoring model, you can use each contact’s lead score to decide which list they should be added to make sure your messaging is relevant.
- Create a content strategy that maps all your content and resources to the conversion funnel to provide maximum value to your contacts.
Getting set up with email automation
The first step when it comes to automating a task is to set up what’s called a marketing automation workflow. A workflow is the set of rules that you define to trigger a specific action.
In order to set up a workflow, you need to decide on the entry point – this is the condition which sets the workflow in motion.
Examples of entry points:
- Contact clicks on call-to-action in email
- Contact abandons cart
- Contact signs up on your website
Once the contact enters your workflow through the entry point, they will navigate through the rest of the conditions in the workflow as you have defined them. The workflow simply uses “if this, then that” logic.
IF a contact abandons the cart before purchase, THEN send email to remind them what is left in their cart.
There are two main types of conditions that can be set:
Identity – This is based on information stored in your contact database. For example, you can use a contact’s date of birth as a condition to send a special birthday email to them at the right time.
Behaviour – This is based on a certain type of behavior or specific actions taken on your website or in your emails. For example, you can send a welcome email to a prospect who has signed up on your website.
Based on the outcome of each condition that you set, you can set up workflows that automatically trigger your desired task:
- Send an automated email
- Add contact to email list
- Add or subtract points from contact’s lead score.
You can use any combination of conditions to create simple or complex workflows that automate your marketing tasks.
To get you started, Sendinblue has a series of pre-defined workflows at the ready so you can start automated tasks right away.
Key steps to ramp up your email automation
Install your tracking script
Installing the main SendinBlue Automation script allows you to track the pages visited by contacts via a cookie. Once identified, contacts can automatically be entered into your marketing automation workflows.
You will then be able to create custom workflows based on visits to specific pages or clicks on important links. For example, if a contact visits a specific category page on your e-commerce website, like shoes or accessories, you can send targeted content based on the products they are interested in.
The SendinBlue automation script allows you to track key actions on your website to help you gain insight into user behaviour and target your contacts accordingly:
- Specific webpage visits – you can filter contacts based on them visiting a particular page or group of pages
- Important website clicks – you can filter contacts based on them clicking on a link or group of links
- Logins and subscriptions – filter the contacts who have logged into your website or submitted a form that was created using SendinBlue.
By tracking the on-site behavior of your contacts, marketing automation lets you set up workflows that automate tasks around triggers and conditional logic, cutting hours of admin out of your work life.
You can install the tracking script with two simple clicks – no technical knowledge required. Follow these simple instructions to set up your tracking script.
NOTE: The automation script only tracks identified users, i.e. users who’ve filled in their email address on your website or users who’ve clicked on your subscription form or in one of your SendinBlue emails.
Integrate your CMS
Here are just some of the benefits of integrating your email strategy with your CMS:
- Create sign-up forms that fit your image and easily include them in your posts or pages
- Manage your contacts simply and efficiently, within your CMS
- Reaching customers with a hyper-targeted marketing message at exactly the right time with advanced tracking
- automatically send your email contacts an email whenever you make a new post or add a new product to your site
- Create beautifully designed, integrated email campaigns that align with your brand image and website activity
- Access and analyze your campaign statistics to continually optimise performance and results.
NOTE: Once the plugin has been installed, you can activate the Automation script by clicking on the “Activate Marketing Automation through SendinBlue” in the plugin settings
Set up custom events
If you want to step your email automation up a notch and take your customer experience to the next level, why not try out custom events?
This is the most advanced option when it comes to tracking user behaviour and offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to creating targeted automation workflows.
This involves more advanced tracking of user behaviour. While the general script allows you to track activities such as page visits website clicks, the automation script also allows you to gather more specific information on user behaviour to set up an automation workflow based on custom events.
For example, if you run an e-commerce site, abandoned cart emails are an effective way to encourage your site visitor to complete their purchase.
With custom events, you can access all the details of the products in your potential buyer’s cart and display them in your abandoned cart email.
Custom events are the most effective way to send hyper-personalised, tailored communications to your contacts to guide them on the path to purchase.
Don’t forget to define your global goal conditions for your workflow
In SendinBlue, it’s important to set global exit conditions and restart conditions for your workflow.
These are a set of rules that define who should and shouldn’t enter your workflow. conditions that let you easily tell your workflow:
“If the contact [meets condition X] then remove them from the workflow (exit condition) or bring them back to the beginning of the workflow (restart condition).’
Think of the exit condition as the goal you want your workflow to accomplish.
For example, If you enter your contact into a stream of nurture emails designed to encourage them to sign up for your latest event, it doesn’t make sense to continue sending emails if your contact has registered. That makes for frustrating user experiences and that will likely lose you customers.
Similarly, restart conditions tell you when your contact has done something that signals the need to start from the beginning. For example, if your contact registered for your event, but didn’t turn up, it’s time to enter them back into your nurture stream.
Global exit and restart conditions are important to show you recognise and value new customers, prevent customer churn, and provide an overall seamless customer experience.
Effective use of automation is becoming inextricably linked to email marketing success.
Not only does automation help to build better customer relationships, but it frees up a tonne of time and energy, allowing you and your team to work strategically and spend your time where it matters most.
If you want to scale your one-to-one personalised communications and deliver consistent, repeatable email campaigns that transform leads into loyal customers, then automation technology is the fastest way forward.
Want to learn more about how email automation can drive success for your business? Download our complete guide to marketing automation and learn everything you need to know to start saving time… and money!
Why not trying setting up your first workflows right now ? SendinBlue Automation is free up to 2,000 contacts !
Aoife is a freelance writer and content strategist specialising in B2B marketing and business transformation. Former Client Solutions Manager at LinkedIn, Aoife now travels the world, writing for a range of publications and working with brands to translate their products into powerful stories.