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Beginner's Guide to Email Marketing Automation

What is Email Marketing Automation?

If you have an email address, you’ve received spam email hundreds or even thousands of times.

What Is Automated Email Marketing

Compare that unwanted spam message to a curated, personalized email that seems to be written just for you. Yes, it comes from a company, but it reads like someone sat down and addressed you personally. When you receive an email like that, you are intrigued, right?

You open the email to take a look. If the email is especially compelling, you might click on the web links. You may even make a purchase.

This is the goal of every marketer (yourself included) - to get more customers and more sales. Once you’ve captured the contact information of your lead, you want to nurture and engage with them. This is done to build trust and strengthen the relationship, and is essential to inbound marketing. Once that relationship is adequately tended to, you can hope to convert leads into buying customers.

If you sat down and addressed every lead you had in your email list manually one-by-one, you would never get anything else done. That’s why automated email marketing exists. You can use automated email marketing software to send messages any time and reach different segments of your audience (more on this in Chapter 2).

In this guide, we are going to delve into everything you need to know about email marketing automation. By the time you’re done reading, you'll know how to segment your audience, write personalized emails, and which tools to use for email automation.

Defining Email Marketing Automation

Let’s start with the definition of email marketing automation.

Automated email marketing is a protocol (and a type of software) that sends out emails according to specific criteria you set up. These criteria could be anything like this:

  • a lead opts into your email list
  • you have a new product/service
  • you are speaking at an event or in a webinar

Those are just some examples.

When we say “you” send the emails, we mean "your company" sends it, without any manual intervention. You will use the email automation software to schedule messages for certain times to specific audience segments.

Email automation is different from short-term email campaigns and email newsletters. With short-term email campaigns, you’re only sending out X amount of emails to meet a goal. There’s no need to use automation, since you can see the end of the campaign in sight.

With email newsletters, you’re sending these out at a certain time to your entire subscriber base. You won’t have to segment your audience, so again, you won’t need to rely on automation, although it can help.

Why use Email Marketing Automation?

Email Automation

There are plenty of reasons you should consider using email marketing automation for your business. Whether you’re a small startup or an established enterprise, there’s always a useful application for automated email marketing in your campaigns.

Check out these stats from James Scherer at Wishpond, a marketing company. Scherer got these numbers from Econsultancy, Gartner Research, the Annuitas Group, and other resources.

Here are the stats:

  • Within six to nine months, it’s possible to get a revenue boost of 10% with an automated lead management process in place.
  • You can also save money with email marketing automation, especially when it comes to creative production. Some companies cut back on spending by as much as 15% in that area.
  • Nurturing your leads with automated email marketing can also increase revenue. Those leads tend to checkout with “larger purchases” nearly 50% of the time.
  • Lead generation also increases with automated email marketing and other email tools. One company experienced a boost of 451% percent in their lead generation process. No, that’s not a typo!
  • Most messages that arrive in a user’s inbox these days are spam (roughly 84% according to the data). To stand out, email and marketing automation is a necessity.
  • When leads receive a personalized email, their conversion rates go up (as much as 10%) and their click-through rates improve too (by up to 14%).
  • If you write a personalized subject line for your automated email, engagement can spike up as much as 22%.

When to use Automated Email Marketing?

Automated Email Marketing

There are many instances where you might want to send targeted, automated emails to your leads or customers. Take a look at these examples:

Welcome emails

When your lead opts in, this is the first email you’re going to send them. It’s acting as a confirmation of their opting in as well as welcoming them into your email list. This email should be short and to the point. Don't make it too long; write just about enough to introduce your business or website and its USP. You can use this email to send the most popular posts, or some content that your leads might be commonly interested in.

Most email tools today also allow sending a double opt-in confirmation email. If you have that setup, your system will first send an email to confirm the lead's email id and intent to opt-in. Welcome email would then be, technically, the second email.

You might want to end the email with a little freebie or preview of what’s to come, like a preview of the first few chapters of an eBook. This is optional, but it helps with engagement and nurturing.

New product/service emails

If you’re introducing a new product or service, fill in your audience ahead of time with an email. You might preview the product and invite the reader to learn more about it on your website. If there’s a waitlist to get exclusive access to the product/service, include a link to a form so the lead can sign up. You might even throw in a discount code for good measure.

Keep your writing crisp and exciting. You want to pique the interest of the lead, so show rather than tell about the product or service.

Emails for product/service

Once your product or service hits the shelves and people have used it, you should send a product/service feedback email. This one is rather self-explanatory. You’re simply asking the customer for feedback on the product/service they've bought.

Make it easy for the customer to leave the feedback. Link them to a Reviews page, a short form, or a quiz about the product/service. To incentivize customers to write a review, you might again consider giving them a coupon code or some small freebie.

Emails for discounts, freebies, and exclusive offers

If you have something free to give, tell your audience! This is also true if you’re having a sale or want to make an exclusive offer to a part (or whole) of your customer base. These emails should be exclamatory in style, nudging the lead or customer toward taking the offer without being too sales.

Almost everyone loves free stuff and sales. For that reason, these emails should perform well without you having to sell too hard.

Emails to remind about sale ending dates

Your sale can only go on for a limited amount of time. Before it ends, you can use email marketing automation to urge reluctant leads/customers to make a purchase.

The main idea here is to create a sense of scarcity. Today, the term FOMO (fear of missing out) is popular because no one wants to feel left out of something important. Create a sense of FOMO in your emails and you can encourage even stubborn customers to buy.

Event promotion emails

If you’re hosting an event, let your customers know about it through email. You might encourage them to register or buy a ticket in the body of the message. It’s wise to send out a series of emails about the event: one announcing the event, another closer to the event, and a third right before the event.

All this effort is certainly necessary. According to Campaign Monitor, even though you might get a lot of people to register for your event, fewer than half will actually attend it.

Promote your event often, and expect a smaller turnout than registration numbers suggest.


Email marketing automation is a necessity for today’s marketer. By sending out segmented, personalized, automated messages to your audience about relevant topics, you can keep them engaged. Engaged users are more receptive to your offers and willing to buy your products or services.

The rest of this guide will explore email automation tools and best practices, so keep reading.

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