A few weeks ago, I briefly touched on email automation in my post about building a sales funnel that converts. But for those of you that are still in the stages of planning your business’s email strategy, or those of you whose email strategy involves sending a newsletter every couple weeks but really isn’t getting you new sales – then this post is for you.

Email Automation, in essence, is all about sending highly targeted, personal emails to your subscribers, customers, leads and other segments of email addresses you have on hand. Each set of emails has the same end goal: converting more leads into sales. But it’s not as simple as sending out a sale notification or a newsletter. By using customer data, we can tailor email messages that are gradual, specific and incredibly effective in producing additional revenue for your business.

Whether you run an online store or offer a service such as consulting, plumbing or even graphic design – having email automation in place is the new norm for growing businesses. Neglecting this lucrative channel of sales can leave you with a missing chunk of sales that your competitors are already cashing in on.

So sit down, listen up and learn about the 5 most effective email automation workflows for making more revenue.

The Hard Facts

Let’s start by dishing out some numbers that are going to get you in the right frame of mind when it comes to thinking about email automation. A quick look at these figures will demonstrate to you just how much of an opportunity to make some more money for a relatively small about of work. Remember the key word here: automation. Once it’s set up, you hardly have to lift a finger – just watch the sales roll in!

  • Automated email campaigns have a 15% higher open rate than regular emails and 79% higher click through rates. – Silverpop
  • By creating email workflows, testing them, and constantly improving them you can create a highly optimised machine that will work for you to continually boost your sales and build your business.
  • 49% of companies are currently using email automation on average. – Emailmonday “The Ultimate Marketing Automation stats”. (2016)
  • 79% of top-performing companies have been using marketing automation for more than 2 years. – Gleanster “Q3 2013 Marketing Automation Benchmark” (2013)
  • Companies that have adopted Marketing Automation say the main benefits of Marketing Automation are:
    • Taking repetitive tasks out of marketers hands, allowing focus on new/more exciting projects (36%)
    • Better targeting of customers and prospects (30%)
    • Improving the customer experience (10%)
    • Reduction of human error in campaigns (8%),

      Redeye and TFM&A Insights “The Marketing Automation Report 2014” (2014)

So, now that we know Marketing Automation popularity is on the rise, and has already been in use by top performing companies for year, then it’s an obvious choice of investment for any business. To put it simply – it works.

5 Workflows You Should be Using

Now, onto the specifics. These are the top 5 workflows currently being used by businesses just like yours. If you’re looking for a place to start, read through the list and pick out the workflow that makes the most send for your type of business. Many businesses adopt multiple email automation workflows, so don’t be afraid to do the same.

1. Welcome Workflow

This is the most basic type of workflow, and one of the easiest to put in place. You can trigger this email to send to anyone who creates an account on your website or subscribes to your email list. The target of this email workflow remains the same as for any workflow: to generate sales.

With that in mind, we need to plan a set of emails that gradually move the subscriber (or lead) to that goal. Your email workflow may look something like this:

Email One: 
When: Immediately ater signup
Purpose: Introduction to who you are
Ditch the sales pitch. The purpose of this email is to welcome the subscriber to your network. It should be warm and friendly. It’s just like meeting a person for the first time – a friendly exchange, a brief introduction to who you are and perhaps some useful information. When you meet someone for the first time you normally don’t brag about yourself and try sell something straight off the bat. You need to build rapport first. A link to your FAQ page is beneficial to the person you’re having an exchange with, so don’t be shy about including this sort of information in your initial contact.

Email Two:
When: 72 hours after signup
Purpose: Build familiarity
Now you’ve been acquainted, it’s time to reveal a little more about yourself and show what problems your business solves. This stage of contact is very important in that you’re subscribers are going to learn if your business fits their needs. You may choose to do this by pointing out some features of your service and with links to useful blog posts or pages on your website. You can use Google Analytics to check which of your blog posts and pages are most popular. Use the data you have to make better choices.

Email Three:
When: 1 week after Email Two
Purpose: Show credibility
Now you need to show you’re a brand that can be trusted. You may choose to display a customer success story which includes a case study and testimonial. Remember to make this as human as possible. It’s far more enjoyable to read something that feels like a natural conversation than a dry, facts based email. You can also directly offer assistance to encourage further one-on-one conversation. For example, you may have received an email in the past from the CEO or Manager of a business asking you if you have any questions and to reply directly to the email. This gives a feeling of personal attention. It doesn’t feel like a ‘mass message’. It puts a face behind the email, and encourages interaction.

Once this workflow has ended, the subscriber may automatically be nominated into another workflow based on their engagement.

2. Lead Nurturing Workflow

So a potential customer has engaged with your website or responded to your ‘Welcome Workflow’ emails in such a way that you know they have a heightened interest in your product or service compared to regular ol’ subscribers that signed up to your newsletter but haven’t really engaged with your site or emails all that much. We call these people ‘middle of the funnel’ leads because they’ve moved from the ‘awareness’ section of your sales funnel, into the ‘interest’ section of the funnel. Now we want to get them to the ‘sales’ section of your funnel by delivering them some more content geared towards converting them to a customer.

Perhaps they’ve downloaded a price card PDF, revisited your site multiple times or made contact with you via a contact form to ask you some questions. We consider these leads ‘warm’ (not cold, not hot). Our goal is to make them hot so they’ll make a purchase. We’ll group these people into the lead nurturing workflow which is a bit more sales-y than the gentler ‘Welcome Workflow’ I mentioned earlier.

Here’s an example workflow for a a dental clinic website. A lead has just interacted with several links on the ‘Welcome Workflow’ and has subsequently viewed 3 pages on the website about wisdom teeth removal.

Email One:
When: 24 hours after identifying heightened interest
Purpose: Build a personal relationship
In this email, the Dental Clinic is focused on delivering more detail on the specific service their lead is interested in – Wisdom Teeth Removal. At this point, the lead is interested in talking and learning more, so the Dental Clinic sends them a personalised email addressing the problem. “So, you’re thinking about getting your wisdom teeth removed”. The email goes on to detail the process and timeline, starting with a free consultation. At the bottom of an email there’s a button to book in the free consultation.

Email Two
When: 3 days after Email One
Purpose: Address specific problems
A consultation hasn’t yet been booked by the lead, so it’s time to address any problems they may be facing. In this email, the clinic includes some assuring information about their experienced dental specialist, the quality of their equipment and a couple of recent testimonials and statistics about the number of people they’ve helped. They also introduce their pricing options which includes a monthly installment option to make it more affordable and easier to pay off. At the end of the email there is a button to book a time for a complimentary, risk-free consultation.

Email Three
When: 7 days after Email Two
Purpose: Last-ditch offer
The dental clinic decides to offer a special time-sensitive discount to the lead in a last-bid attempt to secure a consultation. This email is only triggered if the lead hasn’t yet booked a time. It includes a $200 teeth whitening voucher with their wisdom tooth removal booking. This is followed by a large call to action to claim the voucher by booking in a free consultation. The voucher will only be honored if the client actually commits to the wisdom tooth removal booking.

Every business will have a different timeline and way of approaching their leads, but you can see from our example that these email workflows are not limited to just online stores. They can be applied to every industry vertical with some careful thought and setup.

3. Cart Abandonment Workflow

This workflow only works for online stores, so if you sell products on your website and have a shopping cart and checkout system – this workflow is essential!

According to Ghost Monitor 71.2% of shoppers don’t complete the checkout process. This workflow works by sending follow up emails to people who have partially completed the checkout process (i.e adding items to their cart, beginning checkout by entering their email address and then abandoning their cart by exiting the window).

There are many reasons why someone might abandon their shopping cart:

  • They got distracted by a knock on the door
  • They want to think about it overnight
  • They decided to leave the site and check out competitors first
  • They were put off by the cost of shipping or other costs
  • They weren’t expecting the total cart amount to be so high
  • They couldn’t find their credit card

The list goes on… To recover some of these abandoners (kind of a mean name isn’t it?), we can put in place a workflow whose goal is to bring the potential customer back to the website to complete their purchase.
An ideal cart abandonment workflow is as follows:

Email One – immediately after abandonment

Your email automation system will detect the moment someone abandons their cart and send them an immediate follow-up with a subject line similar to: “Oops… Was there a problem checking out?”.
The content of the email will include a view of their cart, the total and a simple button asking them to complete checkout.

Email Two – 24 hours after abandonment

If your customer simply wasn’t ready to make the purchase, give them 24 hours and send another reminder. To avoid looking like we’re hassling them, create a subject line with a sense of urgency such as “Something you like is almost sold out!” and remind the customer their items are waiting for them to make a purchase of.

Email Three – 72 hours after abandonment

This is the final email in the workflow and your last chance to bring a customer back to the website to complete their purchase. You may choose to offer a discount or incentive to get them over the line. But if you’re not able to offer a sweetener, then a simple reminder their cart is about to be emptied will do the trick. Use a subject line such as “You have 24 hours to complete your purchase”.

According to a study the rate at which cart recovery emails work is around an average of 3 – 11%. Not bad for about an hours worth of setup! Some brands have reported up to 25%!

4. New Customer Workflow

So a customer has made a purchase – hooray! But that doesn’t mean we forget about this person. It’s time to use the new customer workflow. The goal of this workflow is a mixture of selling more, but also could be to capture reviews (which ultimately leads to more sales anyway – if the reviews are good that is…).

Here’s a basic workflow you may consider putting in place for new customers:

Email One:
When: Immediately after purchase
Purpose: Improve customer experience
This email is generally a confirmation of purchase as well as a thank you from yourself. Keep it short, to the point and friendly. The main information the customer wants to see here is a proof of purchase, what they paid and perhaps a receipt.

Email Two:
When: 1-2 days after purchase
Purpose: Improve customer experience
Ahh the art of providing great customer experience. Don’t get ahead of yourself and start trying to upsell at this point! Your customer has only recently completed a purchase and is unlikely to buy again right now. So continue giving them a great experience by offering some more helpful follow up content. Perhaps a shipping notification if you’re selling a physical product, or some of the most commonly asked questions about the product or service they’re buying. It may even be some ‘preparation’ information they should have on hand before receiving or experiencing your product or service. You may even get creative and suggest some ways your product has been used by other customers.

Email Three:
When: 2-4 weeks after purchase
Purpose: Earn a review and upsell
Ok, it’s time to earn some feedback and possibly some additional revenue seeing as you have provided a kick-ass experience for your customer. Use a friendly tone to ask for some feedback or a review. And further thank or incentivise this by offering a coupon discount for their next purchase or perhaps for any friends they decide to refer. Share the love! Show you care and give them something awesome. Once they’ve purchased from you twice and you’ve given them excellent service both time – you’ve earned yourself a loyal customer! Well done!

Loyal customers can contribute a huge amount more revenue for your business. So treat them well, and give them a reason to come back for more. Think about it – if you make a purchase with a brand and have an excellent experience, why bother looking at competitors next time around?

5.  Re-engagement Workflow

Here’s your opportunity to get some more value out of past customers where quite some time has lapsed since they last made a purchase from you. We live in such a fast paced world that many of us need to set ourselves reminders to even the simplest of tasks – like picking up the kids from school, going to dentist or putting the washing in the dryer. Sometimes all we need is a simple nudge to help us to remember important things we may have forgot.

This is why the re-engagement workflow is so effective. By targeting past customers, you already know they have had a need for your product or service in the past, and it’s very possible they have a new for it again. This workflow doesn’t follow a typical timeline. See below for some examples of re-engagement emails you might send to a customer:

The Birthday Email
If you capture your customers date of birth, then sending a special birthday offer is the perfect way to remind your customers you care about them. It feels nice waking up on your birthday to a discount on something you want or need.

The 3, 6 and 12 month check-in
Checking in often enough to remind your customers you exist, but not so often you’ve become irritating is an art. A common timeline to follow is the 3, 6 and 12 month check-in. Depending on your industry, it may make sense for you to remind you customers to book in another service after a certain duration. It’s also a non-intrusive way to keep contact throughout the year.

The New Product Notification
If you run an online store, email automation allows you send new product notifications to customers who have purchased similar products before. By recommending products that you know your customer will like, the click and conversion rates on these highly targeted emails is very high.

The Sale Notification
Similar to the new product notification, you can let customers know when products in categories they like go on sale, further increasing the probability of them returning to your site to make a purchase.

Email Automation Systems

So now you’ve got 5 create workflows to put in place for your website. But you’re going to need an email automation system to make it all work. Once you have setup all the different workflows, email templates and settings – you don’t have to lift another finger! The emails send themselves. However, you’ll want to check your results and make changes and amendments to continually improve your open, click and conversion rates. A/B testing is a great way to determine the best of two email versions – try different wording, images and layouts to see what works best and continually pick the better performing version to work towards your goals.
Here’s our recommendations for email automation systems:

If you sell a service…

Maybe you’re a consultant, a healthcare professional, a photographer or a tradesman. Try Drip email automation. Drip triggers workflows based on what your subscribers do on your website. Whether it’s signing up for your newsletter, downloading a PDF or viewing a specific page on your site – you’ll be able to craft and trigger email workflows based on these actions. Prioritise certain workflows over others based on importance, and automatically trigger another workflow when one has ended.

Drip also has an advanced algorithm which tells you which of your subscribers (leads) are most valuable so you can follow up with proper messaging for those further down the sales funnel. Not sure what a sales funnel is? Read Monique’s blog post explaining it and how to build one.

Pricing starts at $49 USD / month and goes up to $149 USD depending on how many contacts you have.

If you sell products…

If you’ve got an online store of any kind, then Remarkety is for you. Remarkety easily integrates with all the major ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento and others. It’s features include abandoned cart recovery, automated follow-up emails to suggest other products and ask for reviews, product recommendations based on past purchases and personalised discount vouchers. You can also send newsletters, sale notifications and other emails based on customer purchase history and shopping behaviours.

Pricing starts at $32 USD / month and goes up to $205 USD depending on how many contacts you have.

If you do both…

If you want all the ecommerce features as well as standard website drip campaigns, then MailChimp is our top pick. Similar to Drip and Remarkety, you can create custom workflows based on actions, behaviours and ecommerce activities. Inbuilt A/B testing allows you to determine the best performing wording and imagery so you can continually improve your workflow performance.

Pricing starts at $25 USD / month and goes up depending on number of contacts and how many features you want.

Working on your sales funnel? We can review and assist in executing marketing automation – tell us what you’re trying to achieve.