Email Automation Explained

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From a marketing perspective, an automated email service is invaluable. It allows you to send action-triggered and personalised messages to all the recipients in your subscriber list. This ensures you keep your customers engaged and in the know about your developing business activities. With increased and regular contact with your customers, you can maintain more leads, guarantee more sales, and boost your revenue. 

With an email automation tool installed, you no longer have to worry about manually sending out large email campaigns. This frees up your marketing team’s time and resources.

Read on as we define the importance of email marketing automation for your business.

What is email marketing automation?

Automated email tools send prompt emails to subscribers with the intent of keeping them informed and within the sales funnel. Once a trigger has been pulled by a subscriber, the relevant automated email will be sent.

Of course, these emails cannot be sent to anyone – a recipient needs to have signed up for your mailing list first.

While it’s up to you to construct these emails initially, the manual sending of the email will be taken care of by this automation tool. Certain email fields will be left blank for the tool to fill, such as “name” or “company name”. These details will be gathered by the tool when the subscriber inputs their details on your sign-up page or form.

This brings us to one of the most popular email marketing triggers – the “welcome” trigger. As soon as someone becomes a subscriber, this trigger will be pulled and a pre-made “welcome email” will be sent.

 Main types of triggers

Signing up for your newsletter is not the only trigger. Other popular triggers include a completed purchase, an incomplete purchase, an e-book download, or a webinar sign-up – basically, any form of completed action can be set to trigger an email.

To create stronger customer connections, companies often set birthday greetings triggers.

By sending these emails, you increase customer retention and hopefully sales and engagement levels. You can also use them to re-activate former customers, by setting triggers to send emails whenever customers become disengaged. For example, if they bought from you once but haven’t made a follow-up purchase in a set number of days.

How to set up email marketing automation

While every automatic email tool will be different, setting up email marketing automation normally follows this process:

  1. Install the email marketing tool – There are many options on the market, including Hubspot Email Marketing and Mailchimp.
  2. Submit your email list – You will be able to submit your current subscription list to the automation tool. You should also be able to connect your sign-up form to the tool to automate this process in future.
  3. Define triggers – Most tools will come with a list of standard triggers that you can select, such as sign-up, purchase, or abandoned cart. Alternatively, you can create custom triggers.
  4. Build emails – You then need to build out email templates for each individual trigger. This will include all text, images, and call-to-action buttons. Ensure that these templates are perfect before setting them.
  5. Activate – It should then be simply a vase of activating your new automated emails and waiting for an event to be triggered.

Segment your subscribers

Depending on your chosen tool, it may also be possible to segment your customers. This is particularly useful for setting up targeted campaigns, as you can isolate a specific type of customer. You can also exclude a specific type of customer who may find these automated emails irrelevant and potentially irritating.

You can normally segment your customers based on:

  • Loyalty
  • Inactivity
  • New customers
  • Old customers
  • Activity
  • Gender
  • Location


Types of automated email campaigns

Each trigger type can be categorised in terms of the intent and purpose of the campaign. The main types of automated email campaigns include the following:

Lead nurturing

This type of automated email is sent out to prospective leads – as in, leads who have not yet completed a purchase but have shown interest in doing so. A welcome email fits into this category as the subscriber has not yet bought from you.

Lead nurturing also relates to the follow-up emails you send to a subscriber to keep them engaged and, hopefully, in the sales funnel. The end goal is to convert them into paying customers.

Drip campaigns

A drip campaign involves sending a series of scheduled and related emails. These automated emails will have a specific theme, such as a new product you’re about to launch. In each email, you slowly release more information about the new product with the hope of building up the customer’s interest.

Each of these emails should have a strong CTA that encourages the recipient to either buy the product or click to find out more information about it.

Win-back emails

Win-back emails are designed to reengage inactive customers. For example, if a conversion doesn’t become a returning customer, a win-back email can be automatically sent to them. Timeframes can be sent, and typically are set to 60-90 days after purchase.

Win-back emails normally contain some sort of special offer to encourage the subscriber to make a follow-up purchase. For example, a discount or a deal.


This refers to most trigger-based email campaigns. As soon as a subscriber interacts with your brand in a way that pulls a set trigger, an email will be sent. Triggers can be pulled on your website, on your social media, on a previous email, or on any other channel.

The purpose of these emails is to encourage a sale, which is probable given that they’ve recently shown interest in your brand. The emails sent could include product recommendations, more information on the specific product they reviewed, and so on.

The benefits of email marketing automation

This marketing automation study conducted by Liana Technologies has found that the main benefit of automated marketing are increased ROI and improved efficiency. Other benefits include enhanced customer experience, increased lead count, and lead improvement.

To expand on this, the main benefits of email automation are as follows:

Conduct A/B testing

Automated tools make it easier to conduct A/B testing campaigns. This involves segmenting your subscribers into two halves and sending each half a different email. The purpose of this is to determine which email, layout, subject line, features, and writing style gains the most amount of interaction and responses.

It can also be used to simply determine which subject line leads to the greatest number of subscribers to open the email.

Through the power of automation, you can conduct A/B testing on a wide scale in a short amount of time. Plus, sophisticated email automation tools will be able to provide you with granular details about the recipient’s behaviour on the email. The findings can inform your future email campaigns.

Optimise time and resources

Rather than painstakingly sending out individual emails to all your subscribers on a random basis, you can bring structure and strategy to your email campaigns. Not only that, but your marketing team also saves on the time it would take to write and send out these emails individually.

The template and structural aspects of email automation also ensure you reduce human errors.

Better customer relationships

Triggers ensure that only relevant emails are sent. Rather than sending all your emails to all your customers, email automation tools allow you to send targeted emails to relevant customers. This builds better customer relationships as it makes your campaigns come across as more personal and less spammy.

By connecting your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool to your email automation tool, you can also create highly personalised emails. This ultimately builds stronger connections to your customers.

Increased product awareness

Through the power of drip campaigns and analytical data, you can increase your customer’s product awareness. Automation tools come with great analytical data that better informs you of a customer’s interest in a specific product. Drip campaigns can naturally build on this interest without overwhelming them with information.

Detailed reporting

As aforementioned, email automation tools come with strong analytical capabilities. This gives you better insight into the progress of an email campaign and makes it easier to prepare reports.

Need help finding an email automation solution?

Email automation is all about saving time, so don’t waste any looking for your new solution.

YourShortlist have pre-vetted thousands of software providers and knows exactly what services they offer. After a quick consultation, we can prepare a no-obligation shortlist of software options that meet your needs exactly.

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