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Updated Oct 23, 2023

Email Marketing Automation Guide

Email marketing automation can help you save time, increase your ROI, and deliver a better experience to your subscribers.

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Jamie Johnson, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
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Editor Reviewed
This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

Table of Contents

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If you’re looking for a way to bring in and convert new leads, email marketing is still one of the best strategies out there. Email marketing allows you to connect with your customers and send them automated, personalized content. 

Not only is this marketing strategy an efficient way to connect with your customers, it’s the most cost effective. One study found that every $1 spent on email marketing generated an average ROI of $38. And 78% of marketers have seen an increase in their email engagement over the past year. 

Fortunately, email marketing automation is a lot easier to set up than you may think, even if you’re new to email marketing. Once you understand the basics, you’ll be well on your way to providing this benefit to your customers.

What is email marketing automation?

Email marketing involves sending targeted emails to groups of your subscribers. This could be a weekly newsletter, information about your products or services, or just general information about your company. 

Editor’s note: Looking for the right email marketing solution for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

With email marketing automation, these emails are sent without your constant involvement. You set up automatic workflows, and when a customer signs up for a free lead magnet or makes a purchase, they will receive an email or a series of emails. 

Email marketing automation allows you to continue building a relationship with your subscribers over time. When you plan your campaign, you’ll decide who it targets and your campaign’s purpose. 

From there, you’ll decide how many emails to include and how frequently your customers will receive these emails. Once you schedule your campaign, the emails will be delivered automatically.

Did You Know?Did you know
Email automation is just one marketing automation software feature. Other features include social media, text message and web marketing, and tracking and customer engagement functions.

Benefits of email marketing automation

These are some of the most significant email marketing benefits that going digital provides.

Reclaims your time

One of the biggest benefits of email marketing automation is that it saves you a lot of time. When you reach a certain point in your business, sending out emails manually is no longer possible. 

Email marketing automation allows you to scale your marketing efforts. You can triple your reach without tripling the amount of effort you put into it. 

Improves the customer experience

Email marketing automation isn’t just more convenient for you – it also delivers a better experience to your customers. This is because your customers’ behavior determines the type of emails they receive.

For instance, a website visitor may want to learn more about your company, but they may not be ready to have a salesperson reach out to them. So they sign up for a free guide and receive a welcome email.

That subscriber receives valuable and relevant information, and you continue building the relationship until they’re ready to move to the next step. Thanks to email marketing automation, you’re able to send information that’s personalized to their specific needs. 

Increases revenue

Data repeatedly shows that email marketing results in more revenue for your business. By sending targeted, timely emails to your subscribers, you increase the likelihood of converting someone to a customer.

For instance, marketers who used segmented campaigns saw a 760% increase in revenue, and 59% of marketers claim that email is their largest source of ROI. 

Boosts knowledge

Another benefit is that email marketing helps you learn more about your subscribers. You’ll discover the types of emails they prefer, what subject lines prompt them to open it and the type of products in which they’re interested.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway
As you track your email marketing campaigns, you'll gain more insight into your audience. This information will help you create successful future marketing campaigns.

How to automate your emails

Here are the five steps you’ll take to begin automating your emails: 

1. Choose your email marketing software.

Start by choosing the email marketing software you’ll use. Here are a few to consider: 

  • Constant Contact: Constant Contact is one of the best software options available for small businesses. The pricing is based on the size of your email list, so there are affordable options if you are just getting started. You can send an unlimited number of emails, and the company has a 97% deliverability rate.
  • Benchmark Email: Benchmark Email is another low-cost option if you’re new to email marketing. The company’s plans start at just $13.99 per month if you have fewer than 600 subscribers. Every plan comes with unlimited monthly emails and various customizable templates. Plus, Benchmark integrates with more than 300 popular apps, including WordPress, Google and Shopify. 
  • Mailchimp: Mailchimp is the best free email marketing provider available. The service is free to use for up to 2,000 subscribers, and you can send 12,000 emails per month. Plus, Mailchimp provides many useful features, including A/B testing and the ability to create mobile-friendly landing pages. The email editor is also easy to use.  
  • Sendinblue: Sendinblue is a better option if you are looking for advanced features for your organization. The service has built-in marketing automation features, such as detailed workflows and custom rules, and it uses CRM and email marketing to help you manage your customer relationships and communicate more effectively. 
Check out our guide to finding the best email marketing service for you. Determine your needs and find the right partner for your business.

2. Create a welcome sequence.

Once you’ve chosen an email provider, you need to set up a welcome sequence for new subscribers. A welcome sequence is a series of emails that new subscribers will receive after they sign up. This ensures that you’re creating a good first impression with your recipients.

The content and number of emails you send will depend on your personal preferences. But the main objective of a welcome sequence is to thank your subscribers for signing up and invite them to connect with you on other platforms. 

If you're looking to implement triggered emails for your business, read our review of Constant Contact or our Salesforce Marketing Cloud review.

3. Segment your list.

As you begin collecting more information about your audience, you’ll start segmenting potential customers into different lists. By segmenting your subscribers based on their industry, location, and how they found you, you’ll be able to deliver more personalized emails. 

4. Split-test your emails.

When you first start email marketing, it’ll take some time to figure out what resonates with your audience. One of the best email marketing campaign strategies is split-testing your emails.

In A/B testing, you send slightly different versions of the same email to different groups of subscribers. For instance, you may send the same email but test out two different subject lines, or you may try out a different call to action (CTA) to see which one is the most effective. Over time, you’ll begin to gather the information that will help you create better campaigns. 

5. Track the results of your campaign.

Anytime you start a new email marketing campaign, you want to track your results to see if your campaign was successful. You’ll want to check these key performance indicators (KPIs):

  • Delivery rate: Your delivery rate is the percentage of emails you send that ends up in your subscribers’ inboxes. Your email delivery rate should be at least 95%. If it’s lower than that, you’ll want to contact your web host to figure out why. 
  • Open rate: Your open rate is the percentage of users who received your email and actually opened it. If your open rate is on the low side, this could indicate your subject lines need some work. 
  • Click-through rate: Of the subscribers who opened your email, how many of them took the action you wanted them to take? This is known as the click-through rate, and it’s an excellent way to gauge how engaging your emails are.
Key TakeawayKey takeaway
To get started with email marketing automation, select the right software, set up a welcome sequence, carefully segment your list, test out email versions, and track your campaign's results.

Best practices for using automated emails

Email marketing automation will save you time and money, but it will take some effort on your part to achieve success. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind as you move forward:

  • Always include a CTA. Every email should have a call to action. However, this doesn’t mean you should always try to get your subscribers to buy something. In fact, selling too hard is one of the most common email marketing mistakes. Often, the CTA could be something simple, like checking out a recent blog post you wrote or following your company on Twitter.
  • Follow anti-spam laws. Make sure you comply with the FTC’s anti-spam laws for commercial email. These rules require that you provide your name and address at the end of every email, and give subscribers a way to opt out of future emails. If you violate the CAN-SPAM Act, you could get hit with hefty fines. 
  • Make sure emails are optimized for mobile. Did you know that 46% of people check their email on mobile devices? For that reason, every email you send must be optimized for mobile devices.
  • Be consistent. Consistency is one of the most important aspects of email marketing success. It’s OK if you can’t build complex email sequences from day one, but you should at least send out a weekly newsletter. This lets your subscribers know what to expect and helps you build a relationship with them. 
author image
Jamie Johnson, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
For more than five years, Jamie Johnson has been guiding business owners on financial matters both big and small. This includes investment advice, insights on business loans and funding options, recommendations on insurance and more. Johnson excels at delivering easy-to-understand direction so entrepreneurs can make the best financial decisions for their businesses and, as a solopreneur herself, she regularly tests business strategies and services. Johnson's expertise can be found in a variety of finance publications, including InvestorPlace, Credit Karma, Insurify and Rocket Mortgage. She has also demonstrated a deep understanding of other B2B topics — including sales, payroll, marketing and social media — for the likes of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. News & World Report, CNN, USA Today and Business Insider.
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