Email marketing teams are experiencing increasing workloads like they’ve never seen before. 60% of global leaders say their email marketing team’s workload increased in 2020. (SparkPost, 2021)
Email practitioners feel even stronger, with nearly 3 out of 4 (72%) citing that workloads have increased.
This presents a huge opportunity for marketers to create efficiencies to reduce the strain and position teams to manage significant growth. One of those opportunities is automated email workflows.
Benefits of email automation
To keep up with demands, marketing automation—and in this case automated email workflows—frees up bandwidth for overworked teams.
This extra time savings allows email practitioners to focus on building new email campaigns and optimizing current ones. Instead of managing campaigns manually, automation systems do the work, well… automatically.
Content changes still require manual work, but with the structure built, teams can easily plug and play, freeing them to focus on more strategic efforts.
Litmus research finds that 53% of brands spend weeks producing an email. And the bigger the team, the longer the production cycle.
Automating emails allows teams to set their segmenting, content, and timing once, then the automation does the work. There’s no reinventing the wheel.
When your organization follows an automated email workflow, patterns and behaviors emerge over time. Then, you can test those patterns to get more of the behavior you want.
Test different variations or layouts of your emails to find the optimal version for your audience. Maybe they like more imagery and less text. Maybe they click on featured content at the top more than links at the bottom.
When the process is automated, it makes it fine tuning the testing process easier. This is a great tactic for those who send regular communications, like weekly or monthly email newsletters.
Mistakes happen. After all, we’re human. But your automation is NOT human.
Email marketing automation reduces or eliminates the need for manual updates and therefore decreases the likelihood of mistakes. Even the most careful copy and paste can go wrong sometimes.
We know for B2B marketers especially, you’re targeting multiple audiences and varied stakeholders. The messaging and content you use to attract one audience doesn’t necessarily work for another.
Automated workflows can be created for each of your audience segments. Teams can then build dynamic workflows to meet each segmented audience where they are in their journeys.
Warmer sales leads
Effective email marketing campaigns make life significantly easier for sales teams because leads are much warmer. Marketing can nurture leads and gather information before passing to sales.
Nurturing leads via email can provide a wealth of information about audience preferences and interests—and keep your organization top of mind.
By tracking engagement data, marketing teams can better qualify leads and pass them along to sales at the appropriate time.
Types of automated email workflows
Now that we’ve covered the “why” behind email workflows, let’s dig into the “what”. We’ve identified seven key types of workflows to get your organization started.
1. Onboarding workflow
If you’re collecting email addresses, you want to take advantage of this workflow. Also known as a welcome series, this group of emails is meant to help you and your subscriber get to know each other.
Welcome emails notoriously perform better than almost any other email campaign.
During an onboarding series, businesses should provide incentives, educate subscribers about products or services, and/or ask for additional information about subscribers’ preferences or profile.
2. Abandoned cart workflow
An abandoned cart workflow is a must-have for ecommerce organizations. This workflow is triggered when a potential buyer adds products to their cart but doesn’t complete the checkout.
This group of buyers has expressed interest in your products but may need a reminder or promotion to nudge them to purchase.
As you implement an abandoned cart workflow, play around with both the timing—how soon after someone adds to their cart that you trigger the email—as well as the promotion—what you use to entice the buyer to come back to your website to complete the purchase.
3. Mixed-channel workflow
We live in an environment where your buyer’s journey takes them zigging and zagging across multiple channels. Mixed-channel journeys use these multiple channels to communicate a singular message to subscribers.
Using emails, SMS messages, push notifications, and/or direct mail, marketers can weave together a cohesive campaign that reaches buyers across their winding journey.
4. Re-engagement workflow
It’s normal for subscribers’ engagement to wane over time. Either your content isn’t relevant to them anymore or it isn’t motivating them to take action. But you can change that!
Re-engagement campaigns have two key advantages. One, they can increase engagement in non-engaged audiences. Two, they can help clean out subscribers who no longer want to engage.
A great re-engagement campaign will excite your subscriber, bring them back to your content, and drive action. It will also give those who are no longer interested a way to leave the list. And that’s okay.
5. Sales support workflows
Your sales team has a lot on their plate. They may be following hundreds of leads and struggle to meaningfully engage with all of them.
Automating steps within the sales funnel takes repeatable tasks away from your sales team. This in turn gives them extra time to focus on connecting with key prospects rather than nurturing all leads.
These workflows are most effective when marketing and sales are working hand-in-hand. Working together ensures messaging aligns with the sales process and reporting aligns with the marketing team’s goals.
6. Feedback/review workflows
Wouldn’t it be great to know what your subscribers think of what you’re sending them and how you’re doing? Automating feedback loops ensures asking for reviews doesn’t fall to the bottom of the to-do list.
These workflows standardize the way feedback comes in, so your team is asking for feedback at the appropriate time.
7. Date-based workflow
Date-based workflows, such as birthday emails or subscription reminders, help subscribers feel nurtured and informed.
Automating these types of emails takes a lot of manual tracking and segmenting out of your team’s hands. Again, it eliminates the human element, so messages are directed to your subscriber at the perfect time. Because no one wants a belated birthday email.
Importance of auditing and optimizing
Though a benefit of automating emails is spending extra effort at the beginning of a project to reduce time and overhead in the future, that doesn’t mean you should set it and forget it.
You also need to consider how often your workflows are revisited for auditing and optimization. Regularly scheduled workflow audits reveal whether your timing and content is still relevant.
Though workflow content should aim to be relevant regardless of season or timeframe, there will always be shifts in the market or your business that necessitate change.
Optimizing emails is a huge benefit of email automation. Because you can track analytics over time, it’s easier to A/B test content and see apples-to-apples comparisons of data that you can make decisions on. Continuously optimizing email workflows leads to improved results over time.
Start automating your email workflows
Our experienced email marketing automation team can help you develop the perfect workflows to support your organization’s goals. And it doesn’t matter which email platform you use.
We can also provide guidance and recommendations for email platforms and set your internal teams on the path to supporting email efforts internally.