March 06, 2023
Reading time: 14 minutes

How to Create Automated Email Workflows: Examples and Templates Included

Email marketing is a gem! It’s excellent for your business, if you hope to reach out to many people. Do it right and it can skyrocket your sales and engagement. Unfortunately, sending emails to hundreds of clients can feel time-consuming, boring, and counterproductive. It only gets tougher as your list expands.

Already, people are spending an average of 1.1 minutes on a single email. It makes sense to have this process run itself. That’s where email automation comes in handy.

Our most thriving customers use automated email workflows for their online businesses. They send the right messages at the perfect time, even with a massive customer base.

If you think your list isn’t big enough for automation, there’s no such thing, and you should consider it right away. These workflows are crucial for nurturing leads and guiding them through the buying process.

In this post, we will go through everything you need to know about automated email workflows, from setting them up to following best practices. Plus, we will share examples and templates from successful small businesses.

By the end of this article, you will be equipped to effectively handle email automation using workflows. So, let’s get started!

Table of Contents

What is Email Automation?

Email automation is a way to send emails to your subscribers automatically. Specific actions or events trigger or set off these emails. 

Ever signed up for a newsletter or bought something online and got an email right after? That’s a trigger in action!

With email automation, you set up a bunch of emails just once, and they do the magic on their own. No more manual sending for every new person! It’s like having a personal assistant for your emails, making sure everyone gets the right message when they should. According to a recent report by Zapier, marketers are saving 25 hours per week with automation, and automated email is a big part of that strategy.

Example 1: Welcome message

Imagine running an online store. A new subscriber joins your email list, and automatically, a welcome email is sent. This email includes a warm message, social media links, or a special offer.

Example 2: Abandoned cart reminder

A customer adds items to their cart but doesn’t purchase them. Automatically, an email is sent reminding them of the items and encouraging them to complete the purchase.

Example 3: Birthday wishes

You can send automated birthday emails to your subscribers. On their birthday, an email with a special wish and a discount code as a gift is sent automatically. No need to track birthdays or send emails manually!

Already, you can tell how much time, effort, and cost email marketing automation can save you. Now, it’s time to understand workflows.

What are Automated Email Workflows?

Automated email workflows are a series of pre-written emails sent automatically. These are the results of particular actions or triggers from your subscribers or clients. Automated email workflows are a key part of the email marketing automation process.

These workflows are essential for nurturing leads and increasing engagement. Ultimately, they drive conversions without constant manual effort.

How Does an Automated Email Workflow Work?

Automated email workflows can be dynamic or linear. Your email campaign strategy will decide which type, or combination, to launch. The two main types are drip campaigns and nurture campaigns.

Drip Campaign:

A drip campaign is a linear, automated email workflow. It sends content to a segmented group of contacts on a set schedule. There is little to no marketing personalization. This is useful for outreach campaigns that introduce new leads to your brand at a slower pace. For example, you can trigger this workflow to send an email to a contact that you’ve added to your lead database.

email drip campaign template

Simple Drip Campaign Example:

Imagine you add a new contact to your lead database. This action triggers a drip campaign. The contact then receives a series of emails on a set schedule. These emails introduce your brand and offerings at a gradual pace.

Nurture Campaign:

An automated nurture campaign is dynamic. It sends targeted content on a more strategized schedule. This appeals to the relevant interests and preferences of a contact at a given stage of their journey. You can trigger this dynamic workflow based on a web form submission, content download, or other specified user actions.

email nuture campaign template

Dynamic Nuture Campaign Example:

You may launch a campaign that includes links to its most popular posts. This provides a contact with several choices. How the contact interacts with the email content provides valuable insight into their interests. This can be helpful in determining which content types to use for follow-up purposes.

Types of Content Used for Automated Email Workflows

Automated Email Workflows are essential to maintaining engagement with your audience. Here are the different types of content used for these workflows:

types of content for automated email workflows

1. Educational Content: Product demos and tutorials that help your audience understand your products or services better.

2. Promotional Content: Special sales, offers, and product feature updates that entice your audience and encourage purchases.

3. Informational Content: These include newsletters, press releases, and event announcements. They’ll keep your customers in the loop on all the latest happenings and updates.

4. Answering Queries: FAQs tackle the most common questions and concerns people might have, all in one place.

5. Engaging Content: Popular articles and blog posts that are not only a treat to read, but they’re also packed with insights that’ll draw them closer to your community and website.

Each type of content plays a crucial role in nurturing your leads and guiding them through the buyer’s journey.

Key Features of Email Automation Platforms

Email automation platforms? Think of them as your friendly email helpers. They let you set up automatic email campaigns without needing to be a tech whiz.

These platforms should have the following features if they are effective:

  • Trigger-Based Sending
  • List Segmentation: 
  • Personalization
  • A/B Testing:
  • Analytics and Reporting
  • Responsive Design
  • Pre-designed Templates
  • Autoresponders
  • List Building Tools
  • Spam Compliance Features

Challenges You Might Face Creating Automated Email Workflows

So, we had a chat with our clients about the hiccups they face with automated workflows. Here’s what they shared:

  1. Getting those triggers and actions just right is a bit tricky.
  2. Automating too much makes emails come off as robotic and not so heartfelt.
  3. Crafting the perfect message for every step of a buyer’s adventure.
  4. Making sure those emails actually land in the inbox and dodge the spam folder.
  5. Maintaining a clean and updated email list to avoid sending emails to invalid addresses or uninterested recipients.
  6. Analyzing and interpreting the data to optimize the email workflow for better results can be overwhelming.
  7. Balancing the frequency of emails to avoid overwhelming the recipients while still maintaining engagement.

Why You Should Use Automated Email Workflows

benefits of automated email workflows

Here are key reasons why you should use email automation workflows:

1. Streamline Processes

Automation makes the email marketing process smoother. It sends emails automatically based on specific triggers or actions. This saves time and effort, allowing you to focus on creating quality content and other important business tasks.

2. Boost Customer Retention

Automated emails help you engage with customers at every stage of their journey. From a welcome email to a special offer for loyal customers, it ensures continuous engagement. This strengthens your relationship with customers and increases retention rates.

A Klaviyo customer, Premier, got a 73% open rate and a 12% click rate on one campaign using a clearance sale offer workflow for their emails.

3. Enhance Segmentation and Personalization

Automated workflows allow you to customize emails based on the recipient’s behavior, preferences, or past interactions. This makes emails more relevant and engaging, leading to higher open, click-through, and conversion rates.

A pharmaceutical company was able to decrease client email opt-out rates by 50% after they started using automation to personalize their messages.

Automation allows you to segment your email list based on various criteria. You can then send targeted emails to each segment, increasing the chances of your emails being opened and acted upon.

4. Minimize Errors

Manual email marketing can lead to errors, like sending the wrong email or an email with broken links. Email recipient error (sending to the wrong person) is also quite common, with 29% of businesses losing customers to this problem. Automation minimizes these risks by ensuring the right email is sent to the right person at the right time.

5. Enable Tracking and Improvement

Automation includes analytics and reporting features. This allows you to track email performance, see which emails are opened, which links are clicked, and which emails lead to conversions. This data helps you continuously optimize your email workflows for better results.

MobileFun used the analytics from A/B testing to create a winning campaign that enjoyed a 49.17% open rate

How to Set Up Automated Email Workflows

steps to set up automated email workflows

1. Choose an Email Automation Platform

Starting off? You’ll need an email automation tool. There are a bunch out there: Mailchimp, SendinBlue, and ActiveCampaign, to name a few. Take a peek at their features and see which one fits your needs (and budget).

2. Identify and Understand Your Audience

To strike a chord with your audience, you’ve got to know them. Dive into who they are. Segment them by interests, past purchases, or however you see fit. It’s like tailoring your message to each friend.

3. Decide on Your Goals

Before you start creating your email workflows, select from this list of long-term and short-term goals. Think about where you want this journey to go. Looking to boost sales? Or just want to keep your brand top of mind? Outline those goals; it’s your roadmap.

4. Create a Contact Enrollment Criteria

Think of this as the rulebook for who gets what email and when. Did they just join your newsletter? Maybe they bought something? That decides the emails they get..

5. Decide On What to Automate

Decide what emails you want fired off automatically. Welcome emails, special deals, cart reminders – you name it.

6. Gather Email Campaign Assets

Gather everything you’ll need – catchy images, snappy text, and those all-important links. Quality matters here.

7. Determine Automated Email Workflow Triggers and Conditions

Determine what sets off an email. Is it them signing up? Or not buying in a while? That’s your trigger. And then lay down the rules – like if they haven’t shopped in the last month.

8. Set the Email Frequency

You don’t want to be that clingy friend, but you also don’t want them to forget you. Decide how often you’ll drop into their inbox. Balance is key. This LinkedIn post will help you set a reasonable email frequency.

9. Recheck and Test the Automated Workflows

Before launching your email automation campaign, thoroughly test your workflows to ensure everything is working as expected. Send test emails to yourself and colleagues to check for any issues or errors.

10. Launch the Email Automation Campaign

Once you’re confident, go live with your campaign. Keep an eye on performance and tweak as you go. Email magic, here you come!

25 Automated Email Workflow Examples You Can Use

1. Welcome Workflow

Trigger: New subscriber signup.

Welcome workflow

First impressions matter, so make them count with a warm and inviting welcome email. This is your chance to introduce your brand, share important links, and offer a special discount to encourage their first purchase. Make them feel valued right from the start.

2. Lead Nuturing Workflow

Trigger: Content download or form submission.

Lead Nuturing Workflow

You’ve caught their interest, now it’s time to nurture that relationship. Thank them for their interest and offer more value by sending content that addresses their needs and highlights your solutions. Show them you understand their pain points and are here to help.

3. Customer Re-Engagement Workflow

Trigger: Prolonged customer inactivity.

Customer Re-Engagement Workflow

Sometimes customers drift away. It’s important to show them you care and are there when they need you. Send them a thoughtful email, ask if they need any help, and entice them back with new products or special offers.

4. Topic Workflow

Trigger: Interest shown in a specific topic.

Topic Workflow

When a subscriber shows interest in a particular topic, it’s an opportunity to dive deeper. Provide more comprehensive information on the topic of interest through a series of emails containing blog posts, ebooks, or webinars.

5. Abandoned Cart Workflow

Trigger: Items left in cart without purchase.

Abandoned Cart Workflow

Abandoned carts are a lost sales opportunity. Send a friendly reminder of the items left behind, and offer additional incentives like a discount or free shipping to encourage completion of the purchase.

6. Upsell Workflow

Trigger: Recent customer purchase.

Upsell Workflow

Thank your customers for their purchase and suggest related products or services they might find valuable. Provide more details and benefits of the suggested products in follow-up emails to encourage an additional purchase.

7. Product Lifecycle Workflow

Trigger: Purchase of a product with a limited lifespan.

Product Lifecycle Workflow

Remind customers when it’s time to replace or upgrade a product they’ve purchased. Offer helpful tips for maximizing product usage and provide special offers to encourage repeat purchases.

8. Free Trial Sign-up Workflow

Trigger: Free trial signup.

Free Trial Sign-up Workflow

This allows you to thank new users for signing up for a free trial. You can include a guide on how to make the most of their membership. Highlight the key benefits of your product or service and encourage them to upgrade to a paid plan before the trial ends.

9. Engaged Contact Workflow

Trigger: High engagement with previous emails.

Engaged Contact Workflow

Your engaged contacts are prime candidates for conversion. Send them exclusive offers or content that will further solidify their relationship with your brand and encourage them to take the next step, whether it’s making a purchase or becoming an advocate for your brand.

10. In-House Sales Rep Notification Workflow

Trigger: Lead reaches a specific scoring threshold.

 In-House Sales Rep Notification Workflow

Inform your sales team when a lead reaches a certain level of engagement or interest. This enables your sales reps to follow up with leads who are more likely to convert, making their efforts more focused and efficient.

11. Opt-In Workflow

Trigger: Subscriber opts in for a specific type of content.

Opt-In Workflow

Thank the subscriber for their interest and start sending them the type of content they opted in for. This could be a newsletter, updates on special offers, or industry news.

12. Customer Onboarding Workflow

Trigger: New customer signs up.

Customer Onboarding Workflow

A smooth eCommerce onboarding process is crucial for customer satisfaction. Send a series of emails that guide the new customer through the initial stages of using your product or service, highlighting key features and offering tips for success.

13. Special Occasion Workflow

Trigger: Subscriber’s birthday or anniversary.

Special Occasion Workflow

Celebrate your subscriber’s special day by sending them a personalized message and a special offer. It’s a great way to show appreciation and strengthen your relationship with them.

14. Event Registrants Workflow

Trigger: Registration for an event.

Event Registrants Workflow

Send a series of emails to event registrants with important information about the event, such as the agenda, speaker details, and logistics. After the event, send a thank you email and ask for feedback to improve future events.

15. Subscription Renewal Workflow

Trigger: Upcoming subscription renewal date.

Subscription Renewal Workflow

Remind your customers that their subscription is about to expire and highlight the benefits of renewing. Offer a special discount or bonus to encourage them to renew before their subscription ends.

16. Lost Opportunity Nurture Workflow

Trigger: Lost deal or inactive lead.

Lost Opportunity Nurture Workflow

A lost deal or cold lead isn’t the end of the road. Send a series of emails to re-engage them, offering new solutions or incentives that better address common needs.

17. Buyer Role Segmentation Workflow

Trigger: Identification of the buyer’s role.

Buyer Role Segmentation Workflow

Tailor your communication based on the role of the buyer. For instance, a decision-maker might receive different content than an influencer within a company. This helps address their specific needs and concerns.

18. Post-Purchase Workflow

Trigger: Customer made a purchase.

Post-Purchase Workflow

Thank your customers for their purchase and provide them with helpful information such as how to use the product, care instructions, or ways to get in touch with customer service. This helps in building a strong relationship post-purchase.

19. Cross-Sell Workflow

Trigger: Recent purchase of a particular product.

Cross-Sell Workflow

Recommend products that complement the recent purchase of your customer. For example, if they bought a camera, suggest accessories like a tripod or lens.

20. Reorder Prompt Workflow

Trigger: Time for reordering a consumable product.

Reorder Prompt Workflow

Remind your customers when it’s time to reorder a consumable product they previously purchased. Offer a discount or a special offer to encourage them to reorder.

21. Clearance Sale Offer Workflow

Trigger: Clearance sale announcement.

Clearance Sale Offer Workflow

Notify your subscribers about a clearance sale and highlight the products that are on sale. Encourage them to make a purchase before the stock runs out.

22. Customer Satisfaction Workflow

Trigger: After a purchase or interaction with customer service.

Customer Satisfaction Workflow

Ask your customers for feedback after they shop in your store or contact customer service. This shows that you value their opinion and are constantly working to improve.

23. Brand Loyalty Program Workflow

Trigger: Customer joins loyalty program.

Brand Loyalty Program Workflow

Thank your customers for joining your loyalty program and explain how it works. Highlight the benefits and how they can earn and redeem points.

24. Email Lesson Series Workflow

Trigger: Subscriber signs up for email lessons.

Email Lesson Series Workflow

Send a series of educational emails over a period of time. Each email should provide valuable information and help the subscriber achieve a specific goal.

25. Customer Service Workflow

Trigger: Customer submits a support request.

Customer Service Workflow

Acknowledge the support request and provide information on the next steps. Send follow-up emails to update the customer on the progress and ensure their issue is resolved satisfactorily.

Automated Email Workflow Best Practices

Segment Your Audience:

Not all your subscribers are the same, so don’t treat them that way. Segment your audience based on different criteria, such as their past purchases, engagement level, or where they are in the buyer’s journey.

Personalize Your Emails:

Personalization goes beyond just using the subscriber’s name in the email. Customize the content, images, and offers in each email to make them more relevant to the recipient.

Test and Optimize:

Before launching your automated email workflow, test it thoroughly to ensure everything works as expected. Once the workflow is live, monitor its performance and make necessary adjustments to optimize its effectiveness.

Don’t Overwhelm Your Subscribers:

Be mindful of the frequency of your emails. Sending too many emails in a short period can be overwhelming and lead to unsubscriptions.

Provide Value:

Every email you send should provide value to the recipient. Whether it’s a special offer, a helpful tip, or an update on a product they are interested in, make sure your emails are helpful and relevant.

Use Clear and Compelling CTAs:

Make it clear what action you want the recipient to take and make it easy for them to do so. Use compelling calls to action that stand out in the email.

Monitor and Analyze Performance:

Regularly review the performance of your automated email workflows. Analyze open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and other key metrics to understand what’s working and what needs improvement.

Optimize for Mobile:

A significant portion of emails are opened on mobile devices. Make sure your emails and landing pages are mobile-friendly.

Be Compliant:

Make sure your email marketing practices comply with relevant laws and regulations, such as GDPR and CAN-SPAM.

Don’t Rely Solely on Automation:

While automated email workflows are incredibly powerful, they should be just one part of your overall email marketing strategy. Don’t forget to send occasional manual emails to your list as well.

Automate Your Online Business with the Best Tools

The best practice of all when it comes to automated email workflows is to use tools you can rely on. Do your due diligence to find out what works best for your business. Then follow our step-by-step guide, examples, and best practices to get the most out of your campaigns.

For post-purchase workflows, which are the most important for eCommerce businesses, TrackMage is simply the best. You can create fully automated and personalized emails for your customers with ease.

These emails will provide order status updates and review collection emails for each buyer, reducing customer anxiety and improving their overall experience!

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