Actionable tips, community conversations, and marketing inspiration.

What Is Email Marketing Automation and How Does It Work?

Wilson Lau

Sr. SEO Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

Topics Covered:

Email automation is the practice of using preset parameters to issue marketing communications to customers or subscribers. It falls under the broader umbrella of marketing automation, encompassing social media, display ads, organic search automation, and more. Email automation allows branding professionals to personalize the customer journey in both content and cadence, making it possible to turn marketing analytics into high-impact messaging suited to a customer’s interactions with the brand. 

Basic examples of automated marketing emails include cart abandonment emails, order confirmations, or nurture campaigns that respond to a customer’s behavior on a brand’s website. It’s an important tool for marketers that streamlines customer interaction details while providing customers with compelling messaging and new touchpoints to engage and move further down the conversion funnel.

For a list of top ecommerce marketing automation tools:

Why Do You Need Email Marketing Automation?

Email remains at the top of customers’ preferred method of communication with brands

Americans spend an average of 2.6 hours per day reading and responding to emails. That’s a big chunk of every day during which you can reach customers with their preferred means of communication. Email is also one of the most effective marketing channels in terms of generating conversions and revenue.

Marketing automation makes personalization easier

Automating emails enables marketers to easily create personalized content that reflects a customer’s interests and previous behavior. Marketing studies indicate that personalization has a massive impact on customer engagement: marketing emails with personalized subject lines generate an open rate of 26% above those without, and personalized drip campaigns lead to click-through rates up to 300% above individual emails or non-personalized campaigns.

For tips on getting started with personalized marketing:

Reduce time devoted to email marketing

Email automation frees up resources and energy for other initiatives. Communicating with customers can be time-consuming, especially when handling the gritty details of order management, confirmations, shipping, and returns. Automation can manage all of these tasks while also providing automatic promotional content when users demonstrate interest in purchasing.

Email marketing automation builds customer trust and brand authority

The better a brand can use personalization to demonstrate an understanding of the customer, the more customers will trust the brand. Trust fosters positive customer relationships, encouraging users to come back and continue to interact. Marketing automation is a vital tool for boosting customer lifetime value (CLV).

What Are the Different Types of Email Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation includes both marketing emails (to drive customers down the conversion funnel) and transactional emails (to facilitate purchases and provide the customer with crucial order information). Automated emails can help you manage every step of the customer journey, from the moment they submit their email address.

Welcome emails

Marketers can create automated welcome messages to introduce users to the brand and provide the users with more entry points to whatever the brand is offering. These emails can be crafted to achieve specific calls-to-action (CTAs), such as subscribing to a blog feed, following brand social media accounts, or more directly product-focused actions. 

Welcome emails are also a key opportunity to establish brand trust by sending personalized communications from the start. For instance, an ecommerce brand might ask users to submit their emails with a pop-up or modal window that appears in the corner of its website and then tailor the initial welcome emails according to which pages the visitor viewed before and while subscribing. 

Drip campaigns

Drip campaigns, or nurture campaigns, consist of emails sent according to a predefined cadence or set of customer actions that trigger messages. Drip campaigns can be used to slowly introduce a customer to a brand’s values and style while surfacing products or content relevant to the recipient’s interests. 

Sending too many emails can annoy customers and scare them away from the brand. A curated drip campaign can present more than just promotions and links to product pages. Instead, many brands opt to invite users to explore other types of content on their websites, such as blog posts or videos. Once you’ve established brand authority, you can start introducing products and helping customers explore everything your brand has to offer.

Sale and discount emails

Brands can offer discount codes via email in response to preset triggers, such as a customer viewing a product without purchasing or simply not interacting with the brand for a period of time (also called a win-back email). A discount email can help nudge customers who might be undecided about buying or hoping to find a better price. 

For an ultimate guide on browse abandonment emails:

Order update emails

Customers expect regular communication about their purchases, and marketing automation makes these transactional elements very simple. Order confirmations and shipping notifications are more than just informational — they’re opportunities to provide excellent personalized services and suggest more ways for the customer to engage with the brand. 

Abandoned cart emails

Customers navigate the purchase funnel all too often and arrive at a decision only to leave items in their shopping cart unbought. Usually, they use their shopping carts as wish lists or to compare products but never actually finish the purchase. Abandoned carts represent a massive chunk of lost value for ecommerce brands — up to $18 billion per year. Some 70% of shopping carts are abandoned, a rate that’s even higher for mobile shoppers. 

Brands can recapture some of that revenue with cart abandonment emails that remind users to come back and complete the transaction. Some brands offer small discount codes in these reminders, but often just the email itself is enough to bring the customer back and finish the conversion. 

Curated product emails

Brands often send content-rich emails showcasing a wide range of product categories and website content, offering a wide-angle snapshot of the brand. These emails feature CTAs leading to various parts of the brand’s website. Depending on how the user interacts with the curated email, you can segment them into distinct groups and continue to present them with relevant messaging.

Summing It Up 

Email marketing automation is a powerful tool for ecommerce marketers that frees up time and resources for developing new strategies and initiatives. Using email automation can facilitate conversions, provide users with relevant content, and strengthen the customer relationship with accurate personalization.

Explore Next

Topics Covered: