How automation can take your email to the next level


Automating a welcome series, thank you messages, a birthday greeting – these things are all table stakes in the email marketing game today. If you’re not sending them, you need to start. Like, right now.

To really stand out from the competition, start automating campaigns based on the activities your subscribers are doing every day, like browsing an online store, making a purchase, or signing up for an event. With the right tools, you can send relevant, timely emails based on pretty much any customer data you can gather.

Not sure where to start? Here are some fantastic examples of the kind of emails you can send with smart automation. Find a few that fit your brand’s goals, and give them a shot. You’ll be stunned at the big-time results you see… and how easy it was to get them.




With just a surface-level glance, it’s impossible to tell whether or not this email was automated (a sure sign they’re doing it right).

But a few days prior to receiving it, I surfed the cold brew coffee section of the Starbucks online store for a few minutes. While that might have just been a coincidence, there’s a good chance it wasn’t: Smart retailers like Starbucks know all too well that automating based on website browsing history is a great way to serve up content they know their  subscribers are already interested in. And it totally works (let’s just say I’ll be well-caffeinated on even the hottest days this summer).




Rent the Runway

Automated cart abandonment emails are common but powerful. It’s an incredibly effective sales recovery tactic – especially since 68.63% of online shopping carts are abandoned before a purchase is completed (Baymard Institute). On the other hand, according to remarketing specialist SalesCycle:

• Nearly half of all cart abandonment emails are opened.
• Over 10% of those are clicked.
• Just under a third of clicks lead to recovered purchase.
• The value of recovered purchases is 14.2% higher than typical ones.

That may sound like a drop in the bucket, but those recovered purchases add up to significant numbers over time – and if all it takes to recover that revenue is a simple automated email, why not set it up? Sometimes all it takes to convince someone to convert is a little nudge.

Note: If you don’t see the results you want, consider including a free shipping offer in the message. Shipping costs are the #1 reason people abandon their carts in the first place.





Speaking of giving a little nudge, this cart abandonment email does it beautifully by adding the element of scarcity. Telling your subscribers that stock is likely to run out gives them just the incentive they need to  complete their purchase right away.





Many websites nowadays include the option for people to “favorite” something or add it to a “wish list” rather than putting it in an actual shopping cart. It’s a good option for casual browsers to save an item for a rainy day if they aren’t ready to purchase just yet.

Automated emails like this one help remind subscribers about those products. And if you know that a big event, like a birthday or a holiday, is coming up? It’s a golden opportunity to help make that customer’s “wish list” a reality by automating based on that date.





While not conversion-focused, exactly, transactional emails like receipts and shipping notifications do wonders for customer retention. They might feel like business-as-usual emails, but they’re crucial to reassuring customers that there aren’t any hiccups in the ordering process.

That doesn’t mean you should mail them in, though. Spend as much time on these as you would your other automated campaigns. It’s a prime opportunity to add a little personality to the buying experience and create as many happy (and repeat) customers as possible.




Warby Parker

Warby Parker is known for creating seamless customer experiences, and automated emails like these are a huge part of that. A few days after someone receives their home try-on order, they receive this gentle reminder that their time is almost up. In the email, they lay out clear next steps – both to return the glasses and to order the ones they liked most.

It’s friendly, simple, and easy to navigate…  all things that make for a fantastic customer experience.




Habitat for Humanity

You can also automate based on actions (or in this case, the lack of actions) your subscribers take in the inbox. If someone hasn’t opened or clicked your mailings in a while, you might consider automating a re-engagement email like this one from Habitat for Humanity.

People might lose interest in your emails, but that doesn’t mean they’ve lost interest in your brand entirely. Maximize your touch points across all channels for the biggest impact.





Hosting an event? Use email automation to manage communications with attendees before, during, and after the big shindig. Set up a campaign ahead of time that uses registration or attendance as the primary trigger, and it will help streamline your work so you can focus on other things – like making sure the bar is fully stocked or your webinar platform is working without a hitch.




Any other ideas or examples of next-level email automation? Let us know in the comments!


About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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