Moving beyond the basics of email automation

Cody De Vos

Exploring what's possible with email marketing automation

My name is Cody De Vos, and I’m a Senior Product Manager here at Emma. 

I’ve managed our automation platform since its inception, and during that time, I’ve spoken to dozens and dozens of people about their automation strategies, needs, and wishes.


That's Cody!

Since our platform was built with the goal of making sophisticated marketing automation available to any organization, I love helping Emma customers move beyond the essentials (like welcome and birthday messages) to explore some of Emma’s more advanced automation capabilities.

In this post, I'll dive into a few of those possibilities. Let's get started! 


A little background: The evolution of broadcast messaging

Over the years, email marketing has moved away from “batch and blast” (sending one generic message to your entire audience) to the popular concept of "right person, right message, right time." 

If you want to break through the noise in the inbox, you can't form your strategy around your business's timeline; it's all about your audience's timeline. You have to start thinking about what you're sending your customers in terms of lifecycles and moments. 

Lifecycles: the stages of your customer’s journey with you, from the moment they learn about you to the moment they leave your audience for good. 

Moments: all the little Hallmark-commercial bits along the way.


Recognizing moments: field change and Event API triggers

First, you must define and distinguish the significant moments in your customer's lifecycle.

Field change triggers:
Is your moment a “before & after” moment? An account activation, account manager assignment, etc.? Would it be reflected on a field in your contact record?

Event API triggers: 
Is it a little more transactional, like a purchase or an event registration? 
Would it be reflective of something they might do multiple times over their lifecycle?


An email automation example based on a field change...


...then another when the field changes again! 


Personalizing your message: dynamic content from Event API

Events like purchases and event registrations carry so much more information than a simple field change. Use dynamic content to personalize your message with data from the event itself and power hyper-relevant emails. 

Emma customer The Dessy Group takes advantage of this type of automation to power their "showroom" functionality. First, a bride sets up her showroom and invites her bridesmaids to check out the dresses she's picked out. Then, any time a bridesmaid takes an action, the bride is notified with a personalized email.

Here's how it plays out: 

First, everyone in the bridal party gets this invitation to join the showroom. 

Each time someone joins, the bride gets a notification in her own inbox. 


When a bridesmaid likes, comments on, or purchases a dress, the bride sees that, too! 


Every element of the email is customized to reflect the bridemaid's experience and actions. 


Responding to your audience’s response: branching by opens & clicks

Automating by audience behavior IN the inbox is a bit of a no-brainer, especially since (assuming you're using an ESP like Emma) you already have that data at your fingertips.

Some suggestions on this front:

1. If your message is important enough to bear repeating, resend it 3 days after the first message goes unopened.

2. If your message builds on a previous message, send a follow-up message only after your customers have opened your previous message

3. If your message is intended to guide customers towards a CTAtry a different message if they don’t click the link the first time (or the second time).






A recap of what you should remember about automation

  • Your customers have a lifecycle, but they experience that lifecycle in "moments"...

  • ...moments are the most critical opportunities you have to strengthen your relationship...

  • ...and you can find a way to trigger a message from almost any moment that you can capture.

Finally, use your powers wisely! The line between “attentive” and “clingy” can be a fine one to walk. You can surprise and delight, but try to find moments that your customer wouldn’t be surprised to learn that you knew about.



Want to take Emma's automation suite for a spin? Request a tour today! 




About the Author

Cody  De Vos

Cody De Vos is a Senior Product Manager at Emma.

Previous Article
Expert tips from top university marketers
Expert tips from top university marketers

University marketers share their best digital marketing tips, from email to brand control across departments.

Next Article
Some of our all-time favorite travel email examples
Some of our all-time favorite travel email examples

Get email design and strategy inspiration from top travel brands.

Want to engage your audience and grow your brand? Try Emma’s robust, easy-to-use product today.

Get a Demo