The Quick Guide to Email Marketing Automation


Written by Stefan Chiriacescu

February 26, 2020

If you’re reading about Email Marketing Automation, odds are that you are familiarized with the verbiage and have the basics already done and set up correctly.

Let’s discuss the most important part of today’s marketing efforts – Email Automation and Personalization

Sounds complicated? It does, and it is, but this is EXACTLY WHY YOU SHOULD DO IT. It takes companies months to set a proper email marketing automation program up because most companies will not have a dedicated email marketing professional that has worked with tens of providers and has extensive experience in this subject, let alone on your specific vertical. In the following article I will give you, step by step, guidance, on setting up your own automation program.

What is Email Marketing Automation?

Plainly, it means sending emails automatically based on triggers.
What are email triggers?
Triggers are actions a visitor or a customer has made that can be isolated. i.e. enter the site, add an item to the cart, create account, place order, activity or inactivity, etc.

5 Easy Steps to Setting up your Email Marketing Automation

  1. Technical Implementation
  2. Planning – Email Marketing Blueprint
  3. Designing
  4. Launching
  5. Maintenance

Step 1: Technical Implementation
The most important aspect of email marketing automation will be technical implementation. This is why you want to pick an email service provider that has good integration with your website. There are a plethora of email service providers out there and I have worked, and unfortunately still have to work, with a lot of them.
It’s entirely up to you to pick a good email service provider based on the platform you have built your website on and your budget. In a case study below I will go over Klaviyo integrations with Magento and Shopify web stores.

Case Study

Email marketing service provider checklist – Setting up Klaviyo on Magento and Shopify.

Step 2: Planning – Email Marketing Blueprint

Over the years I’ve learned that drawing up a logic scheme with all entry points and triggers, will make a world of difference between success and failure – I call this the Email Marketing Blueprint.

The EMB will have all your visitor/customer entry points, and it will cover the course of each action so that you have all the visitor/customer actions in front of you and you can build on the right triggers for you.

i.e. Visitor lands on a product page from Facebook Ad you’re running:

-> visitor leaves right away                                -> gets browse abandon email
-> visitor views more pages and then leaves -> gets browse abandon email with more recommendations based on what products he/she viewed
-> a visitor adds to cart and leaves                  -> gets the cart abandonment emails
-> a visitor becomes a customer                      -> goes through a New Customer Flow which will help you build your brand and squeeze the second sale

Related Article

Build your own, corporate-grade, email marketing blue print and start on the right foot

Step 3: Designing Email Marketing Automation Templates

Automation emails need to be very, VERY, text-heavy – the content of the email will be relevant to the recipient because he’s getting the email in response to an action he/she already took. What really matters at this point in time is to have good deliverability and text-heavy emails, as opposed to image-heavy emails, which will have much better deliverability.

Designing your automation emails is a 2 step process:

  1. Initial design – where you get all your triggered emails ready with minimal banners, fancy graphics, gifs
  2. Improvements and a/b split tests – where you have your automation live for 1-2 months and you start to make changes to your triggers. It’s important to have at least 1 month of data so you can see how your triggers are doing and know what you need to prioritize work on. Then, with a/b splits you will be able to see what design makes more sense, from an eCommerce perspective

Step 4: Launching your Email Automation Program

Before you flip the switch and go live do the following:
1. have someone who was not part of the project look over it – get some feedback – if you find usability issues (stuff that just does not work) fix them – if you get ideas for improvements, write them down but don’t do them yet unless you’re 100% sure they will help
2. check all your incentives, coupons, subject lines, and email tracking code
3. after you launch immediately act as a customer and go through all the entry points with different email addresses and make sure everything works

Step 5: Maintenance

Only a fraction of eCommerce stores out there have a proper Email Marketing Automation program, and only a handful of them actually work on further improving their triggers and content. This is by far, the best part.

You will now be 1 month into your Email Marketing Automation adventure – you already see results but some flows are not doing as well as you think they should. This is the time when you start to play and have fun.

Test sending times, test subject lines, test incentives, test email designs. Your best friend will be A/B split testing – this means sending different content to different users, getting results in real-time and picking your winners based on results. There’s no end to this as the user behavior changes based on technology trends and devices so you will be able to have fun and improve constantly.