Successful Email Workflows: 23 Experts Spell-Out their Best Tips
Are your contacts engaged, or are they sitting dormant in your database?
Without an automated email workflow set up your answer would probably be the latter. This means you're losing out on profitable opportunities to nurture, engage, and interact with your existing contacts.
To avoid this, we decided to survey 23 marketing experts about the email workflows that brought the most value to their companies.
We asked them about the main objective behind their workflow and why it works for them.
Then we categorized the answers based on the workflow’s goal and dug deeper into the process, creating an inspirational selection of workflows for those looking to automate their email marketing efforts.
But first, let’s go over the value of automation for email marketing.
Why Create an Email Workflow?
You could create an email workflow for diverse reasons. For example, one that triggers when your customer spends a certain amount hits a milestone or anything else that relates to your industry and brand.
Your email workflow automatically sends a series of emails crafted to assist the customer gain all the benefits associated with investing in your business while saving your resources and time. As you only have to create a workflow once and leave it on autopilot.
The result is that your subscribers get targeted, personalized, and relevant content they'll likely engage with. This does not suggest that you set and forget. You should keep an eye on your email workflows to ensure that the goals of setting them up are being achieved.
What are the Benefits of Email Automation?
According to research, automated emails generate a 152% higher click-through rate and a 70.5% higher open rate than regular marketing messages.
And we can agree that every marketer strives to achieve link clicks and email opens, which are the first steps to boosting revenue and more sales in email marketing.
But the solution isn't just in creating automated emails.
You need to know how to create successful email workflows - the ones that anticipate the customer's journey and guide them through a series of emails until they are ready to convert and go further with your brand. Ultimately your email workflow should guide your subscriber to your end goal.
For example, an email workflow targeted at onboarding new customers may include a series of automated emails that tell subscribers how to use a product with step by step visuals.
So to help you out we picked the brains of 23 email marketing experts with tremendous success rates.
What Email Workflows should I have?
We discussed different strategies with the experts and we were able to sort out their responses into 5 categories based on the sender's email workflow objective. This helped us categorize automated emails in the following way:
- Onboarding Emails
- Emails that Convert Leads
- Emails that Assist the Buyer’s Journey
- Follow-up Emails
- Emails that Boost Engagement
Onboarding Emails - Why should you Automate Customer Onboarding?
Dropbox starts its onboarding process from user signup
Andrus Purde, Outfunnel: “It helps to understand new user behavior.”
In the early days, we onboarded our customers manually. This helped us learn and notice patterns of where new users get stuck (no need, no time, no clarity, functionality issues).
Once we needed to scale the onboarding, we set up smart email workflows that address all of these in a highly contextual way.
We were also transparent about the emails being completely automated (although they look personal) and communicated them as an example of how you can use Outfunnel. Oh, and the automation saved 80% of our time and continues to drive our 16+% conversion rate to a paying subscription.
Monika Ben, involve.me: “We can personalize communication.”
On sign-up, we ask 3 quick survey questions that help us onboard each user better. We skip irrelevant content and provide use-case based advice that hits closer to home.
Identifying interest segments on sign-up lets us personalize before there’s even any product or email behavior to track. The survey also helps us find out who our customer self-identifies as, so we can shape the product and marketing accordingly.
These interest lists also boost our newsletter game so we can highlight different perks of the same feature to different personas. It’s crazy how many answers to long-term business questions you get if you just ask your customers what they need.
Mor Mester, Automizy: “It helps us segment our customers based on users' actions.”
It works great for us to bring users back to Automizy. Depending on what the user did inside the software we send them segmented emails based on that. So the emails provide value and motivate users to log back in and continue discovering the platform.
Petra Odak, Better Proposals: “We encourage customers to get onboard.”
As a proposal writing tool, we have lots of business proposal templates and use them to showcase what our product can do. Onboarding emails in this category aim to encourage businesses to get a template from our internal marketplace and use it for their business.
Even if they don’t find the specific industry template they’re looking for, they can use one of our templates to send a test proposal and see all the benefits they get by sending web-based proposals and contracts. This helps them get to know our Proposal Editor, get engaged, and buy in the overall product.
Pritha Bose, Automate.io: “We can segment users and send personalized emails based on the segmentation.”
Our email workflows are personalized and user-behavior driven. In addition, automated email workflows save time, help us build a relationship with our customers, and communicate transparently.
We use email tags like new users or active users and automatically segment them in order to send out personalized emails only.
For instance, a new-user tag is automatically assigned to our new subscribers. And a welcome email is automatically sent to the new user, and after 1 day, the next onboarding email is sent.
Email workflows based on user behavior have helped our organic growth.
Paula Grochalováv, Kontentino: “We can personalize emails to users based on their actions or inactions.”
It’s important to us that our customers discover everything that Kontentino can help them with. With these emails, we guide them through all the steps and encourage them to get in touch with us in case they have any questions.
This communication is very personalized, depending on the actions they did or didn’t take, users are only getting emails that bring them real value.
Emails that Convert Leads - Why do you need a Workflow to Convert Leads?
Leesa.com uses exit-intent popups to convert leads leaving the platform
Anand Srinivasan, Hubbion: “It keeps our messages focused on the users' needs.”
Our email workflow starts as soon as a visitor enters their contact details. Our sequence works very well because we keep our emails short and very focused on what the user is looking for. This way, there is little distraction and so most leads behave in a very predictable fashion that has helped us refine our workflow even further.
Waqar Azeem, ContentStudio: “We get to show our maximum value upfront with each sequence.”
We send 7 emails (including the trial expiry sequence) during the 14 days trial period. The goal of the emails is to push users into booking a demo meeting while explaining different benefits and use-cases in each email.
We get roughly 20% of the trial users on the demo call and convert 30% of those into customers which are a quite healthy conversion rate. It works well for us because we are able to show the maximum value upfront by listening to the pain points of the user and helping them with a viable solution.
David Abrams, Demio: “It helps us tag and build a relationship with warm leads.”
Having the ability to tag and talk to warm leads who watch your live or automated webinar events is a great dynamic email campaign. You know the audience has digested some of your company benefits and is interested to learn more. You can build on top of a strong relationship already built and move them down the pipeline faster than ever!
Ron Stefanski, OneHourProfessor.com: “Our workflow enables us to qualify the user first.”
My drip campaign works well because I purposely put hurdles in front of the user to make sure they are really interested in the course I'm offering. This helps me qualify the user prior to them even entering the funnel and I've found that by doing this, I've increased the conversion rate.
Emilia Korczynska, Postfity: “Our workflow boosts our conversion rate.”
We get roughly 2.4% conversion on the course, and thousands of subscribers every year. We manage to convert 0.3% of them into customers, which at scale is a lot.
Emails that Assist the Buyer’s Journey - Why do you need a Workflow for the Buyer's Journey?
Ministry of Supply gets involved in their customer's journey by helping them pick the clothing size
Dustin Hodgson, Mycreativeshop: “It helps us send emails relevant to the customers' initial order.”
The secret ingredient of this strategy was a laser-targeted approach. We classified all our templates based on the industry to which they belonged.
As a result, the list of templates that we sent to our clients was 100% relevant to their initial order. Also, we complemented this email with some easy-to-follow instructions to help them integrate their brand colors and style into our pre-built templates.
Lizzie Hoffman, TowerData: “We get to create long-term campaigns that give our audience time to make a decision.”
We know our audience isn't always a decision-maker, so by creating long-term campaigns we allow them time to get buy-in from leadership and provide little reminders to do just that over the course of up to 1 month, with follow up once a month afterward.
Stine Lisbygd Johansen, Sleeknote: ”It helps us share valuable and relevant information first.”
This works for us because it enables a relationship to the subscriber. The workflow consists of a 5-part email course, where the first 3 emails are purely informative, and then in the last 2, we ask them to try the free trial.
We share access to blog posts and the emails include short summations of the expert knowledge that Sleeknote has, which then creates a connection to the users. Once we have established who we are and what we know, we then suggest to them that they try this for themselves.
Therefore, it works for us to share information and then ask the subscribers to try our product.
Follow-up Emails - Why should you Automate Follow-up Emails?
ZooShoo sends follow up emails for their referral program listing its benefits front-and-center
Samrat Roy, WisdmLabs: “We can expose what’s best in our product to customers with second thoughts.”
Prospects have some second thoughts about the product purchase (since our products are software B2B) and thus need some more touchpoints in the purchase journey. Hence, we assert a flow where the prospect is exposed to the best-case scenarios of the product, which establishes trust and in turn results in successful conversions.
Martin Wong, Mailfloss: “It helps us understand the reason for cart abandonment and we can then assist the user to solve the problem.”
If you're collecting credit cards on trial sign up, your abandonment rate is naturally going to be higher. We have a three email signup abandonment email flow that helps us recover these.
The first email asks them if the credit card is a deal-breaker and gives a few reasons why we ask for it if they don't complete the registration form after 10 minutes.
The second email reminds the user that the trial is waiting for them, and why our product can help them. This is sent a day later. The final email is sent a day after the second email and asks the user what's holding them back, with further reassurance that the product is right for them.
Dhruv Maheshwari, Big Cafe Digital: “We use our email workflows to nurture leads with valuable information that can help them become clients.”
It helps me with nurturing the leads. The recipients might not be ready to buy now but, nurturing them and providing them with some more information could help them become customers later.
Georgi Todorov, GetVoIP: “It works as a lead nurturing system for us.”
With each workflow, I have the opportunity to plan out how they’ll work. Also, email automation and collaboration software make businesses appear: better, organized, and more responsive, saves a lot of time to you and employees and you don’t need to be tech-savvy for it.
Using email automation workflows to implement a successful lead nurturing system can dramatically increase conversion rates. Increasing the probability that a lead will convert with targeted communications - even by a small amount - has a huge effect on overall revenue figures.
Emails that Boost Engagement - Why Automate User Engagement?
Black Milk Clothing engages with its customers by posting their Instagram photos on its product pages
Michelle del Rio, Selz: “We can check-in on customers about their thoughts on our offer.”
If you're just starting with eCommerce there is a lot to learn. This sequence checks in on our customers to see how they are doing before their free trial ends.
This sequence gives us a sense of how users are feeling during the trial and it helps us find new ways we can improve their experience. It is quick and effective and connects with our newest customers at just the right time.
James Rose, Content Snare: “It helps us engage with customers by starting a conversation.”
Lots of people sign up for a trial and never get a chance to try it out. This follows up calls out the fact that it looks like they haven't had a chance to try it yet, and asks if they'd like to extend their trial. Often people reply and ask for an extension, which also starts a conversation we can use to learn more about their needs.
Shane Barker, Shane Barker Consulting: “We keep our subscribers engaged without spamming them.”
This is a simple email workflow that keeps my subscribers engaged, without spamming them with email after email. I never send more than 2 follow-ups, thus ensuring that whoever missed an email might still read it but whoever doesn’t want to won’t be bothered.
Neil Jose, Acowebs: “We can communicate with our clientele about their stage in the purchase process and their value to our brand.”
Email workflows allow me to tag and score my prospects so I can let them know what stage they’re at in the process and how valuable they’re to us.
And I can deliver my clientele value by sending them automated emails and trying to upsell them products and services related to the existing services that they’re using. And if they’re not interested in an up-gradation at the moment, I can set a weekly schedule and notify them with a gentle reminder to subscribe to the premium version.
Weslee Clyde, New Breed: “It helps us induce email engagement.”
Our blog subscription emails are of three frequencies: daily, weekly, and monthly.
If someone hasn't opened an email for the set time period, our workflow would automatically bump them to the next frequency and send them an email alerting them to the change.
The email alert of the subscription frequency change caused some recipients who did want to be receiving the emails to realize they hadn’t been engaging or that the notifications had been going to spam.
In those cases, they requested to stay at their current frequency but then changed their behavior to become more engaged.
What's your Move?
We've heard 23 experts dish out amazing tips on how to make your email workflows hit its objective.
From personalizing workflows and making them part of your onboarding process to encouraging and engaging your users there's so much to learn from with these tips.
So let's have a quick recap of all the best tips the experts revealed:
- Andrus Purde, Outfunnel: “It helps to understand new user behavior.”
- Monika Ben, involve.me: “We can personalize communication.”
- Mor Mester, Automizy: “It helps us segment our customers based on users actions.”
- Petra Odak, Better Proposals: “We encourage customers to get onboard.”
- Pritha Bose, Automate.io: “We can segment users and send personalized emails based on the segmentation.”
- Paula Grochalováv, Kontentino: “We can personalize emails to users based on their actions or inactions.”
- Anand Srinivasan, Hubbion: “It keeps our messages focused on the users needs.”
- Waqar Azeem, ContentStudio: “We get to show our maximum value upfront with each sequence.”
- David Abrams, Demio: “It helps us tag and build a relationship with warm leads.”
- Ron Stefanski, OneHourProfessor.com: “Our workflow enables us to qualify the user first.”
- Emilia Korczynska, Postfity: “Our workflow boosts our conversion rate.”
- Dustin Hodgson, Mycreativeshop: “It helps us send emails relevant to the customers' initial order.”
- Lizzie Hoffman, TowerData: “We get to create long-term campaigns that give our audience time to make a decision.”
- Stine Lisbygd Johansen, Sleeknote: ”It helps us share valuable and relevant information first.”
- Samrat Roy, WisdmLabs: “We can expose what’s best in our product to customers with second thoughts.”
- Martin Wong, Mailfloss: “It helps us understand the reason for cart abandonment and we can then assist the user to solve the problem.”
- Dhruv Maheshwari, Big Cafe Digital: “We use our email workflows to nurture leads with valuable information that can help them become clients.”
- Georgi Todorov, GetVoIP: “It works as a lead nurturing system for us.”
- Michelle del Rio, Selz: “We can check-in on customers about their thoughts on our offer.”
- James Rose, Content Snare: “It helps us engage with customers by starting a conversation.”
- Shane Barker, Shane Barker Consulting: “We keep our subscribers engaged without spamming them.”
- Neil Jose, Acowebs: “We can communicate with our clientele about their stage in the purchase process and their value to our brand.”
- Weslee Clyde, New Breed: “It helps us induce email engagement.”
For more ideas from thought leaders, check out other articles in our expert roundup series.