Automated emails have become an essential part of any effective marketing campaign. Thanks to them, you can reach your audience exactly when they need it and when they are most likely to convert.
If you’re considering making them a part of your own marketing campaigns, then you’ll want to consider bookmarking this post, and keep coming back for more ideas.
[Editor’s note: This article was last updated in February, 2018]
What are automated emails?
Just like your out-of-office replies, email marketing campaigns don’t have to be sent manually. Using autoresponders and marketing automation workflows allows you to send them in specific time intervals or in response to your customer’s actions.
Automated emails can be sent as an individual message or as a part of a larger email drip campaign. For example, when onboarding new customers, instead of sending just one email, you could send them a whole series, guiding them one step at a time through the ins and outs of your product.
Once you set a condition for when the email is to reach your subscribers, you can just hit the publish button. From now on, every time your customer meets a certain condition, they will get your pre-written email.
[Want to know how your email and marketing automation campaigns stack up against your competitors? Check out the all new Email Marketing Benchmarks report.]
Different types of automated emails
How you’re going to communicate with your audience depends on many factors. Your industry, target audience, your campaign objectives — these and other elements will affect the way you should be contacting your leads and existing customers for best results.
To make your life as a marketer easier, we’ve made a list of 20+ types of automated emails with examples that you can use for your own marketing campaigns.
And if they seem interesting, but you’re not sure how to go about starting your first marketing automation program, read this guide on Marketing Automation Basics. It will show you in detail everything you need to consider before jumping in at the deep end with triggered campaigns.
Thank you email
As a marketer, you constantly ask your subscribers to do something for you. Sign up for a newsletter, download an ebook, fill out a survey – does that sound familiar?
Now let’s imagine the same scenario in the offline world. If you kept asking someone to do something for you, the least you could do is say thanks, if not return the favor. It’s simple.
The best thing is, it’s not so difficult to do it online either. All you have to do is to send an automated email right after they perform an action. To make the message even sweeter, you can also add a discount code, store credit, or free delivery – they’ll know it was all worth it!
Let’s assume that you’re organizing a dinner party. What would you do if someone responded to your invitation and arrived at your door? Most likely, you’d greet them and show them around.
Although your newsletter subscription may feel less like a party and more like a business meeting, it doesn’t mean you should throw away your good manners. Thank them for signing up, welcome them to the subscription, perhaps even let them know how frequently they’ll be hearing from you, and what kind of topics you’ll be discussing.
Make them feel special and let them know how much the fact that they’ve decided to stay in touch means to you. You can also follow what Coursera did in their welcome email, and tell your new users what they should do now, pointing them to the most important pages.
And if you need more inspiration, this article will be of use – 7 Welcome Emails That Set the Standard.
Meet the team
Sometimes you’ll want to really connect with your audience. Not on a business-to-customer or business-to-business level, but on a human-to-human level. Introducing your team and the people behind your brand can help you with that.
A “meet the team” email can be a good way to start the conversation on the right foot. You can use it when contacting your employees in your internal newsletter, or when trying to convince your regular subscribers to support your cause.
Emails like this are great as they prove that there’s a human being that’s sitting behind the brand. He or she is trying their best to deliver value to you, but may sometimes make an error or need help from you. And it’s easier to ask for a favor if they know you in person. Below you can see a good example of a welcome email that introduces the team behind the company called Andrew and Pete.
Or if you think you can go slightly more crazy, just link to your Meet the Team Page, like the one made by Wistia. *Hint* Make sure you click Partytime link at the bottom
Download the app and stay up to date
Whether you’re running an online store, news website, or SaaS platform, you will want your customers to keep coming back for more. Is there a better way to do it than letting them know “there is an app for that”?
Let your fans know that they can access all their favorite information and products even when they’re commuting and killing time on their smartphone. If you can’t offer them an app, just make sure your website is mobile-optimized and that your audience knows that their experience will be just as great on a mobile device.
This type of email fits in well with an onboarding series when your new users are just starting to get familiar with your offer. On top of that, it’s also worth reminding those who haven’t used the app just yet, every once in a while. After all, you want them to interact with your brand as much as possible.
Your order is on its way
Order and transaction confirmation emails are popular among ecommerce businesses. But anything else related to the product that’s been ordered – not so much.
Customers who are waiting for their package to be delivered are most probably feeling excited and sometimes even a bit nervous. If you can provide them with useful content, e.g. on how to best use the product, how to take care of it, what to wear with it, how to exchange it, and so on, you can make their wait ever more exciting. Just like looking forward to unwrapping presents on Christmas morning 😉
Tell them why they’ve made a good decision, what others have said about their shopping experience, and let them join the discussion on social platforms, too. That’s how true brand communities are built.
Tell us what you think
If you ever wanted to find out something new about your target audience, who would you ask first? Your customer support team, your sales team, or maybe marketing folks? Why not go straight to the source and just talk to your customers?
If you want to learn more about your audience, just sit down and have a chat with them. Send them email autoresponder with a survey, or ask them to reply to your message. This way you can quickly find out about their needs, struggles, preferences, goals, and will be able to improve your product and communication program.
As you can see from the two examples below, clothing brands such as Timberland and Adidas seem to have found value in knowing their customers’ views.
Product review emails
Marketing isn’t only about selling. It’s about anticipating and satisfying customer needs. Profits come afterwards.
You shouldn’t only care about your audience up to the moment they place their order, and forget them afterwards. Instead, you should stay in touch with them even after they’ve already received the product, and had a chance to give it a go.
If you want to build authentic relationships, you’ll want to ask them how happy they are with what they’ve ordered. What their initial reaction was and whether it’s changed over time. Only then you can really say that you care about their opinion and that you’ll use this to make your products even better.
Asking for product reviews has another advantage. You can use the information you’ve gathered to make your marketing messages even more convincing. Because social proof works wonders!
Here are our best-rated products
Showing your best-rated products has many advantages. For one, it’s great for persuading new leads into making their first purchase and starting the conversation on the right foot. It’s also useful for finding out what product categories they’re interested in to use this information in the future.
This type of email can be used at different stages of the customer journey. Either at the beginning – when they’re still thinking whether they should order something from you – or much later – when they’ve decided it’s about time they’ve purchased something new for themselves or their close ones.
Emails using customer rating are also making use of what we’ve mentioned above when discussing social proof. Given that 88% customers trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations, it’s only natural that you’ll want to use them in your communication to make it more effective.
The whole point of modern marketing is to deliver value and present relevant offers to your audience. That means products or services that not only solve their problems but also ones that they want to associate themselves with.
If you really want to deliver value to your customers, you have to pay close attention to how they interact with your brand. What products they look at when browsing the website, which ones they order and are happy with. You need to connect the dots and make recommendations that are tailored to their needs, according to what you’ve managed to observe.
Instead of making your users browse your website for inspiration, show them what they may instantly fall in love with. Saving their time with recommendation emails will mean they’ll have more time to spend with their friends and family, and that’s true value that not many can offer.
If you’re interested in content marketing or ecommerce, it’s likely that you’re going to have a blog. Not just for the sake of writing blog posts, but to attract new audience to your site. If you manage to answer the question they keep asking, and solve problems they tend to encounter, the chances are you’ll do well.
If you’re going to run a blog, be it to talk about product updates or topics that your customers will find useful, you should also make sure to send automated blog (rss emails) updates to your mailing list.
Why? you may wonder. Because it’s your existing fans that should be the ones who get to access your articles first. This way they’ll get the benefit of being the first ones to see your new offers and you’ll be able to see how the audience responds to it. It’s a win-win situation, and if you communicate this benefit well enough, many more will want to be on your mailing list.
One of the best tactics to build authentic relationships with your customers are online webinars. They help you build credibility, authority, and best of all – show your audience that your business aims to help them, not just sell to them.
The success of your webinar marketing efforts will often be directly connected to the number of users who registered for your event. To make sure you attract the largest possible audience, you’ll want to use all the different marketing channels and tactics available, including paid advertising and email marketing.
Emails are particularly useful when organizing webinars, because you can send them automatically to anyone that may be interested in attending your presentation. Whether you’re running a weekly education webinar, or a monthly meet-up to discuss more advanced topics, automated webinar invitations will be your friend.
Another thing that’s good about webinar or product-demo invitations is that your prospects will finally get familiar with your offer. They may have been postponing this process until now, but you’re showing them a valid reason not to. And if they don’t want to do the dirty work themselves, they can just listen to the presentation and try out the product later.
Simply inviting your followers to the event isn’t going to cut it, if you really want them to convert. Just like in everyday life, it doesn’t hurt to send an automatic reminder that will let them know the event is about to start and explain how they can quickly access it.
Send an email a few days ahead if the event is offline, and on the same day if it’s happening online. Make sure that they reserve the time to have a chat with you and ask any questions they may have on their minds. Once they receive something truly valuable from you, the chances of them doing business with your company will increase significantly.
Even if it’s something important to them, people often lose track of the things they start. They stop jogging, eating healthy, or watching their favorite TV series.
The same goes for following their beloved brands. They may as well be still fans, but things just turned out the way they did, and they stopped visiting your website or reading your emails. No hard feelings.
Having said that, it doesn’t mean you just need to accept this fact. You can do something about it – run a reengagement campaign. Send an email every time someone stops opening your messages for a particular period of time. Remind them why they’ve signed up in the first place and reward them with a special incentive that will steal their hearts once again.
Your discount code will soon expire
Most ecommerce businesses try to win their customers using discount codes. Their business value is undeniable.
There is, however, a problem with discount codes, coupons, and other similar incentives. If they’re used too frequently, they will not only cut your margins short but also desensitize your audience. Sometimes to the point that some of your customers won’t buy from you when shown a regular price because they’ll know that another sale will probably take place in the near future.
That’s why you have to use coupons wisely. If they are meant to be valuable, they can’t be handed around like leaflets or take-away menus from your local pizza place. That’s why you should not only offer them less frequently but also remind your users when the code’s expiration date gets near. Let them know their chance of using it is getting slimmer, and if they want to get the best deals, they’ll want to act quickly.
Content follow-ups after someone visits your site
Marketing automation involves tracking your audience and making the right use of data. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but there are times when a simple solution can deliver high results.
As you can learn from this case study, one of such tactics includes tracking the website behavior of your subscribers. If you can see that they visit particular pages, e.g. one that is related to your product features, you can follow up with them with a message that is directly related to this topic.
There are a number of ways to use this approach. You can get your sales team to automatically reach out when a free-trial user visits your pricing page. Or maybe send a case study when they’ve looked at the list of the tools you offer? Just give it a try, you’ll see that relevant triggered messages deliver great value and great business results at the same time.
After you’ve run an event or a conference, you’re probably thinking about finally being able to kick back and relax. If you’ve ever worked in sales, you know it’s not the time to do that. You have to be at the top of your game, following up with everyone that took their time to join you.
Some of this work can be done automatically. An automated post-event follow-up message can say everything that’s currently on your mind, and deliver it while the feeling is fresh. A thank-you message, a demo offer, a report you’ve promised, or a question about the experience your audience had – these are great conversation starters.
Best of all, this type of communication isn’t intrusive. If someone wants to reply to you, either because they are interested in doing business together or just want to ask a question, they’ll be happy to do it.
Birthday and anniversary emails
In today’s world, birthday = presents. Even if you have a more pragmatic approach towards money, chances are you still enjoy receiving gifts.
Even if we’re not happy about the number that’s stated on our ID, we kind of expect that we will be given something nice. Be it from our family, friends, or even ourselves. That’s right. When we’re in a birthday or any other type of anniversary mood, we often say to ourselves: I think I deserve it, I should get it.
What marketers can do about this is to make this process easier and drive their customers’ attention to their offer. For example, by sending them a happy birthday message, that’s all about wishing them all the best and offering them a sweet incentive, so that they can indulge themselves by shopping with you.
All you have to do is collect your subscribers’ birthdays and set a rule to automatically send a message. Put in a special deal and nice copy, and show them the products they’ve been longing for.
Cart abandonment emails
Over 68% of all online shopping carts are abandoned, according to a study by SaleCycle. It’s a serious problem for most ecommerce businesses, but not something they can’t try to fix.
Other than using retargeting, you can retrieve abandoned carts using so-called cart abandonment emails. These are the messages that are sent automatically shortly after someone leaves your website without placing an order. Acting as a reminder, they can improve your conversion rate, especially if your customers were genuinely interested in the offer.
Cart abandonment emails work well because they are both timely and relevant. If you want them to have an even stronger impact, you can also add free delivery or a discount code to one of such messages, and you’ll see that some of your customers will be happy to return.
If you want to implement cart abandonment emails in your own campaigns, then you should read this article by Pam Neely. It covers the best practices and shows some great examples of effective newsletters that will help you retrieve your lost sales.
Thanks for trying us out
Let’s consider you’re running an online course that offers a free trial allowing people to give it a go without any obligations. During the course, you’ll probably be sending a few messages, trying to convince them to upgrade their account. But what happens to those whose subscription runs out before they make up their mind?
The most obvious answer is that you reach out to them. Present them with a final offer (e.g. with an additional 10% discount, if they make a decision within the next 24 hours) or ask them to answer a few questions about the product — what went well, what went wrong, what they’d like more.
You’ll see that those last-resort offers will not only add value and teach you about your customers, but also generate additional profits you won’t want to ignore.
Marketers always want more. They want their users to purchase more often, put more products in their baskets, and spend more when they’re placing their order. It’s not surprising, though, since we’re all striving for a higher ROI.
One successful tactic that can help you deliver higher results is called upselling. It’s most often done through the use of additional elements appearing on the landing page, but it can also be used in your emails. All you have to do is to send them at the right time.
Upselling emails are popular among accommodations sites such as Booking.com or Airbnb. Their aim is to convince subscribers to spend more on their service. They can do so e.g. either by getting the customers to stay longer at a given hotel or book a more expensive room. This way their commission is bigger, and the users get a chance to have a slightly longer holiday.
Join the community
There’s nothing better than a loving, devoted, and loyal customer. A real brand advocate. But those don’t grow on trees, I’m afraid. You need to find them yourself.
To get your users hooked on your product, you’ll want them to spend as much time as possible being exposed to your brand. You’ll want to reach them through all the possible channels and means.
Increasing the number of consumer touch points is a solid approach that can make your marketing campaigns more effective. One way to do this is to invite your subscribers to not only visit your site, but also join you on other platforms — e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram.
Invite them to become part of your community and get them to not only purchase your products but also become parts of your brand community.
Who knows, maybe they’ll be as loyal as these Harley Davidson fans, from my personal all-time favorite ad.
Wish list update
If you’re running an ecommerce business, then you’ve probably heard of wish lists. If not, then let me quickly explain what these are.
Wish lists are collections of products that have been saved by your customers to their user accounts.
Now let’s consider this: why would anyone add a product to a wish list and not buy the product straight away?
One reason could be because they are still deciding whether or not they should place the order. Another one is that the product is currently out of stock. Or the customer already knows that they want to buy the product but the current price is more than they’re willing to pay.
So what could you do if your store offered a wish list?
Why of course, use it to reduce the shopping cart abandonment rate and increase sales.
How? By sending an email to your audience, every time one of the following happens:
• The product is back in supply
• The product is on sale
• The product is almost sold out
But that’s not all.
You can make contact just to remind them about the product they’ve previously added to their wish list, simply to check if they’re still interested.
To make your email even more effective, offer some recommendations based on the type of product they want to buy or what others have bought in addition to it.
Different products have different life spans. Some of them are more durable and last for years while others, e.g. fast-moving consumer goods such as cosmetics, use up pretty quickly.
If the products you’re selling need to be replaced every few weeks or months, the so-called replenishment emails can help you generate more repeat sales, without taking much of your time.
As the name implies, replenishment emails can be sent to people who have likely already used up the products they’ve purchased from you or are about to run out. To help them out, and yourself in the process too, you can contact them with a kind reminder that they might be interested in re-stocking their favorite product.
This approach has two clear benefits.
One is helping your customers avoid a problem of running out of the product. Which we all know can sometimes be problematic. For example, on Christmas day, when all shops are closed, and you’re out of baby formula. Trust me, I’ve been there. You’d rather avoid that.
Another one is avoiding the problem of losing customers who will go to their local store to re-supply. Even if it means that they’ll have to spend more, they’re often prepared to do so to quickly fix the problem.
So what you need to do is analyze the products that you’re selling and figure out how long it takes to use them up.
Then just use triggered emails to remind your customers that it’s about time they ordered their favorite products.
Attracting new customers is important for any growing business. But in the case of social networks, apps, and SaaS platforms in particular, it’s not enough just to grow the user base. What’s truly important is how many of these users return on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
One way to convince people to keep coming back is to update them:
• On their performance
• On their peers’ activities
• On what’s new in the platform
Of course, for this to work you have to be creative.
If you just follow the same pattern more than a few times, without offering any real value, the recipients of your emails will become desensitized to your communication.
So before you jump in and try to use the same template repeatedly, do some thinking. Two brands you might want to look at, who I believe are doing activity update emails pretty well, are Grammarly and Endomondo.
Below you’ll see two examples of how they communicate with their audience.
Offering a service that needs to be renewed? Then account expiration emails are a must if you want to spike up those conversions.
It may sound counterintuitive at first, but people often don’t act the way you want them to, until they perceive the risk of losing something they value.
People procrastrinate. That’s why they’ll postpone the renewal of their subscription or upgrade their free account to the very last minute.
Needless to say, if you want more conversions, you’ll want to address that. Send a triggered email some time before their account’s about to expire and emphasize the reasons why it’s worth to renew it sooner than later.
This is just one way psychology helps marketers increase the conversion rates of their campaigns. But there are of course more.
If you want to research this topic further, then check out this great ebook that helps to marry marketing and psychology – Think Like Your Audience: 9 Conversion Triggers in Email.
Branding has never been more important. Offering the lowest price is only a good strategy if you have a large scale that’ll help you outweigh operating at a low margin. Otherwise, you’re better off if you invest in customer experience and branding.
So what does a transactional email with shipping information have to do with this? A lot.
Picture this scenario.
Every couple of months I have to buy toner for my printer. I always order it from the same site, as it offers the best value for my money. The problem is, their brand name doesn’t stand out. I can never remember it.
So to find the site I’ve repeatedly ordered from, I have to dig into my Gmail account.
But there’s yet another problem. Most of the emails about my order don’t even come from the brand itself. Instead, it’s mostly shipping information from the package delivery service.
Eventually, I find the site’s name by typing in the exact printer code name in my Gmail search…
This is not ideal, to say the least. Most people aren’t as determined as I am, when it comes to buying toners. Or any other product for that matter.
What could they be doing differently? For example, provide all the shipping and tracking information themselves. Make sure that they contact me first, and that I’ll remember them.
Of course, that’s only the first step. But a crucial one.
Combine that with a thank you email or a whole onboarding campaign I’ve mentioned above, and you’re off to a good start.
As for examples, MVMT provides a great one, as per usual.
Your next step
You’ve just seen over 20 ideas for an automated email campaign that can be used by businesses across various industries. Now is the time for you to act. Go through your own communications, analyze what you’ve been doing well and what needs to be updated. Take this list as an inspiration for your future campaigns, and make use of marketing automation to send timely and relevant emails that your audience will appreciate.
Now that we’re at it, chances are that you’ve had the chance to use some of these types of emails in your campaigns. How did they work out for you? Do they help you build stronger relationships with your audience? Let me know in the comments and share your ideas with other readers.