Research by McKinsey tells us an email is 40 times better at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter.

Once you’ve got customers buying from you, email is your best opportunity to increase their customer lifetime value. Customers who receive your emails spend 138% more, on average than those who don’t subscribe.

There’s a tonne of clever stuff you can do with email. So much so, you’d never have time to do it all manually. This where email marketing automation comes in.

Automating your email campaigns allows you to get ahead of the competition, automatically. It frees your team from repetitive tasks and enables you to use intelligent personalization without breaking a sweat.

We like to think about the big picture. And in our business that means the full customer journey, right from the moment someone checks out our Blog and decides to follow along, through to the point when a customer decides it’s time to leave.

One of the reasons we decided to focus on building an automation tool is because it’s useful throughout the entire customer journey. It’s hard to find a tool that can work harder for you, and your customers, across such a wide range of scenarios and mindsets.

It makes sense then, to talk about email automation against the backdrop of the customer journey. We’re going to show you how email automation can help to grow your business, provide better customer service, and even influence what you choose to build.

What is Email Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is the process that takes place when the software automatically sends campaigns to your customers and prospects based on triggers you define. As opposed to newsletters and one-off campaigns that you create and send to a whole list of people in one go, customer journeys are set up once, and then sent out each time a subscriber meets your pre-defined trigger.

For example, imagine you run an online store and want to send new subscribers a 20% off offer to encourage them to make a purchase. They’ve clearly expressed interest in your products, and a discount like this could get them to make a purchase.

Manually creating and sending a campaign to each new subscriber as they sign up would take an enormous amount of time. With marketing automation, you can create the email once and have it automatically send to anybody who joins your ‘newsletter subscribers’ list.

Not only is this a huge time saver, but these kinds of automated emails get results.

In fact, studies show that automated emails like the one described above get 86% higher open rates, produce a 196% increase in click-through rates, and generate 320% more revenue than standard promotional emails.

What is a customer journey, and why is it important?

Customer journeys take into account what a customer’s experience is, beginning from the time that a customer-first becomes aware of a brand, through the time that they purchase a service or product, and hopefully, the journey doesn’t end there.

The goal for brands is to acquire new customers and retain the customers they already have—one of the best ways to do this is by managing different customer journeys. For example, one customer journey can exist for someone who signed up for your client’s newsletter for the first time, and a different customer journey can exist for a customer who decides to extend their existing monthly subscription.

Many agencies that design customer journeys for their clients will first identify which personas make up their client’s customer base, and then they will determine which stages exist within a customer journey.

According to Daniel Newman, CEO of Broad suite Media Group, you need to know your customers’ different personas, goals, and what actions a customer needs to take in order to reach their goal. This will determine the different touch points throughout a personalized and targeted customer journey.

Some agencies decide to create customer journey maps and then use their analysis to discover where there are gaps in communication and where their clients succeed in customer satisfaction. According to Goran Paunovic, Creative Director at Art Version Interactive, “Journey mapping…encourages stakeholders to consider the customer’s needs, wants, emotions and questions, and [creates] the path to fulfil those needs.”

The main things to consider when developing and analyzing a customer journey is to look at what customers feel, expect, and need at each stage of the journey. A customer might need to feel seen and appreciated after first signing up for a newsletter, and they will need to feel understood and heard later on in the journey when they are seeking an effective solution to their problem.

It’s important to be in touch with the customer from start to end of their journey and throughout the different stages to make sure that they feel valued, heard, and engaged. McKinsey&Company believes that doing so can “enhance customer satisfaction, improve sales and retention, reduce end-to-end service cost, and strengthen employee satisfaction.” Not only will customer journeys keep your client’s customers engaged—but they will also drive increased ROI.

How does marketing automation come into play? Email journeys

Marketing automation emails that are sent in customer journeys are based off triggers defined by an email marketing tool. This is known as an email journey. When each customer takes a specific action, a marketing automation tool will send that customer a relevant email that you designed for your client.

These tools also allow you to define what each trigger is, which will vary from client to client and journey to journey.

These tools allow you to design different customer journeys and create the content for each email in every stage of the journey.

This is different from sending one-off email campaigns to a list of customers.

When designing behavior-triggered emails, the emails are automatically sent out based on the segmented lists you built and the stage in which each individual falls under within their journey. This saves time and increases relevance and personalization. In fact, studies show that automated emails get 86% higher open rates, produce a 196% increase in click-through rates, and generate 320% more revenue than standard promotional emails.

How do you do customer mapping?

Combining the ideas of customer journeys and email journeys may sound a little complicated at first, but they really aren’t all that difficult thanks to customer mapping. The process of customer mapping combines the customer journey with an automated email journey to create an outline of the content your customer will be receiving during their journey.

Let me present ten campaigns you can easily implement to hit the ground running.

1. Welcome

A welcome campaign is an automated email series that gets triggered when a new subscriber signs up to your email list.

It’s your opportunity to introduce your brand in bite-sized chunks. Show new subscribers what you’re about, what they can buy from you, and why they’d want to.

Effective welcome campaigns tell a seductive story that persuades a subscriber to make their first purchase.

2. Introductory offer

Some subscribers are harder to convert than others.

Send an automated introductory offer to incentivize those that weren’t persuaded to purchase by your welcome campaign.

The bold design of this introductory offer from Bonobos attracts uncertain subscribers to click through and consider a purchase:

3. Thank you

Sending an order confirmation and shipping information is a must when someone has completed a purchase, but these emails don’t have to simply be functional.

Adding a thank you message to a fulfillment email is a great way to improve your customer experience and build rapport.

They are also a smart way to combat any potential buyer’s remorse, reassuring customers they made a wise choice.

4. How to

Once your customers have received their new purchase, send them an automated email to show them how to get the most from it.

“How to” content is the best way to ensure your customers enjoy their purchase. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than buying something but not being quite sure how to use it.

This automation is another post-purchase marketing tactic that helps combat buyer’s remorse.

Here’s a super visual example of a "how to" guide from Superb:

5. Feedback

Setting up an automated email that asks for feedback is a no-brainer. It’s important to time this right—your customer needs to have had a chance to use your product.

Not only does the act of asking for feedback create positive sentiment; the feedback itself helps you optimize your offering.

This feedback request from Sephora uses a playful tone-of-voice to entice a review of a purchase:

6. Product recommendation

Product recommendations are an eCommerce marketer’s secret weapon to pump up profits.

Automated emails that recommend products based on what customers have browsed or bought before is an effective way to cross-sell and upsell.

We love this example from Best Buy. It recommends products to accessorize the customer’s recent purchase (a new camera):

7. Browse and basket abandonment

As many as 69% of customers abandon products in their basket.

The idea of missing out all of those potential sales can be crushing. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Entice customers back to buy with browse and basket abandonment emails. Abandonment emails has a big impact on revenue as it’s encouraging a purchase from people at the very bottom of the sales funnel. In fact, our own customers average 12% more online revenue when using our cart abandonment technology.

Here’s an eye-catching example from Topshop of this tactic in action.

8. Sale countdown

Sale countdowns are the perfect email automation to create a sense of anticipation or urgency around your sale.

You could countdown to when the sale begins. Or, once the sale is on, count down the hours, minutes, and seconds left until customers miss out.

Countdown timers are a visually engaging element to add to these emails that are sure to grab your customer’s attention.

This winning example from Game shows how to use this feature to your advantage:

9. Replenishment

If you sell products that run out or have a certain shelf-life, automated replenishment emails should be your new best friend.

These handy reminders prompt your customers to top up on products just before they run out.

This makes repurchasing from you the most convenient option. In this way, you can cut down the chances they’ll be tempted to buy from your competitors.

Read Pure360's guide to learn how to replenishment emails can create consistent recurring revenue for retailers.

10.Re-engagement

Try as you might, there will always be some sleeping subscribers in your email list. Wake them up with a re-engagement email automation.

Set these up to be triggered once someone has failed to engage with a certain number of emails, depending on your frequency.