20 Ways to Use Email to Automate Your Business

  • by Ryan Stewart February 9, 2016
    February 9, 2016

    We’ve received almost 3,000 contact or consultation requests over the last year.

    WEBRIS Goal completions

    Up until a few months ago, managing this was a nightmare.

    As a small business, I don’t have any sales people – I manage everything myself. What’s even worse, a large majority of these leads were garbage. I was spending all my time chasing down leads that if I got on the phone, were a complete waste of time.

    I knew I had to make a change before I lost my f*cking mind. So, I turned to automation.

    Long story short we’ve managed to automate lead qualification, follow ups and appointment scheduling to the point where all I have to do is wake up and check my calendar for appointments. It’s amazing.

    I want to pass this feeling on to you.

    The problem most face with automation is not knowing where to begin. If you have the process built out, you can automate almost anything.

    In this post, I’m going to share with you 20 ways you can use email to automate parts of your business.

    NOTE: This blog post is to serve as inspiration to understand the options available. I won’t be covering the various hooks, triggers and segmentation aspects needed to execute them.

    1. Send product expiration notifications

    • A 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75% (Source)
    • If your product or service can be renewed or repurchased, trigger emails that automatically notify customers

    Key takeaway: Use email automation to increase your customer retention and repurchase rate.

    product-expiration notifications small

    2. Abandoned shopping cart sequence

    • 68% of online shopping carts are abandoned (Source)
    • If visitors are logged in on your site, you can track abandoned carts Analytics and tie it to your email platform
    • When their cart is left with items in it, set an automated email (and follow up series) to remind them

    Key takeaway: Don’t let people deep in your funnel slip away. Automate the purchasing process using email reminders.

    Abandoned Shopping Cart

    3. Increase the usage of your products

    • This automation series is particularly useful for companies who use free trials to show the benefit of their product (SaaS, info products, etc)
    • The goal of this campaign is to introduce the various aspects and benefits of your product while using a CTA to drive them to use
    • You can set this up as a standard drip automation campaign, or you can leverage behavior to segment your list

    Key takeaway: Automate this process using email so you can focus on driving more leads.

    Product Usage Email Automation

    4. Cold email sales outreach

    • Companies engaging in targeted email outreach can experience sales increases of 15% or more (Source)
    • By gathering the right field inputs ahead of time (name, business name, function) you can automate highly targeted and personalized outreach (cold emailing)
    • We used to scrape large lists of digital agencies and send automated emails to inquire about partnering on services (it works)

    Key takeaway: If you’re a startup, sales are tough to come by. But then again, so is your time. Use email outreach to help automate the client acquisition process.

    cold sales email outreach

    5. Inside sales automation

    • As previously mentioned, I was killing myself trying to respond to service inquiries
    • We set up a qualification and lead scheduling email funnel that’s completely automated
    • Each form submission (5 web forms) triggers a different automation sequence that drives the lead towards a phone consult

    Key takeaway: Use email automation to qualify leads, save time and increase sales.

    Inside sales automation

    6. Meeting, webinar and event reminders

    • Webinars average a mere 25% attendance rate (Source)
    • People are busy, particularly if your webinar is in the middle of a workday
    • Simple auto reminders will help you push past the 25% attendance rate and maximize your lead generation efforts

    Key takeaway: Use email automation to increase your webinar or event attendance rate.

    Webinar event reminders

    7. Unfinished form registration reminders

    • On average, more than half of people who begin filling out a web form will abandon it (Source)
    • The best way to combat this is twofold:

      1. Break form completions into stages – the first stage should always capture name and email
      2. Anyone who gives you name and email but doesn’t compete the entire form, send automated emails to remind them

    Key takeaway: Set up your forms to collect name and email up front and use automation to decrease form abandonment rate.

    Complete web form auto

    8. New subscriber welcome series

    • So many marketers skip over the thank you email
    • -74.4% of subscribers expect a welcome email (Sources)
    • Those that receive a welcome email show 33% more long term engagement
    • Welcome emails generate 4x the open rate and 5x the click rates
    • Take advantage of the high open rate by sending special deals and coupons to drive immediate sales

    Key takeaway: While basic, these emails are important. Set up a basic automation sequence to increase customer engagement.

    Welcome Series Emails

    9. Make sure to send sales receipts (eCommerce)

    • Email receipts have an open rate of 70.9% (Source)
    • When compared to the average eCommerce open rate of 18%, this is a HUGE opportunity
    • They just paid you – you have their trust. Take advantage of it!
    • Use automation to promote other products, build a social following, offer coupons or other high priority items

    Key takeaway: Attach special offers to your sales receipts to drive repeat purchasing.

    Sales receipts emails

    10. Solicit feedback and get positive reviews

    • 92% of consumers check online reviews before purchasing (Source)
    • Use email automation to solicit reviews from happy customers and nurture unhappy ones
    • Fuseomatic uses the net promoter score (NPS) in an initial email to determine customer satisfaction
    • Based on the number (1 – 10) they select, they receive an automated follow up sequence to either drive reviews or nurture to improve satisfaction

    Key takeaway: Use auto emails to increase your online reputation.


    11. Email list re-engagement series

    • Email list quality decays over time
    • A Gmail rep stated they look for “evidence” that your recipients want your message (Source)
    • In other words, having a nonactive list will hurt your delivery rates

    Key takeaway: Use automated sequences to reignite interest and cleanse your list.

    Email List Engagement

    12. Create native email content

    • Open rates average around 20%; link clicks average around 4% (Source)
    • By forcing people to your website to consume content, you’re cutting off a significant audience
    • Leverage automation to send out native content that lives only in email. This is an incredible way to nurture a list, build trust and increase link click through rate

    Key takeaway: Set up automation sequences that distribute native content to maximize engagement.

    Create native email content

    13. Personalize content delivery based on behavior

    • Often times when list building, we get minimum fields (name and email)
    • To get to know our list, we can use content to better personalize future communications

    Key takeaway: Leverage a simple newsletter with links to various pieces of content on our site, we can understand what people enjoy seeing and send better emails in the future.

    Email Personalization Tips

    14. Use in email behavior to personalize sales emails

    • Similar to content preference discovery, we can use behavior to better personalize emails
    • Trip Advisor sends out deals based on location (Source)
    • Their engine determines which email to send based on previous purchases OR in email behavior
    • If you click a link to view Austin deals, you get tagged with Austin preferences for further testing

    Key takeaway: Leverage link clicks to segment your list and improve personalization.

    Email Behavior

    15. Send personalized messages

    • Birthdays, anniversaries and other data points are easy ways to build stronger relationships
    • By sending our short emails based on concrete dates, we can build better relationships with customers

    Key takeaway: Use automation to build emotional connections with your customers (oh, and drive sales).

    Birthday Email Automation

    16. Send personalized product recommendations (eCommerce)

    • Make sure your CRM / platform track past purchases and maps them to customer emails
    • This will allow you to suggest intelligent product recommendations in the future
    • This works incredibly well in spaces like tech, where products decay over time

    Key takeaway: Use automation to sent out personalized product recommendations.

    Automate Product Recommendations

    17. Automate customer billing and invoicing

    • Any way you can save time from having a human do a job, you’re saving money
    • We use automation to manage invoicing and re-billing so we don’t fall behind on receivables

    Key takeaway: Use email to make sure you’re collecting money on time.

    Automate billing and invoicing

    18. Internal processes and workflows

    • Using remote workers is a great way to source diverse talent for your company
    • Keeping everyone on the same page and process is a nightmare
    • We use email automation for internal communication and project management purposes

    Key takeaway: Leverage emails to increase productivity.

    Automate Workflows

    19. New customer onboarding

    • While this tactic is most leveraged by SaaS type companies, it’s effective for B2B as well
    • When we take on new clients, we leverage auto emails to collect campaign intel, employee interviews, get access to Analytics and schedule meetings

    Key takeaway: Leverage email automation to remove the suckiness from on boarding new customers.

    New Customer Emails

    20. Lead nurturing sequences

    • Since is the most obvious one, I saved it for last
    • There’s nothing more powerful than a well synced lead generation campaign and automated email nurture sequence

    Key takeaway: Never pay for traffic without an automation sequence to convert leads to customers.

    Email Nurture Sequence

    Wrapping it up

    I’m hoping this list is getting the wheels in your head turning for how you can use email to partially automate your business. This is by no means an exhaustive list – if you’ve got anything you’d like to add, please leave it in the comments!

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