The Beginners Guide to Marketing Automation [Part 2/2 — Email]

Ryan Byrne
May 1 · 7 min read

Now that you’ve read introducing you to marketing automation basics on social media, you’re probably wondering what you’re going to do with all your free time. The Facebook posts are scheduled, the chatbots are chattering, and your flight to Cabo is booked. But hang on, let’s pump the breaks for a second. Sure, social media is a great start on your adventure in marketing automation but before you start putting your business on autopilot, there are some other outbound marketing efforts you should be giving the same treatment.

With using email marketing, it’s clear that any time saved on your email marketing efforts can go a long way in terms of freeing yourself up to get ahead of the competition. Thankfully, there’s a number of ways to take the load off when it comes to email marketing. In part 2 of our series on marketing automation, the expert marketers at will walk you through the basics of email marketing automation, with a look at automated email sequencing, a/b testing, and automated lead gen efforts.

Email Sequencing

Remember the last time you were online shopping way too late at night? You added a few things to your cart before your the quiet sobs of your bank account caused you to listen to your better judgment and you back out of the purchase. A few days later you get served an email reminding you to complete your purchase. You hold strong. A few days after that, another one. Still, you abstain. Finally, after a week of waning willpower, you get served a final email tempting you with a coupon for free shipping on your order. You cave.

That’s the power of automated email sequencing. By following these 5 simple steps, you too can take advantage of this powerful tool.

Step 1: Determine a goal

Like most marketing efforts, the first thing you are going to want to do when setting up an automated email sequence is to determine your goal. Do you simply want to welcome new members of your newsletter? Do you want to convert signups from a lead gen project? Do you want to reengage people who abandoned their cart on your e-commerce platform? Depending on your goal, the copy, CTA’s, and timing of your emails will differ.

Step 2: Map out your sequence

Once you determine your goal, you then have to map out your entire sequence. Don’t dive headfirst into building your sequence before you first determine how long your sequence will be, what value you are offering with each email, what your CTA’s and copy will be, etc. For example:

Email 1 (sent immediately after signup): Welcome email, introducing the purpose of your list and thanking them for subscribing

Email 2: (24h after signup): Email to create a need for your product. Outline common problems your product is hoping to solve and how these problems might relate to the recipient.

Email 3: (2 days after signup): Email to present your product as the solution. Reiterate the pain point of the aforementioned problem. Introduce your product as the solution.

Email 4: (5 days after signup): Email to reinforce the value of your product. Demonstrate to the recipient how, by now, they could have solved the problem you presented if only they had made a purchase

Email 5: (7 days after signup): Email with discount. Offer a discount on your product to sway any potential customers who have yet to convert. Make the discount a limited time offer.

Email 6: (14 days after signup): Email with a reminder of discount. Remind the customer that the discount you are offering is about to expire unless they act quickly.

Step 3: Choose a tool

Once you have your sequence mapped out, you can select the tool you wish to use. Depending on the email marketing tool you currently are using, it may already have a feature built in to build automated sequences. If not, there are a number of paid and free options out there. If you are looking to keep costs lean, we have found that is both affordable and robust enough to meet the needs of most small businesses. If your needs are a bit more complex and you want a more robust platform, we recommend for its feature-rich sequencing and analytics offerings.

Step 4: Build/Launch the campaign

Now that your sequence is mapped out and your tool is selected, it’s time to start building your campaign. Because you took the time to map it out, this part should be quick. It’s important to pay attention to the little things that might get passed over. Put some thought into who it’s being sent from — do you want to send from a generic brand email, or do you want them to feel more personalized? What’s the design of your email? A premade template is fine but just be sure to make it your own and keep it consistent with the rest of your branding.

Once your campaign is built, you can add a dynamic list and begin serving emails.

Step 5: Analyze and adjust

Don’t just set and forget your campaign once it’s launched. There’s always room to optimize. Be sure to keep an eye on the open rate, click through rate, and unsubscribe rate of each of your emails to see where you can improve. If you’re unsure of your theory, try conducting an A/B test.

A/B Testing

If you’re not testing your marketing efforts, are you really a marketer? Just kidding…but am I? Anyway, it’s critical that any new change in your marketing strategy is being analyzed to determine if it was successful. Sometimes though, it takes time to gather enough data to make an informed analysis. A great way to speed this up is with an automated A/B test.

Since you’ve already been tracking the click-through rates, open rates, and unsubscribe rates of your emails you can start to get a clearer picture of the areas you might want to start testing and improving upon.

Click through rates: Test the copy of your email from the body to the headline to the CTA. Rethink the design of your email regarding placement of the CTA button, headline, image, etc.

Open rates: Test the subject line and headline of your emails.

Unsubsubscribe rate: Test the frequency with which you are sending your emails from volume and timing.

Most email marketing tools have an A/B testing system built right in that you can use. If not, try segmenting your list randomly and putting them through two different versions of your campaign to determine the results.

Remember: it’s important to only test one variable at a time for each email to ensure you are getting accurate results. If the variable proves successful, implement it and begin testing another variable.

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Lead Gen

Your automated email sequence is launched and optimized after a series of successful A/B tests but you’re running a little light on emails. Don’t worry, automating your lead gen efforts is surprisingly easy given the potential return you can gain from it.

If you have decent traffic to your website, try adding a popup or slide in prompt for users to sign up to your mailing list. But what are they getting out of it? To successfully get users to sign up to your list you have to demonstrate the value that it provides to potential signups. This can simply be from providing an expertly curated newsletter, or you can entice them with something a bit more useful like an ebook or case study. Don’t have time to write an ebook you say? Well technically, you don’t have to. If you have content you published in the past, you can package it together and repurpose it into one.

If your site isn’t getting the traffic you need to generate any meaningful number of leads, you can always put a little money behind your lead gen efforts through paid social posts. Facebook offers the ability to serve ads with a CTA to enter email addresses. Again, we suggest offering potential leads something in return like an e-book, podcast, case study, or coupon.

Key Takeaways

Email marketing is a great tool for marketers to engage and re-engage their customers. That being said, it takes time to constantly be sending off emails and there is always room for improvement. Thankfully, a lot of the work involved with email marketing can be outsourced through automation. With the right tools, you can generate leads, run customers through an automated email sequence, and test new elements of your emails to optimize depending on your goal.


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Ryan Byrne

Written by

Overly-caffeinated film and #CDNPoli junkie. Send me your Instant Pot recipes. Marketer @ GenM.co

Smart Marketing for the Lean Startup

All skill levels welcomed — levelling up is encouraged!