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Automating Your Business with Email Sequences: A Guide for Beginners

In today’s dynamic world, where businesses strive to engage and nurture their subscribers, email sequences have become an essential tool for successful marketing campaigns. An email sequence is a series of automated emails that are sent to a subscriber based on predetermined triggers. This guide will provide beginners with an overview of what email sequences are, why they are important, and how they can be used to automate your business. 

Email marketing automation enables sending timely messages tailored to each subscriber without manual one-off efforts. Pre-written sequences triggered by customer actions nurture relationships and encourage sales. This guide covers planning effective sequences, writing compelling copy, designing clean templates, automating workflows, integrating sales funnels, and analyzing performance. Follow these tips to automate more of your email marketing outreach.

Researching Your Audience’s Needs and Interests

Plan sequences addressing common subscriber goals, questions, and pain points uncovered through research.

Research Areas

  • What challenges and objections do they face regarding your offerings?
  • Where are misunderstandings or knowledge gaps open for educating?
  • What motivates them emotionally regarding your products or services?
  • What lingo and terminology do they use when discussing your field?
  • Who do industry professionals rely on for education and advice?
  • What areas of frustration or confusion warrant more guidance?
  • What goals are they trying to achieve?
  • What types of helpful information are they actively searching for online?
  • What fears or inertia hold them back from progress or purchases?

Don’t rely on assumptions. Let deep qualitative insights guide mapping subscriber journeys.

Defining Your Goals and Success Metrics

Set specific metrics you want sequences to achieve based on conversion stages.

Goals to Set for Sequences

  • Subscriber signup rates
  • Reducing churn and unsubscribes
  • Clicks on product pages or offers
  • Increase in social shares and engagement
  • Ebook or resource guide downloads
  • Webinar or consultation signups
  • Free trial and demo requests
  • Survey completion rates
  • Event registration conversions
  • Direct sales attributed to sequence messaging

Establish quantifiable targets and KPIs for optimizing performance over time beyond guesswork.

Mapping Subscriber Journeys to Guide Messaging

Outline typical stages and needs subscribers pass through when interacting with your business. Then craft tailored sequences for each persona and path.

Sample Subscriber Journey Stages

  • Initial research phase when discovering solutions
  • Comparing competitive options in consideration
  • Education addressing objections and reservations
  • Trial experience onboarding and gaining value
  • Post-purchase satisfaction and ongoing engagement
  • Periodic contacts re-engaging dormant subscribers
  • Major milestones like renewals, expansion, migration
  • Community nurturing through content consumption
  • Loyalty rewards and acknowledgment for brand advocates

Match messaging to evolving needs from initial awareness through advocacy.

Structuring Sequences Around Clear Objectives

Ensure each sequence moves subscribers towards defined goals. Link messages to metrics.

Sample Sequence Goals

  • Welcome and onboard new subscribers
  • Reduce churn by re-engaging inactive users
  • Encourage repeat purchases among existing customers
  • Convert free trial users into paying customers
  • Upsell higher tier packages and add-ons
  • Steady nurturing through value-added content
  • Drive event signups among engaged subscribers
  • Collect feedback and reviews from happy users

Each sequence should deliberately guide subscribers down conversion funnels.

Personalizing Messages with Merge Tags

Insert merge tags to dynamically populate messages with names, data, preferences, and more.

Personalization Merge Tags to Use

  • First Name – Make messages feel more one-on-one
  • Location – Reference subscriber city to increase relevance
  • Company – Mention their employer
  • Interests – Cater content to topics they care about
  • Purchase History – Reference past transactions
  • Loyalty Status – Address new vs VIP subscribers differently
  • Event Registrations – Promote related follow-on events
  • Recent Interactions – Contextualize based on their activity

Personalization makes subscribers feel recognized, increasing open and clickthrough rates.

Designing Easy-Scanning Layouts and Templates

Leverage design best practices in templates to catch busy readers’ attention.

Tips for Scannable Email Template Design

  • Brief paragraphs and generous white space
  • Clear hierarchical headlines and subheads
  • Numbered and bulleted lists for easy glancing
  • Bold key facts, stats, and action items
  • Relevant imagery supporting points
  • Obvious buttons and clickable elements
  • Boxes and horizontal rules to delineate sections
  • Easy unsubscribe link access (but don’t overtly highlight)
  • Links styled with underlines to recognize clickability

Well-formatted templates make absorbing value frictionless for readers.

Writing Compelling Subject Lines That Get Opened

Subject lines make first impressions on subscribers. Use compelling hooks proven to work.

Effective Email Subject Line Frameworks

  • Urgency – Flash sale ending soon!
  • Curiosity – The one trick for [result] you need to know
  • How-to – How to [achieve goal] in [time period]
  • Numbers – [X] ways to [accomplish task]
  • Audience reference – Hey [name], check this out!
  • Social proof – [X] customers recommend…
  • Value – Get access to [valuable resource]
  • Self-interest – Boost your [skill] instantly
  • Direct response – Yes, I can help with [their need]

Test a variety of formats. Optimize based on open rate data over time.

Automating Workflows With Behavioral Triggers

Set up “if this, then that” rules activating relevant follow-up based on actions.

Sample Behavioral Trigger Workflows

  • IF visited pricing page THEN send pricing guide email
  • IF opened 5 emails in 2 weeks THEN tag as engaged
  • IF clicked email link THEN also send Slack notification
  • IF marked as sales qualified lead THEN notify account rep
  • IF abandoned cart THEN send abandoned cart recovery email
  • IF requested trial THEN send onboarding sequence
  • IF marked as unsubscribed THEN add to suppression list
  • IF filled out survey THEN send automated thank you email

Automated workflows run seamlessly without manual oversight. Set and optimize rules.

Integrating Email With Your Sales and CRM Systems

Connect email to your broader systems and databases to unify subscriber data.

Email and CRM Integrations

  • Lead scoring and list segmentation based on interactions
  • Sync subscriber and activity data across tools
  • Update customer fields based on email engagement
  • Trigger emails automatically based on CRM events
  • Notify sales when drip sequence milestones are reached
  • Create emails, landing pages, forms right within CRM
  • Personalize emails with CRM merge field data
  • Track email analytics directly in CRM for central reporting

United systems coordinate seamlessly to align messaging with profiles.

Developing Clickworthy Calls-to-Action

Strong CTAs close the sale. Guide readers clearly towards next steps.

Best Practices for Email CTAs

  • Lead with verb telling readers what to do like “Download Now”
  • Use vivid descriptive button text – not just meaningless “Submit”
  • Make the CTA button prominent through size, color, spacing
  • Position above the fold so it’s visible without scrolling
  • Ensure page linked has clear follow-on steps to progress
  • Test different button text and placements to optimize
  • Include urgency cues like “Get This Deal Before It Ends!”
  • Support copy explains why they should click

Effective CTAs prompt subscribers towards definitive actions aligned to your objectives.

Optimizing Timing Based on Subscriber Activity Patterns

Pay attention to when subscribers actually open and click for optimal delivery timing.

Tips for Optimizing Email Timing

  • Test different days of week and times of day – weekday vs weekend, AM vs PM, etc
  • Gauge when subscribers are most active in your industry
  • Sync sequences to match typical buying cycles
  • Watch click traffic sources to identify peak interest periods
  • Time messages around events attendees have registered for
  • Re-engage old contacts coinciding with New Year’s and holidays
  • Follow-up quickly while interest is still fresh
  • Delay lower priority messages off peak hours

Match cadence to audience habits. Leverage data to determine optimal send times.

Balancing Value Content With Promotional Material

Don’t make every email a sales pitch. Sprinkle in helpful resources subscribers want.

Ideas for Valuable Non-Promotional Email Content

  • Practical tips and how-to’s related to your offerings
  • Curated roundups of useful third-party resources
  • Snackable quotes and stats from thought leaders
  • Case studies demonstrating results from others
  • Complimentary tools, calculators, and assessments
  • Sneak peeks and previews building anticipation
  • Notifications when fresh blog content gets published
  • Industry analysis and insights
  • Opinions and perspectives on trends

Useful content builds trust and nurtures subscribers without constant hard sells.

Tailoring Content to Different Buyer Stages

Early emails warm up cold leads differently than sequences aimed at existing customers.

Emails for Different Stages

  • Awareness – Intros to you, testimonials, case studies
  • Consideration – Product demos, comparisons, ROI calculators
  • Decision – Promotions, consultations, urgency
  • Customer – Surveys, upsells, reorders, loyalty
  • Lapsed – Winback offers, re-engagement content
  • Unsubscribed – Removal confirmation, alternative options

Map messages to align with moving contacts down the purchase funnel. Meet them where they are.

Avoiding Spam Filters

Stay out of the spam box so emails reliably reach inboxes using these techniques.

Tips to Keep Emails Out of Spam

  • Include physical mailing address in footer
  • List unsubscribe options prominently
  • Avoid excessive promotions, clickbait subject lines, spammy keywords
  • Warm up IP addresses slowly without sudden spikes
  • Keep high engagement with opens, clicks, and low complaints
  • Updated bounce handling and list cleaning processes
  • SET SPF, DKIM, and DMARC authentication protocols
  • Monitor sender reputation and blacklist alerts

Proactive anti-spam measures ensure emails arrive where intended reliably.

Continuously Analyzing Metrics to Refine and Improve

Use data to guide optimization of sequences over time. Let testing fuel growth.

Key Sequence Data to Monitor

  • Open and clickthrough rates
  • Unsubscribe and complaint rates
  • Subscriber acquisition costs
  • Email sharing and forwarding
  • Goal conversions like webinar signups
  • ROI attributable to each sequence
  • Engagement trends across sequences
  • Lists and segments driving best performance
  • Popular links and assets requested

Don’t just set and forget sequences. Keep iterating based on lessons learned.

What is an email sequence and why is it important?

Definition of an email sequence

An email sequence, also known as an automated email sequence or an email marketing campaign, is a set of pre-written emails that are sent to a subscriber or a group of subscribers based on certain triggers. These triggers can include actions such as subscribing to a newsletter, making a purchase, or abandoning a shopping cart. The emails in the sequence are sent at predefined intervals and are designed to guide the subscriber through a specific journey or to achieve a specific goal.

Benefits of using email sequences

The benefits of using email sequences are numerous. Firstly, they allow businesses to automate their email marketing efforts, saving time and resources. Instead of manually crafting and sending emails to each subscriber, email sequences can be set up once and automatically sent to the right audience at the right time.

Secondly, email sequences help to streamline operations. By setting up a sequence of emails that are triggered by specific actions, businesses can ensure that the right message is delivered to the right person at the right stage of their customer journey. This not only increases the chances of conversion but also helps to provide a personalized and engaging experience for the subscriber.

Lastly, email sequences have the power to increase engagement and conversion rates. By carefully designing and optimizing the emails in the sequence, businesses can create content that resonates with their audience and compels them to take action. This can include offering exclusive discounts, providing valuable information, or inviting subscribers to a free trial. The possibilities are endless.

How email sequences can automate your business

One of the key advantages of email sequences is their ability to automate your business. By automating your email marketing efforts, you can focus on other aspects of your business while email sequences work tirelessly in the background to engage your audience and drive conversions.

For example, a welcome email sequence can be set up to automatically send a series of emails to new subscribers. These emails can include a warm welcome, an introduction to your brand, and exclusive offers to encourage engagement from the start. By automating this process, you can ensure that every new subscriber receives the same high-quality onboarding experience without having to manually send each email.

Another example of automation is the abandoned cart email sequence. When a subscriber adds items to their cart but does not complete the purchase, a series of reminder emails can be sent to encourage them to complete the transaction. By automating this process, you can recover potentially lost sales and increase your conversion rates.

Types of email sequences for effective marketing

Welcome email series

The welcome email series is one of the most common types of email sequences used in marketing campaigns. This series typically includes a series of emails that are sent to new subscribers to introduce them to your brand and encourage them to take action. The first email in the series is usually sent immediately after the subscriber joins your email list, while the subsequent emails are sent at regular intervals to nurture the relationship and drive engagement.

Onboarding email sequence

The onboarding email sequence is designed to guide new customers through the process of getting started with your product or service. This sequence typically includes a series of emails that provide information, tutorials, and tips to help the customer make the most of their purchase. The goal of this sequence is to ensure that the customer is fully onboarded and engaged with your product or service.

Abandoned cart email series

The abandoned cart email series is a powerful tool for recovering lost sales. When a customer adds items to their shopping cart but does not complete the purchase, a series of reminder emails can be sent to encourage them to return and complete the transaction. These emails can include incentives such as discounts or free shipping to entice the customer to take action.

How to create and automate your email sequences

Selecting the right email marketing platform

The first step in creating and automating your email sequences is to select the right email marketing platform. There are many platforms available that offer a wide range of features and functionalities. It’s important to choose a platform that meets your specific needs, such as ease of use, integration capabilities, and scalability.

Some popular email marketing platforms include Mailchimp, ConvertKit, and ActiveCampaign. These platforms provide user-friendly interfaces, customizable templates, and automation features that make it easy to create and manage your email sequences.

Building an effective email template

Once you have selected an email marketing platform, the next step is to build an effective email template. The template should be visually appealing, easy to read, and reflect your brand’s style and tone. It should also include relevant content and a clear call to action to encourage engagement and conversion.

Many email marketing platforms offer pre-designed templates that can be customized to fit your brand’s needs. Alternatively, you can create your own template using HTML or a drag-and-drop editor. Whichever option you choose, it’s important to test your template to ensure that it displays correctly across different devices and email clients.

Setting up automated triggers for your email sequences

After creating your email template, the next step is to set up automated triggers for your email sequences. These triggers are the actions or events that will initiate the sending of an email in your sequence. Some common triggers include subscribing to a newsletter, making a purchase, or abandoning a shopping cart.

Most email marketing platforms allow you to set up triggers easily through their automation features. You can define the trigger, select the emails that should be sent, and determine the time intervals between each email. It’s important to carefully plan and test your triggers to ensure that the right emails are sent at the right time to maximize engagement and conversions.

Tips for increasing engagement and conversion rates in your email sequences

Writing compelling subject lines

The subject line of your email plays a crucial role in whether or not it gets opened. To increase engagement, it’s important to write compelling subject lines that grab the attention of your subscribers. Use action words, create a sense of urgency or curiosity, and personalize the subject line whenever possible. Experiment with different subject lines and monitor the open rates to determine what works best for your audience.

Segmenting your email list for targeted campaigns

Segmenting your email list is an effective way to deliver targeted campaigns to specific groups of subscribers. By dividing your subscribers based on demographics, interests, or past interactions, you can tailor your emails to their specific needs and preferences. This personalization increases the chances of engagement and conversion as subscribers feel that the content is relevant and valuable to them.

Monitoring and optimizing your email open rates

The open rate of your emails is a key metric to monitor and optimize. A low open rate indicates that your subject lines or content may not be resonating with your audience. To improve your open rates, experiment with different subject lines, use A/B testing to compare different versions of your emails, and constantly monitor the results. Analyzing the data and making data-driven decisions will help you optimize your email sequences for better engagement and conversion rates.

Conclusion

Email sequences are a powerful tool for automating your business and increasing engagement and conversion rates. By using email sequences, businesses can streamline their operations, deliver personalized experiences to their subscribers, and drive greater results from their email marketing efforts. Whether you are a beginner or experienced marketer, understanding the types of email sequences and how to create and optimize them will help you harness the power of email automation and take your business to new heights. 

Automated email sequences provide scalable one-to-one personalization not possible manually. They nurture contacts through key stages while promoting products and services. But overly salesy sequences backfire through spam complaints and unsubscribes. Strategically map subscriber journeys. Provide value through helpful information and resources. Make intros warm and friendly. Structure messaging around goals, integrate with your tech stack, optimize timing, subject lines and design for scannability. Let data guide you. With thoughtful effective sequences tailored to move each subscriber towards conversion, you build relationships at scale.

 

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By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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