Selecting the best Email Workflow Automation tool for your business

Many businesses would love their customers to stay engaged throughout the customer journey. This calls for automation and a special kind. With email workflows you save significant time. Automated email marketing steps and tasks are more effective. But what is the best Email Workflow Automation tool for your business?

What is Email workflow automation?

Email workflow automation is the process of creating a series of automated email campaigns. Your customer’s behavior and data profile trigger these automated email series.

Email workflow management software helps marketers engage customers at every touchpoint. Every touch contains relevant content based on the customer’s behavior and data.

7 examples of email marketing automation workflows

Classic examples include automated email workflows that send:

  1. cross-sell email campaigns
  2. campaigns that encourage recurring purchases after a certain period of time
  3. automated emails that help recover abandoned shopping carts
  4. automated lead nurturing emails that turn leads into customers
  5. abandoned shopping cart recovery
  6. abandoned product views
  7. price drop or back-in-stock product notifications

Take an automated email workflow and make it your own. A custom variation on the classic. You might not be able to see at the moment how much fun this is. Once you start thinking of the ideal automated funnel the creative juices will start flowing. Think about how to bring people back that are bound to fall out of the ideal automated path.

What email workflow automation isn’t

Email Workflow Management is more than sending simple emails after a completed web form. Email Workflow Management software does a whole lot more than autoresponders. With Email workflow automation you lead a customer down a dynamic path. A dynamic path is a series of steps that change according to what the customer needs.

forrester-quote-workflow-automation

Why you need email marketing automation.

Every business can use email campaign workflows in multiple email streams. What type of automation you need for workflows depends on your business context. Here are a few signs that you will profit a lot from email workflow management;

  • You sell products that expire or have a limited life
  • You sell products that are complemented by others
  • You have customers that don’t always complete their purchases
  • You manually follow-up with leads
  • You have customer purchase history & other preferences data to segment them

This list is not every scenario that email workflow management; software can handle. If you have a customer’s preferences you already send a personalized series of welcome emails. A marketing automation funnel starts at first contact, first inquiry, first purchase. you don’t need to have the data yet. Use the behavior and data that you pick up after the first automated email.

Your future business needs automated email software now

If your automated marketing automation brings an influx of new leads, those need to go through a lead nurturing process. Is your marketing funnel ready to convert those leads into clients? An email campaign workflow at the right time to the rescue. The management of dynamic email campaigns is where email workflows come out strong. Grow new and current customers.

These are solid business reasons to invest in marketing automation. Furthermore, they will help you with your resourcing struggles so that you maintain sustained growth. In short, to account for future of you business scale, it makes sense to get your marketing automation funnel tools in order today.

What to look for in your Email Workflow Automation software

Strong workflows make use of triggers in different ways. Email triggers can be based on customer behavior, events, logical operands and conditions on any dataset. This means you should be able to make use of all the data you own to automate your workflows.

It all has to start somewhere – how flexible are the workflow’s start points?
Your workflow’s starting point should be totally open for you to fill in, otherwise, it will be limiting your campaign setup. This means you should be able to start your workflow with any type of condition or event, even if that is just an open of an email, a click event. But also custom event or API calls.

How integrated is your segmentation with your workflow?
It’s all well and good if you automate with an automated workflow, but that won’t have the business impact if your customer isn’t getting the right message. Advanced segmentation can help guide your customer across their customer journey. Segmentation is a marketing tactic of choice to get the right message in front of the right customer. For that to happen you need well-defined segmentation and the appropriate content. Enter advanced segmentation.

How advanced is your segmentation?

Here’s a sample creative that went out as part of a clearance sale offer. It takes the customer’s purchase history into account and offers them a specific product based on their purchasing history.

newsletter_surfboard

Advanced segmentation ensures that you’ll have the right recipients receive the right content. With workflow automation they also get it at the right time. It’s being able to make use of all your data with dynamic content, based on business rules.

It should be just as easy for a business user to create advanced segmentation visually via the email marketing tool UI. The majority of users do have SQL knowledge. Once you’ve got your segmentation and your workflows defined it’s time to put it to work.

Email Marketing Automation Workflow Example: Clearance sale

There’s almost no limit to what you can automate. Here’s a simple example of an email marketing automation workflow of a targeted clearance sale offer.

Let’s have a look at the things you could do with a well-planned out clearance sale campaign workflow. Your workflow start with a segmentation. The segment selects all users that purchased a specific product within a time frame. In this case a surfboard within the last 24 months.

Our workflow starts a clearance sale that offers our customers products of the right type and size. It’s based on their history of previous purchases. We add their browsing history to tracking.

workflow-automation-example

There is a logical data switch. It sets the email campaign workflow with the right delays. Send your customer the most relevant clearance sale offers at the right time.

Email Marketing Automation Workflow Example: Recurring purchases

According to recent research from Adobe, the conversion rate of repeat customers is around 4x higher than for new customers.

This workflow will remind dog owners to purchase some dog food for their beloved pet. It’s a recurring purchase that they’ll need to do for years on end, so let’s make it easier for them.

email automation workflow example

  1. A customer purchases a 4kg bag of dog food. We remind them that in 3 weeks’ time they should buy a new bag.
  2. We give them 3 days to make the purchase. If they still haven’t purchased the dog food, we send them another email “Don’t let your dog go hungry”.
  3. We give them 2 more days. If they still don’t complete the purchase, we send an email with a limited one-time offer. A stylish new chain for their dog to go along with the dog food.
  4. The purchase and reminder cycle is repeated after every completed purchase allowing us to increase sales.

Tip: Further fine-tune the timing and follow up steps. This will make this Email Marketing Automation Workflow example work like a charm.

The repurchase workflow example requires:
* to know when the dog food is most likely to be finished,
* to estimate and suggest when they should be thinking of repurchase.

So if they bought a 4KG and two other bags of 6KG, ideally you have to do some calculation. If you want to make it super profitable, try and get them on a subscription model around the second purchase.

Email Workflow Automation features you need

The workflow examples show the potential of email workflow automation software. When deciding which email workflow management software is best, you want to consider the following features:

  • Start events: these events are the entry conditions that will start a customer’s journey in your workflow. Ideally, you should have complete flexibility in starting your workflow. We’re talking opt-ins, opens, clicks, defined goals, predefined times and custom triggered events via API calls.
  • Sending dynamic emails or other types of messages such as SMS or API calls at specific stages of the workflow.
  • Delay events: you can use these events if you want to send at a predefined time (say the next day at 3pm) or after a set amount of time.
  • Set data events: these update customer profiles in a workflow. You add tags and change data fields about customers in your database.
  • Winner switch: having the ability to run an A/B split test on a group of customers in your workflow automation. The winning version is sent automatically.
  • Distribution switch: dividing customers into groups to test different content. (E.g. 75% of the audience will receive one message and the remaining 25% will receive another message).
  • End event an element that marks the end of a customer’s path in your workflow and take them out of their workflow “membership”.
  • Contact frequency control: control over the number of messages a customer will receive in a given period. This includes the triggered emails in your workflow.
  • The ability to save and edit workflows, even when they are already started.
  • Workflow monitoring & reporting: give marketers the number of prospects in a workflow. It also gives them at all specific stages. You have the ability to select and export them.

If you want to automate then you need to segment-ate

Your automation will only be as powerful as your segmentation allows it to be. to choose the best automated workflow tool, know exactly what you will automate. Only then you’ll be engaging your customers with relevant content. Make your their customer journey align with your marketing automation funnel.

Krzysztof Jarecki

About Krzysztof Jarecki


Krzysztof has been professionally involved in the email marketing industry since 2003. Initially, on the programming front, then later, focusing on email deliverability and online marketing best practices. Today, as the CEO of ExpertSender he leads the company into the multichannel marketing platform market.

He is an active participant in key international email industry organizations, including, MAAWG, ESPC, EEC, Signal Spam and the Internet Society of China. Krzysztof is a contributing writer for several online email marketing publications.

Strategically, he is engaged in product research and development, while overseeing the relationships with ISPs and the biggest customers in the USA, Europe, Russia and Asia.

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