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What is Email Marketing Automation?

What is Email Marketing Automation?

Email is still the most efficient way for businesses to reach out to their customers. You can decide which email you want to send, at what time and to whom. That, in a nutshell, is what Email Marketing Automation is all about.

If you’re the owner of a small business, you might not always have the time and resources to keep track of when your customers have their birthdays, or which of the 700+ customers you have is a dog owner. By incorporating email marketing automation into your communication strategy, you know exactly when to send, what to send and to whom to send.

Many of these email marketing automation tools are available right within your Constant Contact email marketing account.

New to Constant Contact? You can try it out with a free 60-day trial

But this sounds too simple. Does it have a catch? Does it really work?

Let’s take some time to learn more about email marketing automation, how it can benefit you and why you should consider trying it right away.

What is Email Marketing Automation?

When you create newsletters and one-off campaigns, you usually send them to a whole list of people. But an automated email campaign is set up once and automatically sent to a segment of your list, or multiples segments depending on the kind of trigger they meet.

For example, when you sign up for Constant Contact, you get a welcome email. This email introduces you to Constant Contact, asks you to verify your email, tells you how to set-up your account and get started with building your brand.

Now imagine if you had to manually send out this email for every customer – the amount of time invested in this process would be tremendous. Instead, you could just create an automated welcome email which would be sent out every time someone signed up.

That’s the beauty of email automation, you can set up the email once and then as more people continue to meet the trigger you defined, the email campaigns will continue to be sent to them without you ever having to lift a finger. It essentially ‘automates’ your marketing for you.

But doesn’t automation seem robotic?

As a small business owner, you already have enough on your plate. And as your business grows and more leads start flooding in, it becomes even more challenging for your sales team to offer incredible experiences to everyone that interacts with your business.

Email automation helps you take care of your existing customers as well as new leads which are added to your database. If executed correctly, email automation delivers highly personalized and timely experiences that will convert prospects into customers. Or first-time customers into loyal repeat business.

A recent Raab Report found that 60 percent of businesses with revenues exceeding $500 million have already implemented marketing automation, but just 3 percent of small businesses with fewer than $5 million in revenue have invested in it.

This is where Autoresponder comes in.

Autoresponder is a tool that lets you create a series of personalized, automated follow-up emails that are sent to a contact after they are added to a list.

You choose the order, frequency, and targeted content of the message. Once the sequence is set up, the emails send automatically.

The only challenge with email marketing automation is it often requires a little work and planning upfront. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of 5 automated email ideas you can incorporate into your email marketing strategy that will help grow your business.

1. Automated Welcome Emails

In a competitive market, first impressions are everything. If someone signs up for your email list, it’s up to you to delight them right away with interesting and helpful content and enticing offers.

The easiest way to do this is with an engaging welcome email. A welcome email should do three things:

  • Thank your customers for signing up
  • Tell new customers what they can expect to receive from you (and how often)
  • Offer immediate value (maybe a 15% discount on their first purchase or some free resources they can use)

Setting up a Welcome Email is easy in Constant Contact’s marketing automation platform. Head over to the “Campaigns” tab, hit the “Create” button and select “Email Automation” to get started.


Automated welcome emails reach new subscribers when they’re new to your list and highly engaged.

A welcome email is a great way to start nurturing leads through the customer journey. However, it’s just the beginning. Why not go a step further with your automation by creating a simple three-part welcome series to really give new subscribers a warm welcome after they fill out your sign-up form?

You can do this right within that “Email Automation” section we talked about. This time create an “Autoresponder Series” that will automatically send to new subscribers at the frequency you desire.

2. Birthdays and Anniversary Emails

Facebook notifies you whenever a friend has an upcoming birthday. But with emails, it’s completely different. You cannot keep checking your subscriber lists to see which of your customers are celebrating their birthdays or anniversaries.

Another great reason to send out automated emails on these special days is to keep your customers engaged and let them know they’re important to your business.

No matter how much someone cares about your business, it’s natural for them to lose some interest after they’ve been on your email list for a while.

Start collecting birthday information whenever a new subscriber joins your list. Then, head back to that handy ‘Email Automation’ section in your Constant Contact account to create an automated email that sends on a subscriber’s birthday or anniversary.

This is a great opportunity to thank them for their continued support and offer them a special birthday gift — whether it’s a small freebie or helpful guide.

Tip: This two-minute video tutorial walks you through how to create an automated Birthday or Anniversary Email.

3. Gather product feedback via surveys

One of the best ways to reach out to your customers and understand what they want from you is by asking them directly. Knowing a customer’s pain point and giving them a chance to voice their opinion instills a sense of faith in the customer’s mind – You value their feedback, and more importantly, are willing to help them out.

Sending a survey form to your customers is one of the easiest ways of knowing what is going on in your customer’s mind. You can prioritize features better because you know what people are using the product for and attract new customers more easily because you know why people dislike competitor’s tools and what the key messages to be putting out there are.

Setting up a survey is extremely easy with Constant Contact’s marketing automation software. You can create your questions from scratch or customize a pre-written survey template.

4. Newsletters and blog updates

Your blogging and email marketing efforts are like peanut butter and jelly.

The nutty crunch of peanut butter and the smooth texture of jam are great when solo. But if combined, you get a perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich – one of the most loved foods everywhere in the world.

You can get that same kind of best-selling synergy with a content marketing strategy that smartly combines blogging and email marketing.

If you’ve been updating your company blog regularly, you may have a lot of great, timeless content out there that doesn’t get the views it once did. Consider repurposing this content in automated drip campaigns for newer customers who haven’t seen this content yet.

Some ideas to keep in mind:

  • Go through and make sure your posts are still relevant and up-to-date
  • Make sure the sequence builds upon ideas and that there’s enough variety to be as engaging as possible.

Ditto for newsletters. Your newsletter content could be anything – right from key feature updates to announcing the launch of a new product to encouraging customers to participate in your Facebook contest.

Make sure you schedule your newsletter to be sent out at least once a month. You could use this as an opportunity to promote a new blog post, introduce a new (or old) member of your team and even give out a free, downloadable resource which would benefit your customers.

5. Promote events and webinars

Email marketing campaigns are perfect for promoting events, meet-ups or webinars that your business is investing in.

After all, your subscribers should already be interested in what you have to say, and a succession of emails is an ideal strategy for getting people excited as your webinar draws nearer (and making sure they don’t forget about it!).

Whenever a person signs-up for a Constant Contact webinar, we send them the below email thanking them for registering, giving a little detail on what to expect from the webinar and how to join the webinar.

Closer to the actual date, we send out another couple of reminder emails, encouraging customers to block their calendars and spread the word. Then, after the webinar has concluded, they automatically get sent the slides and access to the on-demand version of the webinar.

Webinar email

Given that most marketers host webinars and events for marketing purposes, sending automated emails like these can help grow your business by ensuring the maximum number of people either attend the event live or see the recording, helping return the highest ROI possible.

Okay, so I now understand. Email Marketing Automation is extremely helpful and is the way to go!

In addition to the above mentioned five, there are a host of automated emails you could send to your customers. It’s completely alright if you don’t wish to go all out right at the start. You could start small – maybe a three-part autoresponder series to welcome new customers to your email list.

As a small business that is growing quickly, you are likely to have more and more things competing for your time and attention.

However, out of all the opportunities available to grow your business, email marketing is one of the most impactful and simple. Setting up automated lead nurturing campaigns can help you and your marketing team drive traffic to your website and increase conversions without having to spend too much time and effort in recreating them for every new customer you add to your growing subscriber list.