Email Automation for eCommerce Business Email Marketing Best Practices

If you’re a business owner or marketer or entrepreneur, you’ve got a lot of balls in the air. So much to do. So little time.

Part of your job is to identify the tools, services, and tips to help you get more done in the same number of hours. Not shortcuts – which implies inferior quality and less than something deserves – but battled-tested strategies to squeeze more – results, profit, conversions – from less.

One such tactic is email automation. If it’s not a part of your marketing mix, you’re falling short and trying to juggle one more ball than necessary.

Gone are the days of cold, impersonal messages that sound like they were written by a robot. It’s no longer a “batch and blast” numbers game. Modern automated emails are personalized, timely, and relevant. They’re data-backed. And they work.

Email marketing remains one of the most powerful and effective tools at your disposal. And the icing on the cake? It’s the preferred channel for the majority of people.


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Among US adults, 72% listed email as their preferred channel for communicating with a company or brand. That’s over 3.5x more than social media, text messages, and phone calls.

They want email from you. And with email marketing automation, you can deliver it when it matters most, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Never miss an opportunity to nudge someone along your funnel. Never forget to reach out at the opportune moment in their lifecycle.

Because let’s face it, even as a small business owner, you don’t have the time to personally respond and reach out to everyone. And even if you did at first, that would quickly become an unsustainable model.

Somewhat paradoxically, automated emails allow you to foster deeper connections with your customers by engaging them on a regular and personalized basis.

Email Automation in the Real World

Getting started with automated emails can be a bit labor-intensive at the onset. You’ve got to identify the moments, write, test, and tweak your email messages, and combine your email solution with your data streams.

Once done though, it delivers.  

  • 77% of companies that use email automation see a boost in conversions (source).
  • High-performing companies are 67% more likely to be using automated email tools (source).
  • 80% of businesses using email automation have experienced a jump in qualified leads (source).
  • SMBs using automated email marketing generate 50% of their revenue from existing customers. That figure drops to only 30% for those not using the tactic (source).
  • Over 90% of respondents believe that marketing automation is “very important” to their overall success (source).
  • Marketing automation produces a 14.5% increase is sales productivity, and a 12.2% reduction in overhead costs (source).
  • Automated emails have a 151.9% higher click-through rate and 76.7% higher open rate than business-as-usual messages (source).
  • An automated email campaign produces 119% more clicks than batch and blast (source).
  • Marketing automation solutions can deliver a 451% increase in qualified leads (source).
  • Event triggered marketing can save as much as 80% of your direct mail budget (source). New call-to-action

Types of Email Automation

There’s literally no shortage of emails you could automate. Automated email marketing is limited only by the messages and moments you want to include.

A few common types:


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  1. Welcome (subscribers, customers, followers)
  2. Getting Started/Onboarding
  3. Retention
  4. Educational
  5. Win-back or re-engagement
  6. Upsell or cross-sell
  7. Post-purchase requests for feedback or reviews
  8. Informational (sales, special events, promos)
  9. Cart abandonment
  10. Anniversaries and Other Important Dates
  11. Website and browsing activity (viewed a particular page, watched a video, downloaded a report)

You might choose to organize into a select few sub-categories:

  1. Subscriber (new features, new blog posts, thank you email, newsletter, roundup)
  2. Promotional (sales, special offers, special events, upgrades, invitations)
  3. Transactional (digital receipts, password reset, confirmation, shipping confirmation, renewal, replenishment)
  4. Behavioral (abandoned cart, browsing history, survey, milestones, polls, retention, social proof)

Find the key moments in your customer lifecycle. Craft the message. Automate the response.

Email Automation and Subject Lines

Email marketing is made or broken on the strength of your subject line. With dozens of messages clogging our inboxes every day, those with a weak, vague, or spammy subject line get tossed without getting clicked.

Don’t fall into that group.

Keep them relatively short. Use an actual name or brand in the from: field. Personalize when possible (first names, locations, product names). Front load (most important element at the beginning) and condense. Create urgency if appropriate. Avoid ALL-CAPS, exclamation points, and other tactics that scream “Spam!”. And don’t forget to split test your subject lines to find the ones that resonate most with your email list.

  1. Welcome to the Club, [Name]
  2. Let’s Set Up Your Account with [Brand]
  3. Take 50% Off. Today Only.
  4. Your Items Are Safe in Your Cart
  5. Hurry! Our Flash Sales Starts Now
  6. Thanks for Your Order, [Name]
  7. If You Liked [Product], You’ll Love These
  8. Still Not Sure? Take Another Look
  9. What Do You Think of [Product]?
  10. We Miss You!
  11. Come Back and Get an Exclusive Gift
  12. $25 Off. Just For You.
  13. Goodbyes Are Not Forever


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Check out our individual email type pages for even more examples. Subject lines are crucial.

Best Practices for Email Automation

What do the industry experts and MAPs (marketing automation practitioners) say you should be doing to maximize the tactic? For starters, follow the best practices for email marketing in general. Then, get automation specific:

Map out your buyer journey and lead management flow, then identify those key actions and events to automate.

Take the time to craft well written, engaging, and irresistible messages. You can automate almost anything, but if your email is poorly written, spammy, and irrelevant, it’ll just end up in the trash folder. Automation is not a replacement for quality marketing…it’s a complement to it.

Keep it timely. Welcome emails, for example, should go out immediately. Cart recovery emails should ideally go out around an hour after abandonment.

Include CTAs to follow you on social media, read your blog, subscribe to your newsletter…anything and everything to increase engagement and cross-channel interaction with your leads and customers.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need: reviews, testimonials, and ratings.

Never skip the opportunity to provide personalized recommendations based on their buying and browsing behavior. Upselling and cross-selling are an artform.

Re-engagement or win-back campaigns can automatically touch base after X number of days between purchases, or after a predetermined dip in engagement, or whatever other criterion you use to measure your relationships. Make a “Hail Mary” offer, or remind them of the benefit you provide.

Automated email campaigns are effective, save both time and money, increase engagement and retention, and allow you to easily measure your success and KPIs.

They never forget and never rest. Personalization and automation are the email marketing dream team.

And you can have it all with a full-service provider like SmartMail.

Let’s get you started today.


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