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5 Benefits of Email Workflows and How to Set Them Right

Did you know that most of the communication that happens between industry and customers still happens via email today? That’s right. Despite the huge strides made in chat and messenger technology, that static little envelope that says ‘you have got mail’ has a huge pull (or push, as the case may be) in the average individual’s online routine. As of 2019, the number of email users worldwide stood at 3.9 billion, set to grow to 4.48 billion users in 2024. 

Therefore, every single outfit continues to be well-served to optimize and leverage its email communication and campaigns for customers – both existing and prospective. When time, effort, and every other resource have a greater inverse equation with profits, marketing must look at efficiency. In recent years, ‘workflow efficiency’ has got to the forefront as a buzz-phrase and one of marketing’s pressing concerns 

 And, that’s where ‘email workflows’ come in. 

An email workflow, in bite-size 

Essentially, an email workflow is a series of automated emails, set up with the software of choice, which ensures every marketing message reaches the right customer, in the right way and at the right time. 

framework for email workflow

This automation frees up resources for your headcount and maximizes efficiency at every step. Your audience is segmented based on various factors, such as demographics, lead status, behavior patterns and position in the sales funnel. Each email workflow is then designed to target individual segments of audience and guide and carry them through to a desired and specific marketing goal. 

Email workflows – Sample This

An email workflow is never a static process. Its movement will be aligned to: 

  • A customer’s lead status
  • Intent
  • Predicted actions 
  • Ultimate behavior at every stage of your workflow 

The start point of an email workflow could be anything – a trigger (customer’s engagement with brand or response to a CTA,) a calendar or ad-hoc event (brand’s promotional or outreach activity), or the customer’s behavior (subscription sign-on or query). This would be the hook of your entire campaign. Once set in motion, every workflow will have to go through a series of sales or message stages.  Your contact simultaneously moves through your email workflow, based on their demonstrated actions and behaviors at each step. Studies show that triggered emails (based on actions) have a better open and click-through rate than those that are passively sent out.

email workflow sample

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Email workflow sample

Source: Milled.com

In the above example, the brand has sent out a sales promotion email, probably to its entire prospective and existing customer base. A couple of days later, the second email is pushed as a reminder. This would be better targeted to all those contacts who haven’t ‘triggered’ the CTA in the first step of the email workflow.

The benefits of an email workflow

  • Saves time and effort. As already stated, an email workflow works beyond a limited headcount and any other challenge that your marketing department may face. A one-time activation of the workflow on your CRM or automation platform will see you through for a long time.
  • Multi-pronged use cases. An email workflow is multifarious. It can be built to achieve any of your marketing goals – signing on subscribers, promoting product use, driving sales, upselling, cart abandonment elimination and other correctional steps, and bringing top customers on board as influencers. These would just be some of them.  
  • Tailored for tweaks. It can’t be said enough: an email workflow is not a static tool. It is probably the most dynamic and adaptable marketing communication channel out there. It can be built to predict and respond to outcomes and can also be tweaked to deliver better results.
  • Personalized email campaigns.  Your email workflow can, and ideally should, be customised for the different columns of contacts on your trusted excel sheet. You can choose to target a particular audience segment with a high-intent CTA or hit the whole base with a powerful brand message. You will have to read the context and track your records. 
  • Simple, but high yields. These days, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to the software or a competent email agency that can handle your email automation without a hitch. While the investments can be driven down to get the best margins, the outcomes and bottomline from an effective email workflow are colossal – in lead conversion, sales and revenue drives and brand amplification.

Need any assistance in setting up complex workflows in your ESP? Email Uplers can help.

Set them right and see them through

This thorough checklist will make sure that your email workflow is smooth and primed for success.

1. Start with the criteria. To begin with, define your starting point for every email workflow.  This has to be flexible to get the most out of your campaigns. The trigger or marketing goal should be clearly defined for every email workflow and fed into your CRM. You should also get familiar with all the qualitative data and metrics on your contacts recorded by your platform. Don’t forget to verify and make sure they are accurate. 

2. Set up a calendar template. One of the best and most time-efficient ways to keep track of your email workflow is with a calendar template. This can take in all the required details and act as your comprehensive guide for individual workflows and campaigns. A huge part of this involves setting the schedule for your email workflow. Every single email will have to be delivered at the right time. You can source a standard template off the web or get a custom template created to engage your subscribers.

3. Segment, segment, and segment some more. Your customer or contact is key and integral to your email workflow. It just cannot flow if they don’t engage. So, you have to know your audience in and out. The use patterns and user personas for your product or service are always the best starting points to design your workflow. Customize your workflows – according to personas and by industry. If you know your customer really well, you can leverage smart content to target personas and address specific challenges or blocks in the sales funnel. 

4. Build your assets. Email marketing automation has not worked in silo in many years. Since email marketing campaigns kicked off in 1978, email marketing has grown into a powerful communication tool that leverages data at every stage. So, you will have to focus on the minutiae. Ask yourself these questions: What are the other tools needed to support my email workflows (chat, web, etc.)? What are the internal and external communication flows for every trigger? How do I build in dynamic content?

build your assets

Be prepared to amplify your email campaigns with other tools. A high-value customer may receive a phone call or direct mail which could maximise conversion. 

5. Boost with branching. Every email workflow is vulnerable to disruptions, primarily due to the gaps or lags (positive or negative) in customer responses or behavior. For example, if a prospect has already been on-boarded then your drip workflow has to be halted or paused to prevent information overload and frustration for your customer. Where possible, draw up a ‘complex behavioral workflow’ that takes into account either / or patterns. At every stage, your email workflows should have the ability to branch off into further, customized workflows. 

6. Allow for scale and replication. Though every email workflow can be managed and worked for future contingencies, it is in your best interest to set it up so it can be scaled. You should get extremely specific with your criteria and still allow for replication across use cases that can be clustered together for ease of time and effort.

7. Add the human factor. There is just no way around testing. Track your CRM or automation platform for the recorded efficacy of your workflows with a hawk-eye. And, always be ready to tweak and pivot as the need may be. Remember, your software is a machine at the end of the day. Your insights on your customers and the overall campaign goal will have to be the ultimate check-and-balance.    

Wrapping up

Whether it be for lead nurturing, brand boosting, sales promotions or a hail-mary revival of contacts, research shows your marketing department must go all out with its email campaigns. Email marketing is a prime area of CRM well-suited for process optimization and automation that can eliminate every constraint, bottleneck and negative x-factor. The State of Marketing Automation 2019 report by SocialMediaToday found that 75% of marketers thought  email marketing was the most suitable channel for automation after social media. Interestingly, and according to a 2018 report from Getresponse, email automation is actually more popular.

That must be all the reason for you to track down that good software, get your creative juices flowing and set up your email workflows for better and greater marketing results, today! 

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Kevin is the Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest-growing email design and coding companies. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. He is a brand magician who loves to engage, share insights with fellow marketers, and enjoys sharing his thoughts on the latest email marketing best practices.

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