Automated email flows are an easy way to boost sales. In this guide, we break down the most efficient types of email flows so you can maximize results.

What is Covered in this Guide:

Welcome to email flows, where triggered is a good thing. Automated sequences are an incredibly powerful component of your email program, allowing you to send more emails without additional work. They deploy around the clock when your users are at the peak of their interest and primed to take the next step towards purchase. Set them up and then stand back and watch them work. Find out which flows we recommend starting with, and see how we’re optimizing automations to create positive returns. 

At a high level, flow emails are sent automatically based on a particular user behavior or activity on your website. Automated emails bridge the gap between your transactional emails and your campaign emails, providing timely communications about information relevant to a specific user. Triggers for flows include common activities like completing a sign up form, viewing a product, starting a checkout, or completing a purchase. Goals for email flows generally revolve around guiding the recipient to purchase, but can also support other brand building and loyalty programs.

  1. Add product to cart
  2. Wait 1 day
  3. Email 1 sent
  4. Wait 3 days
  5. Email 2 sent
  6. Click 
  7. Purchase
  8. Revenue
  9. Bounce back offer and cross sell

At Grit, when we think about organic audiences, that includes owned audiences such as email lists. Building a group of engaged subscribers creates tremendous value for your business. This audience can be leveraged for paid media efforts such as retargeting and can also fuel your automated email program. 

3.9 billion people worldwide use email every day, and if your email strategy is on point, all those emails can generate 20-30% of your ecommerce revenue. However, it’s important to keep subscribers engaged by providing them with relevant content both beautifully designed and delivered at an appropriate frequency. 

Advantages of automated email flows

Automation is the closest you’ll come to having a secret army of marketing elves working tirelessly around the clock. Automation, especially in email, allows you to scale your efforts with a one-time setup and minor ongoing maintenance. Email marketing is all about the details: who is the audience, what is the right message for them (at this very moment), how will they react to the content, have you organized all the images, written the copy, QA’d the links, triple checked everything before deploying the email?! Besides the ability to “set it and forget it”, here are four other reasons we love automated email flows:

Scales communication and saves time

Email automation doesn’t care if you’re sending 5 emails a week or 5,000; if the trigger conditions are met, the email is sent. Keep in mind that, while more emails deployed are generally better, there is a tipping point. Monitor your unsubscribe rates and take advantage of features like “smart send” that skip subscribers if they’ve received too many emails recently. 

Supports brand building

Campaign emails tend to be more topical, following a seasonal or product-focused calendar. Automated email flows give you the opportunity to provide a dedicated introduction to the brand and reinforce brand touchpoints. Welcome new subscribers to the family, make them feel appreciated, ensure they’re aware of and take full advantage of all the great products you offer.

Complements email campaign revenue

If you’re only sending campaign emails, you’re missing out on a whole other stream of revenue. Think about flows like your 401K; you know they’re working for you in the background and it’s a pleasant surprise to see just how much money is accumulating. 

Encourages cross-sells and up-sells

In ecommerce, it’s not the first sale that you should obsess over, it’s getting the second (and third…) sale to maximize the lifetime value of your customer base. By leveraging your owned data about customers, you can use knowledge of your product catalog and logic available in email platforms to show your customer what else would benefit them.

The automated email flow starter kit

Not sure where to begin? Start with the basics. These four flows form the core of your automated email arsenal. We recommend starting with these flows because they connect you with your customers at critical points in their path to purchase.

1. Welcome Series

Begin at the beginning! Introduce new subscribers to your brand by sharing your story and highlighting what differentiates you. Your welcome series can include multiple emails, starting broad and narrowing in as you go through the sequence. Introduce subscribers to all the products you offer, then highlight your feature categories or anchor products.

How do you get people into this flow?

Leverage a pop-up or other signup form on your website to enroll users in the flow. Then, utilize an A/B test for messaging to increase your signup rate. For example, compare the effectiveness of an offer like free shipping vs. just a signup message.

Other important considerations:
  • Reinforce the offer and provide the code, if necessary, in the first email in your welcome series to ensure a seamless transition to purchase.
  • Repeat the code as a reminder in your subsequent emails.
  • In the first email, utilize personalization, whether in the subject line of the body of the email, to create a connection. 
  • Continue the conversation by asking for a follow on social media channels.
  • Complete your sequence in the first week after signup.

automated email flow 1

2. Browse Abandonment

Remind users what they were viewing if they didn’t put the product in the cart. This content populates dynamically and will take users back to what they were viewing, making it easy to pick up where they left off. You should also include content that reinforces their reason for purchasing, value call outs like free shipping, made in the USA, or a product guarantee. However, we encourage you to keep this email simple. It’s transactional and meant to drive a purchase. 

How do you get people into this flow?

Use the “viewed product” trigger to enroll users and deploy the email after 4 hours, if they haven’t added the product to their cart yet.

Other important considerations:
  • Depending on how conservative you want to be in your email program, you can limit how often you send this email, opting to only deploy it to a user once every 14 or 30 days. 
  • Generally, there is only one email in this flow but you can test sending a second if you aren’t seeing the desired conversion rate.  

automated email flow 2

3. Abandoned Cart

Sometimes you get distracted (or your credit card is in your purse on the other side of the house) and you leave a product in the cart. If a user gets all the way to checkout and doesn’t complete their purchase, that’s revenue that has a high likelihood of transacting, so it’s worth spending the time on an automation to push it over the finish line. 

How do you get people into this flow?

The “started checkout” trigger enrolls users in this flow. The email will populate with dynamic content, showing them exactly what they added to their cart with a CTA to take them back to checkout. If at any point users organically go back to their cart and complete the checkout, they’ll be unenrolled from this flow. Typically, this flow is deployed 4 hours after abandoning the cart and then again 1 day later. 

Other important considerations:
  • Test different time delays – maybe 1 day later and 3 days after is a better fit for your product and buyer. 
  • Be more aggressive with the deployment timing during peak seasonal times when you’re competing for attention and budget from the buyer.
  • Segment your flows based on price point, considering that bigger ticket items may require more time to pull the trigger. 
  • Limit other messaging and content elements, since this flow is transactional like browse abandonment. 
  • There is a difference between the triggers “added to cart” and “started checkout.” If you want to trigger this flow as soon as someone put a product in their cart, not just when someone has started the process of adding in their shipping and billing information, you’ll need to implement some additional code on your site and adjust your trigger. 

automated email flow 3

4. Thank You

Have you ever had a truly exceptional shopping experience? Replicate the customer service your subscribers would receive in person (if/when you have a brick & mortar store) by sending a thank you email. This communication is a way to foster loyalty by showing your gratitude to either new or repeat customers.

How do you get people into this flow?

The trigger for this flow is “checkout completed” and it can be sent immediately after checkout or at a delay of a few hours to a few days. This is a separate email from the order confirmation, The thank you email is meant to be a foil to the very transactional confirmation email and provide a personal touch. 

Other important considerations:
  • We recommend a logic split that deploys one of two emails, based on whether they are a first time or repeat buyer.
  • In the email design, you have the opportunity to include a longer message. No need for excessive imagery; it’s a thank you note for the modern era.
  • If you have a loyalty or referral program, include that information as a secondary message.

automated email flow 4

Advanced Email Flows

You’re engaging and delighting your customers across their buying journey. Now what? Here are some advanced flows you can consider implementing after you get the basic flows in place. 

Special occasion emails create a personal connection with your customers. If you’ve collected a birthdate, surprise your subscribers with a birthday message. Set up your trigger to be based on a date variable associated with a user profile. You could use the same principle to trigger an anniversary flow or other date specific sequence (national recognition day, industry specific date, etc.). 

Back in stock means back in business. Not being able to purchase a product can be frustrating for users. Including a back in stock flow gives users a clear next step and helps avoid losing the sale. Back in stock flows also give you visibility into how many people are waiting on a product, helping you forecast demand and understand potential future revenue. Deploying the email once the product is available also prompts some important customer service decisions – how many emails do you want to deploy at a time? If there are only a few available, is creating a free for all, first come first served stampede a negative experience? Perhaps deploy emails in specific batch sizes and wait to see how many products are left before deploying the next batch.

Product review requests and cross sell emails drive important onsite actions, increasing review count and driving repeat purchases. Consider the best time to request a review, then schedule your email flow sequence accordingly. If your product is about instant gratification, send it based on the delivery trigger. But, if your product takes a few weeks to understand and use, build a delay into your sequence. Be sure to thank them in advance for their review, since they’re taking time to provide feedback. Including a personal appeal about the impact it makes on your business is a great motivator. 

Winback and bounceback are two different sides of the same coin. Both are designed to drive engagement at different stages of the subscriber lifecycle. The bounceback is an email sent post purchase to encourage a follow up purchase, and typically contains an offer or discount code. Getting to the second purchase is an important milestone, as it builds customer loyalty and increases lifetime value. The windback is used to activate subscribers that have gone cold. You can introduce them to a new product, remind them about a complementary product to what they purchased, or send them an offer they can’t resist. 

Site abandonment is the flow you never knew you needed. This flow triggers when someone vists your site – the homepage or a collection page – but doesn’t go any further. Send them a reminder of all the great things you offer and bring them back to your site. This flow is a revenue generator because, due to the nature of broad targeting, it gives you a lot of chances to get in front of your subscribers. 

automated email flow 5

Custom flows to consider 

You’re always looking for opportunities to put the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Custom flows not only enable you to perform this marketing magic, they do it automatically. If you can build a trigger for it, you can send it. Here are a couple favorites from our customers:

Gump’s Jade Lovers flow

Jade jewelry is a specialty offering with a dedicated following. A marquee product line since the store was founded in 1850, Gump’s offers traditional and modern styles, as well as one of a kind estate pieces. The Jade Lovers flow was developed to showcase the diversity of the jade offering to new collectors and aficionados alike, covering colors of jade, ways to style, and the estate pieces you won’t find anywhere else. 

Performance highlights – First 60 days, 3 email series:

61-68% open rate

10-16% CTR

$1,250 AOV

automated email flow 6

DryFins Size Up flow

Picture this: you’re getting ready to leave on vacation, packing the kid’s swimsuits, and disaster strikes – they’ve outgrown last year’s trunks! DryFins offers chafe-free trunks for men and boys. As a family-oriented brand, the Dry guys want you to avoid vacation tragedy, so they implemented a Size Up flow that reminds you to check the trunks you purchased last year and introduces you to the new colors and patterns available in the next larger size.

automated email flow 6

What about transactional emails? 

Transactional emails perform a very important administrative function, and build trust in the ecommerce process – confirming your order, providing updates, sharing shipping information, and confirming delivery. The automated flows discussed in this guide are meant to live in harmony with your transactional emails, and for that reason, we strongly encourage you to consider their design. 

Consistency across brand touchpoints is one of those never-ending battles you fight in marketing. Just when you think every communication is following the brand standards, another email pops up with your old logo or last season’s color palette. Your transactional emails and flow emails should match stylistically. This creates visual repetition for the customer and reinforces your brand. It’s also one more chance to inject brand voice and enhance the customer experience. 

automated email flow 7

 

What platform do we recommend? 

Full disclosure, Grit is a Klaviyo Silver Master Partner. But even if we hadn’t deployed over 1,500 emails on the platform, we’d still be a fan. From the integrations with popular ecomm platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce, to the exceptional email builder tool, to the incredible segmentation logic, this platform has something for everyone. 

klaviyo

If you’re looking for a partner to get your flows running on Klaviyo, or the platform of your choice, we’d love to hear more about your email automation ambitions. 

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Author

René Fielder COO, President of Agency Services

With over 20 years in marketing and design, she is equally comfortable in Excel and Photoshop. This unique combination of artistic and analytical skills has served her well in directing strategy and solving complex problems for clients across a variety of industries.

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