Skip to Content

Why Automation Is the Key To Improving Your Email Workflow

Illustration on a blue background of a robot coming out of a laptop screen, with emails and messages surrounding the robot / email workflow
AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of customer data to personalize email content based on individual preferences, behaviors, and demographics. [Adobe Stock]

From personalised offers to streamlining tedious tasks, automation can help you get the most from your email marketing investment.

Remember building your first email campaign? Painstakingly crafting emails, hoping the recipient wouldn’t see the telltale “Hello (name),” and adding contacts to your email workflow manually? That’s all a thing of the past. Today, automation is a game-changer and life-saver for email marketers — helping you save time, money, and stress. 

Automation doesn’t mean impersonal responses and a cookie-cutter approach to your email workflow. Brands of all sizes are using AI and automation to streamline tedious processes, personalise emails, and form better relationships with their customers.

Here’s how you can learn more about email workflows and start automating today.

Send emails your subscribers will love

Give readers what they want and deliver great results for your business with these 50 email best practices.

What is an email workflow in marketing?

Your email workflow is the series of actions that guide the communication and engagement with customers through email campaigns. Sometimes these are automated, sometimes not. The goal of an email workflow is to nurture leads, build relationships, and drive desired actions – such as making a purchase or subscribing to a service. 

Another way to define an email marketing workflow? “The fine art of managing all the different kinds of work that go into creating a beautiful email from inception to completion.” 

By this definition, an email workflow can involve content, design, development, and often automation needs. Depending on your business, your email workflow may be complex or simple, but the goal remains the same: to create a streamlined process for creating and sharing emails with your audience

Examples of email workflows

Some email workflows that you may already be familiar with include:

Welcome emails

The welcome email is the first thing your customers see when they agree to receive communication from your brand. It sets the tone and expectations for your relationship, so it’s important to get right. This email is simple to create — especially with a template — and is frequently automated after creation. 

Welcome emails are a great way to start automating the send portion of your email workflow if you’re new to the automation process. 

Lead nurture emails

Lead nurture emails — which introduce new subscribers to your brand and show what you have to offer — are also frequently automated. These automated workflows send emails at regular intervals – ideally one day resulting in a conversion. Automating this email workflow can save you a lot of time in the long run. 

Why is automation so important in this conversation about workflows, again? According to recent research, marketing automation sparks a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead. 

Sales or limited time offers

Sales offer emails let your subscribers know that you’ve got a deal or special offer for them. These emails require more time, effort, and review rounds throughout the content, design, and development process – and are usually time-sensitive. 

With a solid internal process and clever automation strategies, you can line up a string of emails to successfully send right when your subscribers will be most interested in receiving them. 

Post-purchase emails

Post-purchase emails that often ask for a review or some other communication from the customer are another common case of email workflow automation. 

Use these emails to encourage your customers to share their thoughts – whether they’ve recently acquired your latest product, experienced your services, or had another positive interaction with your brand.

These emails often include a warm and inviting message, a subtle encouragement to take action, or perhaps even a small extra incentive to enhance the deal and prompt customers to leave reviews on platforms such as Google, Yelp, or your own website.

Customer outreach 

Feel like you’re losing touch? Haven’t heard from a customer in a while? A customer outreach workflow can send an automated email when an account or subscriber is inactive for a while. It’s a great way to reach out a human hand, and just say hi again. You can leave your audience with education or inspiration, or try something more creative

Again, while the content and design portions of the email process can be adjusted as needed depending on the team’s size and tools, there’s one key portion that remains the same: automation. 

Why should you change up your email workflow process? 

Here are a few reasons why you should be consistently and regularly updating your email workflow processes. 

Minimise repetitive tasks

Automating your email workflow process can help minimise repetitive tasks. The result? More time for your team to take on big-picture work, instead of getting bogged down with tedious, repetitive tasks.

Save time

Think of all you can get done when you automate your email workflows. For instance, time spent manually adding contacts into your customer relationship management (CRM) tool can be better spent actually writing a personalised email to a subscriber, for example. 

The goal of automation is to save precious time for the things that really matter, like innovation and exploration. When you reduce manual tasks, or the time spent on manual tasks at least, you can spend more time getting closer to your customers. 

Send emails with confidence

Wondering which email service provider (ESP) is right for you? Our friends at Litmus asked hundreds of email marketing operations and management professionals about the best providers — find out what they said.

How AI can improve your email workflow 

Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: AI. Whether we’re discussing predictive or generative AI, it’s top of mind for marketing professionals everywhere right now. It’s got us all wondering: how can AI help you improve your email workflow? 

  • Personalisation: AI algorithms can analyse vast amounts of customer data to personalise email content based on individual preferences, behaviours, and demographics. This leads to more relevant and engaging emails — and takes personalisation way beyond just an exercise in first name and last name. With AI, you can now send highly-targeted emails to each individual, showing a selection of products designed just for them.
  • Predictive analytics: AI can predict customer behaviour and preferences by analysing historical data. This enables you to not just send emails at optimal times, but also predict which products or content a customer might be interested in, and tailor every email accordingly.
  • Automated content generation: AI technologies, like Natural Language Processing (NLP), can assist in generating personalised content for emails. This includes dynamically creating subject lines, email body text, and even product recommendations based on everything from the customer’s past purchases to the weather in their city.
  • Dynamic email content: AI enables the creation of dynamic content in emails that adapts based on user preferences or behaviour. This ensures that each recipient sees content that is most relevant to their interests

We’re already using AI to automate, segment, utilise behavioural triggers to send email campaigns. Generative AI is bringing even more ambitious new horizons into sight. 

The end result? Always stay competitive by testing new tools like AI to see how they can help your workflows and processes.

This blog post was authored in partnership with Litmus.

Start automating today

Wondering how you can personalise your email campaigns at scale? See how Marketing Cloud can make it happen.

Abigail Sims Senior Content Marketing Manager, Litmus

Abigail Sims is a Senior Content Marketing Manager on the Email + Content team at Litmus. With five years of experience telling brand stories for tech startups and small businesses, she thrives at the intersection of complex data and creative communication. She's passionate about good words, ethical marketing, and data-driven content.

More by Abigail

Get the latest articles in your inbox.