If you want to produce higher sales while working fewer hours, your first move should be automating email workflows.
It’s the most effortless way to efficiently serve customers and businesses alike.
Email remains the single easiest method for staying in touch with existing customers and nurturing leads into customers, but email automation isn’t for external use only. There are also several practical internal workflows and alerts that can be set up to eliminate drudgery and ensure actions don’t slip through the cracks.
Obviously, you need marketing automation software to create automated workflows. HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, Sendinblue, and many others all offer the ability to automate emails and workflows. While the mechanics differ by platform, all major automation providers can trigger an email workflow or alert in a variety of ways. For example, a trigger could be a form submitted to your website or a list created as contacts click an email link or interact with your marketing content.
Make automated workflows work for you
The kinds of automated email workflows you can create and send are only limited by your imagination and what makes sense for your business.
Nearly any business can benefit from automation—here are 12 email workflows and simple alerts that could work for yours. Read on for six internal automated email ideas or jump ahead for six customer-facing automation ideas.
6 automated workflows for customers, leads, and contacts
These common and easily-created workflows will produce results for your business—either better sales or happier customers (maybe even both).
1. New customer welcoming or training
A welcome workflow, triggered when a contact becomes a customer, will start your new relationship off on the right foot. This workflow can be as simple as a single “Hello and thank you” email that shows gratitude to the new customer for their business.
Some products require user training to maximize their value. A workflow that shares tips, training videos, cheat sheets, and other useful information about how to use the product keeps your customers engaged while providing them excellent service after the purchase.
2. Re-engaging inactive contacts
Regenerate interest in dormant contacts with a re-engagement workflow. Contacts can be enrolled after meeting triggering criteria like a certain length of time since the last website visit, an email click, or a form submission.
The length of time before a contact is considered inactive will depend on your product and business strategy. Three to six months of inactivity is acceptable for some businesses. For others, just one month means a contact has become inactive.
One common re-engagement email strategy is to offer a coupon or an exclusive offer. Other email suggestions include appealing to emotions (with messaging like: “We miss you!” or “We haven’t heard from you in a while”), soliciting feedback, or suggesting contacts update their email preferences.
3. Asking for feedback or online reviews
Create a simple one to three email workflow to request either direct product feedback or an online review on a platform like Google, Yelp, LinkedIn, orG2— wherever a review would be most powerful for your business. Depending on the product, you could ask within days or wait longer as the customer uses your product.
4. Purchase reminders
Create a list of your customers who buy on a recurring cycle. Create a trigger for a certain amount of time after a customer’s last purchase. For instance, customers may buy a six month supply of contacts. After the fifth month since their last purchase, a message saying that they don’t want to run out.
5. Drip campaigns
Drip campaigns are the traditional use of inbound emails. They are designed to educate your new leads with useful content. Once a website visitor fills in a top-of-funnel offer, they should enter a drip campaign with content related to that initial offer.
For a B2B example, let’s say a managed IT services provider offers a white paper detailing the pros and cons and outsourcing data backup as a free, downloadable resource. Once a web visitor fills in a form to receive the white paper, they’ll be entered into a drip campaign. Over the course of days, weeks, or even months, that IT services provider will share additional resources over email to further educate the new lead.
Emails in the campaign could include:
Links to related blog posts on outsourcing data backup
An infographic about data backup
Short videos explaining the financial benefits of outsourcing data backup
The final email in a drip campaign will be the ask, which could be an offer for a free consulting visit or phone call regarding the prospect’s data backup situation.
6. Abandoned cart reminders
If you sell online, this is one of the best ways to boost sales. When someone visits your checkout page, they enter a workflow. After X amount of hours (24 is a good interval to start with), if the purchase hasn’t been completed, send an email reminder of what’s in a customer’s cart. You can also suggest additional products or offer a coupon.
Marketing automation isn’t only about ensuring customers and leads receive helpful emails. Internal alerts can save time for your marketing team while allowing sales reps to more easily track activity and to reach out to hot leads ASAP.
1. New employee onboarding
Too many companies view onboarding simplistically, providing the basics: a laptop, a desk, login credentials, a walk around the office, and maybe some employee training. New hires are tossed into the pool, ready to swim or not.
An automated workflow can be used to ease the transition of a new employee. A series of emails could include a video welcome from the owner or president, an explanation of the company’s culture, an overview/reminder of vacation time and holiday schedule, lists of the staff’s favorite lunch spots, profiles of team members they’ll be working with, and so on.
This onboarding series can even be launched before the employee starts. For instance, three weeks before a new hire starts they receive a welcome email, the next week they get an email about company culture and benefits, and the week before they start they’re sent an email detailing what to expect on their first day.
TIP: Hiring a new employee is expensive and time-consuming, but automation can help make everyone feel welcome and valued so they’ll stick around. Try employee onboarding software to make the process less stressful for everyone involved.
2. The return of the prodigal lead
Despite our best efforts as marketers, not everyone is going to be ready to engage with us right away. Most companies have a “lost lead” or “disengaged” list that contacts are moved to after not responding to your efforts after some time.
Sometimes they come back—when they do, create an automated alert sent to the appropriate sales rep when a lost lead visits your site or clicks on a download, link, etc.
While it’s not always a good idea to pounce immediately, a notification of a strong lead that fizzled out will allow your sales team to monitor and possibly close a sale.
3. Contract renewal notifications
For time-based contracts, alerts can be sent to a sales rep in advance of their customer’s contract termination (how far in advance will depend on the service and your sales cycle). This allows the rep a better chance to retain the customer’s business so that potential revenue doesn’t slip through the cracks. For long-term contracts, set up automatic reminders regarding the software renewal timeline for your sales reps to check-in with customers.
4. Sales decision stage notifications
As a lead moves down the sales pipeline, they’ll begin to interact with decision stage content. As soon as someone submits a form to request a demo, a conversation with sales, a free trial, or a consultation, that person becomes a lead and must be assigned immediately to a sales rep. Set up an automated alert to go directly to the appropriate sales team member(s) for immediate follow up.
5. Assigning an owner to a lead
Once a lead becomes sales qualified and is ready to be passed to a sales rep, create an alert to go to the appropriate sales rep based on product line, zip code, or whatever criteria you use to create territories for your sales team. HubSpot and various other marketing automation tools allow you to assign leads to sales reps in round-robin fashion.
6. Updating contact properties
Let’s say you have a group of potential investors in your contact database. These individuals probably shouldn’t be receiving your lead nurturing emails. Rather than updating these accounts one by one, using workflows you can automatically mark the contacts in bulk with a property or note that allows you to exclude them from certain emails.
Time to start automating
With so many processes to automate, why aren’t you taking advantage of marketing automation? While marketing automation platforms make everything easier, you also can set up simple alerts using Gmail, Microsoft Outlook, or whatever email software you use by utilizing calendars and tasks. Regardless of where you are in your marketing and sales efforts, we bet you can automate at least one of the processes listed here.
Get going and stop worrying about missed opportunities because you’re not following up with customers often or quickly enough. Implement automated workflows and not only will you increase sales, but you’ll also save yourself time to create even more workflows. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll be able to just sit back and not do anything at all.
Andrea Moxham revels in the details of inbound marketing. Her single goal: harness the power of inbound marketing for businesses. She is the founder of Horseshoe + Co, a Gold HubSpot Partner. When not unearthing new ways to help her clients, she’s cuddling her baby girl and trying to convince her husband to get some goats for the farm where they live.