Email Marketing Automation – How-To Guide for Beginners

In my previous startup, I made a huge mistake. You know why? By not using email marketing automation!

In 2020, if you want to succeed in your digital marketing strategies, you must have an email marketing strategy.

I still regret not sending emails to 20,000 email subscribers in my previous startup. Yes, we of course had basic emails placed, such as order confirmation and abandoned cart emails.

But what we didn’t do is to keep our customers engaged with our startup.

Reason being – No one had enough time to send regular emails. Now I just wish I had heard about automated email marketing earlier.

Now, I actively use email marketing to keep my visitors engaged. This How-To guide will help you to understand the basics and give you a direction to start it.

Note: I use ConvertKit as my email service provider. In this guide, I will use the same tool to illustrate. You can start your 14 days free trial here. Even if you are using any other email service provider, you can easily move to ConvertKit.

What is Email Marketing Automation?

As the name suggests, it means sending out emails automatically to your subscribers or prospects without any manual intervention. It works based on the schedule, tags and triggers you set initially.

Remember some companies send you coupons on birthdays? Or some free email courses that pitch in their paid course in the last email? They use the wonder of automation.

It is widely used for engaging the subscribers, leads, or your old customers to a business or a blog.

It looks something like this:

email marketing flow
Image Source: storeya.com

But keep in mind that transactional emails such as order confirmation are shipment details are not a part of automated email marketing.

But email marketing automation isn’t as easy as it sounds. Just like any other skill, you would have to invest your time and learn from your experiments.

But I can assure you that you’re going to love automated email marketing. Follow me through this guide.

Why Email Marketing is Important?

Before we jump into the process and other details let’s understand why Email Marketing is important.

You would have probably heard “Email marketing is dead”.

That is so wrong! Because data says something else.

email vs social media
Image Source: OptinMonster

Let’s quickly check some of the pointers which would prove that email marketing isn’t dead.

  • 99% of consumers check their emails regularly.
  • Email Marketing has an ROI of 4400%. Every $1 spent on email marketing can bring $44.
  • You completely own the email list. No one else would have access to your list.

You are potentially missing a lot if you have not started your email list yet. Here’s how you can increase the list of your email subscribers.

Automated Email Marketing Steps

Enough of theoretical knowledge. Let’s do few of things practically:

Step 1 – Select your Email Service Provider (ESP)

If you were under an impression that you can do this with your normal email on Gmail, you’re wrong.

You would need an Email Service Provider. If you use your normal Gmail, your emails will land into spam folder.

An ESP can help you in sending email marketing messages to your subscribers by offering an email marketing platform/tool.

Most of them provide a self-service tool where you can do a lot of things yourself and pay only to use their platform.

I use and strongly recommend ConvertKit here. As they cover a lot of things required for automation of email marketing.

ConvertKit is one of the best email automation tools out there. In my next steps, I will be using same tool to illustrate.

Get your ConvertKit 14-Day free Trial here.

Before choosing an ESP, make sure they have following services:

  • Opt-in Builders – A code that you can add to your website for collecting emails.
  • Email Sequence – To schedule automated emails whenever someone joins your email list. Also known as Drip – Sequence.
  • Tagging & Segmentation – Used to segregate user’s interest so that you send only relevant emails.
  • Automation – Now you would want to do this Tagging and Segmentation automatically. Make sure your ESP has this option.

I love ConvertKit because it has all these features at just $29 for 1,000 subscribers. You can create unlimited landing pages, form and pop-ups to collect emails.

Convertkit features

When you have 1000s Subscribers, you can expect at least $300 in return through email marketing.

Step 2 – Create A Plan

Setting up automated emails takes a lot of planning and work on the back-end.

You need create a plan. Create a flow. You can use tools like draw.io and create a flow-chart. You have to plan these things:

  • Where would you put Opt-In forms?
  • What would be head-categories for your subscribers?
  • What would you send them?

So basically you have to create a funnel. Your end-goal would be obviously to sell them something.

But how would you gain their trust? That’s where you send users through a funnel. A basic funnel would look something like this:

email marketing automation

Some examples are of the funnel are email courses, product launch countdowns, or something random.

Step 3 – Create Opt-Ins and Place Them

As Pat Flynn says, we have to place the seeds. With ConvertKit, you can create unlimited forms and landing pages. (Even in the free account)

Once you’re logging in to the ConvertKit Dashboard, Go to Landing Pages and Forms section on the top. Choose either forms or landing pages. For this article, I will choose forms.

You will see different types of email capture forms that you can use on your website/blog:

convertkit forms

Now select the style of the form you would like to use. Further, edit the form as per your need.

ConvertKit has really simple and easy to use editor. You just have to click on the element and edit it.

convert kit edit options

Once you have edited your form, save it and click on Embed Button on the top. You will get various options to choose from.

You can either directly insert javascript code or use WordPress Plugin.

convertkit embed options

Now you can add different forms on different pages which is a better option as you will already know subscriber’s interest.

Or have a same form placed on your website. But you will have to ask their interest in Welcome email. Don’t worry, that can be automated too.

You can also use chatbots to collect emails.

Step 4 – Create Automated Email Sequence

Email sequences are a series of emails that are sent as per the schedule selected. This works perfectly for email courses.

Whenever a student signs-up to your course, he/she will automatically receive scheduled emails.

And in the last email, you may up-sell more courses.

Welcome sequences, lead – nurture sequences and abandoned cart sequences are some of the common use cases.

Creating email sequences are really easy. Select Sequences option on the top and start creating.

You just have to write a series of emails and select when exactly they are supposed to be sent after the previous email.

email sequences

Don’t get confused between automated sequences and broadcasts.

Broadcast emails are sent manually either at the same time or 1 specific date. Once it sent, it won’t go to anybody new unless you duplicate the broadcast manually.

But sequences are activated whenever a new subscriber added. No matter when they join in.

Step 5 – Create Your Email Marketing Automation

Finally, you are going to dip into the endless possibilities. Here on, your email marketing would be on auto-pilot.

Pull out that flow chart or a plan that you created in the 1st step. We would need that now!

Click on Automation on the top and start creating. The first thing you would see is a blank page with a button saying “create automation”.

Click on that and select when do you want to trigger the automation. You may select when someone joins a form or a tag is added. As shown here:

convertkit automation feature gif

If you want your multiple forms to follow the same automation, click on the plus (+) button on the right, and select another form.

The + Button on sides convey OR conditions.

Now when you click on the + button below. You will see the option of adding multiple options. If you want to tag your subscribers you may select Tag is added, or just start an email sequence.

email automations actions

Once you start creating your 1st automation, your would learn a lot of new things by playing around.

You can start your free 14 days trial here and start trying up some automations yourself.

If you use one form across all the website and still want to segregate your audience, you may ask them in the welcome email that what they are most interested in and add link to your categories.

While adding the links, you will get an option to tag subscribers based on which link they click on.

In such case, your ideal automation would look something like this:

And your email automation is complete!

Best Practices of Automated Email Marketing

Now that we have learned how to setup up our automation, let’s have a look at some of the best practices:

  • Don’t compromise your content: Initially, you will have to write a lot of emails which could be really frustrating. But try to keep your calm and write the best quality email content. You may take a helping hand from Fiverr.
  • Clean your email list: You will have a lot of email subscribers who will never open your emails. It is always better to remove them from the list. This way, you will keep your open rates higher and save costs.
  • Keep your emails personalized: Even if they are automated emails, try to keep them as personalized as possible. You will get perfect in it when you start using email automation extensively.
  • Check reports regularly: Things that are perfect for us may not be perfect for your subscribers. Check reports and see how they interact with the emails.
  • Send what they want: Suppose you’re reading this article about email automation, I suddenly start talking about web-hosting, it won’t make any sense. Right? Similarly, always use different automation for different categories. Don’t mix!

Difference between Email Marketing & Marketing Automation

The major difference here is that automation saves a lot of time.

Also, let’s take any B2B company as an example. The follow-up emails are really important in such cases.

But what if you have 1000s of emails?

It will get extremely difficult to follow up on them individually or to filter out every time and send mass emails manually.

The easy way here is obviously Marketing Automation.

Here’s a table that would help understand the key differences:

difference between email marketing and marketing automation
Image Source: Adobe Marketo Engage

Benefits of Automated Email Marketing

By now, you would have understood there are a lot benefits of automation let’s look at the recap:

  • Keep your subscribers engaged: If they are constantly receiving emails, they would not forget about your brand. It will build trust.
  • It saves time: I’ve seen people copying and pasting emails and sending them to every new subscriber. Email marketing automation can save a lot of time.
  • Saves costs: When you have things at a place that works automatically, you don’t have to hire extra labor for just sending emails.
  • Lead Nurturing: I remember wasting a lot of time on junk leads when I didn’t have proper email automation set up. With the help of automation, you may contact only those who are actually interested in doing business with you.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is an automated email?

    An automated email is planned and scheduled email which is sent to the subscribers in a specific time interval.

  2. How do I send automated emails?

    As mentioned in the guide, you need to create an email sequence first. Then you can use the automation option to trigger the sequence automatically whenever a new subscriber is added.

  3. What are the benefits of email automation?

    Just to recap from the guide, the benefits are:
    1. It keeps subscribers engaged
    2. Saves Time
    3. Saves Costs
    4. Lead Nurturing


A lot of entrepreneurs think that email marketing is that which is absolutely wrong. I still regret thinking the same way.

In fact, email marketing is one of the first few things business owners or bloggers should focus on.

Obviously, it takes time to do “cool-stuffs” with automated email marketing. But when you start using strategies and try more of automations, it becomes really easy.

So take email marketing in account while building a business. Keep your customers engaged and keep growing.

If I missed something, let me know in the comments.

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