Email automation is a simple way to drive deeper engagement with people exactly at the right time. When done properly, the recipients of your emails should feel better, not worse, about giving you their email address.
What is email automation?
The simplest form of email automation is a scheduled email. For example, you may write an email to your church on Saturday night, but schedule it in Mailchimp to be sent on Sunday afternoon as a followup to your sermon. That’s a simple form of email automation.
However, email automation can get much more complicated. Before we get too far, let’s look at the backbone of email automation: workflows.
A workflow is a predetermined plan for how recipients will be engaged with emails based on an action taken. A workflow can be as simple as a one-time followup when a new person is added to a list or it can be as complicated as a multi-step, logic-driven drip campaign.
Although many email service providers (ESPs) offer email automation features, for the rest of this post I’m going to be talking specifically about Mailchimp’s email automation features. Learn more about Mailchimp’s email automation on their knowledge base.
Next, let’s look at a simple example of email automation.
The simple followup workflow
When someone takes action, that’s the perfect moment to followup with a series of helpful, light-touch emails.
Example: Mary signs up to become a volunteer. That’s a great step toward commitment to your church! Add Mary’s email address to the “New Volunteer” workflow in Mailchimp. Over the next two weeks, Mary will receive a series of helpful emails that will help her be prepared for her first day of volunteering.
This workflow accomplishes several high-level goals:
It helps Mary feel prepared for her first day of volunteering. She feels in-the-loop and valued because she has all the information she needs to succeed.
It helps keep Mary engaged after making an important decision that deepens her commitment to the church. Her confidence in her decision is strengthened.
It helps the church leadership communicate clearly without the administrative burden of sending four emails over two weeks to one person. Less time spent sending emails means better stewardship of time and resources.
It ensures consistency and quality of followup after each person takes a next step with the church.
Mailchimp’s email automation is a paid feature, but it starts at $10/month, which is very reasonable.