CRM Automation Ideas: Email Sequences

crm zoho Aug 12, 2021
Email Sequences

Clever Email Automations to Engage Prospects and Customers

Email Automation Vs. Email Templates

Before jumping into the list of CRM email automation ideas, first we should identify whether your email SHOULD be automated or not. 

Both email automation and email templates are great tools. It's important to know how to use each one based on what you need to accomplish.

As long as your CRM data is clean, you can draw upon the information you have about prospects and contacts to send customize emails and deliver highly relevant information using email automation. This means that you and your team are vigilant about keeping things up to date and entering information in the correct data fields.

One way to gather clean information from prospects and customers is to quiz or survey them. Keep it simple. A few questions you could ask are: how did they hear about your company in the first place, what their biggest pain point is, and what they like about your products/services.

Email templates are a fantastic tool when you are generally writing the same message over and over again with slightly personalized information. For example, a post-sales call thank you note probably has a standard message, but you add something specifically said during the call to the message. 

IF you can truly send the exact same message to Prospects / Contacts using merge fields (data from the CRM) to customize it, then email automation makes sense.

IF you want a faster way to follow-up on those more personalized communications, then email templates are a better choice. 


This is the second article in a series of posts about automation for marketing, sales and operations. If you missed the first article, you can read about Sales Team CRM Automations here. 


When do you use Automated Email Sequences?

Automated emails are triggered based on some sort of action or schedule that you set up. Using Zoho CRM as the example software, you can send emails out to your Leads or Contacts using a Workflow Rule based on an action (such as the creation of a new Lead), a field update, a score, or a specific date/time. Within that workflow rule, you can set specific conditions such as "only include people with the Lead Source of Webinar." 

Using email automation can significantly help you to scale your sales efforts and reduce time wasted on unqualified leads. Abusing email automation is easy to do, so give it serious consideration before you choose to automate something. 

Clever (Logical) Email Automation Ideas

1. Newsletter Opt-In

Hopefully, your marketing person / team has already set this up. Just in case they have not, do yourself a favor and create an email autoresponder in your CRM or Email Marketing platform that goes out to new subscribers as soon as they opt-in to receive emails from you.

The automation trigger is the creation of a new subscriber or the opt-in to a specific list. 

Better yet, create a Welcome Email Sequence to check in on them. Here's what that would look like:

  • First Email: Sent immediately to the new email subscriber with a welcome message, setting expectations (you will receive our newsletter on the first of every month and it will include this kind of information...), and invite them to offer feedback. 
  • Second Email: Sent 60-90 days after opting in that has a "checking in" style message. Ask how things are going, if they have feedback, or maybe include a 1 question survey such as a Net Promoter Score. 
  • Third Email: Sent 1 year after opting in with a message that celebrates the relationship.  Something like, "we're so grateful that you are part of our community... please let us know if there is anything you need."


2. Education Series after Gated Content

This is another obvious place for an email sequence. When you offer an e-book, case study, or another piece of educational content that is "gated" (the person must opt-in to download it), then you have an opportunity to continue the conversation and add more value. 

The automation trigger here is, yet again,  the creation of a new subscriber or the opt-in to a specific list. 

A simple email sequence for a case study or whitepaper, for example, might be 3-5 emails sent over 4-6 weeks. After the initial "here's your download" email, the subscriber receives one email per week offering additional educational value. Avoiding the direct sales pitch is vital in this content.

Keep the calls to action non-sales oriented for the first few emails. Only include a sales call to action in the last 1-2 emails. You can use the count of clicks / opens in these emails to update the Prospect's score in your CRM to know how qualified he or she is. In addition, you can trigger a secondary workflow that assigns a task to a sales person at the end of the education email sequence telling them to call the Prospect. 


 3. Lead Nurturing

 Very similar to your educational gated content email sequence is a lead nurturing email automation. 

After contacting a lead, the sales person may discover that this lead is still pretty high up the sales funnel - maybe he or she is still evaluating the brand or the specific need. In this case, using a field in the CRM such as the Lead Status is highly valuable. It can trigger a workflow that starts a lead nurturing email sequence. 

Depending upon your business type, there may be a barrier to understanding the brand value or even the product/service. In software, for example, it is not always clear to the potential buyer if they truly need your product. A series of emails that highlight common pain points and how the software addresses them could answer the objections of your unsure lead. 


4. Post-Webinar / Online Event

While webinars can be a highly valuable selling tool, so many people miss the opportunity to capitalize on that audience. A smart email automation may be the best tool to help you keep that prospect's attention.

Be sure to track in your CRM who registered and who attended the webinar / online event. In Zoho CRM, we use the Campaigns module. It integrates with Zoho Webinars, Zoho Survey, Zoho Campaigns, and several third-party platforms such as MailChimp and Constant Contact.

You can trigger the email based on people associated with the webinar campaign. When someone is added to the campaign and the date is (the day after the webinar), send out an email with the slide deck or any useful follow-up material. Include a call to action for a free demo or consultation. 

Something I like to do is send a second email only to those who did not reply or take action after the first email. The content may include additional value.

All of your webinar registrants can also be pushed into your newsletter email opt-in sequence too. 


5. Birthdays / Anniversaries / Special Dates or Milestones

This is probably one of my favorite email workflows. It can be highly-personalized, making it more effective. Everyone handles this a little differently depending upon your business.

If you are a business serving other businesses, then you may want to create a field in your CRM to identify a milestone such as your work anniversary with that client. Then you can make a workflow that automatically sends a "Happy Anniversary" message each year (make sure to update the copy each year). Or, you can get more hands-on and trigger a reminder to send a gift, a card, or send a more personalized message. 

Other milestones may be:

  • Home Buyer Anniversary. Send a message each January to remind your real estate clients about important homeowner things such as homestead exemptions and tax benefits.
  • Birthday. There are integrations into CRMs that will automatically send a printed card to people on their birthday. Obviously, that is more expensive than an email but it can make a big impact.
  • Contract Renewal. Perhaps you can find a joyful and fun way to let customer's know that their contract is about to renew. This is probably an automated emai already, but consider ways to make it more engaging. 


6. New Customer Onboarding or Training Sequence

It's so simple and logical, but so often is stepped over - onboarding. Even if you do not think your service or product requires any kind of welcome or onboarding email sequence, I challenge you to re-think that. 

When you set a Deal / Opportunity in your CRM to closed and won, you can trigger an onboarding email sequence. This is a great opportunity to make your new customer feel confident in how to use your product/service, offer important information such as payment policies, and include customer support information. Better yet, this is also an opportunity to "pay it forward" by offering a discount for them to share with friends. 


7. Ask for Feedback or Reviews

A good rule to follow with feedback and online reviews is to wait an appropriate period of time based on your product or service. You want the customer to have used it long enough to have an opinion (hopefully a good one). This could be 30-90 days after purchase, depending on what you sell.

The trigger for this workflow could be your Deal in the CRM being set to closed and won, then waiting X number of days. You may also need a condition that filters out to only send this to new customers. 

In your email copy, be sure to include multiple options for places to leave a review so that the customer can choose based on the platform of their choice. Some companies such tools like TrustPilot for this reason - it takes a review and allows the customer to publish it in multiple places. 


8. Upselling / Cross-selling

Throughout most of these email automation sequences you will find opportunities to upsell or cross-sell to your customers. If not, you can always create a dedicated workflow to do just that. 

The suggested trigger may be once an existing customer has engaged with your brand to hit a certain score (i.e. Touchpoint Score), then send an email cross-selling a complimentary product/service to what he or she has already purchased.

With this workflow, you would certainly need to set some thoughtful conditions to segment people into multiple email sequences. You may also only want to target customers who have spent below a certain threshold in an attempt to increase their lifetime value. 


Yes, Email Marketing Works.

It's even better when you can automate some of it.

Depending on the industry, the ROI on email marketing can be as high as $42 earned for every dollar spentThe right email sequences add even more value because of the time it can save. 

To be successful, the most important step is to determine the email sequences that will be most useful (and logical). Use your business and marketing goals to drive the ideas behind your email automations. If your goal is to increase the number of monthly demos of your software, then you want to consider automations that help you to achieve that goal. 


You may also want to read about Strategic Marketing Automations in this article. 

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