Marketing automation

The top 10 email marketing automations (or flows) to set up right now

Tracey Wallace, March 1st 2022

Email marketing automations, also known as flows, are an automation feature that enable ecommerce brands to tailor communications with their subscriber base.

The explicit goal of marketing automation, Chris Gordon, head of client success at Noticed says, “is to make the marketing experience more personalized.”

Automated emails or texts are triggered by a customer’s action, like placing an order or looking at products on a website, and they allow brands to tailor the users experience on their website.

Most marketing automation providers have these automations within their platform, which means that the majority of ecommerce brands are using email automations to build better relationships with their customers, sell more products, and of course, grow revenue.

Here are 10 email automations or flows that align with a potential customer’s buyer journey and help you personalize the customer flow for better retention.

A couple quick tips on SMS and email automations before we dive in:

  • Be sure A/B test emails and texts within each flow type to see which kind of message resonates best with your audience.
  • Platforms like Klaviyo, have a Showcase feature where you can see real examples of emails and text messages from other brands, including how well they are working.

Let’s dive in.

1. Create a personal experience with a welcome series automation

Your website traffic may have increased during 2021, and this growth presents an opportunity to grow your subscriber base, too.

The welcome series is the perfect automation to welcome new subscribers to your brand. It’s an opportunity to highlight all the aspects that make your brand unique, and tell your brand story to newcomers as you begin to build a genuine relationship with them.

Sean Donahue, director of email marketing at Power Digital, agrees.

“[The welcome email] is your first introduction to that contact, so you really need to make sure you’re building that brand sentiment and awareness, and giving them a full understanding of what your brand is all about.”

You can also promote your social media channels and find out how your customers would like to hear from you in future communications. Once you’ve made your introduction to customers, consider how you want to continue to build the relationship.

Welcome email example from Parade. 

Pro tip: Create a signup form that routes subscribers to a holiday shoppers list. You can then trigger a holiday-specific welcome series from that list to give those subscribers a unique experience based on how they first interacted with your brand. Remember, it isn’t just BFCM that is a holiday. Build email campaigns off of your customers’ birthdays, Memorial Day, April Fools’ Day and any other holidays that are important to your customer base.

Chase Dimond, for example, a well-known email marketer, uses marketing automation and flows to generate more than $100M in revenue for his clients.

You can do the same thing for your clients, or your brand, and this article will teach you how to set them up effectively.

2. Use browse abandonment automation to bring users back

Shopping in-person is fun because you can browse different products, get a feel for the brand, and understand what all of your options are. Why not create a similar experience through an email or a text?

You can do this with a browse abandonment automation. Your subscribers will receive messages based on the items they’re looking at on your website, and you can control how often this message is triggered and what audiences you want to receive it.

This is similar to an abandoned cart email and automation (which we’ll cover next). Abandoned cart emails have long been popular in ecommerce, and browse abandonment emails and automations take this one step further––reminding customers of what they were looking at even if they didn’t put it in the cart.

Browse abandonment email example from Charlotte Stone.

Pro tip: Keep your messaging for this automation simple. The customer has already shown interest in the item by looking at it on your website, so don’t distract them with cross-selling or multiple calls-to-action (CTAs). Capture the passerby’s attention with a gentle reminder of the items they were interested in by creating a personalization flow that brings them back.

3. Abandoned cart email automations that make communications unique

Let’s say that your customer gets as far as adding an item to their shopping cart—but then they get called away because the baby’s crying or dinner is ready.

It can be difficult for customers who are intending to purchase to remember every item they’ve added to their cart before they’re distracted by something. The abandoned cart email reminds your customers of the items they’ve left sitting in their shopping cart.

Additionally, the abandoned cart automation populates with dynamic content, like an image of the specific product they added, so each shopper’s card is unique to them and their items.

Abandoned cart email example from Moment.

Some brands include a discount code in their cart abandonment email, but Lindsey Murray, VP of performance marketing at Blue Acorn iCi offers some words of caution:

“You don’t always want to start off with big discounts to get someone to check out. Sometimes just the reminder is enough. Once you start heavily using lots of promotions, it’s really hard to go backwards.”

Pro tip: Segmenting users and A/B testing time delays for sending the first abandoned cart email will allow you to create unique automations. For instance, brands that sell higher ticket items may benefit from a longer delay. This is because the buyer has more time to research and think over the potential purchase—especially compared with brands that sell impulse purchase items. Those less expensive items may benefit from a shorter time delay.

4. Thank you email flows that will foster loyalty

The thank you flow, which goes out after a shopper completes their purchase, helps you to foster brand loyalty by expressing gratitude to your customers for their business.

A small thank you can go a long way, especially with the popularity of online shopping, where deals are endless and competition is fierce. Someone chose your products and services—make them feel special with a personalized thank you.

A thank you email example from Paravel.

Pro tip: A/B test text-only emails versus text and image-based emails for this type of automation. It may surprise you that some audiences respond better to a plain text email that looks more like a letter from an individual rather than a flashy message with tons of imagery.

5. Instructional email flows that educate users

By this point, you’ve already told your customer how much you appreciate their business, but how do you keep them coming back? You’re going to wow them with your amazing products, of course!

The instructional email automation educates your customer on how to use, clean, or assemble the product they’ve purchased. This helps cut down on customer service inquiries and reduce poor product adoption. An instructional email streamlines the process and creates a pleasant experience for the shopper. And a happy customer is more likely to turn into a repeat customer.

An instructional email example from Ilia Beauty. 

Repeat customers are every brand’s ideal buyer. “After somebody buys something, they shouldn’t be dead to you, right? You need to create an opportunity to continue the conversation. That’s really important.,” say Donahue. And it is—repeat purchasers spend 3x as much as first-time customers, according to Adobe.

Pro tip: As long as there aren’t any sales or marketing content in this email series, you can get this email tagged as transactional. This way, all customers are eligible to receive this important messaging.

6. Product review automations that grow your brand

You’ve told your customers how important they are to you—now let’s see if you can get a little love from them. This next automation will help you identify your brand ambassadors.

The product review automation is your chance to hear from your customers about their experience with your product. By using a time delay, you can let time pass after a customer places an order and then trigger the product review series to request product reviews from your customers.

When buying online, customers don’t have the luxury to feel and test the products in person, so reviews are more important than ever. It’s one thing for a brand to highlight how their products or services are exceptional, it’s another to have others echoing a similar style sentiment.

A product review automation email example from Buffy.

Pro tip: Not every product review’s going to be a positive one, and that’s okay. Critical feedback will help you grow and improve your product or service offerings. If someone leaves a negative review, this is your chance to listen to the customer, understand their pain points, address the issue, and flip them from being an unhappy customer into an ambassador for your brand. Or, you can use it the way Liquid Death does, as a way to draw a line in the sand.

7. Set-up cross-sell and up-sell automations

Sometimes the number of options you offer on your online store can be overwhelming. Other times, shoppers just don’t have enough time to do a thorough search.

The cross-sell or up-sell automation will help inspire struggling shoppers to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Use this automation to showcase some of your other products or services. You can do this by handpicking some of your flagship or best-selling items, or by leveraging product recommendations. This way, you can make suggestions based on a user’s purchasing history and that of similar customers.

An upsell email example from Athletic Greens.

Pro tip: Implement time delays so that after someone buys an item, you can send a message to them to buy a complementary item, or the next progression of that item in an up-sell.

8. Bring users back with a replenishment automation

For brands that sell products that customers purchase repeatedly within certain timeframes—most often consumer packaged goods (CPGs)—a replenishment automation can be a welcome reminder.

It informs customers that their supplies may be running low, and that it’s time to get a refill.

Show your customers that you’re looking out for them by sending a reminder email just before your product is scheduled to run out.

For example, if you sell daily vitamins that typically last a customer six weeks, automate a replenishment campaign at the five-week mark. If your customers use the product regularly, they will appreciate the email.

Replenishment email examples from brands

Pro tip: Set up separate replenishment automations if you have products that have their own unique average lifetime.

9. Set up back in stock automation

Regardless of your industry, one goal that all ecommerce business owners have in common is the desire to generate revenue.

That’s why it’s so important to have back-in-stock automations so you don’t miss out on a sale—even if you’re running into inventory shortages.

Implementing a back-in-stock journey will prompt your customers to sign up for an alert when a specific item is back in stock. You can then make these customers feel special by contacting them first when the item becomes available.

A back in stock email example from Athletic Brewing.

Pro tip: Set minimum inventory rules to control the threshold for notifying a customer after you restock the item. You don’t want to tell 100 customers a popular item is back in stock if only 10 are available. You can also set up an advanced back-in-stock automation to give your VIP customers a little extra love by giving them early access to restocked items.

10. Personalize with birthday or anniversary automation

Use signup forms to gather information about your audience.

  • Who are they shopping for?
  • What collections are they most interested in?
  • What’s their first and last name?

All of this information can put you on a path of personalizing your communications for each customer. This final email automation leverages information you can gather up front and help make that personal connection with your customers.

Connecting on a more personal level with your customers is unique to ecommerce—how many of your brick-and-mortar sales people remember your customers’ birthdays? That number is probably pretty low.

With a birthday automation, you can celebrate along with your customers on their special day by offering a discount, free shipping, free birthday gift, or simply just acknowledging the day.

A half-birthday email example from Outdoor Voices.

Pro tip: Birthdays aren’t the only occasion you can collect date property information. Tag users on their date of first purchase to send an anniversary email. If you’re in the business of selling baby or maternity products, you can set up an automation to trigger on important dates, like due dates. Feel free to mix and match these ideas in any way that seems most appropriate for your brand.

Don’t have time to do this all yourself? Hire an email marketing expert!
When it comes to hiring an email marketing specialist, you have your pick of freelance, full-time or agency. Our how to hire guide will walk you through the pros and cons, how to define the role you need, and so much more so you can hire quickly and effectively, and get your email marketing program up to speed.

Personalize relationships with your automations

While these 10 email automations are a great place to start, there are endless possibilities when it comes to curating relevant and timely experiences for your customers.

Once you have a solid understanding of your audience and what makes them tick—or click—you can really start to get creative and create messaging that resonates.

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Try Klaviyo today
Tracey Wallace
Tracey Wallace
Director, content strategy
Tracey is the Director of content strategy at Klaviyo. Previously, she has led marketing teams for early stage start-ups from $0 to >$10M in revenue, and was the former Editor-in-Chief at BigCommerce, where she grew organic content sessions to 1M monthly and 20K monthly content downloads. She started her career in journalism at and, later, Mashable.