Make money while you sleep: 9 examples of email marketing automations to set up right now

Profile photo of author Tiffany Regaudie
Email marketing
February 1, 2024
In lavender font on a lemon background, image shows the Klaviyo flag followed by the copy, "Top 9 email marketing automations to set up right now." On the right of the image is an in-platform image of what it looks like to schedule a flow in the back end of Klaviyo.

In ecommerce, it’s possible to drive revenue via email without pressing “send.”

The way to do it? Email automations, also known as flows.

Email flows are messages that send automatically to customers based on actions (like abandoning their cart), milestones (like anniversaries), or other triggers. Their purpose is to nurture customer relationships and encourage purchases.

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

The goal of email automation is to make the marketing experience more personalized.
Chris Gordon
Head of client success, Noticed

Most marketing automation software has these automation capabilities built in to their platforms, which means the majority of ecommerce brands are using email automations to build better relationships with their target audience, sell more products, and, of course, grow revenue.

If you’re just getting started with email automation or want to grow a fledgling program, here are 9 examples of automations you can set up tomorrow to start generating more revenue.

1. Welcome series automations foster brand awareness

The welcome series is the perfect email automation for welcoming new subscribers to your brand. It’s an opportunity to make a good first impression and introduce your brand narrative and benefits in a way that builds a genuine relationship with newcomers.

The welcome email (or series of emails) is “your first introduction to that contact,” says Sean Donahue, director of email marketing at Power Digital. “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 really need to make sure you’re building that brand sentiment and awareness, and giving [subscribers] a full understanding of what your brand is all about.
Sean Donahue
Director of email marketing, Power Digital

In this welcome message, apparel brand Parade introduces their brand with 4 clear benefits, expressed at the bottom with colorful icons. Readers walk away from this eye-catching email with confirmation that they’ve subscribed to a brand that differentiates themselves by offering inclusive underwear sizes.

Image shows a welcome email from apparel brand Parade, featuring the brand’s logo in red on a millennial pink background. Beneath the logo a red banner reads, “welcome to the parade,” followed by an image of a model showing off some of the brand’s clothes. The email copy reads, “You’re rewriting the American underwear story with a diverse, creative, and fun community. We can’t wait to show you what’s next.” Underneath the copy is a red CTA button that reads, “shop our best sellers.” Finally, at the bottom of the email, the background color switches to white with a headline that reads, “we make ultra-soft creative basics.” Underneath that are 4 illustrations: a peach, captioned “unreal comfort”; a rainbow, captioned “inclusive sizing”; a recycling logo, captioned “sustainable fabrics”; and a heart pierced by an arrow, captioned “social good.”
Image source: Parade

Pro tip: Introducing potential customers to your brand doesn’t require writing them a novel. You don’t have to overwhelm first-time subscribers with your entire history and product catalog right off the bat. Use your welcome series as an opportunity to set the tone of future brand touchpoints—without going overboard.

2. Browse abandonment automations cross-sell complementary products

Browse abandonment emails are an oft-overlooked automation that can give ecommerce brands a small competitive edge. With this automation, your subscribers receive messages based on the product pages they’ve viewed on your website.

Unlike an abandoned cart email (more on that next), a browse abandonment email reminds customers of what they were looking at—even if they didn’t put it in their cart.

Take a look at this example from shoe brand Charlotte Stone, which goes out after a shopper spends enough time looking at a certain product. The product recommendations are a great way to extend the shopper’s online browsing behavior—in an email instead of on the website.

Image shows a browse abandonment email from shoe brand Charlotte Stone. At the very top of the email is a salmon-colored banner that reads, “free domestic shipping on orders over $200” with a peace sign emoji. Next comes the brand’s logo, with 3 links readers can click before they reach the body of the email: “shop,” “FAQ,” and “loves.” The email body kicks off with the headline “these would look great on you,” followed by a product shot, name, and price of the item the reader was browsing. The email copy reads, “We noticed you noticing us and, we must say you have excellent taste,” followed by a honey-yellow CTA button that reads, “take me there.” At the bottom of the email is a row of several other products the reader might be interested in, headlined, “You’d look great in these too.”
Image source: Charlotte Stone

Pro tip: Hedge your bets and provide more purchase options by not only reminding shoppers of the exact product that made them linger, but also sending suggestions for similar products they might like even more.

3. Abandoned cart automations recapture revenue

People are busy. Even if they get as far as adding an item to their shopping cart, they might never make it to check-out because the baby’s crying or dinner’s ready.

The abandoned cart email is what can bring a distracted shopper back to complete their purchase.

To increase your odds of driving high conversion rates, the ideal abandoned cart automation should populate with dynamic content—an image of the specific product the subscriber added, for example—so that each shopper’s cart is unique to them and their own buying journey.

Here, home goods brand Sunday Citizen captures attention with a two-pronged approach: a cute puppy and user-generated content (UGC). Consider the cute puppy as the hook and the UGC as the closer—the brand’s Instagram is what helps shoppers visualize their products in their homes, which may be the nudge they need to finish their check-out.

Image shows an abandoned cart email from home goods brand Sunday Citizen. Beneath the brand’s logo is a close-up image of a french bulldog, with the headline, “we had your curiosity, now we want your attention.” The email copy reads, “We take cuddling seriously. We make things that are soft, yes, but also beautiful and can be machine washed over and over and over and over…and over again. What are you waiting for?” Underneath the black CTA button, which reads “FINISH CHECKOUT,” is a line that says, “need help? Email us” and then a 9-photo grid of recent photos from the brand’s social media.
Image source: Sunday Citizen

Pro tip: Some brands include a discount code in their cart abandonment email. But “you don’t always want to start off with big discounts to get someone to check out,” warns Lindsey Murray, VP of performance marketing at Blue Acorn iCi. “Sometimes just the reminder is enough. Once you start heavily using lots of promotions, it’s really hard to go backwards.”

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.
Lindsey Murray
VP of performance marketing, Blue Acorn iCi

4. Thank-you automations create a personal connection

The thank-you flow, which is a type of post-purchase follow-up email, helps you build customer loyalty and customer retention by expressing gratitude to your customers for their business.

In the world of online shopping, where deals are endless and competition is fierce, a short thank you can go a long way toward making someone feel special for choosing your products and services.

Sustainable travel brand Paravel sends this simple, sincere email to thank customers for shopping with them. While we would be curious to know whether a less image-heavy email would earn higher engagement metrics, we like the added touch of encouraging social media hashtags as a way to drive ongoing re-engagement with the brand.

Image shows a thank-you email from sustainable travel brand Paravel. The copy at the top is short and sweet: “Thank you for making us a part of your travels this summer.” The rest of the email consists of images from the brand’s social media accounts, followed by a few lines of copy at the very end that encourage readers to keep sharing their own images via social hashtags. At the very bottom of the email is a gold CTA button that says, “shop now.”
Image source: Paravel

Pro tip: A/B test text-only emails vs. text- and image-based messages for this type of email automation. It may surprise you that some audiences respond better to a plain text email that looks more like a letter from a person.

5. Instructional automations educate new customers

The instructional email automation, another type of post-purchase email, educates your customer on how to use, maintain, clean, or assemble the product they’ve purchased. This type of onboarding email also helps cut down on customer service inquiries and reduces poor product adoption.

The instructional email is instrumental to your lead nurturing efforts, as it streamlines the process and creates a pleasant customer experience. And a happy customer is more likely to turn into a repeat customer.

Beauty brand ILIA sends this educational email with easy-to-understand instructions. The email is brief but useful, with an image that reinforces the instructions. We might suggest swapping the up-selling call to action (CTA) for a link to a video that expands on product use.

Image shows an instructional email from beauty brand ILIA, titled, “Multi-stick 101.” Beneath an image of a model applying the product, the email copy reads, “Warm it up with your finger or pair it with our Perfecting Buff Brush for a perfect flush every time. Blend it onto the apples of your cheeks or apply like a balm for a kiss of color.” The email ends with a rose-colored CTA button that reads, “see more shades.”
Image source: ILIA

Pro tip: As long as it’s not a promotional email, your post-purchase educational email can be considered a transactional email. This is an important nuance, because it means customers will receive this message regardless of whether they’ve opted in to email marketing. Consider including instructional content in your order confirmation emails, for example.

6. Product review automations make it easy to share the love

You’ve made it clear to your customers how important they are to you. Now, let’s see if you can get them to show you a little public display of appreciation in the form of reviews and testimonials. This next automation will help you identify your brand ambassadors.

The product review automation increases your odds of hearing from your customers about their experience with your product. By using a time delay, you can trigger the automation to request reviews from your customers only after enough time has passed for them to use their new product.

Bedware brand Buffy sends this easy-to-fill-out review request a few weeks after their product arrives on a customer’s doorstep. Not only is the user experience intuitive, but the messaging encourages honesty, which helps the brand build trust.

Image shows a simple review request email from bedware brand Buffy. Underneath the brand’s logo and a product shot of one of their bedspreads folded back on a bed made up with clean white sheets, the copy of the email reads like a letter to the recipient, with plain text encouraging them to leave “an honest and authentic review” by clicking one of the star rating options in the email, filling out the review title and review boxes, and clicking the blue CTA button that reads, “Submit your review.”
Image source: Buffy

Pro tip: Not every product review’s going to be positive, and that’s okay. Critical feedback helps you grow and improve your product or service offerings. If someone leaves a negative review, consider it an opportunity to listen to the customer, understand their pain points, address the issue, and show them you care.

7. Replenishment automations remind customers it’s time to buy

For brands that sell products that are typically repeat purchases—think CPGs and beauty products, for example—replenishment automations can be a welcome reminder for customers. These automations inform customers that their supplies may be running low, and that it’s time to get a refill.

Toilet paper supplier Who Gives A Crap sends this replenishment email when their customers might need another shipment. It’s silly, laugh-out-loud funny, and, most important, memorable.

Image shows a long replenishment email automation from toilet paper supplier Who Gives A Crap, which takes readers through a complicated but hilarious flow chart that asks whether they’re “due for a top up.” At the bottom of the flow chart is a simple CTA button: “order more TP.”
Image source: Who Gives A Crap

Pro tip: Every customer is different. Rather than setting up one-size-fits-all replenishment automations that go out based on the length of your average product cycle, use predictive AI to trigger the automations to go out right before each individual customer’s predicted next order date.

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8. Back-in-stock automations ensure you never miss a sale

A back-in-stock customer journey prompts shoppers 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.

Here, Athletic Brewing’s back-in-stock email features soothing colors, eye-catching graphics, and clear, up-close product shots. A CTA on nearly every tile is not a universal best practice, but it works for a back-in-stock message because it drives the shopper directly to the product they’re most interested in.

Image shows a back-in-stock email from Athletic Brewing, featuring a close-up product shot of the can in question under a headline that reads, “Trailblazer’s triumphant return.” The email contains several tiles showing off the canned beverage, with a different blue CTA button for each tile, all of it arranged on backgrounds of varying shades of salmon.
Image source: Athletic Brewing

Pro tip: Set minimum inventory rules for notifying customers upon a re-stock. The last thing you want to do is 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 with early access to re-stocked items.

9. Birthday automations make customers feel special

With on-site sign-up forms, you can gather information about your audience that allows you to personalize your future communications to them, including:

  • When is their birthday?
  • Who are they shopping for?
  • What product collections or categories are they most interested in?

A birthday email automation is one way to leverage the information you gather up front in order to build a deeper personal connection with your customers. Celebrate their special day by offering a coupon code, free shipping, or a birthday gift, or even by simply acknowledging the day.

Outdoor Voices does a playful spin on the typical birthday automation with this half-birthday email. It’s a smart move—your customers’ inboxes are likely to be pretty full during their birthday month, but not during their half-birthday month. An email like this might be exactly the surprise they need to make a purchase they might not have made otherwise.

Image shows a half-birthday email from apparel brand Outdoor Voices, featuring a simple outline of a birthday cake with candles under the headline, �“Half-birthdays are pretty underrepresented these days.” In dark blue font on a light blue background, the email copy reads, “Because we don’t think they should be anymore, here’s $20 off your next purchase of $100 or more,” followed by a discount code and a CTA button that reads, “shop new arrivals.”
Image source: Outdoor Voices

Pro tip: Birthdays aren’t the only occasion for which you can collect date property information. Tag customers on their date of their first purchase to put them into an anniversary email flow for next year. If you’re in the business of selling baby or maternity products, collect information on due dates and set up automations accordingly. Mix and match these ideas in whatever way seems most appropriate for your brand.

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Email automation FAQs

What is an example of email automation?

An example of an email automation is an abandoned cart flow. The automation is triggered when a website visitor places an item in their cart but doesn’t complete a purchase. You can make this automation even more effective by segmenting for VIP customers who leave high-priced items in their carts. In this case, you may want to include an incentive in those abandoned cart emails—and leave it out for low-cost, non-VIP cart abandonments.

What is email marketing automation?

Email marketing automation refers to messages that go out automatically based on someone’s behaviors (like abandoning their cart or making a purchase), milestones (like anniversaries), or AI-predicted behaviors (like potential churn risk). They empower marketing teams to nurture relationships without manually sending emails.

How do I set up email marketing automation?

To set up email marketing automation, choose a marketing automation provider like Klaviyo, import your customer data, and decide which automations will increase revenue the most based on historical business data. After that, you can draft relevant content for each automation and audience segment, A/B test each email, and optimize your flows from then on.

Which are the best email marketing automation tools?

The best email marketing automation platform combines customer data, segmentation power, and hundreds of integrations to personalize email automations for ecommerce businesses. Klaviyo, for example, has 300+ pre-built integrations with tech platforms like Okendo, ShipBob, and LoyaltyLion to help send personalized email marketing automations.

What are the best practices for setting up an email automation strategy?

Some best practices for setting up an email automation marketing strategy include:

  1. Use sign-up forms on your site to grow your email list.
  2. Segment your automation audiences to increase revenue.
  3. A/B test your email flows to find out what works best.

What is the difference between email marketing automations and drip campaigns?

A drip campaign is an automation that sends according to a set schedule: 2 days after a visitor signs up, for example, then 5 days later, then 10 days later.

You can set up an email marketing automation to send on a set schedule, but it can also be triggered by a subscriber’s behaviors, such as opening an email or not, clicking through or not, etc.

Tiffany Regaudie
Tiffany Regaudie
Tiffany is a writer and content consultant who specializes in marketing, health, and the attention economy. Before devoting herself to freelance writing full-time, she led content teams at various startups and nonprofits in Toronto, Canada.