The top 10 types of email marketing automations to set up right now

Tracey Wallace
20min read
Email marketing
3 October 2023
Image has text that reads The top 10 email marketing automations to set up right now and shows an automation library.

Have you ever made money while you slept?

Working in ecommerce marketing allows you to do just that—drive revenue without manually pressing “send” on various communications.

The way to do it? Email automations, or flows.

Email flows are email messages that send to customers automatically based on actions (such as abandoning their cart), milestones (such as 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 personalised.”

And it’s an important goal. According to research from Epsilon, 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that gives them a personalised experience—and 90% find personalisation appealing.

As a result, not only are more companies leveraging the benefits of email marketing automation, but customers also now expect emails customised to their preferences, and are likely to unsubscribe from companies that do not. 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.

Let’s dive in to learn:

Promising numbers: Improve conversion with email marketing automation

Email campaigns—which are different from a flow because they’re one-off sends, like a sale launch—and automated flows are equally important pieces of a successful email marketing strategy.

If you’ve been sending email marketing campaigns but haven’t set up automations yet, you might want to broaden your approach: In 2022, Klaviyo customers earned nearly $15B in revenue from automations alone.

For paying Klaviyo customers across all types of industries, click and conversion rates for automation campaigns are consistently high, as is revenue per recipient. That’s probably because they’re personalised toward the actions a shopper takes, and triggered to meet the customer where they are in their journey.

The analysis of the most relevant metrics in Q4 22 shows that automations of all types earned the following on average:

  • Open rates: 52.49%
  • Click-through rates: 5.83%
  • Conversion rates: 1.82%
  • Revenue per recipient: $1.91
Image shows benchmarks for Q4, 2022 email campaigns vs. all flows

Image source: Klaviyo

This is great news if you’re in the beginning stages of setting up your email automations. If you execute them thoughtfully, high click and conversation rates are well within your reach across whichever automations you set up:

  • Abandoned cart
  • Welcome email series
  • Browse abandonment
  • Anniversary
  • Post-purchase
  • Win-back

4 benefits of setting up email automations

It’ll take some work to set up your email automations, so let’s focus first on what you’ll gain from them in the long run.

Email automations can help you:

1. Maximise your marketing efforts and save time

The types of emails that you are likely to automate are those that go out pretty regularly: after a customer abandons a cart, or looks at a product several times but doesn’t actually buy it, for example.

Why should your creative team reinvent the wheel every time one of these emails has to go out?

You can create email templates for each type of automation, set the triggers, and then sit back. The emails go live based on your subscriber’s actions—without any additional work on your end.

2. Personalise the customer experience

At this point, if you’re not personalising the customer experience, you’re missing important opportunities for customer delight and connection.

First, make the most of your sign-up forms to collect data. In addition to asking for a new user’s email and/or phone number, you can also include fields for them to share:

  • Their birthday
  • What types of products they’re interested in
  • Why they’re shopping
  • What kinds of emails they want to get
  • The size of their household
  • How often they want to purchase your products

You can also personalise your emails according to location, browsing history, and what someone has bought before by using dynamic content blocks.

Image shows a Tweet saying how to personalize your marketing emails.

Image source: Twitter

3. Boost your retention rates

Email automations are an excellent way to boost customer retention rates, particularly by creating an exceptional post-purchase experience.

First, though, it’s important to do the necessary research to understand what’s stopping your existing customers from coming back.

Image shows a Tweet encouraging research to find out where gaps in retention are

Image source: Twitter

Once you’ve figured that out, you can:

  • Build trust through clear, communicative status order updates.
  • Automate review requests after an appropriate amount of time has passed since the purchase.
  • Send thank-you emails that foster a personal connection.
  • Send personalised recommendations based on past purchases.
  • Automate loyalty program and VIP invitations based on where someone is in the customer journey.
  • Send educational emails that help your customers understand how to make the most of your products.

The way you communicate with your customers—and, more importantly, provide value to them—is an important factor when it comes to retention marketing.

4. Win back lost customers

Shoppers who’ve been on your site and bought from you before but haven’t returned in a while are ripe for communication.

You can personalise your win-back emails to them based on:

  • What they’ve bought from you before
  • How long they’ve been away
  • The average time between purchases for the types of products you sell

You can also include enticing offers in your re-engagement emails, like a discount to come back or early access to a new product.

10 email automation examples to inspire your email marketing strategy

Here are the 10 examples of most effective email automations that have yielded positive results for marketing teams working in a range of industries: 

  1. Welcome series automations
  2. Browse abandonment automations
  3. Abandoned cart email automations
  4. Thank you email automations
  5. Instructional email automations
  6. Product review automations
  7. Cross-sell and upsell automations
  8. Replenishment automations
  9. Back-in-stock automations
  10. Birthday automations

1. Welcome series automations create a personal connection

The welcome series is the perfect automation for welcoming 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.

The welcome email 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 can also use your welcome series to 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 new customers, consider how you want to continue to build the relationship.

Personal care brand UKLASH sends this welcome message to new subscribers—the email is clear about the brand’s stance on beauty standards, while a friendly and playful tone of voice offers a discount that’s infused with a personal touch.

Image shows a welcome email from UKLASH

Image source: UKLASH

2. Browse abandonment automations 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 text?

Accomplish this with a browse abandonment email. With this automation, your subscribers receive messages based on the product pages and items they’ve looked at on your website. You can control when this message is triggered and what audiences you want to receive it.

A browse abandonment email is similar to an abandoned cart email automation (which we’ll cover next). Both email workflows can be a part of your re-engagement campaign. The primary difference is that browse abandonment emails remind customers of what they were looking at even if they didn’t put it in their cart.

Reusables brand Cheeky Wipes sends this playful browse abandonment email after a shopper has spent a certain period of time looking at a certain product. The email offers support through its customer service team, and takes the opportunity to gently up- and cross-sell complementary products.

Image shows a browse abandonment email from Cheeky Wipes

Image source: Cheeky Wipes

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 intensive 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 personalisation flow that brings them back.

3. Abandoned cart email automations make the shopping experience unique

Let’s say your customer gets as far as adding an item to their shopping cart—but maybe they get called away because the baby’s crying or dinner is ready, and they never get to the checkout.

It can be difficult for customers who intend 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.

Ideally, it also removes any barriers that keep the potential customer from completing their purchase.

Image shows a Tweet saying “The best abandoned cart email flows resolve potential objections”

Image source: Twitter

Additionally, the ideal 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 experience.

Moment’s abandoned cart email is simple and direct, featuring the product the shopper was most interested in, an offer of support for any questions, and a clear call to action button.

Image shows an abandoned cart email from Moment

Image source: Moment

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.”

Once you start heavily using lots of promotions, it’s really hard to go backwards.
Lindsay Murray, VP of performance marketing
Blue Acorn iCi

If you’re trying to walk the line of reducing discounts without hurting your brand’s bottom line, you can split your abandoned cart emails between those who do and don’t qualify for your free shipping threshold. Reminding people in the former group that they’re eligible for free delivery can feel like a discount.

Jonathan Ruggiero, co-founder and co-CEO of Manly Bands, sends out abandoned cart surveys that aren’t meant to be a sales tool. Rather, the brand wants to hear how they could do better. “There’s no CTA,” he says—just a question: “Why didn’t you buy?”

Image shows an abandoned cart email from Manly Bands that includes a survey asking why the shopper didn’t buy.

Image source: Manly Bands

Then, Manly Bands sends a follow-up email addressing the shopper’s reason, sometimes with a coupon.

Ruggiero says this type of communication fosters a deeper connection with shoppers—in addition to gaining valuable insight into how to better serve their customers and grow their business.

4. Thank-you email automations foster loyalty

The thank-you flow, which is a type of post-purchase email, helps you 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 personalised thank you.

Paravel travel brand sends this simple, sincere, and fun-to-look-at email to thank customers for shopping with them. With a grid of photos featuring their products, it resembles an Instagram page.

Image shows a thank you email from Paravel

Image source: Paravel

Pro tip: A/B test text-only emails vs. 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 than they would to a flashy message with tons of imagery.

Image shows a Tweet saying that plain-text thank you emails from founders can increase customer retention.

Image source: Twitter

5. Instructional email automations 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? By wowing them with your amazing products.

Image shows a Tweet encouraging educational emails

Image source: Twitter

The instructional email automation educates your customer on how to use, take care of, 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.

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

Beauty brand ILIA sends this educational email with clearly written, easy-to-understand instructions.

Image shows an email from Ilia giving instructional content

Image source: ILIA

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,” says Donahue.

And it is—repeat purchasers spend 3x as much as first-time customers, according to Adobe.

Pro tip: As long as there isn’t any sales or marketing content in this series, you can get it tagged as a transactional email. This way, all customers are eligible to receive this important messaging—not just the ones who’ve opted in to email marketing.

6. Product review automations grow customer loyalty

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 of feeling and testing the products in person. It’s one thing for a brand to highlight how their products or services are exceptional. It’s another for real people to echo a similar sentiment.

Bedware brand Buffy sends this easy-to-fill-out review request a few weeks after their product has arrived. Not only is the user experience intuitive, but the messaging encourages honesty, which helps build trust in the brand.

Image shows an email from Buffy requesting a review of a product that was bought.

Image source: Buffy

Pro tip: Not every product review’s going to be a positive one, and that’s OK. 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—by turning a negative review into a brand value proposition.

Image shows a Tweet from Liquid Death featuring a negative review.

Image source: Twitter

7. Cross-sell and upsell automations drive more revenue

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 upsell automation inspires struggling shoppers to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Image shows a Tweet describing the difference between cross-selling and up-selling.

Image source: Twitter

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 automated product recommendations that make suggestions based on a shopper’s purchasing history and that of similar customers.

Athletic Greens sends this email featuring complementary products to a shopper’s history, with a clear, colorful CTA button above the fold.

Image shows an upsell email from Athletic Greens

Image source: 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 upsell.

8. Replenishment automations remind customers they’re running low

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

These automations inform 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 their product is scheduled to run out.

Clean beauty brand Kora Organics sends this email a few weeks after shipment delivery. The email features the products the shopper bought recently and might need to replenish, as well as others they might want to add in the future.

Image shows a replenishment email from Kora Organics

Image source: Kora Organics

A replenishment email is also a good opportunity to connect with your customers and help them get to know your brand’s identity a bit better.

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 importantly, memorable.

There’s usually nothing exciting or fun about buying toilet paper, let alone clicking a button to make sure your next shipment is scheduled. But Who Gives A Crap subverts that expectation with a thoughtful, beautifully designed, game-like flow chart.

Image shows a replenishment email from Who Gives A Crap?

Image source: Who Gives A Crap?

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

Image shows a Tweet describing how to do a replenishment flow

Image source: Twitter

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

Regardless of your industry, one goal 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.

Brava Fabrics’ back-in-stock automation is one of their highest-performing emails. It features a clean and simple design with concise, informative copy, plus an additional line that injects a sense of urgency for the reader.

Image shows a back-in-stock email from Brava Fabrics

Image source: Brava Fabrics

Pro tip: Set minimum inventory rules to control the threshold for notifying a customer after you re-stock 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 re-stocked items.

10. Birthday automations make customers feel special

Connecting with your customers on this personal level is unique to ecommerce. How many brick-and-mortar salespeople remember all their customers’ birthdays? That number is probably pretty low.

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

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

A birthday email automation leverages information you gather up front to make a deeper personal connection with your customers.

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

Outdoor Voices takes the idea of a birthday automation one step further with a 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 just may catch their eye and encourage a purchase they might not have made otherwise.

Image shows a half-birthday email from Outdoor Voices.

Image source: Outdoor Voices

Pro tip: Birthdays aren’t the only occasion you can collect date property information. Tag users on their date of the first purchase to send an anniversary email next year. 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.

Streamline your email automation workflow with Klaviyo

While these 10 email automation examples 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.

Image shows a Tweet saying how using Klaviyo’s predictive analytics has given excellent results.

Image source: Twitter

With intelligent marketing automation software like Klaviyo, which combines email, SMS, and sophisticated data functionality in a single platform, you can optimise marketing automation to say the right thing to the right customer at the right time—and keep them engaged in the long term.

Email automation FAQs

Which are the best email marketing automation tools?

Klaviyo is a leading intelligent marketing automation platform that helps brands automate profitable customer journeys. Hundreds of seamless integrations with partners like Okendo, ShipBob, and LoyaltyLion help personalise the automations.

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

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

  1. Use sign-up forms on your site to grow your email list.
  2. Personalise your automations.
  3. Send core automations, like:
    • Welcome series
    • Abandoned cart
    • Review requests
    • Birthday/anniversary flows

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 behaviours, such as opening an email or not, clicking through or not, etc.

Want to learn more about how automations can help your brand drive revenue? Watch our webinar on how to automate the ecommerce buyer journey.
Watch on demand

Tracey Wallace
Tracey Wallace
Director, content strategy
Tracey is the director of content strategy at Klaviyo. Previously, she led marketing teams for early stage start-ups from $0 to $20M in revenue, and was the former Editor-in-Chief at BigCommerce, where she helped usher in the era of omnichannel retail. She started her career in journalism at and Mashable, reporting on the convergence of fashion and technology––or what we all call today, "ecommerce."