Have you ever received an eCommerce email that seemed so on-target, so well-timed, that you felt like they knew you better than people in your life?

You may have been the recipient of an email marketing sequence, an innovative yet carefully-planned way to send out emails based on actions, intent, and customer data.

In this post, we break down what email sequences are, the different types of email sequences and how to use them to increase your sales.

Let’s dive in.

What is an Email Marketing Sequence

What is an email sequence?

An email sequence is a series of emails that go out to the mailing list automatically, based on a pre-selected set of goals and actions. There must be more than one email to make it a true sequence, and these emails are often pre-written and scheduled so that they can be delivered without the marketing team ever hitting the “send” button on individual mailings.

Automated email marketing campaigns and email sequences are sometimes called “drip” marketing campaigns.

How are email sequences scheduled?

How are email sequences scheduled?

Email sequences are either trigger or time-based.

Trigger-based means that a customer must perform an action for the next email in the series to go out. Perhaps they clicked on a link in a previous email, signed up to receive discount offers, or used the chat feature to ask a question.

Time-based sequences happen chronologically, and the next email is sent after a certain period of time has passed. The first email may go out when the customer signs up, but after that, future emails get sent every 30 days or a week out.

Can you mix both into the sequence? Absolutely.

Most email sequences start as a trigger that can then use time-based parameters. A specific user action can change those parameters, however.

Imagine a customer was supposed to get a follow-up email in 30 days, but they were showing heightened interest in a product by clicking on links, using the site’s search function, or putting items in their cart. That most definitely warrants interrupting the time-based model with a trigger-based message that acts on their interest.

Reasons to use an email marketing sequence

Reasons to use an email marketing sequence

The power of email sequences is that they help move your customers through the sales funnel without you ever having to reach out personally. It’s ideal for those with a very one-size-fits-all product or service or who have a straightforward sales journey. It ensures those on your mailing list don’t fall through the cracks, get forgotten about, or miss opportunities to buy.

Email sequencing, when done right, increases engagement and keeps your offerings top of mind. For businesses with limited marketing or sales personnel, it can help support (but not replace) the human element of email marketing.

5 types of email sequences

5 types of email sequences

You can use email sequences for just about any occasion where you want to nudge customers or boost engagement. Here are some of the most common uses:

1. Welcome email sequence

Best for when someone signs up for your offer, lead magnet, or newsletter and kicks off the relationship. It assumes the person doesn’t know much about you (yet) and seeks to set the tone for the relationship.

2. Onboarding email sequence 

Slightly more intimate than the welcome, this assumes you have an ongoing relationship with a new client, student, or employee. It takes them through the process of becoming part of your team or group in a systemized, consistent manner.

3. Abandon cart email sequence

Cart abandonment is real folks. Studies show that almost 7 in 10 shoppers will leave stuff in their cart without finishing the purchase, costing businesses $18 billion per year in lost sales. An email series that reengages this audience can help you boost sales in a big way.

4. Repeat customer email sequence

It’s easy to forget about existing customers in the pursuit of getting new ones. By setting up emails that check in with customers after each purchase and customer support interaction, or on occasions like their birthday, you make sure they don’t ever feel forgotten. It’s also an incredible way to upsell and cross-sell on past purchases.

5. Re-engagement email sequence

Has it been a while since your customer opened emails? What can you do to reconnect? This type of email sequence acknowledges that the user used to be more engaged and gently nudges them to become an active customer again.

How to write an email sequence for your marketing campaign

How to write an email sequence for your marketing campaign

Brands will have very different approaches to the language, design, and calls-to-action (CTAs) used in their emails. With that in mind, here are some best practices for an automated email marketing sequence.

  • Set the goal first. Before you ever write an email, know what you want from a campaign. Do you want more website visits? Fewer abandoned carts? Know the metrics you hope to boost before you begin, because everything you do will need to support this.
  • Write with the end in mind. Sequence emails are typically short, concise, and with one call to action. Unlike an email newsletter that can highlight many events, promotions, and product updates, you want your drip campaigns to focus on that initial goal. Keep to one message per email and don’t be shy about what you want to communicate. It’s possible to write incredible CTAs that make people move when you write a clear and concise email.
  • Have a way to measure success. Email sequences are made to be revamped, so don’t get too attached to your initial attempt. Analyze the opens, click-through rates, and other metrics to make sure you’re on the right track.
  • A/B test as needed. We can’t say enough about the merits of A/B testing, and email sequences are a fantastic environment for a controlled test. Just remember to take action on what you learn with each iteration.

There are many considerations when creating an email sequence, from your goals to the copy, the CTA, and the headline. Experienced email marketers can take some of the guesswork out of the process and get you clicks and opens without a lot of fuss. ClearVoice’s team of freelancers and marketing subject matter experts are available to get you on your way.