Email Automation: How to Send Automated Email Campaigns

Email Automation: How to Send Automated Email Campaigns

Email automation might just be the secret ingredient your marketing strategy is missing. Automated emails help you engage your audience on a deeper, more personal level. They're the perfect complement to your transactional and email marketing strategies. 

But what is email automation? Is it something you can set up on your own? And how does it work?

Great questions. We have answers.

Whether you are a seasoned marketer looking to refine your processes or a newcomer eager to make your mark, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about email automation to better market to your email subscribers. 

What is email automation?

Automated email, also referred to as triggered email or behavior-driven email, is any message automatically sent from your email service provider (ESP) in direct response to an individual user’s specific actions made (or not made) on your website or web app.

Automated email allows you to send real-time, one-to-one messages that strengthen customer engagement, retention, and loyalty.

Email marketing automation takes the broad reach of traditional marketing emails and makes it more effective. It allows for deep, one-on-one communication that today's consumers expect, but without the manual effort involved in writing thousands of individual messages.

Automated email campaigns don't replace your transactional or marketing emails—they serve as the perfect add-on:

  • Transactional emails are highly valuable to consumers because they provide crucial information like receipts or password resets, but because of CAN-SPAM and CASL rules and guidelines, these emails can’t provide or contain much promotional content. 
  • Traditional marketing email is critical for sending announcements to large segments of your customer base (like promotions or newsletters) but they don’t offer the one-to-one communication customers have come to expect.
  • Email automation provides benefits from both transactional and marketing email because it allows you to follow up with individual customers automatically (like transactional email) but also allows for more robust messaging opportunities like you get from marketing email

By bridging the gap between transactional and marketing email, automated email provides a scalable and efficient method for marketers to send extremely user-specific messages in a responsive way.

Benefits of email marketing automation

Automated email achieves the best of both worlds between timing and content to provide marketers with messages that have:

  • Relevance: Automated emails are triggered by user actions, making each message highly relevant and increasing the likelihood of engagement and response.

  • Engaging content: Designed to boost interaction, automated emails can include tutorials for new users, feedback requests, or incentives for inactive customers, enhancing engagement with your app or website.

  • Brand building: Automated emails extend your brand's voice and strengthen customer relationships through targeted communication, such as sharing expertise, promoting cross-sells, or updating users on new features.

  • Loyalty: Users guided through the onboarding process with timely automated emails are more likely to feel satisfied with your service and recommend your brand.

  • Retention: Personalized, real-time communications make customers feel valued, encouraging them to continue using your service as loyal, long-term users.

  • Revenue: Timely automated messages can prompt users to complete transactions, upgrade services, or re-engage, boosting your bottom line.

  • Action: By targeting users who are already engaged with your brand, automated emails effectively move these users further down the sales funnel, increasing the likelihood of taking desired actions.

Why use email automation?

Despite the undeniable benefits of automated email, many businesses have yet to tap into its full potential. The good news is that launching a smart, focused automated email campaign is simple and can start yielding results quickly.

Automation saves time and personalizes your interactions with customers at a scale that manual emailing simply can't do. Here are some examples of automated email messages you could be sending:

  • Welcome series emails: Kick off a strong relationship by helping new customers learn how to use your product effectively right from their first interaction. These emails can reduce initial confusion and increase product adoption.

  • Nurture series emails: Gradually guide prospects through the sales funnel with tailored content that addresses their specific needs and readiness to purchase.

  • Happy birthday or anniversary emails: Celebrate milestones in your customer's journey to boost loyalty and emotional connection by offering special discounts or rewards.

  • User verification emails: Double-check that new sign-ups are valid and reduce the risk of fraud.

  • Re-engagement campaigns: Rekindle interest among users who haven't interacted with your platform or made a purchase in a while by reminding them of what they're missing.

  • Feedback requests: After a customer interaction or a set period post-purchase, automatically ask for feedback to improve your services and show customers you value their opinion.

  • Cart abandonment reminders: Send timely reminders to customers who have left items in their shopping carts to encourage them to complete their purchases.

  • Event-triggered offers: Automatically send special offers or information when a customer performs a specific action, like downloading a resource or spending a certain amount.

Real-life email automation examples

simple welcome series is a great place to dip your toe into automation, allowing you to greet and acknowledge your new subscribers and introduce them to your offerings. 

Here’s an example of email automation in action in Twilio SendGrid’s Marketing Campaigns platform. This series is pre-created in Marketing Campaigns to make it easy for you to quickly adjust the templates and copy for your brand. 

In this first email of the welcome series, the email is short and sweet, greeting the new subscribers with one call-to-action (CTA) to start shopping. While you probably don’t want to use this exact design for your brand, you can customize it with your logo, brand colors, visuals, and copy to make it your own.


In the second email of the welcome series, recipients are reminded why it’s beneficial to be a subscriber (to get great deals!). The email then highlights a deal on tassel earrings. If you don’t have a deal or sale to promote, this could be a great opportunity to introduce your most popular products or offer an incentive to your new subscribers. 

With the drag & drop design editor, you can add different modules to rearrange or add to the layout of the email. Just remember that less is generally more when it comes to email length. 


The third email introduces the VIP program, offering subscribers a chance to level-up their commitment to this brand. No VIP program? No problem. Use the third email to introduce fan favorites, a mobile app, or a new offering that you’re excited about. 

Keep an eye on the engagement of these 3 emails. If there are some recipients who don’t engage at all with the emails by the end of the series, consider removing them from your list. They may have subscribed unintentionally or are no longer interested in the content. 


Welcome series recap:

A welcome series is a great way to get started with automation since you can easily enroll your new subscribers in the series as soon as they are added to your contact list. 

In your welcome series, you should:

  • Greet and thank your recipients for signing up.
  • Remind them why they subscribed to your email list.
  • Send them a gift, like a discount code, to motivate them to purchase.
  • Share items you think they might like, such as your most popular picks.

Once you’ve mastered the welcome series, try expanding your email automation portfolio with emails that help guide your recipients through the product.

Ready to start building your own automated email series? Sign up for a free trial to use Twilio SendGrid’s Email Automation.

Email automation tips and best practices

Now that you've set up your email automation workflows, you're on the brink of transforming how you connect with your customers. But before you hit 'send,' it's important to fine-tune your approach to guarantee that your automated campaigns resonate rather than alienate.

Here are some tips and best practices to consider for optimizing your automated email strategies:

    • Perfect your timing: Timing isn't just about when your emails land in inboxes—it's about syncing your messages with your customers' needs and behaviors. For serial messages, space them out thoughtfully. Consider the customer's journey and the nature of the email to determine the best time to send each message without overwhelming your audience.

    • Mind your volume: When it comes to automated emails, less can be more. Overloading your customers with too many emails can lead to fatigue and unsubscribes. Prioritize quality and relevance over quantity. Focus on sending messages that add value and are likely to engage, rather than just filling up their inbox.

    • Continual testing and optimization: Regularly test different aspects of your emails, from subject lines to call-to-action buttons, and even the timing of delivery. Use A/B testing to find what resonates best with your audience and continually refine your approach based on real data.

    • Facilitate easy opt-outs: Respect your customers' choices by making it straightforward for them to opt-out of receiving automated emails. Transparent and accessible unsubscribe options build trust and maintain a positive relationship with those who choose to stay.

    • Stay compliant with email regulations: Compliance isn’t just a legal necessity—it also shows you respect your customers' privacy and data. Guarantee all your automated emails comply with laws like CAN-SPAM in the U.S. and CASL in Canada. These regulations help guide how you manage your emailing lists and the content of your emails to avoid penalties.

    • Segment your audience: Tailor your communications by segmenting your audience based on their behaviors, preferences, and previous interactions with your brand.

    • Monitor metrics: Keep an eye on how your automated emails perform. Track opens, clicks, conversions, and more to understand what’s working and what’s not. Use this data to tweak your emails for better performance.

    • Maintain a consistent brand voice: Whether it’s a friendly nudge or a formal update, make sure your automated emails consistently reflect your brand's voice and values.

    How to use SendGrid's email automation tool

    SendGrid provides an easy-to-use email automation tool. It gives you all the tools and features you need to create more meaningful, personalized communication streams with your audience.

    Whether you’re sending a few hundred emails or scaling up to millions, SendGrid scales with you to help your messages reach the right people at the right time with the right message.

    Let's show you the step-by-step process to set up your campaigns and start sending automated emails:

    Step 1: Sign up and set up your account

    First things first, if you haven’t already, sign up for SendGrid—it's free, and we don't even ask for your credit card (really).. Once you’ve created your account, take some time to configure the basics:

    • Verify your domain: This helps improve your email deliverability by showing email providers that SendGrid is allowed to send emails on your behalf.
    • Set up sender authentication: Complete this step to ensure your emails appear professional and to further enhance deliverability.

    Step 2: Create your contact list

    Your email campaigns are nothing without your subscribers. Import your contact list into SendGrid. You can do this manually, via CSV upload, or integrate SendGrid with your CRM to sync contacts automatically.

    • Segment your list: Use SendGrid’s segmentation features to group your contacts based on demographics, past behavior, or engagement levels. This enables more targeted and effective emailing.

    Step 3: Design your email

    SendGrid’s email design tools are robust and user-friendly, suitable for both beginners and seasoned marketers:

    • Use the Design Editor: A drag-and-drop editor that lets you create beautiful, responsive emails without needing to write a single line of code.
    • HTML Editor: If you’re comfortable with HTML and CSS, use this editor for custom designs.

    Step 4: Set up email automations

    Now, for the fun part—setting up your email automation:

    • Define triggers: Decide what actions or events will trigger an automated email. This could be when someone signs up, makes a purchase, or even abandons a cart.
    • Create workflows: Build sequences that automatically send emails based on your triggers. For example, a welcome series for new subscribers or a re-engagement campaign for users who haven’t interacted with your emails recently.

    Step 5: Test and launch

    Before going live with your campaigns:

    • Test your emails: Send test emails to double-check everything looks good and works as intended. Check for functionality across all devices and email clients.
    • Schedule or launch your campaign: Once you’re satisfied, schedule the emails for automatic sending or launch them immediately.

    Step 6: Analyze and optimize

    After your emails are out in the world:

    • Monitor performance: Use SendGrid’s analytics to track open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and more.
    • Make adjustments: Based on your analytics, tweak your emails and workflows to improve performance. Experiment with different subject lines, content, and sending times.

    Email automation takeaways

    As the world becomes more and more personalized, the benefits of email marketing automation will undoubtedly make your job as an email marketer easier. Email automation enables you to enhance your email campaign without manually sending out individual emails.

    Using automated email in your email campaign helps increase engagement and provide a more tailored email experience for your recipients. Ready to start using email automation in your program? Twilio SendGrid provides an easy-to-use automation solution for your email program. Set up email automation in minutes by signing up for a free trial today.

    Send With Confidence

    Partner with the email service trusted by developers and marketers for time-savings, scalability, and delivery expertise.