There are many reasons why email marketing is still one of the most valuable marketing tools. From people preferring email as a communication channel with companies to people actually wanting to receive promotional content via email, it seems that one of the oldest forms of digital communication isn’t going anywhere.

But still, there’s the right way of using email as a marketing tool, and there’s the wrong way. The difference between the two is that the right way — the automated way — will generate three times the revenue of the wrong way. Simply put, email marketing automation is too big of an opportunity to be missed, so you should probably learn a couple of things about it.

What Is Automation and Why Is It Important?

Almost every segment of online marketing can be automated today. The basic premise is relatively simple — you delegate some of the tasks you would perform manually to specialized automation software. Automation tools can also offer extended functionality, with built-in tools that provide an analytical overview of your marketing efforts.

For email marketing, automation platforms and tools help you reduce the time and effort you have to invest into it. Instead of manually sending out emails, tools can be set up so that they send out different types of emails to different types of customers at specific times. So, besides saving you time, email marketing automation can also improve your customer targeting.

The Two Types of Automated Email

When you’re setting up your email marketing automation, one of the most important things you need to understand is that there are two different types of automated emails: drip (or drip-feed) emails and trigger emails.

Drip emails are emails you send periodically to people who have subscribed to your email list. With a drip campaign, you set up the frequency at which you’ll send a number of emails. For example, you can set up four emails to be released over roughly two weeks, at a three-day interval. Of course, you wouldn’t send the same email over and over again — each email should contain different copy that aims to move the recipients down your sales funnel.

Trigger emails work differently. These emails are sent when a specified trigger is activated. For example, when someone joins your email list, that’s a trigger that causes a welcome email to be sent to them automatically. Or, if some of your subscribers haven’t had any activity over a set period of time, an email can be automatically sent to them with a special offer in an attempt to bring them back. Trigger emails might seem like a fairly mundane thing, but if used well they can be very powerful— in one case, they increased online commerce of a wine business by over 50%.

Improved Targeting — Segmentation and Personalization

When you’re looking for an email automation platform, it’s important that you choose one that allows you to segment your customer base. The good platforms come with this option, and it can be invaluable to you because it will allow you to deliver more relevant messages to different groups of your customers. So, for example, you can set up one campaign for the people who spent a certain amount of money in your store, and a separate campaign for repeat customers, and the third campaign for those who tend to abandon the cart often.

Of course, an important part of delivering relevant messages is that you need to have different copy and a different approach for each segment of your audience. Personalized messages would have taken you a lot of time if it weren’t for automation platforms’ segmentation options.

And another thing you might consider is to take the personalization one step further and send different segments of your audience to different landing pages. Different pages can have different web design elements and different copy that together send the most effective message for each segment.

Test, Test, and Test Again

Testing is a vital part of marketing, and with email automation platforms you can A/B test your emails as well. Sending different types of emails to two parts of the same segment of your audience can help you determine which type of copy works better, and provide you insights you can use in the future.

Some of the things you should look for in your testing and analytics are the open and click through rates, as well as conversion rates and email delivery rates. And that’s where the best thing about email marketing automation kicks in — because it takes care of the boring manual work, it lets you set aside more time for analysis and improvement, the things that matter the most.