Guide to Email Automation: Email Sequences Explained

List Building

Online businesses send a lot of emails. To save time, these emails are often organized into email automation sequences – they are pre-written and scheduled to be delivered at a specific date and time or when an action takes place by an email service provider.

The best email service providers (ESPs) have email sequence templates that help to to handle this all automatically with little hassle. A note about free ESPs… even though free is appealing, in the long run, that free email service isn’t going to offer the features you need as your business grows, causing you to have to change services just when your business is taking off.

Types of Email Marketing Sequences

Depending on your objective, there are different types of email marketing automations you may want to set up.

The ones we discuss in this article are:

  • Welcome email sequence: the first email sequence subscribers will get when they join your email list
  • Nurture sequence (also called an email follow up sequence): sending your subscribers regular emails to keep then warm and interested
  • Promo sequence: a series of emails promoting a specific product
  • Launch sequence: a series of emails send during the open cart period of a launch
  • Onboarding emails: emails that orient a new subscriber or buyer to your company, your product or your course
  • Offboarding emails: a series of emails designed to make people who did not buy during a launch still feel valued

Welcome email sequence

A welcome sequence is often the first email automation an online business will set up and it goes out to new subscribers who have opted in for a freebie. It typically starts with one email welcoming people and explaining a little more about your business and what they can expect from you. Welcome sequences often include a series of follow up emails that address various components of the freebie they opted in to receive.

For example, I have a welcome sequence that follows the delivery of my Tech Roadmap lead magnet. The first email explains more about the tech roadmap itself and what they can expect to receive from me over the course of the next few weeks. Subsequent emails go in-depth to the various components on the Tech Roadmap: the first is about email services, the second about landing pages, etc.

If you want to see how this welcome sequence works, you can sign up for the Tech Roadmap For Growing Your Email List here: it includes a series of emails that go deeper into the tools and assets you need to grow a mailing list.

Nurture sequence

Once someone is done with a welcome sequence, you want to be sure that you continue to email them on a regular basis. Some people do this by sending a piece of new content each week, others have pre-scheduled some of their best emails to be delivered weekly for several months.

The nurture sequence is exactly what it sounds like. It is a way to continue to deepen the relationship you have with the people on your list by giving them useful content that you know will help them.

Email nurture sequences can be made up of just a few key emails that are important for everyone on your list to receive, or they can be months long.

Promo sequence

As the name suggests, a promo email sequence is a series of promotional emails. You can create an email series to promote an evergreen product, a free challenge or even something someone else is offering that you think your audience may be interested in.

Promo sequences are usually delivered within a short time period, two weeks or less is standard. You don’t want to send too many promotional emails to your list or they are likely to unsubscribe.

Launch sequence

Email sequences for launching are one of the more involved types of email marketing automations that exist. Depending on how long a launch is, and what’s involved, email launch sequences can be 30 emails or more. In fact, there are so many emails in a launch or sales funnel email sequence, I wrote an entire blog about it. You can find a launch email sequence example here.

Onboarding email sequence

To help new clients feel valued, it’s a great idea to have an onboarding sequence to orient them to you, your program, and what they can expect. The first email will give them the details of the program, log in information, dates, etc. Subsequent emails would cover strategies for success in each module, check in emails to see how they’re doing, or offers for them to submit questions to you so that no one is left behind. A great onboarding sequence decreases the number of refund requests because your people feel cared for and heard.

Offboarding email sequence

Less common is a post-launch offboarding email automation for people who did not buy. It consists of a few emails to move people from the flurry of launch emails back to your regular posting schedule.

It’s pretty common to end a launch, take a deep breath and then jump right into supporting your new clients. But you have to remember that all of the people who didn’t buy this time, might buy in the future. Don’t drop them like a hot potato just because they didn’t buy this time. Send them an email that includes a one question survey asking why they didn’t buy from you. A survey is more likely to get a response than an email because it feels more anonymous.

Follow up the survey with some blog posts or other free resources you have that can help them on their journey so they feel valued.

More types of email sequences

These are the most popular email marketing sequences, but there are others. And some of the sequences may overlap a bit. The key to remember is that you can make your life easier by using email automations to make sure you’re keeping everyone on your list well informed and feeling like a valuable part of your business.

Not sure which email service provider is the best option for your business? You may want to check out the comparison I did of some of the most popular email service providers.

If you’d like more information on how all the pieces fit together, make sure to check out my Tech Roadmap for Growing Your Email List

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