A Beginner’s Guide to Email Automation

June 26, 2017 Heather Cherry

email communication illustrationHave you heard? Email automation is expected to drive the future of email marketing.

But, you may be wondering what exactly it is and how your insurance agency can implement it. I’m here to dive into the basics and show you how easy and beneficial email automation can be.

What is Email Automation, Anyway?

Email automation is the act of using email marketing software to automatically send emails when a trigger occurs.

In other words, it’s an email campaign that sends emails to a specific person when certain criteria are met. The campaign is always active.

Email automation’s primary goal is to deliver the right message to the right recipient at the right time. This creates customized and relevant email experiences for your clients.

There are several types of automated campaigns, but here are a few common categories.

1. Action-Based: Emails go out when someone performs a designated action. An action could be a website visit, form submission, or subscription request.

2. Sales Cycle-Based: Emails go out to a contact based on where they are in the buying journey. For example, a welcome campaign sends to a new customer. Or, a lead nurturing campaign when a quote is requested.

3. Event/Date-Based: Emails go out on a specific date or event every year. Holidays and birthday emails are common examples. Insurance agents can also send out notices for open-enrollment deadlines.

4. Policy-Based: Emails go out to a contact based on their specific policy details. A campaign could go out when a policy is approaching renewal date, payment is due, or a carrier changes.

5. Engagement-Based: Emails go out to a contact based on how they interact with your emails. Interactions could be positive, like opening or clicking your emails. They can also be negative, like a decline in opens or clicks.

What’s All the Fuss About?

Not only does email automation generate 70.5 percent higher open rates and 152 percent higher click-through-rates, they also produce a lot of other positive long-term effects.

Better Customer Experience

Imagine how your clients would feel if every time they received an email from you it was at the exact moment when they needed that specific information? It’s like you’re a mind-reader!

That level of proactive communication can build deeper relationships. That could ultimately drive revenue, maximize referrals, and increase policy retention.

Optimal Efficiency

How much time does your insurance agency spend on manually communicating the same message to each of your clients? By executing an automated email campaign, you can create a multi-message drip one time. Let it do the work for you as clients interact with your agency.

Email automation can reduce the time and costs associated with repetitive tasks. Think about what you could do with all the extra time and energy!

Around-the-Clock Interaction

Consumers are evolving to an on-the-go mentality for absorbing information and communicating. Your insurance agency shouldn’t be left behind!

Email automation allows you to connect with anyone, anytime, all the time. You can provide 24/7 responses without having to stay open 24/7.

Okay. I’ll Try It. But Where do I Even Begin?

Creating these highly-targeted and timely campaigns may seem intimidating. But, it’s a lot easier to do than you think! In three easy steps you can immediately implement email automation.

1. Gather Your Data. Before you can trigger campaigns automatically, find out what triggers are available. Look at the information on your contacts to see what types of campaigns you can implement.

a. What kind of tracking do you have on your websites or form submissions?

b. Do you record and regularly update records as clients move in and out of the sales funnel? Policy information?

c. Do you have birthdates recorded for your clients?

2. Map Out the Campaign Flow and Logic. Take a moment to map out the flow of your campaign. Don’t be afraid to use a dry erase board or blank sheet of paper to draw things out.

a. What action will start the campaign for the recipient?

b. What action will remove the recipient from the campaign?

c. How many emails in the campaign?

d. How much time between emails in the campaign?

3. Create Your Email Content. You know your audience, flow, and number of emails for your campaign. It’s time to sit down and write your content.

a. What information do my recipients need?

b. What action do I need my recipients to make?

c. What tone, message, and content matches my audience persona?

Any Last Minute Advice?

Here are best practices I’ve gathered during my experience with email automation.

As with any kind of email or campaign you run, monitor your results frequently. It’s easy to get stuck in autopilot when email automation is doing all the work. But, don’t forget to check in with your campaigns and making any necessary adjustments.

Update your data as often as possible. Remember that automation creates a relevant and timely connection. If your data isn’t updated often, you may risk sending outdated information.

Use personalization. The best part of an automated email campaign is it provides a customized experience. Take things even further by using email personalization techniques. Use the recipient’s name or tailor the messaging to take things to the next level. Your recipients will appreciate the attention to detail.

Remember the big picture. You engage with your database in many ways at different times with different messages. Before you get overly excited and create tons of new automated campaigns, take a step back. Consider all available automated campaigns you can run and prioritize to avoid over-saturation for your audience. Nobody likes a cluttered inbox.

What about you? Do you have any advice or tips for email automation beginners?

About the Author

Heather Cherry

Heather Cherry is and email marketing professional and the product manager for AgencyBuzz - ITC's automated marketing system. She is responsible for leading the AgencyBuzz team, presenting email marketing best practices for Operation Agency Success & Masters of Marketing, and prides herself in cultivating customer-driven product excellence. She has a bachelor's degree in rhetoric and writing from The University of Texas at Austin (Hook 'Em \m/). Her email marketing specialties include targeted marketing, database segmentation, customer journey through automation, integrated lead client nurturing through all ITC products, and highly-visual email marketing campaigns. Heather currently resides in Frisco, Texas (a suburb of Dallas), and is a self-proclaimed mother-of-the-year and world's okayest wife. She likes dad jokes, Tyler Perry movies, and Oxford commas.

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