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What is an effective email workflow strategy, exactly? A well planned and executed email strategy is bigger than 25% open rates and witty subject lines. It is a multi-use approach to help close the gap between getting your email read and actually closing deals.

Email workflow strategies are made up of three components:

  1. The email – individual communication with customers
  2. The workflow – a series of emails with a common theme
  3. The strategy – multiple series of emails grouped together to influence a single goal

When strategizing how you will use email to nurture leads or for lead generation it is important to focus on how to move readers through the buyers journey efficiently. Each email is an individual step in their journey. The workflow is a highway designed to allow buyers to accelerate through their journey. The effective email workflow strategy, however, is turn by turn directions to a specific destination (ideally, a sale). 


How do you craft your own email workflow strategy?

Let’s step through the three most important things to consider during planning and execution.

   1. Start Your Email Strategy with the End Goal in Mind

When getting ready for a trip it is important to always consider the destination first. This informs the most efficient route to reach your goal. We have to do the same when planning our workflow strategies.

What is the goal? Effective workflow goals come in two forms: micro conversions and macro conversions. Micro conversions are based on small engagements and interactions like a content download or clicking a specific link in an email. Macro conversions signify larger actions that results in revenue or new qualified leads like a demo request or a renewal for an existing customer. 

What do I want to learn about the contact? While it is important to provide valuable content to readers, it is equally important to learn something new about your readers with each email. Emails can be used to help gain insight into a contact's pain points, topics of interest and even the way they like to consume content.

Real world example: Use a newsletter email as a reengagement campaign to old contacts. Include 3 links within the email, each distinctly related to a different pain point the reader may be facing. Analyze click data to see which articles most interested each reader.

What’s in it for them? The key to making a workflow strategy effective is evaluating how your call to action (CTA) relates to value for your readers. The level of value should be relative to your CTA. For example, asking a reader to input their home phone and address to subscribe to your blog is too wide of a gap and will reduce conversions. Also think about what things a reader would like to know before converting. Providing as much detail up front will allow the reader to properly assess the value of the offer.

How many steps are required to reach my ultimate goal? It is critical to plan the number of emails and workflows needed. Start by considering the buyers starting point in the funnel compared to the end goal of the workflow. Then, allow for multiple touch points to convert in a single workflow. Also, consider what micro conversions need to happen before it’s time for a macro conversion. Once you have this you can begin putting your workflow strategy into a flowchart.

   2. Segment Your Emails and Deliver More Personalized Messaging

Segmenting your contacts into lists around a specific motivation or theme is a fast and effective way to increase the effectiveness of your email workflow strategies. The power of this is in the inferred personalization in each email. The more specific the list the better.

Real world example: Sending an email about tax services to a list of all contacts that attended a regional real estate conference vs. sending an email about tax services to a list of contacts that attended a “How to file taxes” seminar during that conference.  

In the example above, the exact same email could have wildly different results just based on the list it is sent to. If segmenting contacts around a singular motivation is difficult, start with high level engagement to gain more information about the contacts in your database. Getting to know your audience is crucial to the strategy’s effectiveness. Remember, delivering the right message to the wrong person is the wrong message.

  3. Track and Measure Email Effectiveness

Crafting an effective email workflow strategy is not a one-time task. Each future workflow strategy should become more and more effective by using data from previous campaigns. In order to get the most out of a workflow strategy you must properly set up metrics to be tracked later. The main point here is to set goals.

Each workflow strategy should have one and only one goal. Having multiple goals for a single strategy will diminish the overall effectiveness. It also dilutes the overall strategy data with contacts that are not focused on that goal. Rather than focusing on multiple goals in one strategy, create multiple strategies focused around each goal. Each workflow in your overall strategy should also have a singular goal for the contacts to complete, like a content download or watching 30 seconds of a video.

After everything is set up but before it is live, analyze each email. Ask “how easy is it for the contact to reach the goal in this email?” If you find that an email doesn’t fit, remove or edit it. The same goes for each workflow in your strategy. How does it fit with my overall strategy? What if someone doesn’t reach the goal in a specific workflow? What alternative paths do I have for them to reach the same goal?

Follow up on progress. It is important to periodically review results for potential opportunities. Set up reports and dashboards specific to your strategy to track KPI’s such as: 

  • Best/worst performing emails
  • Workflow conversion rates
  • Unengaged contacts 

These reports are gold mines for future success. Once sufficient data is collected, apply conversion rate optimization best practices to tweak your email workflow strategy to increase efficiency.


Take Control of Your Email Strategy and Increase Engagement

To effectively use emails as a tool to increase contact engagement, your organization must develop email workflow strategies. Emails are no longer blasts of information to a group of people with an inbox. Now, more than ever, emails need to be personalized conversations of value that push the reader closer to a goal. Creating specific strategies around each goal a prospect may have is an effective way to gain trust and create new customers.

If you are struggling to get the results you are looking for in your marketing campaigns, something needs to change. Get the Free 20 Minute Marketing Assessment to see where your business should focus your marketing efforts!

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Kelsey Jordan

Kelsey Jordan

Kelsey has over six years of digital marketing experience, helping lead multi-channel strategies and campaigns for clients like Kiawah River and the University of Southern California. She has won multiple awards for her work in content and email marketing.