4 automated email sequences every newsletter and creator should use

How to use email automations to get more customers, increase engagement, and win back subscribers

DEEP DIVE

The 4 types of email marketing automation every newsletter should use

If you have an email list and only send broadcast newsletters to subscribers, you’re leaving money on the table.

Here’s why…

Email automations work for you 24/7.

While you’re sleeping, email automations are working to engage your readers, sell your products, drive referrals, and build trust with your audience.

Here are the four types of email sequences every newsletter, creator, and media brand should use:

1) Welcome sequence

  • A series of emails sent 7-30 days after a new subscriber joins your list

  • Includes your welcome email

  • Usually 3 to 7 emails long

2) Win back sequence

  • A series of emails sent after subscribers are disengaged for 14-30 days

  • Designed to win them back. Get readers to open and click again.

  • Usually 1 to 3 emails long.

3) Trigger sequence

  • A series of emails sent after a critical action or event — such as a poll response, referral, survey completion, number of opens, or time subscribed.

  • Designed to prompt users to share, buy, or collect data at the right time.

  • Usually 1 to 3 emails long.

4) Sales sequence

  • A series of emails sent after subscribers are engaged, show product interest, or complete a welcome sequence.

  • Designed to drive sales.

  • Usually 5 to 15 emails long.

There are other types of email sequences, too. But these are the best for newsletter, media, education, and creator businesses to start with.

You can use these sequences to:

  • Get readers to share your newsletter

  • Drive sales or leads for your product/service

  • Get your audience to know, like, and trust you

  • Collect more information about readers with surveys

  • Help readers learn or solve a problem in their life and business

  • Win back subscribers who are no longer opening and clicking

  • Increase email engagement (higher open rate, CTR, and better deliverability)

  • And more…

…all without any work after the initial setup.

I recommend you set up “MVP” sequences in this order:

  1. Welcome sequence

  2. Win back sequence

  3. Trigger sequence

  4. Sales sequence

Here’s what I mean by “MVP” (minimum viable product) email sequences:

  • Start with #1 — a welcome sequence. Write 2-3 emails for the sequence and set it up in your ESP (email service provider).

  • Then move on to #2 — Win back. Write 1 email and set up the sequence.

  • Then, write 1 email for your trigger sequence (#3) and set it up.

  • Finally, write 2-3 sales emails (#4) and set up the sequence.

You can add more emails to each of these sequences later (and you should)!

But with this “MVP” process, you created 4 email sequences fast without stressing about having the perfect and complete sequence.

Okay. Now, you’re probably wondering…

“What content do I put in these emails?”

“When exactly do I send them?

“Who do I send them to?”

Let’s get into all those questions and more!

Welcome Sequence Guide

Who is it sent to?

Every new subscriber.

When do subscribers enter the sequence?

Immediately after signing up.

How many emails should be in the sequence?

Usually, 3 to 7 emails. Sometimes, more or less.

Daily newsletters might limit their welcome sequence to 2-3 emails (including the initial welcome email).

Weekly newsletters may have 5 to 10 emails in their welcome sequence.

Some newsletters may deliver all of their editorial content through a welcome sequence for new subscribers and send 20+ newsletters over 6+ weeks.

What’s the schedule? How far apart should the emails be?

Here’s the schedule I like for a daily newsletter:

  • Email 1 - 0 mins after joining (Welcome email)

  • Email 2 - 2 days later

  • Email 3 - 5 days later

Here’s a schedule I often see used by weekly newsletters:

  • Email 1 - 0 mins after joining (Welcome email)

  • Email 2 - 1 day later

  • Email 3 - 2 days later

  • Email 4 - 3 days later

  • Email 5-7 - 4 days later

The schedule and timeline you use depend on many factors.

Some newsletters send an email every day for the first 5 days after a new subscriber joins.

Others spread out their welcome sequence over a few months.

There’s no perfect timeline.

Should I send welcome sequence emails the same day I send my broadcast newsletter?

No, try not to send other emails on the same day as your newsletter send (unless it’s the initial welcome email).

You can exclude sending on specific days with beehiiv.

Example from beehiiv sequences

If you send a daily newsletter (5-7 days per week), it becomes difficult to avoid sending emails twice in one day.

That’s okay. Limit your welcome sequence to 2-5 emails. You’ll be fine.

What should the goals of my welcome sequence be?

I recommend you focus on these 7 goals:

  • In your welcome email, get subscribers to take the key deliverability actions (move to primary inbox, reply to email, click).

  • Set expectations about the type of content and frequency of future emails: How often will they hear from you? How long will it take to read? What day and time will they get newsletters?

  • Introduce your brand clearly and concisely. Who are you? What do you help people do? And what outcome should they expect from your newsletter?

  • Provide immediate value. Share useful tips or content: What are some immediate action steps they can take? Useful resources, articles, or past newsletter content?

  • Share your story or unique value proposition (USP): What is your backstory? What’s your differentiator? Why should they care?

  • Encourage engagement and collect data: Ask a question. Start a conversation. Share a survey. What information (data or free form) would be helpful to learn about them?

  • Make them aware of your product/service. Your welcome emails should offer 99% free value and 1% sales. Mention your product/service only at the end of the email or in the “PS.”

How do I write a welcome email sequence? What content should I have?

Start by getting inspiration from great email marketers.

  • Create a throwaway Gmail and sign up for any relevant email list.

I’d check out:

  • Ship 30 for 30

  • Nicolas Cole

  • Dickie Bush

  • Justin Welsh

  • Jay Clouse

  • Ramit Sethi

  • Noah Kagan

  • Chase Dimond

  • Andre Chaperon

  • Ben Settle

  • Frank Kern

  • Neil Patel

  • Motley Fool

  • BackLinko

  • Ryan Deiss (Digital Marketer, Scalable)

  • Also, look at swipe sites like Really Good Email, Swipe File, Swiped

After you have some ideas and inspiration, outline what your sequence will cover and the goals of each email.

Here’s an example:

Email 1 (welcome email) — Set expectations and ask for deliverability best practices (note: I have a free guide on welcome emails. See item #3 here.)

Email 2 — Introduce your brand and provide immediate value with your best free content or resources.

Email 3 — Share your story and unique value proposition. Share your story and what makes you different.

Email 4 — Encourage engagement and collect data. Ask a question, start a conversation, or ask subscribers to complete a survey.

Then, start writing.

Keep your initial welcome emails short and concise. Share links with readers where they can go deeper into your best content, past newsletters, videos, podcasts, sales page, and other offerings.

Win Back Sequence Guide

Who is it sent to?

Subscribers who have not opened or clicked an email for 14-30 days.

When do subscribers enter the sequence?

After a subscriber is disengaged for 14-30 days.

For a daily newsletter, enter subscribers into the sequence after no opens or clicks for 14 days. (Use only opens if your newsletter doesn’t have many links)

For a weekly newsletter, enter subscribers into the sequence after no opens or clicks for 30 days.

How many emails should be in the sequence?

Usually, 1-2 emails. No more than 3.

Any more will increase spam complaints. These subscribers are already disengaged, so don’t send them more than necessary.

What’s the schedule? How far apart should the emails be?

Email 1 should be sent immediately after a subscriber enters the sequence.

Email 2 should be sent 3-5 days later if the subscriber is still disengaged.

What should the goals of my win-back sequence be?

  • Remind them who you are and how you help

  • Tell them they will be removed from your email list and why

  • Tell them how to stay on the list

  • Ask them to click a link and move your emails to their primary inbox

How do I write a win-back sequence? What content should I have?

Keep these emails short and simple.

These subscribers are already disengaged, so get to the point fast.

Here’s an example:

A win-back sequence should take you ~15 minutes to set up. Write 1-2 simple emails, set them up in your ESP, and you’re good to go.

Now, let’s talk about trigger emails…

Trigger Email Sequence Guide

Who is it sent to?

Email sent to subscribers immediately after a key action or event.

That action or event could be:

  • Positive poll response

  • Successful referral

  • Survey completion

  • Subscriber anniversary (30 days on list, 1 year on list)

  • Opening a number of unique emails (like 10, 50, or 100 emails)

  • Clicking a specific link (like a link to your product sales page or waitlist)

  • And more…

There are many possibilities.

When do subscribers enter the sequence?

Immediately after a key action or event.

How many emails should be in the sequence?

Usually, 1 to 3 emails. But you can have multiple trigger sequences.

For example, you could have 4 trigger sequences with 1 email in each.

What’s the schedule? How far apart should the emails be?

The first email should be sent immediately. Other emails should likely be sent 1-2 days later.

What should the goals of my trigger email sequence be?

This depends on the trigger you pick and your business goals.

For example:

Positive poll response — If someone just clicked a poll saying they “loved” your newsletter.

This could be a great time to send an email to sell a product such as a course, book, information product, membership, or service.

OR…

Ask that subscriber to share your newsletter with a referral program. If they love your content, they’re in the right mindset to share it.

Here’s an example of the latter from Failory:

Here’s a few more ideas:

→ Trigger: Successful referral → Email: Thank you email with a soft pitch for your product or service.

→ Trigger: Survey completion → Email: Message tailored to a response to one of the survey questions

→Trigger: Subscriber anniversary (30 days on list or 1 year on list) → Email: Congratulations message with ask for feedback through a reply or survey)

→ Trigger: Opening X unique emails (like 10, 50, or 100 emails). → Email: Congratulate them on opening X emails, ask them to share the newsletter with a friend, and get rewarded with your referral program.

→ Trigger: Clicking a specific link (like a link to your product sales page or waitlist). Email: More information about the product or a follow-up to remind them about the product.

Sales Email Sequence Guide

Who is it sent to?

Only enter subscribers into this sequence if they have engaged or if they completed a welcome sequence.

When do subscribers enter the sequence?

There are 3 ways you can choose to trigger this:

  • High engagement. For example, “opened and clicked 4 or more unique emails within 14-30 days.”

  • Welcome sequence completed. Your welcome should be 99% free value. Now, subscribers are ready for the pitch.

  • Showed interest in your product(s). Subscribers clicked a link to go to your product sales page.

How many emails should be in the sequence?

Usually 5 to 15 emails long. Less than 5 emails is not enough.

Don’t be afraid to send a lot of sales emails! The more emails you send, the more you’ll sell.

You won’t see diminishing returns until you send 20+ sales emails.

Remember: You’re only sending sales emails to people who (1) love your newsletter, (2) completed your value-add welcome sequence, or (3) are interested in your product.

What’s the schedule? How far apart should the emails be?

Emails should be separated by 1-3 days.

Like with your welcome sequence, don’t send automated emails on the same day/time as broadcast newsletters.

What should the goals of my sales sequence be?

To sell! These emails should be 100% about selling your product or service.

Subscribers who enter this sequence have already been given a TON of free value. Now it’s time to pitch.

The goal should be to get subscribers to:

  • Buy

  • Unsubscribe

That is UNLESS you have a newsletter primarily monetized with sponsorships.

In that case, you want high subscriber retention so that you can show subscribers lots of ads.

If you’re in that situation:

  • Raise the engagement bar on who can enter your sales sequence

  • Only send 3-5 sales emails instead of 10+

How do I write a sales sequence? What content should I have?

First, I recommend keeping the copy short, less than 500 words. Sometimes less than 100 words.

Short emails will have a higher CTR (click-through rate) and a lower unsubscribe rate.

Your long-form sales page, webinar, or video sales page should do most of the selling after you get the click.

What’s what to send in your sales emails…

  • Everything that’s included — How the product/service is structured. Share everything customers get.

  • Relatable story email — Share a story of your own experience that relates to their problem/struggle

  • Case study email — Share a win of one of your clients

  • Thought leader email — Teach something new or break something down to your reader.

  • Objection email — Handle the main objection that your ideal client will likely have to take action.

  • Sneak peek email — Give them a preview of your offering.

  • PAS (problem-agitate-solution) email — Talk about a problem and how your product solves it

  • Scarcity/deadline email — Only a limited number of clients/spots/deadline to buy

  • Social proof email — Showcase your testimonial, reviews, number of customers, and client results

  • Last call email — Tell them this is the final email you’ll send about what you’re selling. If you have a scarcity/deadline, use it.

Final Thoughts

That’s it.

I hope you use these email automations to create leverage in your business.

Your goal should be to automate your newsletter content, engagement, and sales process as much as possible.

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