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From mass email marketing to email marketing automation

Email marketing has come a long way since 1973. Often claimed to be over, email is a veteran, but not obsolete by a long shot. Since its creation, email marketing has evolved, as we’ve gone from mass email marketing to email marketing automation.


What is mass email marketing?

Mass email marketing consists in manually sending the same email to a large list of recipients (one-to-many). It’s a marketing strategy used less and less today because it generates a very low conversion rate.

Mass emailing usually has little or no personalization and is often sent to a non-segmented audience. 

It’s more often newsletters, advertisements or other information about the company not directed at a specific client.

Good to know: if your email is unanticipated and irrelevant to your recipients, it risks generating complaints and being classified as spam by ISPs. Email personalization, (among other good practices), is therefore a major asset for good deliverability.


Sending personalized mass emails

Personalization is one of the success factors: personalized emails actually have an open rate that is 50% higher than other types of email. (Source: Marketing Dive 2017).

Today, consumers are used to having their inbox flooded with spam and useless messages. And nowadays, it’s all about personalization. Your recipients expect targeted and personalized messages that answer their immediate needs.

To stand out from the crowd, you can personalize your mass emails.

Steps for personalizing your mass emails

  • Categorize your profiles into homogenous groups according to their buying habits (RFM segmentation), behaviors (such as segmentation per email activity or browsing habits), preferences (product preference, promotional interests, etc.) 

  • Personalize your emails with dynamic content (according to age, sex, interests, behaviors, etc.)

  • A/B test your mailings (according to content, subjects, preheaders, commercial pressure, time of day, tone of voice, etc.). To test your emails efficiently, define the test parameters and the statistics to be analyzed by changing one variable at a time.

These personalized mass emails are more often used to send communication about flash sales, promotions and other sales.


What is email marketing automation?

Let’s get back to basics! Email automation in marketing (or email marketing automation) is not marketing automation.

In a broad sense, marketing automation is a marketing technique, a concept that refers to the automation of repetitive marketing campaigns. Software that offers the functionalities to automate these tasks is called a ‘marketing automation tool’. It requires defining a set of predefined conditions in order to be able to launch campaigns.

Email is an important channel in a marketing automation strategy. Contrary to mass email marketing, marketing automation email enables sending automatically targeted emails (one-to-one), which are triggered by specific actions from your contacts (according to collected data, their actions and behaviors, etc.).

Email marketing automation will allow you to communicate the right message at the right time to the right client.

The different types of automated emails:

  • Emails triggered by a client’s recent action: abandoned cart email, product recommendations based on a recent visit, cross-selling opportunities following a purchase, etc. These messages have a commercial goal.

  • Emails triggered during the life cycle: anniversary email, post-purchase satisfaction survey, reactivation following inactivity, etc. The goal of these messages is to improve client experience.

  • Emails triggered following a transaction: welcome email, order confirmation, delivery information, etc. The goal of these messages is to reassure clients.

These triggered emails ought to follow precise and strict GDPR guidelines depending on the type of e-mail and the peculiarities of the scenario they're part of.


Examples of email marketing automation uses

Welcome email Welcome email Background

Welcome email

A welcome email helps you welcome new clients/subscribers by reminding them of the advantages of your CRM program, brand values, etc. It is the type of campaign your clients expect, which explains the average open rate of almost 57% (source: Experian 2018), improving engagement estimated at 33% (source: ExpertSender 2018)The scenario trigger could be subscribing to a newsletter or a first purchase. For example, at Actito, a welcome email sent after a first purchase accounts for an open rate of 45%. (Open rate average observed in 2018 with our clients having implemented these programs on the email channel).

Anniversary email Anniversary email Background

Anniversary email

The anniversary email is a classic of the client relationship that focuses on the emotional aspect. The open rate average observed is 45% with a conversion rate of 3% (source: Omnisend 2018). Here, the trigger is the contact's anniversary date. In a more advanced scenario, you could picture sending a campaign offering a discount suited to client preferences. For these active contacts, this type of anniversary email has an open rate of 34%. (Open rate average observed in 2018 with our clients implementing these programs on the email channel). Using scenario features helps marketers to automate such emails. Which ultimately helps clients move seamlessly within their lifecycle with your brand.

Email about the expiration of loyalty points Email about the expiration of loyalty points Background

Email about the expiration of loyalty points

This email helps you remind a client whose loyalty points are about to expire. The trigger can be chosen 30 days before the loyalty points expire, so that the client has the time to use and enjoy their points on time. Resending to non-openers can also be scheduled a week after sending the first reminder.

Cart recovery email Cart recovery email Background

Cart recovery email

This one has proven its use, as 70 to 80% of carts are not validated during the online buying process (source: Fevad 2017). Yet, when sending reminders, the click conversion rate is almost 10.7% (according to businesses - Moosend 2017). At Actito, this type of cart recovery email campaign has an average open rate of 58%. (Open rate average observed in 2018 with our clients having implemented these programs on the email channel). This type of message reminds the client that their cart is still active and that they can make their purchase at any time. Associated with reassuring information (about delivery, payment process, after sales service, etc.) or a promotional voucher, a reminder has every chance of being successful. To determine the right timing for reminders, you can perform an A/B test on the hours at which you send your messages.

Reactivate inactive contact’s email Reactivate inactive contact’s email Background

Reactivate inactive contact’s email

This email helps reactivate your formerly engaged readers and contacts. It also enables you to identify the reasons for inactivity of some of your contacts (channel preference or content having evolved, etc.). The trigger here could be a profile moving into an inactive segment. From there, you can push a form (preference center or satisfaction survey) in order to better identify the expectations of your inactive clients and their potential dissatisfaction (irrelevant content, too much commercial pressure, etc.). At Actito, we’ve noticed an average open rate of 27% for reactivation email. (Open rate average observed in 2018 with our clients having implemented these programs on the email channel).

Purchase confirmation email Purchase confirmation email Background

Purchase confirmation email

This email helps reassure the client and informs them on all data and delivery transactions. It is an email clients expect that does not require marketing consent. It is therefore an email to be sent quickly. Hence the importance of putting in place "mail automation" processes for such communication. At Actito, we’ve noticed an average open rate of 80% for such emails, which proves how important it is! (Open rate average observed in 2018 with our clients having implemented these programs on the email channel).

In short

The best strategy would probably be to combine mass email marketing with email marketing automation However, knowing the difference between the two will help you better understand the advantages and inconveniences of each one and guide you in your decision-making process.

Regardless of the solution that seems the most suitable to your email marketing needs, as your business continues to develop, you will probably find advantages in automating certain parts of your email strategy.

Would you like to learn more?

About the author


Isabelle Henry

Head of Inbound and Growth

Always on the lookout for new skills and always ready to launch new marketing projects at Actito, I rely on my personal experiences but also on everything that is happening in the digital world to continue to learn, educate and share with you through inspiring content. My little extras? Video editing and photography!