5 sequences to get you started with email automation

Email is a powerful tool with plenty of opportunities for automation at every step of the buyer’s journey. It’s one of the best ways to nurture customers, educate leads and start conversations at scale. 2 of the most common tools for email automation and campaigns are Infusionsoft and MailChimp.

These 5 sequence ideas are taken from Dan Norris’ new book Content Machine, available August 10th.

Content drip sequence

A good way to keep new subscribers engaged is a content drip sequence. A drip sequence is a set of pre-written emails that will send useful content to a subscriber on a set schedule.

A drip sequence should build trust and desire for your product, but avoid pushing the sale too hard. Try to be as generous and relevant as possible in your drip sequences. If someone subscribes to your blog after reading a post about accounting, don’t send them content marketing materials.

A good tactic is to frame your drip sequences as training courses. This sets the expectation that you will be emailing your visitor regularly with information that they want. String together a few actionable tips in an email and link to your pillar content on each topic for further reading.

Rob Walling, founder of Drip, has an excellent example of an email crash course. His highest performing course is called Why Marketing Automation is the Future of Email Marketing. It began as a blog post that re-launched Drip as a marketing automation tool (it was previously a basic email marketing application), and the post resonated so strongly with their audience that they decided to shape it into a 7-day email course (and later added an 8th “bonus” day).

One of the key components of the course is the human touch. Notice that the first few sentences of email #1 reads like 2 people having a conversation. Rob signs each email as himself (not as a company). And he doesn’t use a fancy, fixed-width newsletter template.


The email is as close to plain text as it can get, while still looking good in all email clients (it actually uses the default email template in Drip).

If you’re interested in checking out the entire course to see how you can provide as much value as possible and still sprinkle calls to action throughout, you can sign up in the header of the Drip blog.

Related: 9 ways to build your email list using Infusionsoft WordPress & a few plugins

Customer suggestions

Too much automation can backfire with subscribers, but there are ways you can open up dialogue with your visitors and add a human touch to your sequences.

We send a simple email to our new subscribers asking them what topics they want to hear more about. This will help you stock up on fresh content ideas and gain traction with content that’s relevant to your audience. Often they will be interested in a topic that you have already covered, but they weren’t aware of.

Responding directly with a personal touch and helpful information will go a long way to creating close fans that will be more likely to share your content and convert to customers.

Here’s a guide for how you can automate the personal touch and create a “customer success bot”: Engaging at Scale: The Secret to Automating Personal Emails.

Alex Turnbull from Groove takes this 1 step further when he signs on a new customer. He asks them why they signed up for the service. This not only provides ideas for content but also helps him better understand and connect directly with his customers.

Alex Turnbull Automation

This tactic is not limited to new customers or subscribers. You could create automated sequences designed to follow up and start conversations at these points as well:

  • Support ticket opened/closed
  • Account cancellations
  • Lead magnet downloaded
  • Survey completed
  • Demo or quote requested

Olark has another great example of these emails in action. As soon as Olark is successfully installed on a site, an automated email is sent to the client prompting a conversation and sending over a few helpful guides to make sure the customer has a good early experience with their tool.

Olark Automation

Pitch sequence

Once you’re at a point where you have built trust with your new subscribers, you may find a good opportunity to pitch your product or service. Depending on what your business sells it could be weeks or months after they first subscribe.

The pitch sequence is a little more complex on the backend to ensure you don’t overdo it. What if someone is subscribed to several training courses or is already a customer? It wouldn’t make sense to pitch to them 4 or 5 times, and it may actually hurt you.

Systems like Infusionsoft make it easy to keep from overdoing your pitch sequence. The first step in the sequence is to remove anyone that has been pitched to recently. This should also exclude anyone tagged as your customer.

Related: How to increase sales by sending targeted emails with Infusionsoft (with Trent Dyrsmid)

A simple timed pitch sequence will be a good start for most, but you can get more sophisticated if you want. Programs like Infusionsoft allow you to use lead scores that will only send a pitch once a visitor has reached a certain level of engagement.

Garrett Moon from CoSchedule has an excellent pitch email designed to convert their trial members to the paid version. It uses 3 different tactics in 1 smooth email.

  • It opens by creating a sense of urgency letting them know their trial is about to expire.
  • It supports the urgency by reminding them of the benefits of the tool.
  • Finally, if they’re not fully convinced yet, there’s a trial extension offer in the “P.S.”. But it’s not just handed out. The customer needs to reply and request the extension. This is an excellent move to start a conversation with anyone who is “on the fence” and not quite sold on the product yet.


Cart abandonment

A cart abandonment sequence is not just for ecommerce store owners. Any site that runs transactions should have a cart abandonment sequence.

This sequence is triggered when a potential customer did not make it through all the steps of your shopping cart sequence. The first field in the first form should always be an email address, so you can reach out to anyone who does not complete the checkout process.

You can send this even if they don’t save the form, if you set it to save the email dynamically as they fill it out. Once their email is entered, they are tagged for the sequence, and if they don’t complete the purchase, they receive an email notification.

The email is very simple—it just says something like what’s in the sample below. If your product or service is visually oriented, then include some nice images to entice the person back. In some cases, it may be good to offer a discount or small gift to sweeten the deal and complete the conversion.

“We noticed you visited [site] but didn’t complete your order.  

We don’t want you to miss out, so if you want to finalize your purchase, please click here to return to the site.

If you are having any issues with the checkout, please reply and we will help you out.

Looking forward to working with you.

[company name]”


Email is one of the most powerful and easy to scale tools available to you. Paired with a deep understanding of your customer and audience, it can become one of the most valuable assets in your business.

A word of warning: You will not be able to completely remove yourself from email with automation without some drawbacks. You should be making an effort to personally connect with customers or your automation will come across as stale, and you will lose touch with your audience.

If you want to learn more about content marketing, automation and email sequences check out the book Content Machine.


Kyle is the founder of Conversion Cake . He is the author of "The College Entrepreneur" A book for students who want to break into entrepreneurship. Follow him @kylethegray

7 responses to “5 sequences to get you started with email automation”

  1. Cloudfusion says:

    Hi, excellent read. I would like to know how one would go about in ‘dynamically saving an email field’ to add someone to a drip campaign as stated above? Any Plugins for Contact Form 7 or Gravity Forms that has this functionality?

  2. Cassie Witt says:


    Gravity forms has several plugins that will automatically add an email (or any other info) added into the form, directly into an email list. Just off the top of my head they support: mailchimp, constant contact, get response, and many, many others. You do need to be careful using this feature, though. Email laws are very strict about how someone is added to an email list, and an email service provider (such as mailchimp) is highly invested in following those laws. Make sure the person who is entering their information understands they are also signing up for an email list. A good alternative (for those forms which are not strictly used to enter someone into an email list) is to add a checkbox which the user must click before they’re added to the email list. That way it’s optional.

    I’ve got a ton of experience integrating gravity forms with the different email service providers. Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m happy to help. 🙂

  3. Kyle Gray says:

    Awesome response Cassie! thanks for sharing all that detail. I could not have said it better.

  4. olman says:

    Hi, I am curious to know why your links don’t open in a new page. Do you find that it is better?
    When I read a good post with links, I click on the links as I read and they usually open in a new page and when I am finished the current article I can look at the links or respond before moving on.
    If the link opens in the same page, I often get distracted by the new info and don’t get back to the original.
    Do you have testing that shows it is better to open on the current page?


  5. Kyle Gray says:

    Hey Olman,

    Sorry about that, I agree that it is a better experience to have the links open in a new tab. I missed a few links on this post. But I have updated them now so they’ll all open in a new window.

    Thanks for asking!

  6. Cassie Witt says:

    Thanks, Kyle. 🙂

  7. Samantha says:

    Have you tried GetResponse?

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