Automate content in automated emails

Back in 2017, Jordie van Rijn wrote this article entitled 'The trend nobody is talking about yet'. The article was about email content automation. Whilst our customers have been taking advantage of this for years, there’s still a frightening number of brands that are creating email content manually, on a per email basis.


A lot of time production time goes into curating, sorting and coding content into an email. Then there’s the sign up and the stamps of approval. It can take a whole lot of time to get an email signed off. This can be particularly draining for automated emails that need updating on the regular. What can marketers do?


Automate the content in automated emails!


There’s plenty of articles out there about email automation and there’s literally hundreds of email automation tools on the market. Whilst these tools are super handy for triggering emails and getting timely messages into the inbox, one area that’s lacking is how to manage the content of those emails.


Working closely with lots of brands across all industries, I’ve seen first-hand how tricky it can be to keep on top of automated emails. They require a lot of love and maintenance to keep them up to date and if there’s not the time to do that, well then, they might just be paused, or turned off indefinitely.


Why do they need a lot of attention? They need to be continually updated with the latest content. What I see often is that somebody in the business notices that the email content is out of date, the automated emails then become a ‘project’ and it’s somebodies responsibility to update them all. The first step is to plan what new content is going to feature in the email, then it’s time to pause the automation and make the updates. Manually. This might look something like going onto Instagram and seeing the latest posts and adding these manually into the email. It might be going to the blog and finding the latest posts and adding these manually into the email. It might be sourcing a new hero image and adding that manually into the email. I think you can see where I’m going with this – it’s all manual. Then the email goes through multiple rounds of testing before being signed off and put back live. The process then repeats 2, maybe 3 months later.


Let’s consider an automated welcome email – it triggers when somebody signs up onsite. Ideally that email lands in my inbox right away. The content that it contains needs to be recent and up to date. Often, the content isn’t right up to date (old blogs, out-of-season imagery, dated social posts) and that isn’t the best possible impression at the first touch point with a brand. Of course, automated emails have many benefits (unlock revenue, brand affinity, loyalty, timing, ease) but they can be, and are frequently, a low priority. It’s time to make automated emails work harder for you. Or more specifically, rely on tech to make the email content work harder to achieve in better results. On top of higher performance metrics, nailing the automation of content into automated emails will take the pressure off your team. No more manual, time consuming updates. Content automation in automated email is where brands need to focus so that they can free us time to focus on making their BAU emails the best they can be. Here’s some ideas for where to start:


Automate the hero stuff

Going through the hassle of pausing an automated email to update a hero image is unnecessary and can be easily removed from your to-do list. Use live image rules to automatically change the hero image – without touching the HTML. Simply upload an image and set the date that it should be visible from. The email will automatically update to display the image from that date/time.


Automate the stuff that updates regularly

Now this one is a HUGE time-saver. All those fiddly bits in emails that have to be manually coded and updated frequently really need to be automated. Banish manual code changes and make tech do the work. Use live images pulled from a feed at open time to automatically display the latest tweets, Instagram posts, blogs, deals, products – whatever you need. Anything that you’re featuring in your email that needs updating frequently can be automated. If there isn't a feed of this content, make one. A simple CSV file with the content is enough!


Make updating blog or social content a thing of the past and save yourself a massive amount of time. Here’s an example of blog automation in a Charlotte Tilbury email:




Automate the personalized stuff

Now this really is the money-maker, time-saver, winning strategy. Don’t make automated emails one-size-fits-all. There’s no excuse for this. Yes, they’re automated emails but they can still be relevant and personalized to each individual. Use your CRM data (browse data, preferred category etc.) to automatically generate dynamic content. From one automated email HTML you can generate unlimited versions. How does it work? Well, you merge data into the live image, and we match that to rule and display the correct content. You can either setup a quick rule or match CRM data to content within a feed to automate content.


Here's an awesome example of welcome program automation from Bulk Powders. 


Automate the follow up stuff

If you're sending an email and you're planning to use the click data for targeting, use live tech to automate the content in the follow up. That way, you don't have to build tens of different email versions, one per click category. 


Automate inspirational stuff

Brands that work with a user generated content provider can quickly and easily automate the latest UGC content into any automated email. If you want to be really swish, build in a UGC section into your cart recovery emails  to automatically display a live feed of pictures your customers have posted containing the product that's been abandoned.


We strongly believe that marketers shouldn’t be spending unnecessary time manually updating content. That time is way better spent being strategic and giving love to BAU emails or setting up additional automations to engage customers – to increase revenue or re-capture it. Be efficient and make automations just that – automated. And if you still need more convincing, here's what Lauren Oliver, CRM Manager at Bulk Powders had to say:


“Our welcome journey is really important to us and we want to show our customers that we understand their needs. Using automated content and sign up data, we now personalize welcome emails by showing customers blog articles related to their specific goals and dietary requirements. Automating our blog content has reduced production time significantly as we can now quickly and easily populate blog articles for all 12 countries.”


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