Convert Visitors to Customers with Automated Email List Workflows

Inbound marketing is a process that leads visitors into paying customers, in a way that focuses on offering value and building relationships, opposed to hard selling. One technique to achieve this is by using automated email list workflows. This essentially means preparing a series of emails in advance that resonate with your audience, which will lead them from a visitor to a customer, or to take an action that you so choose. Setting up your funnel the right way will ensure optimal success. Here’s how to get started with setting up your email list workflow.

The Purpose of Email Workflows

An email workflow is series of automated emails that are sent based on an email contacts behavior. This ensures they get a tailored message that is relevant to them and where they are in the buyer’s journey. The objective of an email workflow is to “warm up” the user and then get them to take an action, such as download an offer or make a purchase, or to move them to the next phase in the buyer’s journey.

Mapping our your Funnel

There are many tools out there that can help you visualize the user workflow. We use Moqups. There are also tools such as Drip and Click Funnels, that not only allow you to visualize this process, but set up the automation directly with their tools.

Getting Started: From Visitor to Email Submission

The user comes across your website in some shape or form. Typically it’s from search engines, a referral, or social media. From there the user will likely land on your homepage or blog, but this can vary by company. At this point, the user is just a site visitors. But we want to get their email so that we can start leading them through our user flow. There are essentially two ways this can happen:

  1. The user likes what they see and opt-in to your newsletter. You should always have somewhere on your site where your user can voluntarily sign up to opt in to your newsletter. Not doing so is a missed opportunity.
  2. Create an enticing offer that they can download in exchange for their email. A worksheet, ebook, and white paper are all examples of potential offers. Remember, you want an offer that resonates with the user, so keep the topic in line with something that will actually be of value to them.

Once the user downloads the offer, you should automatically send an email that includes access to the offer, as well as another email that sends the following day asking the user if they have any questions. It’s that added step that shows you care and may prompt users who haven’t looked at the offer in the email yet to take a look.

The Workflow Funnel: From Email Submission to Action

So you got your email – perfect! Now, we want to start leading the user through the workflow. Remember, a workflow funnel is just like dating. You don’t jump to the proposal. It takes time. You want to user to get comfortable with you, build some trust, offer some value and speak to the users needs. From there, that’s when you can go in for a request to take the desired action.

The series of email you’ll want to include, depends on how big the call-to-action is and how complex it is. Typically 5-7 emails in a series should be good. It’s often said that it takes 7 points of contact before a user is comfortable converting. So, keep that in mind.

Here is a possible flow:

  1. Email #1: Speak to the users pain points, along with hitting on their emotions.
  2. Email #2: Speak to aspects of solutions, without selling. This shows authority without selling. Give them useful information so they feel like they’re getting something, without giving it all away.
  3. Email #3: Show how someone overcame these pain points.
  4. Email #4: Show authority in the space. Ie how you helped someone overcome their pain points via a testimonial or case study.
  5. Email #5: Get them thinking about what their options are for a solution to their problem.
  6. Email #6: Promote/ Drop the offer you want them to opt in for.
  7. Email #7: Add urgency to the offer – why they should buy now and not wait. Perhaps it includes a limited time bonus or the offer disappears after a certain time
  8. Email #8: Last call to opt into offer. Speak to that pain point, how you’ve solved that pain point in the past, and speak to what makes you the best person to solve their pain point.

Throughout each phase in the workflow, add an email option based on which action to user does or does not take. This applies only where applicable, i.e. for email #6, if they sign up for the offer right away, you don’t need to keep sending them reminder emails to sign-up, and those emails can stop there.

The Craft of Writing Email Copy

When writing emails for your workflow, keep a few things in mind:

  1. Include a compelling subject line. If the subject line doesn’t appeal to them, they aren’t going to open your email
  2. Always remember that every single person isn’t going to read every single email. Maybe they get eight emails from you but only open email #4 and email #7. Make sure your emails are written in a way that the user can still understand what you’re saying without having to read all emails.
  3. Format it properly. Use heading, bullet points, bolding, etc. Try to make the email easy to digest.
  4. Make it all about them. Use the words “you” or “your” more than “we”, “me” or “I”.
  5. Be personable. Use their name, speak to their specific pain points.
  6. Think big vision and not specifics. I.e. people don’t buy nice luxury cars because they need to get from point A to B, they buy it for the feeling of feeling special, for being apart of a certain class of people. Touch on that emotion and big vision and ultimate goal vs the specific.
  7. Keep it short and to the point. People don’t have a lot of time. You need to recognize that most people will just skim your email instead of reading all of it.


After the user goes through the email funnel they will have converted, based on the action you requested or they will have not. You need to have an additional plan for those that convert and those that didn’t. Perhaps you retarget the non-converters with targeted Facebook ads, or move them to a funnel that requires less commitment and investment from the user. Ie. maybe the user needs more time to establish that relationship with you via offers, blog posts, and newsletters.

Test. Analyze. Revise.

Now comes the fun part. Test, analyze, and revise. After your running your email workflow for a week or month or so, go back and check the performance of emails. Things to consider:

  • What is the conversion rate?
  • At what point in the email process did the user convert?
  • Which emails have the highest open rates?
  • Which emails have the lowest open rates?
  • Compare the high performing and low performing open rates. What’s similar, and what’s different. Try to think why one may be performing better than the other.
  • Where are people clicking? Consider factors such as placement, colours and size of CTA’s. We find that at Growth Labs our image-based CTAs perform better than text based CTAs. Some studies even find that certain colours impact click-through rates.

Based on these insights, think about where you can make tweaks to test performance again. Make the tweaks, run another test, and see if the changes result in better or worse results. From there it’s a series of A/B testing aka testing, analyzing the results and revising the emails based on that information.