Creating a Perfect Email Sequence: Types, Best Practices, and Examples to Use in 2024

Perfect email sequence with a hand pushing a domino sequence to illustrate

Have you ever signed up to receive emails from a company? Of course, we all have!

You know how they start emailing you, addressing you by your name, and then slowly start to offer you to purchase things that you may (definitely) have searched on their website? And they might do it over several emails, but never all at once?

If you know what we’re talking about, then you know what an email sequence is — one of the most essential, most important, and most useful elements of automated email marketing. 

In this article, we’ve taken a plunge into the world of email sequences and what they could mean to your email marketing operations. 

What is an email sequence?

An email sequence is an automated series of emails sent to different segments of your email list according to a predetermined schedule. 

That means to create an email sequence, you have to write your email series upfront and then set it up in an email automation software to follow up with your prospects’ behavior. 

This makes an email sequence one of the vital components of your email marketing strategy. Because it’s revenue-focused and automated, you’ll never have to click on “Send” again once you set it up. 

Types of Email Sequences — Trigger-based and Time-based

Looking at the prospect behavior, we can identify two initial types of email sequences: trigger-based and time-based. 

Trigger-based sequences depend on the subscribers’ behavior directly, and they are launched based on their actions which include:

  • Their decision to subscribe to your list,
  • Browsing habits,
  • Content preferences,
  • Shopping cart abandonment, and
  • Purchase history.

When you set up a time-based email sequence, you need to look at time patterns related to your subscribers’ behavior, not specific actions. That includes sending them emails at different intervals to keep them engaged and maintain your brand awareness.

The times marketers usually consider are:

  1. Shortly after subscription,
  2. One month after the last purchase,
  3. Subscription anniversaries,
  4. 6-month inactivity period.

You can create and set up both trigger- and time-based sequences only once, launch them, and see how they perform. 

What are the advantages of an email sequence?

The biggest advantage of a well-crafted email sequence is sales increase. If you follow the best practices, segment your audience right, and launch diversified automated campaigns, you should see your revenue grow. Smart email sequences can turn strangers into followers and then — customers, especially if you address specific problems they may have or incentivize them by offering discounts or deals.  

To break it down, the main objective of automated email sequences​​ is to:

  1. Promote sales,
  2. Engage with customers,
  3. Retain customers,
  4. Cultivate brand loyalty.

Depending on their purpose, you will determine their content, timing and length. 

How long should an email sequence be?

There is no rule to this, as some sequences are longer than others. Both their duration and number of emails depend on what you’re trying to achieve, and the focus changes based on whether your business is B2B or B2C.

For example, a welcome email sequence should never be long, but a re-engagement sequence or a business onboarding process might require more steps and effort. 

Is drip campaign another word for email sequence?

No, not really. An email sequence is a broader term than a drip campaign, and it also implies a different approach. 

Drip campaigns are predetermined; they don’t require in-depth list segmentation and don’t change based on the subscribers’ behavior. They cast a wide net, and you can send them to all prospects at times. For example, they can be seasonal or triggered by a subscription. 

While both email sequence and drip campaign can have personalization and represent series of emails, they are not identical. The only real difference between them may be that you can end an email sequence early based on actions or upon achieving a goal. Further, email sequences are much more personalized; they mainly depend on proper list segmentation and closely follow up with specific customer behavior. 

We could say that some drip campaigns are, in fact, email sequences as well, but the terms are not always interchangeable, and you should use them knowing what each of them implies. 

Standard Email Sequence Examples You Need to Know 

The easiest way to understand email sequences is by looking at examples. Every time your prospect reacts to your content, you need to follow up with a clear goal to keep them engaged or sell. 

Different types of email sequences come in several standardized formats that you can adapt to your needs. Let’s take a look at them:

Welcome email sequence

Giving someone a warm welcome is more than a nice thing to do!

A welcome email sequence is your first chance to seal that good first impression you left on a prospect convincing them to sign up. Imagine it as a chance to open your door to your new customers and make them feel good about receiving your messages. 

Creating a welcome email sequence, you should:

  • Give your subscribers a warm welcome
  • Let your new subscribers know what to expect and how often you intend to email them
  • Emphasize the value of your emails by showing your expertise 
  • Incentivize them to buy by giving a first-purchase discount or by giving a free sample

Make an effort to condense your messaging into 1 or 2 emails without doing any hard sales. Your new subscribers should experience a soft landing, a warm welcome, and curiosity to explore further. 

Onboarding email sequence

When you welcome a new prospect, it’s a good idea to start a conversation over a glass of their favorite drink (or the digital equivalent). 

Therefore, your customer onboarding email sequence can start when properly triggered in a welcome sequence. In this email series, you should let your prospects know more about your products and services and direct them to the right addresses allowing them to look for more. 

Your goals are to:

  • Make new prospects understand what your product is and how to use it,
  • Establish expertise in a friendly manner,
  • Convince new subscribers to start using your product,
  • Provide support throughout the process. 

You should keep the benefits and advantages of your product in focus while you woo the subscribers to either start a free trial or book an appointment. Provide social proof by sharing customer experiences and success stories and offer different incentives such as free trials, discounts, or other deals. 

Abandoned cart email sequence

Did you know that 60-80% of all shopping carts get abandoned? It’s more likely a person will fill up their shopping cart and leave your website than not. 

Still, the fact someone is spending time on your website browsing through goods and even filling up their cart is a clear indication they are interested in what you offer. They are leads, and leads can convert into customers! That makes an abandoned cart email sequence one of the most important email marketing tools you will ever make. 

Before you do, make sure to optimize your checkout process and make it secure, revise your pricing policy, and polish the overall customer experience. Even then, people may go shopping on your website for fun. Or they get interrupted and just forget to finish the process. And that’s OK because you can recover more than half of that lost revenue by using email marketing. 

Usually, an abandoned cart sequence has 3 emails:

  1. Within 24 hours — a reminder they forgot to complete their purchase;
  2. Within 48 hours — a friendly reminder and a follow-up question to see what went wrong;
  3. Within 72 hours — a small discount to push the sales through. 

It’s possible, of course, to stretch the cart abandonment sequence and time it differently to harmonize with your industry standards and list segments, as well as to add more emails to it if you find it necessary or useful. 

Re-engagement email sequence

Did you know that it costs 5 times less to create a paying customer out of an inactive subscriber than to acquire a new one? That means it’s smart to use re-engagement email sequences to reconnect with old customers. 

In crafting a re-engagement sequence, you should keep in mind that your customers are likely to return if they like your product, so engaging in conversation is essential. You can create an engaging email series with different goals in mind and either notify your customers of a certain event or news or make them an offer in the form of a discount or a free sample. 

You can diversify your re-engagement email sequences according to different email list segments and think of multiple ways to trigger positive behavior. Should your customers remain silent, ask for feedback and, ultimately, remove them from the list if they remain idle.

Enhanced Sales Email Sequence

You can use enhanced sales email sequences to upsell or cross-sell similar products to existing customers, engaging them to purchase more expensive items or services. Approach writing such a sequence with a lot of tact, asking what their purchase experience was and how you can help them further. Then, make a comparison of the product they like and offer something even better or recommend something they may like or need. 

For example, if a customer purchased a stroller for a child, offer them a matching parasol or diaper bag as well. Or if they booked an accommodation through your page, offer them guided tours or experiences at their travel destination. 

Relevance and finesse make upsell email sequences successful. 

Lead nurturing email sequence

As CRM email sequences, lead nurturing email series serve to guide your prospects through their customer journey and create customers out of them. Using these emails, you should target engaged subscribers who have not converted yet and design triggers to help them modify their behavior toward the purchase. 

What you need to do to convert a prospect is:

  • Spread brand awareness
  • Establish authority in the industry
  • Establish trust 
  • Build a customer relationship
  • Follow up

Lead nurturing email sequences are particularly effective in a B2B environment where businesses take time to commit to a purchase and want to see their investment is worthwhile. 

Event Email Sequence

Time-based, an event email sequence should notify your prospects of a certain online or offline event or a date they should be aware of. This includes all types of events, but also subscription renewals, special occasions, or holiday-related events. 

As you can expect, emails in this sequence notify the subscriber before the event happens and then follow up after it occurs. For example, if there is a webinar, you want to announce it, invite people to register, remind them to complete the registration, and then follow up with a recap and perhaps ask for their feedback. The same goes for renewals because it’s crucial to remind your customers their renewal is up and attach another offer they may want to add to the existing package. 

A pre-event sequence consists of announcements and reminders, and the post-event sequence is oriented toward engagement and sales. A common practice in event email sequences is a time-limited replay to create scarcity and drive conversion.  

Depending on your industry, events can mean anything, which is your starting point in crafting effective event-based email sequences.

How to Write an Email Sequence — 7 Best Practices 

Creating an email sequence means that you have to think of many different components. First, you need to know your audience, then what you want to achieve, and finally, what the best way is to go about it. 

There is no universal template for a correct email sequence, but here is the right order of thinking points and components your business can use regardless of your industry.

1. Define the objective of your email marketing sequence

When you know what your goal is, it’s easy to set up the path leading to it. For example, an onboarding sequence should build trust, while a renewal email sequence should remind your customer to pay for your services (and perhaps expand their package a bit). 

When setting your goals, you should be mindful of the following:

  1. The context: You should know what segment of your list you’re targeting. New customers won’t have the same trust in your brand as your regulars.
  2. Expectations: Based on their behavior, you will know what to expect from which segment of your customer pool. This will help you set up the type of email sequence you need.
  3. Tracking: Find the best way to track your email sequences in your email software to determine whether your goals are just and achievable. 

Once you have your goals set up, move to the next step. 

2. Specify triggers

Setting up the correct set of triggers is the key to successful email sequence automation. We have to tell our software when and how to react to get the result we want, and the information about what to tell it you’ll find in, what a surprise — customer behavior.

This means that as you’re crafting the sequence, you’ll have to specify a set of conditions that need to be met for a follow-up email to launch.

For example, triggers can be:

  • When a person subscribes,
  • When someone downloads your digital product,
  • When they make a purchase,
  • When they sign up for a seminar.

Depending on what you’re communicating, you’ll know what trigger to start with. Make sure your emails are as personalized as possible, pinpointing the exact actions your prospects made. 

3. Design the structure of your email sequence 

Before you launch it, you need to determine the number of emails your sequence will have, how you will time them, and how long it will take for a prospect to receive all of them (unless they trigger a stop with an action). This will help you track and measure the effectiveness of your sequence and enable you to improve it later. 

To give you an example, welcome email sequences are naturally short, while re-engaging an old customer is bound to take longer. It also depends on whether you run a B2B or a B2C operation and what your goals are. 

4. Create content 

Now that you have your goals set and your structure in place, it’s time to write up those emails.

The most important parts of your sequenced emails are:

  1. Subject line: This is what grabs prospects’ attention, and it has to follow a logical order of the sequence.
  2. The message: It needs to be clear and concise, with proper links and pathways you want your audience to follow. 
  3. CTA: Without the call-to-action, your emails won’t be clear or effective. 
  4. Email design: Make sure your design is in line with your message and brand.  

Once you write your emails, it’s time to set them up. 

5. Build it in email software

Enter email software! 

The core of email sequences is automation, and you can’t do that without proper email software. While there are many email service providers you can find online, they all specialize in different areas of business. 

For example, Campaign Refinery specializes in providing premium email service to large-volume senders. This makes us a company that addresses B2B  businesses and helps them improve their email marketing performance. 

Our email builder will enable you to craft the most original emails with dynamic components for better tracking and our automations to configure sequences, goals, campaign links, and other elements. 

Automation is at the heart of our business, as we offer not only a simple way to craft the most elaborate email sequences but also an automated list cleaning and expert support that lead our customers to success. 

Once you’ve automated your email sequence, move on to the testing phase. 

6. Test Your Sequence

When you create an email sequence, especially an elaborate one, it’s crucial you know how it behaves and if the triggers are working correctly. That’s why you need a test audience to see whether everything is working as you want it to. 

After you’ve tested your new email sequence, you are ready for launch. 

But there is one more thing to remember: tracking!

7. Email Sequence Tracking

Email marketing is a numbers game, and everything must be tracked. Tracking your email sequences will allow you to know how they’re working, if they’re achieving the set goals, and provide insight into how to improve them. 

Many of these sequences can last a long time if set up properly, so it’s best to learn from them, make tweaks, and learn from errors while focusing on long-term email marketing results. 

Build a Re-Engagement Email Sequence Template With Us

We believe in learning while working, so we’ve decided to share an example of a re-engagement sequence you can build yourself. Our short guide will take you through all the components you need to have to craft an effective email series. 

Find Dormant Prospects

Firstly, you need to identify dormant prospects in your email list. Mark them and create an email list segment to re-engage with. You can go even deeper and create segments of idle subscribers based on the inactivity period. 

Send an Email with Good News

Next, create an email in which you can share the exciting news about your company, a new product or service and remind them of your business. If your dormant subscribers run in small numbers, take time to research them individually and, if applicable, congratulate them on their news, appearance in the media, good reviews, or any other success. 

Follow Up with a Helpful Email

Once you’ve expressed interest, you should follow up with an email filled with content that may be helpful to your prospect. Research what they may be interested in and craft a personalized recommendation. 

Ask for Feedback

Should they not reply, you can ask for feedback and even ask if they are interested in your business. Don’t sever the connection just yet, but give them a bit of time. 

Ask Permission to Close the Ticket

Before you remove them from your list, ask for permission to do it. You can be tactful and say you’re closing all the inactive tickets for the month and you wanted to check if they are still interested. If there’s no reply, remove them from your list. 

In case of a reply, engage as fit.

Read Template Metrics

Finally, read the metrics your sequence gave to learn from them and see if you need to add or take away a component for a more successful future re-engagement series. 

Find the Best Email Sequence Software 

We know finding the best email sequence software for you is essential to creating successful email sequences. That is why our experts endeavored to make Campaign Refinery a premium email marketing service that can launch your email marketing operation straight to Mars!

We focus on delivering the best email service on the market to companies that send millions of emails per month. 

We’ve helped clients with underperforming, bulky email lists that brought in zero dollars reach sky-high revenues in record time. One of them got to $3.6m in the first 12 months!

How do we achieve all of this?

By keeping it simple and sticking to what counts: clean email lists, immaculate sender reputation, and best practices in email marketing.

Click here to try Campaign Refinery today!

How do I set up email sequencing with Campaign Refinery?

Years of experience and experimentation went into creating Campaign Refinery software, and we never lost the user from focus. That’s why our team endeavored to craft an exceptionally clean and easy-to-navigate UI that allows you to create email sequences for any type of campaign. You can choose to create a new email sequence from scratch or to edit an existing one by selecting the campaign type from a drop-down menu. 

A detailed guide is available in our documents section, leading you through the process step by step. Using a Sequence Editor, you can add or edit events, and you have the option to start your sequence with the event of your choice, according to the campaign you’re creating. Finally, sliders make it easy to rearrange the order of events if you need to.

Should you get lost along the way, our support team will be happy to help you find your way and create your most effective email sequences with Campaign Refinery

Email sequences are a fundamental part of email marketing because they helps you convert leads into customers gradually and successfully without having to create new emails daily. We hope the best practices and examples we shared will help you get new customers and enhance your email marketing operations.

Happy emailing!

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