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With only 7 percent of in-house marketers considering themselves ‘very successful’ with marketing automation (2016 Email Industry Census), you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s not worth the effort.

There is a significant difference with agency respondents, of whom 13 percent report the same result. However, it’s still not as high as you’d expect compared to all the automation buzz in marketing media.

Email expert Tim Watson had this theory (2016 Email Industry Census):

“The failures are occurring because brands are getting the technology for automation without understanding the strategy and resources that will be needed to make it successful. Simply buying the tool does not create a winning automation strategy.”

To prove that email automation can indeed be successful and when it is, it brings great results, we’ve pulled together some of the best stats, case studies and examples from 2016.

1. Personalised product recommendations using XML – Serious Sport is a company founded on the idea of personalisation, so when it came to using it in email, it had to reflect its brand values. Its product recommendations email suggests three products based on the customer’s previous purchase, current price, popularity and availability.

Result: £55 average order value and 146 percent uplift in average open rate


2. Recovering abandoned charity donations – Generally when talking about abandoned basket/cart technology, most marketers think it’s a perk for retailers. NSPCC proves them wrong with this automation superuse case study, by building abandoned donation campaigns, automating the content and the fundraiser participation journey.

  Result: £38 average recaptured donations

NSPCC failed transaction

3. Increasing event attendance with segmented journeys – Sleep is a free-to-attend event, so a big challenge for the marketing team is to maximize the number of pre-registered visitors who attend on the day. With a high conversion rate target, the team decided to automate nurturing journeys based on the registration type: VIP, regular visitor or registered by a colleague.

Result: 47 percent conversion target achieved and 76 percent higher click-through rates


4. Track customer value with unique promo codes – Evans Cycles wanted to build a relationship with its new customers as part of the order ‘thank you’ email. In order to encourage them to make an additional purchase and track their customer value individually, the company used unique promo codes in the follow-up email.

Result: estimated £27K additional revenue per year and 53 percent open rate


5. Converting a free trial into a subscription – The first 30 days after someone joins the Prospect newsletter is the critical period in which they are most likely to upgrade to a paid subscription. Despite having a small marketing team, Prospect nurtured its database with no less than 15 automated emails.

    Result: 3.4 percent of contacts convert in the first 30 days


Making email automation successful rests on the effort put into the planning stages, having clear objectives and desired outcomes, but also testing and optimizing as contacts go through. If you’re feeling inspired by the examples above, check out our extensive case study and Campaign of the Month libraries. You’ll find even more case studies on automation and other aspects of email marketing.