Best Practices for Email Automation

Oct 10 2018

Why use email automation?

The tools available today are highly effective, and the variety of technologies and capabilities keep growing, but email marketing is still the king of ROI in the marketing kingdom. In my opinion, IBM Watson Campaign Automation is the leading email automation tool available to marketers today.

Email marketing relevance can be seen across a number of industries and companies. After all, 92% of online adults use email, with 61% using it on an average day.

But how does email automation work best? On this blog post, I will list the best practices using IBM WCA. I recently shared these simple Questions and Answers using at the IBM Watson Marketing User Group in Toronto.

Email marketing remains one of the best ways to generate leads and convert prospects because it allows a personal, direct channel of communication between the company and its leads. Combined with marketing automation, this power of interaction only increases.

Here's a sample of my version of IBM WCA email automation best practices:

If you are looking for the answers... email us at:

1. How many emails should be in a Welcome series?

  1. None, let them fend for themselves
  2. 1, give them all the information, including the kitchen sink
  3. 3-4 emails
  4. All of the above

2. How do you know if your emails are effective?

  1. Look at click-through rates and open rates over time
  2. Using A/B testing and monitoring metrics
  3. Todd from Accounting liked it
  4. A & B

3. How can you best target customers in the Prairies in your scheduled mailing

  1. Use dynamic content, personalization, and personalized send times
  2. Ask a cowboy to hand deliver the mailing by horse
  3. Manually create a targeted email with every send
  4. None of the above

4. Which tool can you use in WCA to help you determine who your best customers are?

  1. What is WCA?? Never heard of it
  2. Use the Behavioural Scoring Model including Activity, Recency, Frequency, Past Purchases
  3. Using built-in sophisticated query capabilities within WC
  4. Both B & C

5. How often should you send an abandoned cart email?

  1. A series of 3 emails including: one hour after abandonment, 24 hours after abandonment,6 days after abandonment
  2. Every 30 minutes until they buy
  3. Never, forget them
  4. A series of 2 emails including: 24 hours after abandonment, 3 days after abandonment

6. Which fields in your database would you use to target customers who have purchased in the last 30 days to offer them a discount on their next purchase?

  1. Latest purchase date
  2. Latest purchase date & total number of purchases
  3. Latest purchase date & favorite sports team
  4. None, offer everyone a discount

7. How can you ensure that someone who unsubscribes from your newsletter doesn’t receive future emails?

  1. Ensure that you have an unsubscribe link attached to all of your emails and a suppression list has been associated with your database
  2. Ask the customer to change their email address
  3. Delete the customer record from the database
  4. None of the above

8. What is the fastest way to determine the success of your last mailing?

  1. Susan from Winnipeg made a $10 order so must have been great!
  2. Export all data into a CSV file and have the intern evaluate
  3. Ask Watson, “how did my last mailing perform?
  4. All of the above

9. Your creative team wants everyone to be on the same page when designing the customer experience. What tool could best serve this purpose?

  1. Use Program Automation to visually create a seamless customer messaging flow
  2. Use Customer Journey Designer to create a virtual creative brief with real-time collaboration across teams
  3. Buy walkie-talkies for everyone on the team so they can easily collaborate in real- time
  4. Who cares about the customer experience? That’s so 2017!

10. Your biggest competitor just opened two mega stores near yours. What is a great way to ensure that your customers still shop at your stores?

  1. Stand outside the competition’s store and drag the customers back to your store
  2. Email your customers 4 times a day to remind them to come back
  3. Create fake news about the competitor and post on social media
  4. Use Geo-fencing to target any of your customers through SMS when they’re within a certain radius of the competitor’s store

11. You created a lifetime value model, and now you’ like to leverage that to target your best customers. How can use this information in WCA?

  1. Export your data into Excel and merge it using vLookup and pivot tables
  2. Import the information using a relational table and use it to segment your database
  3. Can you really place a value on someone’s lifetime?
  4. This is way too complicated, I quit

12. You’ve created a new template with dynamic content and you want to ensure it will render correctly across all segments. You need to:

  1. Create a set of test users including all permutations of the dynamic content that each template can be sent to
  2. Send it to your grandma, your uncle and your baby brother
  3. I’m sure it’s fine. Send it out and hope for the best
  4. Using the quick test feature, send it to your email address and change your profile settings before each test

Email Automation can be a highly effective way to reach your customer. However, it's essential to keep up-to-date with all the tools today since it’s changing at lightspeed. Feel free to contact me at to find out more.

Author: Lewise Hiltz