Creative Email Marketing


Marketing Automation Mastery: Where It Works and Where It Hurts.

This is Part 1 of our 6 Part Marketing Automation Mastery Series. If you want to see all the topics we cover in this series, click here.

Still hazy-eyed and sluggish, you take the first sip of coffee to start your day.

Ahhh… sweet, sweet outsourced energy.

You boot up the computer, which miraculously lights up without any caffeine coursing through its circuits… unimaginable.

You open your email and are immediately bombarded with dozens of brands trying to steal a minute of your attention. They’re selling something, and you probably aren’t buying.

But wait, there’s one that jumps out!

It’s your favorite newsletter! Like a benevolent beacon cutting through the ocean of noise in your inbox, you click it right away and devour it quicker than the burning-your-tongue-but-still-worth-it-coffee in your hand.


…that is exactly what we’re getting into today. Because chances are, to most of your leads and customers, your emails aren’t getting such a welcome reception.

Shouting Into The Void

There’s a phrase in marketing that rings true here: “Try to speak to everyone and you’ll speak to no one.”

You’ve been on the wrong end of this with messages that clearly were broadcast to everyone without any interest to you personally. 

What happens? 

You lose interest. You stop reading the emails. You move on.

In the bank account of your attention, they made a withdrawal instead of a deposit. 

In the modern economy where attention is worth more than gold, you can’t afford to burn out your audience with one-size-fits-none messaging.

Let’s Get Personal

Take a second to think about what emails you consistently open – the emails that give you that little digital dopamine drip whenever they pop into your inbox.

Undoubtedly, that brand earned your enthusiasm by doing a few things well:

  • They speak to YOU. Their message resonates and probably feels like they took a peek at your private diary.
  • The content is valuable. Whether it’s entertaining, informative, or just engaging, you actually get something out of it.

  • They respect your time and attention. You aren’t getting pitched on a promo every day telling you to buy their newest widget. Occasionally, they’ll let you know about a sale or new product… and when they do, you’re excited to see it, even if you don’t buy!

You probably send emails to your subscribers, too.

But let’s get really, brutally honest…

Are your readers spitting their cherished cup of coffee all over the monitor in pure joy, “YEAAAH! I’ve been waiting for this!” 

Probably not.

In fact, most likely they’re just deleting it. Take a look at your open rates and tell me if I’m wrong.

Put the “Custom” Back In Customer

Hope you’ve got your pocket protector and notepad ready. We’re dropping some statistics:

When it comes to tailoring your content at an individual level:

  • 78% say personally relevant content from brands increases their purchase intent. (Source)
  • 87% of consumers say that personally relevant branded content positively influences how they feel about a brand. (Source)
  • 63% of consumers said they’d think more positively of a brand if it gave them content that was more valuable, interesting, or relevant. (Source)
  • People are 75% more likely to open emails that are personalized to their interests. (Source)

In other words, just about everybody wants and expects you to be leveling up your marketing and speaking to their needs. And if you do, they’ll reward you for it in the form of loyalty, referrals, and positive reviews.

Here’s an example from one of our highly personalized email automations:

I’d say that’s a solid argument for the power of personalization.

But what happens when an overly ambitious amateur automator goes rogue? 

Personalization Gone Wrong

Hi {{subscriber_firstname}}, thanks for reading {{blog_name}}! Here at {{company_name}} we’re so glad to see that we can help you with {{product_category}}.

Ugh… okay, if that misguided Mad Libs makes you sick, I’m with you.

Whenever you see those terrible templates, I’m guessing the immediate thought you have is something along the lines of, “automation is so impersonal. It’ll never replace real human contact.”

Well, even though I agree with you, we’d both be as righteously right as we are woefully wrong.

Automation is like a hammer…

You can use it to build a house, or you can use it to whack yourself in the head.

Digital tools just exaggerate the effect, so you can build a boatload of houses…

Or you can hammer your head into oblivion with a level of ease you’ve never imagined… and likely won’t imagine again after that bevy of blows to your brow.

When it comes to using automation to standardize and supercharge your marketing, it’s important to make sure everybody stays on the happy end of the hammer. 

Where Automation Works

Using the tools we have available with modern technology, we can do some pretty incredible things while freeing up time and resources. Let’s see where automation shines.

Staying Connected

Your subscribers want to hear from you… assuming you treat their inbox with more respect than a promotion dumping ground. If you’re doing a great job connecting to your readers, your sales, reviews, and testimonials will reflect it.

The goal of any customer-centric company is to create more fans – people who love what you do and will recommend you to their friends and family. This is by far the most profitable, sustainable, and enjoyable way to grow a business.

By staying top of mind and providing regular engaging and helpful content, you can automate a big chunk of the workload for serving up your best content to the right person at the right time.

Automation, in this case, doesn’t remove the personal touch, it puts it back in.

Cutting Out Redundancies

Anything you find yourself doing over and over again could be a prime candidate to automate, especially if it involves manually entering or monitoring data.

Let’s say that you use an email marketing platform or CRM for keeping up with your leads. Every time someone comes in, you may have a set of manual tasks you need to do. Sending out a welcome email and asking for more information, getting them to schedule a follow-up call, or making sure they open and sign your proposal.

There are a million things you may be manually doing in your business. That’s exactly where automation can come in and take a load off your plate.

Tip: Look for anything you do every day or multiple times per week and do a quick audit on how much time you spend on each repetitive task. Take the top 3 time consumers and look for automation solutions.

Eliminating Human Error

This one is self-explanatory but worth drawing attention to. Any time a human is moving data around, things are going to get messed up. Computers, on the other hand, are extraordinarily reliable… when not in the hands of your grandparents.

“Yes, you have to plug it in first Peepaw…”

You’ll often be able to set up integrations that will seamlessly pass information between different platforms and ensure that there’s no loss of quality or accuracy.

Collecting Data to Make Informed Decisions

There’s no need to wing it anymore. Data is here to save us from the hail Mary marketing mess of throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. When it comes to making important decisions, use data.

Automation allows you to collect information about subscriber behavior, interests, and opinions that can guide your decision-making process and ensure that you’re giving them what they want.

Educating the Subscriber

If you’re in the business of educating your audience, then you know… they’ve got a lot to learn. But that doesn’t mean you have the time or capability to provide that education to every single person.

Luckily, technology does.

With automation, you can design a customer journey (more on that later in this series) that learns, adapts, and provides ever-improving levels of personalized educational content and resources to every single person who lands on your list. 

Where Automation Hurts

Truth be told, just like the painfully cookie-cutter emails you see every day (and the 37 robocalls you received before lunchtime), automation can be used poorly.

Here are the most common ways I see well-intended businesses make fabulous flubs:

  • Using “email blasts” that aren’t tailored to the audience.
    “Check out our new line of cute maternity pants!”
    [18-year-old very-not-pregnant guy] “Um, no.”

  • Sending only transactional sales/promo emails.

  • Messing up the technology (e.g. wrong emails, wrong time, wrong person).
    “Sorry to see you go ?”
    [Happy customer] “Where am I going?! Hank, did you pay the mortgage?!”

  • Not connecting the digital experience to the in-person experience.
    “Welcome to our amazing fitness family!”
    [Front desk person staring at their phone] “Sup.”

  • Over-automating and coming across totally impersonal.
    “Hello {{member_name}}. You matter to {{company_name}}.”
    [Any reasonable human] “Wow, they care SO much…” ?

Fortunately, the pitfalls pale in comparison to the benefits of proper automation. 

Set up a solid system, refine it, test it, and use it to make data-driven decisions. Do that, and I won’t make you hand over that hammer.


Take Action

Look at all of the email broadcasts (or if you have it, automated emails) that you’ve sent your subscribers over the last couple of months. Count how many of them were focused ONLY on adding value to the reader. That means you aren’t telling them to buy, sign up, call, or do anything that ultimately serves you.

If the percentage of value-only emails is less than 50%, you’re damaging the relationship with your audience. Write out a strategy to create more value rather than just to extract value. If you need ideas, ask your audience! They’re not afraid to tell you what they want.


Marketing automation is powerful. In the right hands (and with the right approach), proper automation can turn a great idea into a viable business.

But as with almost everything in business, the devil is in the details. You have to know what, when, where, why, who, and how for everything before diving in. This is absolutely true with marketing and automation.

If you’re just starting out, find the most automatable tasks in your business to start there. As you free up resources in one area, be intentional with how you allocate them into other areas. Later in the series, we’ll talk about the best way to use that time you free up to create incredible, memorable, and lasting experiences for your subscribers and customers.

Now that we covered where you should and shouldn’t use automation, let’s dive into how to use automation the right way.


We help mission-driven coaches and personal brands grow their businesses by mastering their marketing.

Co-Founder of MAJiK Marketing. As an Email Marketing Master, Creative Copywriter, Business Builder, Exceptional Experience Engineer, Joe loves helping turn great ideas into thriving businesses. Click here to work with Joe.

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We’re a strategy-first email marketing agency that helps you master your messaging, build lasting relationships with your customers, and create email strategies and systems to grow your income and impact.

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