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The Evolution of Email Automation

Smartphone with new email message from email marketing software
Woman pressing an email icon with finger


Table of Contents

Email marketing and automation came from humble beginnings… The first-ever email marketing chain sent out on-masse dates all the way back to 1978 to sell digital equipment machines. Sending to around 400 email addresses, this seemingly unimpressive number was a monumental step forward in the world of marketing. 

In the 40 odd years that have passed since that first email marketing chain, a lot has changed in that world. For example, we at Xune have our own software designed just for email automation! The purpose of this page is to give you a tell-all about email automation. It’s history, what makes it such a beneficial tool for marketers today and how it has impacted different industries.


With the introduction of email automation happening not too long ago, the landscape has changed and continues to do so rapidly. While disbelievers think that an email is a dying form of communication, studies by the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) have found that 73% of consumers see emails as their preferred marketing channel. 

Email marketing and automation clearly have a long future ahead, so let’s get straight into it with the history of what we now know as email automation, followed by why it is so brilliant!

A Short but Sweet History (so far)

We can safely say that compared to other, ‘traditional’ and timely forms of marketing, Email marketing and automation is still fairly new. As already explained, the first-ever email marketing chain was sent some 40 years ago, with huge success I might add resulting in around $13 million worth of sales. Not bad for the world’s first attempt at email marketing! 

As time passes, the number of people with email addresses rises rapidly. In the early ’90s, the introduction of the Internet and the first free web-based email service (Hotmail) paved the way for personal email addresses that were free to everyone with a computer and an internet connection. This gave marketers the opportunity to communicate on an even bigger scale than before, a cost-effective method of gaining new leads and customers. Send out as much marketing to as many people as possible… As a result, the era of spam email slowly begins to appear. 

While the introduction of legislation to protect users from spam was introduced in 1998 and 2003, the first behavioural email was sent out in 2001. This is where we start to see the beginning of what we now call email automation and by 2010, almost half of online marketers are using behavioural based triggers to send out marketing emails to potential leads and customers.

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The Rise Of Email Automation

By mid-2010, the shape of email marketing had changed massively compared to what it looked like 10 years before. Email automation starts to take precedence as the best methods in email marketing. With the technology surrounding it growing constantly, the evolution of email marketing has revolved around the technology of automation. For large companies who rely on email marketing, the automation technology has become a powerhouse in generating leads, new customers, re-engaging old customers and ultimately generating more revenue with relative ease. From what began as a basic-text, manually sent email has now evolved into something far more advanced and getting started as never been easier.

 Now we will check out the evolution of email marketing and automation practices:

Responsive Email Marketing

Email marketing and automations have now evolved by taking mobile users into the forefront of their efforts. With over 50% of consumers preferring to open emails on their mobile devices, and with mobile accounts for 46% of all emails opened, having your emails being responsive to mobile devices is key to being successful.

While creating a responsive email for mobile was a difficult task in the early 2000’s it is now very much possible and is seen within email marketing and email automation efforts. Evolving to suit this need makes the automation process seamless, with the technology available, you can create a marketing email automation that is responsive for all devices, without making drastic changes to the layout.

More interactive, Personalised and Engaging Than Ever Before.

With the introduction of CSS in 2014 combined with HTML evolved email marketing and automation into something that has become highly interactive. The interactivity of an email has become one of the most important aspects of email marketing and automation, with it being predicted that in 2022 there will be over 347 billion emails sent daily, getting an email to stand out has never been more vital. 

This has resulted in email marketing and automations being tailored to catching the eye of the potential reader. It is not good enough to just personalise your emails with their name, now, the emails have a need to be humanised and seemingly created for that specific user.

With well-written emails and well-created automations, this can be executed perfectly and once that has been done, you can expect your readers to respond positively to your marketing efforts. 

Using engaging methods, such as witty subject lines, GIFs and eye-catching CTAs are all efforts to direct your readers’ attention to where you want them to go. Whether that be for a conversion or for them to respond to your email. How you measure the success, is up to you but remember – Engaging and interactive content is now the bread and butter for effective email marketing and automation.

Want to know more about automation software?

Want to know more about email automation

The Benefits of Email Automation

As you have already established, we love email automation! We love it so much that we decided to post monthly round-ups of everything in the world of email automation. In our first edition, we went over the benefits of email automation, this blog was for those who are trying to see if email automation is really for them and their business (the answer is always yes), so we highlighted a wide range of pros for everyone to see. The biggest benefits that should convince anyone to get email automation are as follows:

  • Increase in customer loyalty
  • A platform to re-engage customers
  • The ultimate time-saver


Increase In Customer Loyalty

The idea of email marketing automation is to send the right message, to the right people at the right time. When you send an email via automated email marketing you will send relevant streamlined content to hundreds, no, thousands and thousands of contacts at the click of a mouse.

This content will be packed with personalisations and perhaps offers that have been tailored to the contacts that you have chosen. Your contacts, seeing these fantastic offers and relevant content you have sent, they will be filled with delight knowing that your business is interacting and engaging with them with the stuff they love! Once delighted, your audience will be more inclined to visit your site regularly, purchase the products you’re selling, or even promote your business! A benefit that makes email automation a no brainer.

Re-engage your customers

Business obviously goes through phases of growth and stagnation, during this latter phase customers may stop interacting with your business. It’s no secret that levels of customer loyalty have dropped. However, with email automation, you can set up personalised and segmented emails to target the right people and the right time. With this, consumers who view emails personalised to them are far more likely to re-engage with your business again.

The Ultimate Time Saver

Enrolling thousands of contacts into relevant marketing email automations at the click of a mouse is immensely satisfying, it’s also a great time saver! With automations you can optimise and change them on the fly, with a few simple clicks, leaving you more time to focus on other aspects of your business. Email automation is a great way to perfectly cover one area of your marketing with minimal effort.

infographic benefits of email automation

How Does it Help with Lead Generation?

As we have already established that email automation is a great marketing tool, reaching contacts far and wide. These contacts that have expressed interest in what you are offering are called leads. 

The benefits that we have already discussed help businesses lead generation so much so that email automation should be considered a no brainer for businesses with this goal in mind. 


More specifically, there are two important ways that email automation helps lead generation for a business:

Generating Awareness

For leads or potential leads that are not totally aware of your brand, email automation can help you guide these contacts into becoming loyal customers. This is done through generating awareness via your email automations.

Using your automations carefully, you can inform your leads about new products and services that you are offering. Or for those who are not eCommerce led, you can use these emails to offer additional resources to your leads.

Building Brand Credibility

A key objective to ensure the longevity of your business. Building brand credibility strengthens the relationship between you, your business and your customers. Having perfectly crafted email automation sequences that are tailored to the specific needs of your audience builds trust between you and them. The more targeted and well thought out your automations are, the more your audience will respond positively to this.

The more trust you create, the more credibility your business has, customers, will treat a highly credible business fantastically by referring you to their family and friends. This is good why? Well, studies show that when potential customers are referred to by a friend, they are 4x more likely to make a purchase. Needless to say, you build a great email marketing automation, you build your brand.

Business woman looking at a mailing list

How Does it Help With eCommerce?

We have already touched on how email automations can help with an eCommerce business, but there are some automation techniques that are specifically tailored to aid an eCommerce business and help it grow exponentially.

Better Targeting with Improved Segmentation

One of the best ways that email automation helps an eCommerce business is through segmentation. Segmentation is the grouping of your current contacts based on certain conditions or factors. With email automation today, you can create highly sophisticated segmentations based off an almost endless variety of conditions. For eCommerce, two perfect examples of segmenting groups are: based off of their purchase history or the products they have looked at on your site.

This way you can target groups to the highest level of specificity possible, so you can send the right automations to the right people at the right time.

Retention/Revival of Sales

Now, this may sound similar to one of the benefits we discussed earlier but for an eCommerce business, it is fundamentally different. Using the segmentation that we have just discussed, we can retain sales from customers by sending out timed automations based off of their purchase history.

If a certain time has lapsed since a customer’s last purchase, depending on the type of eCommerce business, you can send out an email to remind them to repurchase with your business. This works perfectly for eCommerce businesses who sell products that have a ‘shelf life’. 

For those who have not had a contact engage with them for a certain period of time, you can use automations to bring them back to you, or ‘revive’ their customership.

You can do this by sending a timed automation with offers of ‘help’ or even a coupon to entice them back to your business, the best thing is… email automation will run this all for you while you can focus on other parts of your business.

Did You Know?

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Want to know more about email automation?

Still Not Convinced?

You’ve gotten this far along and you’re still not sure? Of course there are pros and cons to email marketing, well, in the second edition of our email automation series, we broke down the stats and facts to convince a sceptic of email automation.

So, if you’re a marketer and you’re unsure about email automation, it’s history and it’s benefits think about this… According to research, using automated emails can generate up to 320% more revenue than if you didn’t use automated emails, a monumental statistic! To top it off, as of 2020, 52% of marketers say that it’s emails that are producing their highest Return On Investment (ROI). 

Now that studies are showing that 75% of marketers are using at least one automation tool and with the number of companies introducing email automation into their marketing, we suggest you get ahead of the curve and join the trend. 

The cost of getting the software versus the potential return is just something that shouldn’t be comparable for marketers. A no brainer for those who are wanting to level up and achieve maximum growth through marketing.

A series of facts regarding email automation

Where Do We Go From Here?

Email marketing and automation have not finished evolving, not by a long way off. So where will it go? Quite frankly, the possibilities are endless. Marketing emails and automations will become more and more relevant and personal to the reader than they already are, with emails being sent based on the most specific of user behaviours. With the goal of email marketing and automation being to send the right message, to the right person, at the right time, this will only become more doable as the system evolves.

As a Digital Growth Marketing Agency, we have taken onboard email automation with open arms, like similar agencies – we know that using email automation has an evergrowing potential for an increased ROI and so we always encourage clients to use email automation software. 


As matter of fact, we have our own email automation software, [email protected] This powerful software can create an endless scale of automated marketing emails based off of user behaviours and actions that apply to you. If you have yet to invest in an automated email system, then why not look at what we can offer you?

See How Email Automation Can Help You

Xune's automate service can benefit your business and boost your email marketing campaigns, why not find out more.
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