email automation: AI hand reaching for a human hand

Automation plays a crucial role in scaling any online marketing and sales strategy. If you send a handful of emails manually for a short period, it probably won’t affect you or your business much. But if you plan to use cold emailing as a consistent and predictable source of qualified leads, it’s difficult to succeed without email automation.

When we talk about automation, it doesn’t necessarily mean automation software. Cold email marketing automation can also involve using virtual assistants and independent contractors. You can automate almost everything that is repetitive and doesn’t require special skills.

3 Benefits of Email Automation

Email automation: email icon on laptop inbox

Cold email automation does a lot more than just save you time and effort. Here are three ways emails automation benefits cold email campaigns:

1. Automated Email Follow-Ups and Workflows

Potential customers have tons of responsibilities. They may want to get back to you, but something comes up — priorities, emergencies, timing. You’ll never know if you don’t follow up.

With automation, you can set up follow-up sequences and specify the volume, delay, and schedule of each. This way, you can sit back and let the automated email software do the work. You can even set trigger points and create automation workflows where different follow-ups are sent to different prospects based on their actions or pre-defined conditions.

2. Easy Personalization

Imagine copying and pasting the first name, company name, and the city of each prospect into every email. It’s a tedious task. Email automation enables you to upload a lead list with all the necessary information. It pulls the required data and automatically inserts it into the respective placeholders.

3. Allows Testing and Analysis

If you don’t measure, track, and analyze, you don’t know what’s working and what’s not. For example, if you have low reply and conversion rates and you don’t have any data, you can’t pinpoint your problem. There are many possibilities — your emails might be landing in the spam folder, your subject line might look spammy, the prospects might not be an ideal fit, or you might have a weak CTA — it could be anything.

Email automation brings a data-driven approach, which not only helps find bottlenecks but also enables A/B testing. You can create campaigns with different subject lines, email bodies, and CTAs to find what’s best for your campaign. On the QuickMail dashboard, you can view and filter data from all your campaigns in one place and use it to optimize your campaigns.

Cold Email Automation Process

Hands typing an email on a laptop with email icons

Let’s discover how you can get started with automating cold email campaigns. Before you start, you need an email automation tool. You can choose from many email marketing tools, including QuickMail,, GMass…

Hint: We offer a few courses to help you master cold email campaigns.

Build a List of Prospects

In this first step, you create a buyer persona, identify lead buckets, make a list of companies, identify the decision-makers, and find their emails. Finding your niche is a one-time process that doesn’t require automation. Every other step in the list building process, from scraping lead buckets to researching prospects on social media to finding emails, is labor-intensive and is probably not worth your time. You can easily find experienced VAs on Upwork who can automate this step for you.

Write a Cold Email Sequence

Writing a cold email sequence is a non-repetitive step. Here are a few points to consider while writing a cold email series:

  • Use a non-spammy subject line: Subject lines should be relevant to your email message and ideally be personalized. Don’t use deception as it can get you high open rates but not many positive replies.
  • Keep your email body short and to-the-point: Your prospects don’t want to know about your awards or years of experience. They want real benefits that would help them grow and solve their pain points.
  • Personalize the message: Ultimately, your prospects would likely understand that they are a part of an email marketing campaign. A line or two about them makes them feel like you at least made an effort to learn about their business. Personalizing emails is time-intensive and is the only recurring part of writing a cold email copy. Try working with a VA to research and add personalization.
  • Check your spelling and grammar: You don’t want your prospects to think that you’re not a native speaker of their language. Double-check your cold email sequence, and use a proofreader if you’re not confident. Spelling mistakes can seem more human, but there’s no data on how much they affect the efficiency of cold emails.
  • Add credibility: Did you work with a famous company or a worthy competitor? Have you produced excellent work that’s verifiable? Mention it.
  • Include a strong call to action: Use a call to action that is precise, actionable, and ends in a question.

Set Up the Campaign in an Automation Tool

After both the ingredients are ready, it’s time to cook. Here are the steps to set up your automated email campaign.

Import Lead List

You can upload the lead list as a CSV file or import it from Google Drive or a CRM through third-party integrations. QuickMail makes it easier for teams to collaborate through Google Drive and Zapier integration. You can even verify the email addresses and personalize the sequence via Hyperise without leaving the platform.

Insert Placeholders to Personalize

The next step is to add your email template. Use placeholders to add personalization like a prospect’s first name, company, location, and job title.

For example,

Hi {{prospect.first_name}},

Congratulations on your new office launch in {{}!

Would appear in the email as,

Hi John,

Congratulations on your new office launch in Chicago!

Add Follow-Up Sequence

Your dream clients are busy people. So if they don’t reply to your email, don’t take it personally. There are tons of reasons why prospects will not respond to your emails. A lot of them have nothing to do with you. Many of us don’t follow up because we assume that the prospects don’t want to hear from us.

While optimizing the follow-up sequences in an email marketing automation tool, two questions usually come up:

  • How often should you follow up?
  • When should you stop following up?

Following up every day is too intrusive and seems desperate. On the other hand, spacing the follow-ups by two weeks or more is too casual and your sequence would likely lose momentum.

The best practice is to schedule your second follow-up 4-7 days after your first email. Schedule the next ones weekly, and if you don’t hear from them after a month, you can turn your cold email campaign into a drip campaign, sending emails once a month. Note that these are just recommendations. If a particular schedule works better for you, go for it.

There is no definite answer about when you should stop following up. Some people stop after a few emails as they feel it’s invasive. Prospects might unsubscribe and report spam, which would hurt deliverability. Some continue indefinitely as it doesn’t need extra resources.

Optimize the Campaign

The idea behind optimizing sending volume, frequency, and timing is to emulate human behavior — both for the recipients and algorithms.

It helps in maintaining high email deliverability. Sending 200 emails in a minute is a sure way to alert the spam filters. For optimum results, send 15-25 emails per day if you’re starting out. Gradually, you can ramp up to 50-100 emails per day. There is no fixed threshold — so keep an eye on your open rates for signs of a drop in deliverability.

Also, set the send time from morning to afternoon. It is a wide enough time window to properly space out the emails. You can run the campaign Monday through Friday as studies show no significant difference in open rates during different weekdays.

Things To Check Before and During the Email Automation Process

A lot of people use automation to scale up cold emailing quickly when they are not ready. If you’re running a cold email campaign for the first time, send a few emails manually before taking the automated route. If you’re new with automation, here are a few things that you shouldn’t miss.

Do Not Contact List

It would be awkward to send a cold email to a past or existing customer or prospect — especially if you’re offering a sale they don’t qualify for. You also don’t want to end up in your competitors’ inbox serving them your best email marketing strategies on a plate. If you have a sufficiently large prospect list, you don’t know who ends up there.

To be on the safe side, add a “do not contact” list to your email marketing platform. An easy way to make this list is to add every domain name that you have ever sent an email to.

Run a Manual Check

Often, when scraping lead information, some inconsistencies may creep into the email list. As a result, you may end up using the “LLC” or “Inc.” from the company name in your email — a dead giveaway that the email is automated. Or sometimes, fields have missing values that make the merge tags empty or take in irrelevant values.

Doing a manual overview of each step before starting a campaign can help you avoid embarrassing situations later. Send a test email to yourself to make sure everything is in place. When you read the test email in your inbox, you put yourself in the shoes of the recipient and find room for improvement.

Avoid Following Up on Colleagues

Imagine getting a reply from a prospect but your automated emails continue to follow up with their colleagues. This is one of the situations that show that email marketing automation can assist humans, not replace them. When you get a reply, make sure to add other prospects at the same company to your “do not contact” list. Or use the “Cancel colleagues” feature of QuickMail.

Get Your Sales Team Ready

Cold emailing is the beginning of the sales cycle. The bottom line is that automation works only up to a certain extent. You need your sales team to qualify, process, and close leads. If your sales team can’t handle onboarding clients and the volume of new leads, it’s a wasted opportunity.

Email Marketing Automation To Nurture Cold Leads

Business colleagues cupping hands around plant seedling

What happens when you don’t hear from your prospects? You either stop or nurture them. Lead nurturing is the process of building relationships with prospects regardless of their stage in the buyer’s journey. It’s a long-term process because the prospect might not be a good fit for your product right now, but as they grow, they may be happy to use your product.

As compared to cold emails, drip campaigns are less frequent, have a more subtle CTA, and pack more value in the form of e-books, white papers, videos, case studies, blog posts, and webinars. But the steps for an effective email drip campaign to nurture cold leads are based on the same principles as cold email automation.

Want to unlock the power of automation for yourself? Start a free trial of QuickMail for your cold email campaigns.