6 Myths & Misconceptions about E-Commerce Email Automations

In this article, we’ve discussed six misconceptions relating to email automations that need to be addressed and proved wrong.

Robbie Fitzwater
Updated on

Let’s put the rumors to rest that keep holding marketers back from bringing their email automations to life. This is one of the things that separates good and great marketing systems. So do yourself a favor and dive in!

As a business person, you might have come across many warnings and stories
relating to automation, and many “experts” might have suggested that you should
not use this marketing tool, giving very solid reasons for that.

But guess what? Most of these stories is reasons that you came across are
either myths or misconceptions, which are depriving you of many benefits and
cool outcomes of using email automation.

  1. What is Email Automation?
  2. Why is Email Automation Important for E-commerce Businesses?
    1. More Consistent Revenue
    2. Connecting Content with Context
    3. Orchestrates Unique Customer Experience
    4. Digital Petri Dish
  3. 6 Myths of Email Flows and Why It’s Not True
    1. Difficult to Create and Manage
    2. Solution for Bad Data
    3. For Everyone? No.
    4. “Too many” emails
    5. Consistent Performance
    6. Perfection from Day One
    7. Replace Your Workload
  4. Conclusion

So let’s see these misconceptions and how they have truth to them in this article!

What is Email Automation?

E-commerce email automation, also known as email flows, are the emails sent based on specific triggered audience behaviors. They perform a particular action; they get a particular email. These emails containing different messages and notifications are placed strategically at various customer journey stages. 

So if they open an email that may trigger another email, they may start a sequence that would be based on a person’s behavior, i.e., these would be highly personalized emails. This means that you connect them to content that is aligned with the context of who they are and what they are doing. 

This is a very powerful E-commerce marketing strategy as it is a highly relevant and personalized way of approaching a customer and a very effective way of dialing in exactly what you want somebody to receive at the right time. This may also help you orchestrate your customer journey and nudges the audience toward the direction or the behavior you want to see in them.

So for businesses, it becomes more effective if they do it on a higher level and automate it to a certain level, at certain times, and at specific points where they’re more likely to take the next step. Similarly, in e-commerce businesses, as it doesn’t function on one-to-one interaction, this automation allows a lot more personalized interaction, which is valuable for customers because it may make them feel heard.

We also have a blog about our baseline automations, so if that’s something you are interested in, check it out!

Why is Email Automation Important for E-commerce Businesses?

Most business people are always asking questions like why automation is essential for e-commerce. Therefore, we have listed some prominent factors that make them important.

More Consistent Revenue

So firstly, automation in email marketing brings a significant amount of revenue for the business, which may also compound over time. So if we use automation wisely and effectively by increasing and improving them over time, we can see an increasing rate of return.

If you want to know your potential revenue and see your baseline income level, we have an incredible calculator that might help you in many ways, as well as a blog on how much revenue you should be generating.

Every automation is effective on different levels, but if we can do that at a high level, we can consistently raise the baseline level of revenue we will be earning from that automation.

If the automation you’re using and improving brings a good amount of traffic every month, it drives more and more incremental revenue for those given months. Any small or high-level improvements can also increase the baseline level of revenue month after month.

Suppose we introduce automation that makes $2,000 extra a month; we have our baseline plus those $2000. If we present another one, that will be our new baseline.

Then in the next month, there was an additional $3000, further increasing our baseline. So we’re just raising our baseline once after month after month after month.

So, this way, if we can raise it $2000, $3000, $4000, over a few months, that adds up well and fast, and in five months, we’re making $9,000 more monthly.

And that consistency is nice in that it offers a lot of predictability, a lot of value. But again, this all depends on understanding the customer journey and what behaviors we want to see at different stages that will drive a little bit more revenue.

Connecting Content with Context

Another benefit of using automation is connecting context to the content, i.e., ensuring that the right message is sent to the right person at the right time. And this is something that doesn’t happen in typical marketing campaigns.

This helps align and coordinate the information we have about our customers and the behavior we want to see in them. We can leverage that to make our interaction with the audience more to the point and relevant to their need.

This means that the type of content being sent to them is relevant to the stage of their customer journey that they are in. For example, we may send a second-time purchaser a different kind of content than a first-time purchaser. This kind of interaction adds value to the customer.

Orchestrates Unique Customer Experience

One of the other advantages is that, as mentioned previously, automation can orchestrate a unique customer experience at different stages of the customer journey. 

So we look into our email marketing ecosystem and use automation that drives the customers down the path we want to see them on.

Ideally, we need to understand that ideal customer journey based on the different needs of the customers (like preferences, tastes, and business). For example, whether we want to get more people in terms of purchases, i.e., to improve the number of individual purchases, or do we want to drive lifetime value through subscription opt-ins?

Digital Petri Dish

Another huge and valuable component in marketing is our ability to test and optimize automation.

Patrick Star testing - Spongebob

It is done by sending one-to-one messages to the customers based on insights relating to them, such as their behaviors and actions. Again this is highly contextualized.

Sending various messages like these will help us understand the value of different automation designs and types by comparing the responses of the audience to each one of them.

For example, suppose we’re seeing people responding to different value propositions in one version of automation versus another version. In that case, that will give us insights into how we can gradually improve and evolve the design we’re using.

Consider your automation testing as a digital Petri dish that assists you in constantly improving and iterating your content. This offers you the opportunities to grow and improve your business constantly.

So again, if we introduce new automation over time, we can understand the different behaviors we want to see. And also the amount of effort we will put into those. This can help build a process and a system for introducing new automation and then reverse engineering to get the desired behaviors.

So first, we have to be clear on our goal while introducing this automation.

Do we want somebody to come back? Do we want somebody to make a faster repurchase? Or do we want to compress the initial sales? And do we need to combine SMS with our email automation?

All these things can be done while testing and experimenting with automation, and this would eventually help in improving your business by adding to it more value as well as more revenue; as we talked about earlier, if we can increase that $9,000 over five months, that is going to be a consistent baseline level of additional revenue every month. So that $9,000 over a year turns into $108,000. So as a business, it seems very profitable.

For more information on testing email automations, we have a blog on A/B testing here.

6 Myths of Email Flows and Why It’s Not True

Now moving on to the focal point of this article, we will talk about some of the myths and misconceptions regarding automation and see why they are not valid.

The Goldbergs Teacher GIF By ABC Network

Difficult to Create and Manage

The first myth is that automation is challenging to create.

However, this is only partially true; you can also use your old content for your new automation.

For example, if you have used content for campaign emails, you can reuse it for your automation. You have to find a way to automate those campaigns and fit that context into the customer’s journey. This way, you can use the foundation you have already built and get the most out of your existing emails.

However, if it is not possible to do so and integrate the campaign data into automation emails, this is where testing and experimenting come in.

We never know what will work and what will not, so we take our chances in experimenting and collecting the data.

Solution for Bad Data

Some people think they may be a silver bullet solution for insufficient data, for example, data silos or uncleaned data. And it is difficult to use this data as it is difficult to contextualize it according to different needs.

So it just makes it a little bit more complex, a little bit less resonant at different levels because we can’t make up for that insufficient data.

Thus, cleaning that data, ensuring you have accurate sources, and aligning different data sources across the organization help here.

Also, the email service provider we’re using is crucial, such as Klaviyo. It is an effective tool for this as it eases the way to build flows through a system, but they connect with various API connections.

So a lot of your different data sources should be plugged into here, such as your customer service data, loyalty program data, Shopify data, or big commerce data.

If you would like to learn more about data and how to use it, we have a blog about first-party data.

For Everyone? No.

One of the other misconceptions about automation is that people believe it will go to everyone. This is not the case, and only some people will get it.

These should be sent to a narrow window of people based on behaviors they’ve exhibited. The more narrow they are, the more contextual they are, and the more they’re, the better they will perform again.

The difference between an automated email and a quick campaign or trust-based email is that you will send this to a very narrow window of people over a given time horizon.

Want to stop sending emails to everyone? Learn more about the best email segmentation strategies here.

“Too many” emails

In fact, in some cases, there is also this typical element of self-consciousness: if you send too many emails to a person, they might start getting annoyed and hate you. So you end up sending only one email per week.

This is not true. There is a chance someone might not even open your every email. So it is acceptable to send repetitive messages to your audience as long as they are relevant to them and will ultimately help them.

These are meant to add value beyond the transaction. These are intended to assist them and hold their hands throughout the walk-in, customer journey, or purchasing journey.

There’s no such thing as too many emails. There is such a thing as too many bad emails, but hopefully, if you’re not falling into that camp, you should be fine.

Consistent Performance

Apart from this, believing that your automation would work the same throughout the year can also be considered a misconception.

In some businesses, which depend on seasons or months of the year, the revenue generated varies. Thus your automation may also perform differently at different times of the year. They may bring different amounts of traffic during different periods of the year.

Seeing this, you can also avail the times when traffic is not at its peak, and maybe in a season where you’re not having a ton of people coming in, you can test and experiment with your automation to have a little bit better performance during your big and heavy seasons.

Perfection from Day One

Another thing you need to take care of is that you don’t want to be right on point and perfect from day one. You won’t nail it all on your first experiment. You would have to go through a long process, after which only you could nail it.

And for that, you’ll have to take all the risks of sending different mixes. You can’t learn anything until they’re sent.

Be sure that you don’t bombard people’s inboxes, but don’t let too many precautions prevent you from unleashing your content in the world.

The more learning and the more improvement you can be doing over time, the better your position will be in, in the long run.

So if you find out that a particular value proposition works so well with a specific audience, you can bring that into your social channels and get this into your top-of-the-funnel ads. This is precisely what’s going to be pulling people through.

Replace Your Workload

One of the last misconceptions is that this will replace all your other workloads. But this cannot be the case as, if you’re doing this well; you’re not; it’s not just like a set it once and then forget it.

It’s like your website, which is constantly evolving, like an entity. So you can’t just leave it be. You need to be consistently improving, tweaking, and insistently changing, or else if you had a perfect site in 1997 and you let it go till today, you’re not going to have a perfect site according to today’s times.

So these need to be evolving. These need to be changed. And it would be best if you thought about ways to introduce more of it, optimizing and improving again and again.

Considering that a particular version worked for one audience, it could be experimented on all or some other audiences, or seeing that this works particularly well with one group. You could branch out and build a specific fork of automation for that particular group.

“It’s not going to replace what I’m doing right now, but it’s going to be able to expand what I’m doing.”

Robbie Fitzwater

So once you introduce one automation, you can layer on top of that new automation instead of manually doing all of that. This adds more and more value over time.

So using the same example as before, if you can introduce a $2,000 automation, additional $3,000, or an additional $2,000 over time, that adds up, and that’s a monthly recurring activity.

This is one of those systematic ways you work to move a needle and build some more predictability into the system. If you can do that over time, it will help the business evolve and thrive because you’re prioritizing these based on the revenue.

So you want to have a pretty stable, steady level of effort over time, but this will be an area where you’ll evolve, change and improve over a long window of time. And the longer you do this, the more insights you’ll have.


There are a lot of misconceptions or myths about email marketing automation. E-commerce is a unique space where there’s no perfect way of doing everything. So it will vary by business and by situation by marketplace or industry.

But the more you unpack and understand what email flows, email automation, and personalization and how it impacts these, the more you’ll understand how to improve them.

Also, the confidence of the business person counts as very crucial too. The less intimidated a marketer is around that automation, like an improvement, curiosity, and insight, the more this person will be successful in this space because nothing will be perfect from day one.

You need to be able to live inside that testing and experiment grounds since the people that are doing it effectively are the ones that are doing the best work with this.

And that’s where some of the actual innovation happens because if you know your customer so well that you understand precisely what they need at different stages of that customer journey, those are going to be things that allow you to align and orchestrate this customer experience to make that journey more detailed, a little bit overall improved.

And that’s where we will see the most revenue and value in the business over time.

I tried to summarize all the well-known myths and confusion regarding email automation in this blog with as many details as possible.

But still, if there is any confusion or anything I missed out on, feel free to ask away, and don’t forget to give your feedback in the comments below!

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