Email automation can be used to create robust email campaigns that trigger when an action occurs—for instance, when a customer makes their first purchase or visits a specific page on your website. This allows you to send targeted emails that help nurture the relationships you have with your subscribers.

And as all smart marketers know, sending an email to the right person at the right time is the key to email marketing success.

Yet, many are hesitant to adopt automation into their marketing strategy for fear of coming off as cold or robotic.

But just because your emails are automated doesn’t mean they should lose the human touch. Here are three ways automation can actually bring you closer to your subscribers so you can connect with them on a deeper level:

Deeper insight into customer behavior

First things first: automation requires you to know a lot about your customers.

“Big data” gives us a very limited view of our customers. Open rates and click-through rates are nice to know, but having robust customer profiles that allow you to segment your audience based on data derived from behavior, demographics or transactional history can take you even further.

I’m talking about going beyond buyer journey: rather than simply knowing what your customers buy, it’s important to know why and how they use it.

When you gather all of this information, you’ll be able to paint a better picture of who your customers are and send them content based on their needs.

This kind of deep understanding into who are customers are allows us to use automation to provide value at all stages of their journey.

Pro-Tip: Add a survey to your welcome email inviting new subscribers to answer a few questions about their preferences upon sign up. This helps eliminate the need for asking too much up front.

More contextual experiences

It’s common knowledge that personalization is key when it comes to delivering content that your subscribers resonate with. Automation allows you to get more personal with your emails, sending fresh, valuable content to your subscribers. After all, relevance is key to engaging visitors and delivering experiences that enrich their journey.

There are so many ways to personalize your emails beyond {!firstname}. We love how this example from Fab reminding a customer that an item is still in their cart.

For retail brands, abandoned shopping cart emails are a powerful sales recovery tactic. This form of automation triggers allow them to engage with customers who made it to the last phase of checkout, but didn’t buy. While the goal is to get the customer to complete the purchase, these emails still feel personal because they’re based off of the customer’s actions.

Here’s another example from Thread of an automated email that prompts the subscriber to complete the sign up process:

Pro-Tip: The key to making these emails sound more human is to use language that resonates with your audience. Avoid sounding like a robot. The voice and tone of your messages should always come across as if a real person wrote it (because they did!).

Provide better customer support

When you set up automation triggers that send messages to your subscribers at key points in their journey, you can take advantage of its powerful functionality as a tool for customer success.

As we mentioned earlier, automation allows you to paint a better picture of who your customers are. And knowing more about them and their behavior can help you identify where there may be gaps to fill when it comes to your content.

Think of your triggered emails as a concierge that delivers hyper-personalized, relevant content when the subscriber needs it. Smart automation keeps you ahead of the game.

Pro-Tip: Automation shouldn’t replace real human support, but rather enhance it. Try sending follow up emails to help guide new customers through your product or service and include links to contact a real, live human where appropriate.

Email automation best practices

Automation is not one size fits all. Keep these best practices in mind when developing your email automation strategy:

Create segments: With segmentation, you can send relevant content to specific groups of subscribers. By sending personalized content to select people, your messages will feel innately more human.

Watch your language: The easiest way to identify an automated email is by analyzing the content. If the tone comes off cold and stale, it’s a dead giveaway that the message was automated. Find ways to humanize your emails by injecting doses of your brand personality.

Resist the urge to automate everything: Does your campaign flow make sense? While automation everything might seem tempting, it’s best to take a step back and ensure that your emails trigger in a logical order. When does it make the most sense to re-engage your subscribers?