9 Simple (But Powerful) Automated Email Sequences For Service Businesses

By Joel Widmer | Email Marketing & Automation

Jul 11

I got an email from a client the other day with an urgent subject line.

I quickly opened it and was glad I did.

Turns out he was ecstatic about the email sequence we built for him.

His sequence had just helped close 3 clients in the past week AND it cut his time spent with prospects before signing by two-thirds! (Which saved him 3 hours per prospect!)

Today I want to talk about how you can do the same thing with email sequences, no matter your industry.

Marketers like to make automated email sequences sound complicated, but they don’t have to be.

The secret to a great email sequence isn't so secret, it's just being as helpful online as you are in person.

The secret to a great email sequence is to be as helpful online as you are in person.

Click to Tweet

An email sequence is nothing more than some or all of your sales process distributed through a series of emails. It anticipates questions and objections, and delivers resources your prospect wants throughout their journey.

The only difference is you set the pace and can monitor your prospect's progress along the way.

Here’s our technical definition:

Email sequences are series of emails automatically sent from your email marketing software (EMS) based on pre-defined triggers. I use the term “sequence” loosely here. In some cases (like transactional emails), the sequence is a single message. In other cases, a sequence may have seven or eight emails separated by scheduled delays.

In this post, I’ll show you 9 simple but effective automated email sequences that service businesses should use.

1. The Welcome Sequence

The moment a subscriber opts-in to your email list is the moment they are most interested in your brand. That’s the moment they’re most likely to read whatever you serve them, so take the opportunity to serve them value, relationship-building content.

In this sequences (it could be a single email or a series), the goal is to personally introduce the new subscriber to your brand. This is NOT the time to sell them something. Your goal is to make them know, like and trust you. Introduce them to your brand on a personal level, give them a tour of your best content, and teach them anything they need to know to get the most value out of your messages.

End with a call to action that encourages them to make a purchase or take the next step in your sales process. NOTE: You don’t have to push a purchase. This could simply be asking them to join you on a social media channel or answering a short survey.

2. The Training Sequence

The goal of this sequence is to teach your new customers how to get the most value out of your service.

For example, A web app teaches users how to use different features to get the most out of the app. A medical office coaches patients how to prepare for their appointments. A law firm teaches clients about their lawsuit process.

This sequence not only helps your customers use your service, it can even eliminate customer support overhead. By proactively training new customers, you’ll answer fewer questions and spend less time educating them one-by-one.

Ready to put these sequences into action? 

Grab our free email sequence template pack below to start building your automated email sequences!

Click To Download The Free Automation Sequence Template Pack

3. Purchase Reminders

The customers of many industries have predictable buying habits. Purchasing might happen on a cycle or in relation to their previous purchase. If you can predict their behavior, it’s smart to remind them to buy so they place their order with you.

For example, a doctor’s office can remind a patient it’s time for their yearly exam and offer a method to schedule an appointment. A boutique marketing agency can remind its clients in September to get quotes for their holiday marketing campaigns.

9 Simple (But Powerful) Automated Email Sequences For Service Businesses. 

Click to Tweet

These reminders should happen automatically based on triggers. That doctor’s office, for instance, would set a trigger for each patient eight months after an appointment to schedule their next yearly exam. That marketing agency would set a September 1st trigger to email anyone who hadn’t scheduled a holiday campaign.

Your reminders can be a single email or multiple emails, just be sure to end the sequence if the customer makes a purchase.

4. Re-engagement Sequence

Sometimes subscribers fall out of touch and need a little reminder. Re-engagement sequences are perfect for reminding your once active subscribers you’re still here and still care about them. These are usually triggered after a subscriber has been inactive for a certain period of time, say 30 days.

For example, you might declare that a subscriber who hasn’t logged into your web app’s account for 30 days to be inactive. Once an account reaches inactivity, the re-engagement sequence sends content designed to get them back on your website (maybe with a special offer or bonus).

Other examples of re-engagement sequence triggers include not purchasing for certain amount of time, not clicking or reading emails or Not visiting your website.

5. The Upsell Sequence

Your existing customers are the easiest to sell to. They already trust your brand, so half your battle has been won. It’s especially important to upsell your customers if you sell different types of services or higher priced plans/subscriptions.

An upsell sequence identifies people who have made a recent purchase and are likely to make another purchase or upgrade. The sequence then sends promotional content or offers that clearly show the value of the additional purchase.

You can get as dynamic as you like here. For instance, you might send one sequence to people who use a basic version of your service (attended one appointment, spent less than $X, purchased the Bronze Plan, etc.) and another sequence for power-users (appointments every week, spend more than $X, use the Platinum Plan, etc.).

6. The Evangelist Sequence

Your biggest fans and customers are a tremendous resource and often undervalued. You can use their good will to promote your brand and bring in new sales.

Create a list of your most active, engaging fans. You might select people who often open and click links in your emails, people who regularly fill out forms for gated content, people who visit your website regularly, or people who participate in events, like webinars, Twitter chats, etc.

Then create a sequence of emails that encourages them to submit testimonials, sign up to be interviewed for a case study, or share your content on social media. These people love your brand, so they would happy to contribute.

7. The Lead Nurturing Sequence

I’m willing to bet that very few of your customers decided to purchase after their first interaction with your business. In fact, according to Salesforce, it usually takes six to eight touches with a prospect to generate a viable sales lead.

The purpose of lead nurturing is to present yourself as an expert and authority on your subject. You want to make your leads comfortable trusting you with their problem.

Your general broadcast emails (recent blog posts, upcoming events, promotions, etc.) will nurture your entire list over time. But it’s smart to send special content to leads who are warmer than average.

Featured Download

Get the free Email Automation Sequence Template Pack and start creating powerful email automation sequences for your business!

Click here to download: Email Automation Sequence Template Pack

Similar to the evangelist sequence, you can identify people who are especially interested in your brand by how they’ve behaved. If they’ve signed up for multiple pieces of content, they’re warm. If they’ve signed up for content that indicates intent to buy (like a product demonstration or pricing guide), they’re warm. If they have directly contacted you with product questions, they’re really warm.

Warm leads should receive middle of the funnel content (product-related materials to help them make a decision) to push them into the bottom of the funnel.

8. The Onboarding Sequence

The purpose of an onboarding sequence is to help the subscriber reach a certain point of value with your service. It’s similar to the training sequence, but has a very specific end goal.

For example, a software product that helps users schedule social media posts knows that the product’s value isn’t realized until the user actually schedules a post. So the onboarding sequence walks the user through the steps to schedule a post.

To get this right, you must first figure out your user's desired outcome. What problem are they trying to solve? Once you know the answer to that, you just have to lead them to it.

9. Transactional Triggers

It’s good practice to email your customers when they take a significant action on your website (or with your brand in general). For one, it’s a record and confirmation of a successful transaction. For another, it helps create an email-based relationship with the customer so they open your future messages.

Send a receipt, invoice or confirmation anytime someone makes a purchase, subscribes to a new list, or achieves a milestone (like activates a feature or gains a website permission). You also use transactional emails to deliver requested content or otherwise direct the user back to the website.

Get Started with Email Sequences

Building your own email sequences is easier than you’d expect. All the modern email marketing platforms like have interfaces to build email automation sequences based on triggers. Some of our favorite platforms are Active Campaign, Drip, and MailChimp.

The sooner you start using automation to engage with your list, the sooner you’ll take advantage of one of your most powerful assets.


About the Author

Joel Widmer is the Founder & CEO of Fluxe Digital Marketing—a content marketing shop that helps smart businesses create, produce and promote their content through a unique one-on-one interview process. When he’s not working, Joel can be found trying new restaurants with his wife and son.

Leave a Comment:

(1) comment

[…] For instance, if we learned about a new type of email sequence that every business should use, we would add it to our article on automated email sequences. […]

Add Your Reply

Leave a Comment:

We Do the Work, You Take the Credit

Get our best marketing strategies every week to grow your business.