Three Simple Funnels to Jumpstart Your Automations

For small business marketers, automation can be scary.

It’s not that you don’t understand the value of email automation.

You’ve run enough email marketing campaigns that you know they can have amazing ROI, as high as 38:1 according to Litmus’ most recent stats. 

Those numbers speak for themselves!

But when you look at much of the marketing automation advice out there, it makes you need to pop an Advil… extra strength.

Everything’s about setting up intensely complex workflows, a hundred different triggers, and enough if/then branches to scroll on forever.

But who ever said your own business needed all that craziness to succeed?

You don’t need to have long and complicated workflows for automation to win you customers. Those crazy examples are fun to talk about, but they’re NOT the minimum requirement for success.

Even if your long-term goal is to build out lots of different workflows and customer journeys, that’s not your starting point. It’s your finish line.

Every company, even behemoths like Amazon and their intimately targeted email recommendations (how do they know you so well?!), starts with a single automation.

A baby-sized workflow. A single triggered email. 

That’s all it needs to be!

Why Starting Small Wins With Email Automation

It’s way easier AND more strategic, to start small and build your workflows out over time, than it is to build a huge system before pressing “send” on anything.

Building out your marketing automation program one baby step at a time allows you to:

  • Break down your funnel building into more easier, less nightmare-inducing projects for your team
  • Focus on optimizing the top of your funnel, so you can play Fixer Upper on any leaks before moving contacts down to the bottom
  • Start earning conversions and revenue from your email list more quickly, instead of waiting until everything is written, built, and tested

That’s all more appealing than a uber-advanced, kajillion-step funnel, right?

If you’re excited to tackle the basics now, so you can move on to bigger workflows in your future, this post is for you. 

We’re going to run through a few of the easiest email automations to set up, including content plans for super simple workflows – all of which can be written in a day or less per workflow! 

That’s right, follow the content plans here, set them up with no complications in a Sendlane free trial, and you could have three different automations built in no time flat 

After that, you’ll be nurturing customers on autopilot and impressing your readers on a regular basis.

Ready to dive in?

1. Wow-worthy Welcome Sequence for New Contacts

One of the biggest missed opportunities in email marketing is ignoring how engaged brand new contacts are. You’re ghosting a new best friend in the making!

When a subscriber joins your list, you have their attention right now. 

Are you taking advantage of it, or ignoring new readers until they’ve been distracted by puppy videos on Instagram?

Welcome emails that go out as soon as someone joins your list help you build momentum on that first conversion to nurture and convert new contacts. 

What It Looks Like

Look at how Peloton’s welcome email helps them both engage and learn about their audience:

You want to keep someone’s attention until the moment they’re ready to convert, then swoop in with an irresistible targeted CTA.

That can be a final purchase, or a micro-conversion that moves to another section of your sales funnel.

You can also use this workflow to segment contacts based on how they engage with them. This helps you send more relevant and higher converting automations and broadcast emails in the future.

And I’m willing to bet this is the first sequence you’ll want to create and send contacts through. 

Get Started Yourself

You want to get a welcome sequence up and running ASAP. It’s like a Mario power-up for the rest of your email marketing, speeding up and supersizing results.

But don’t let the pressure get to you, because it’s also one of the easiest email sequences to put together, especially if you already have great content elsewhere you can repurpose from.

Here’s a sample content plan for a three-email sequence:

  • Email 1. introduce yourself and continue the conversation started in your opt-in. In this quick email, set expectations and get readers anxious and excited for your next email.
  • Email 2. take this new relationship to the next level and invite them to connect on other channels like social media. Don’t list every marketing channel you have, just the most important.
  • Email 3. show off your most popular products or content in a roundup-style email. Pro tip: This is an awesome opportunity to segment contacts by interest!

So simple, right? Sendlane even has an automation template you can use to get set up quickly:

It lays out the skeleton for you, so you’ll only need to add in the specific emails and tagging you want to include!

Once that amazing primer is out of the way, a great workflow to focus on next is your greatest hits sequence. 

And if you can believe it, this one’s even simpler.

2. Greatest Blog Posts Workflow

What do you do with a subscriber once they’ve gone through your welcome sequence but aren’t ready to buy just yet? Please don’t say nothing.

New contacts are usually new to your brand in general, so they haven’t seen your old blog posts, newsletters, and your other popular content. 

It’s such a shame!

To repair that, you can can remix and remaster your highest converting content into evergreen and automated emails to engage leads.

This is faster and easier than creating content from scratch, and it’s better for your contacts and bottom line, so everybody wins. 


Well, focusing on content that performed well in the past gives you an opportunity to optimize and improve already successful content, bringing you even bigger results.

It also keeps readers engaged in between sales promotions and broadcast emails, so you’re not always “selling.” Finally, it’s a fantastic, natural feeling way to segment contacts based on what they’re most interested in.

What It Looks Like

For example, here’s an email from Ahrefs pointing to some of their blog content:

This would be a great email to put in an automated engagement sequence! 

In addition to sharing useful, original research with readers, they could also tag anyone who clicks on the blog post as users interested in link building for future product development, customer research, and marketing campaigns. 

Helpful, right?

Get Started Yourself

If you already have a company blog, pick out five or so successful blog posts. Think about overall success in terms of your marketing goals like leads, not just pageviews or shares. 

Then just set up a basic workflow triggered by the event of your choosing, and your old content is working for you again.

Here’s a sample content plan:

  • Email 1. introduce your top educational, value-driven post
  • Email 2. introduce a popular post that mentions your product or service
  • Email 3. introduce a product-related post with an email P.S. containing a call-to-action to learn more about purchasing
  • Email 4. introduce another educational post
  • Email 5. wrap up with a list of a few other popular pieces

For each blog post, write a quick note that gets contacts interested in the topic and excited to learn more. In the Ahrefs example, Tim does that quickly by making people question a popular industry belief.

Before signing off, link to where your subscriber can read the full content.

Place this workflow wherever you need some extra nurturing in your customer journey, like after your welcome sequence:

For a segmentation power-up, tag contacts who click with any relevant information:

If you don’t have a blog to use content from, no worries! 

You can still take a similar approach with repurposing older marketing emails, editing and polishing them so they’re nice and evergreen.

3. New Customer Onboarding Sequence

Finally, let’s talk about what happens once you win a new customer. What’s their first impression after giving you money? 

So many brands neglect the first emails someone gets once they convert, which isn’t exactly starting the new relationship off strongly…

As email and retention pro Val Geisler notes, these kinds of emails, even transactional emails, are some of the biggest underdogs. “If you’re straight up pulling data from Stripe and sending it their way, you’re doing it wrong,” she advises.

To keep your new customers around long-term and maximize revenue, make sure you’re wooing them through their post-purchase experience. That means offering some personality, and more information than a generic receipt.

Make sure to help new customers succeed and tell them what they should do next.

What It Looks Like

For example, business CRM Honeybook points new users towards the next task needed to set up their account:

This workflow shouldn’t be long or complicated. 

It can even start out with an email I know you’re already sending: the purchase confirmation email.

Get Started Yourself

To build a starter sequence for customer onboarding, start with the purchase confirmation or receipt customers get as soon as they purchase. 

It’s probably pretty plain, right? Something like:

“Thank you for purchasing _________. Your order details can be found __________. You can contact us at _________ with any questions.”

Your simple workflow here will take that email and upgrade it, then continue the convo. 

Here’s what your content plan can look like:

  • Email 1. Edit your existing confirmation to something that gets customers excited to use whatever they just bought.
  • Email 2. Write a quick follow-up offering help. You can even point them to FAQs or helpful content.
  • Email 3. Once they’ve had time to try your product, ask for some feedback. Consider a survey or open-ended question to collect customer data.

To implement this, create a new automation triggered by a new purchase:

You can either create one workflow for all new customers, or segment new customers based on what they purchase.

Just remember today’s theme: start small now and build up later.

Start Automating Today

Take a second and go review those simple workflows again.

Do they seem as scary and complicated as the ones we talked about in the beginning? Do they make you want to hide under your desk or feel like they would take forever to figure out?

No, they probably have you excited to start improving conversions from contacts you’re already getting! 

And thanks to the simplicity of these sequences, you can start doing just that by this time next week.

Login now to get started, or sign up for a brand new Sendlane account and start building!

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Kristen Dahlberg

Content ManagerSendlane
As a member of the Sendlane content marketing team, Kristen focuses on everything from organization to content curation and process improvement. She enjoys variety and the challenge of learning the best way to accomplish each new goal.

Outside of work, Kristen spends as much time as possible at the beach, soaking up the San Diego sunshine!