The What and When of Templated vs. Automated E-mails
When I am talking about the customer journey, I often mention templated and automated e-mails, and recently I realized that there might need to be an explanation of the difference between the two.
An automated e-mail is an e-mail that you create and setup once within your customer management system, and from there it is automatically sent out by the system based on preset criteria. The e-mail, each time it is sent, may pull in some personal information from database fields within the system (e.g. customer name), but you don’t have the option to add a personal message specific to that one e-mail/one customer before it is sent. For example, our final payment invoice is automated. As part of my system set-up, I created an invoice template and pre-set some criteria, and now, three weeks before each wedding, the system pulls the name, contact information, and amount due, creates an invoice e-mail and automatically sends it out… no remembering or reminder on my part needed. Thus, automated e-mails are the perfect option for e-mails within your workflow that go out at the same point with exactly the same message, independent of the type of customer or situation.
Of course in the personal business of weddings, there are usually multiple times within your workflow that you want to send particular e-mails, and while most of what you say in those e-mails is the same independent of the customer, often enough you want to add something to those e-mails, personalizing the message. This is where templated e-mails come into use (vs. automated). A templated e-mail is a perfect choice for an e-mail that you send often and most of what you say in the e-mail is the same every time. Yet before you send it, you want the option to add something to the standard message. For example, after we meet with a couple, we send a booking and logistics e-mail that thanks them for meeting with us, mentions how much we look forward to working with them, and links them to their contract. Because we send this same e-mail with the same basic message after every meeting, we could use an automated setup, however, since different questions and requests come up during each meeting, we want/need the option to personalize the e-mail before it gets sent. Thus we created a pre-written (templated) e-mail in our customer management system so that we don’t have to re-write it every time, yet we have the ability to edit the e-mail before sending.
So, if you have an e-mail that goes out at exactly the same time within your process with exactly the same message for every customer, create it, automate it, and pretty much forget about it. However, if you have an e-mail where most of what you say is the same every time you send it, but you want or need the option to personalize it, and even sometimes control when it is sent, template it.