BLOG Do’s and Don’ts of Email Workflows

Do’s and Don’ts of Email Workflows

POSTED BY The Prim Pack | Apr 27, 2022

A few years ago one of my son’s favorite toys was an electricity kit he received for his birthday. You’ve probably played with one of these. With just a few basic parts, you can create electric circuits that accomplish some really cool tasks: turning on a light, flying a little propeller, ringing a bell, and more. 

The thing about the kit is that it’s buildable: as you progress through the given steps, you’re able to build and achieve increasingly complex things. But if you get even one piece slightly out of place, the entire circuit will not achieve the desired outcome.

And that is one of the best pictures I can give you for email workflows.

We’ve talked about workflows before. It’s an important tool for nurturing leads and supporting them in their buyer’s journey. But there are some very specific do’s and don’ts you need to know if you are going to use them well.

What Are Email Workflows?

Email workflows are the building blocks of email marketing automation. Email marketing automation is like an electric current: it’s the process of creating and sending highly contextualized, personal emails to a contact in your database. These are not emails that are blasted to every person in your database: instead, they are sent to a very specific segment of your database based upon a shared action step, trait, interest, etc. Email marketing automation is like the circuit in my son’s kit. Instead of just letting an electric current be blasted everywhere, it harnesses the current to serve a very specific purpose. 

Workflows are the pre-determined triggered set of emails or actions that you will initiate based on these criteria. These are like the different connectors my son used in his electric kit: you need a current to follow one path to ring a bell that annoys your mom. You need it to follow a completely different path if you want to launch a propeller at your sister. 

Email workflows make sure you are sending the right email, to the right person, at the right time in their buyer’s journey so that they can rightly decide whether or not to trust your company. 

Workflows, however, don’t just involve external actions. They can also be triggers that are specific to your team. Here are some real-life examples of workflows you might use:

Some examples of workflows include:

  • Sending a follow-up email with your promised offer after a visitor fills out a form for it.
  • Sending reminders about an event or conference to visitors that have indicated they would like to attend.
  • Sending thank you emails after this event.
  • Updating a contact property so that the contact sees a different version of your page’s Smart Content on a blog or CTA.

These workflows can also help you automatically complete internal tasks, such as:

  • Notifying your sales team when a contact in your database fills out a form for a free trial, demo, etc.
  • Adding contacts to a static list of conference registrants that you can reference at any time.
  • Setting an internal contact property based on the actions the user has taken.
  • Automatically updating a contact’s status as they become a lead, opportunity, or customer. 

Just Follow the Instructions: Getting the Most Out of Your Email Workflows

Follow instructions

Any time you’re working with electricity (or electronic letters, for that matter) it is imperative that you follow the instructions. Otherwise, the results could be dastardly. 

While a kit for building electric circuits comes with specific instructions, with email workflows, you have to build your own. And it’s far easier than you might think to get them wrong, and then blow your entire email marketing strategy to bits. Here are some clear and helpful do’s and don’ts to keep in mind to help you create workflows that get the job done. 



Determine your goal for the workflow. It’s impossible to get where you need to be without knowing exactly what outcome you want to achieve.

Don’t start your email in your automation tool. Before you ever compose a thing in your software, plan out the path you want a contact to follow, each email that will be included, and any actions you will need to automate.

Set enrollment criteria. These are the qualifications or actions that need to be taken for a contact to be entered into a workflow.

Don’t write an email workflow that applies to every contact in your database. Every workflow should serve a specific purpose. If you’re just using your workflows as a sort of blast to all your contacts, you are definitely using workflows incorrectly. 

Set up un-enrollment triggers. Unresponsive contacts are a waste of time for your business. Have workflows in place to un-enroll contacts who haven’t interacted with your company for a specific time period.

Don’t focus on sales right from the start – focus on your customer. The point of these emails is to nurture a relationship with your leads that results in them becoming customers.

Start simple. Keep it scalable: start small and build up from there. This will keep you from making mistakes that cost both time and money.

Don’t forget to run test emails. Testing, data, analytics. These are the things that will take your workflow from a D to A/C. The more insight you have into how your workflows are performing, the more success they will have AND the more you can replicate that success with other workflows.


DON’T forget that you DO need to keep your email contact list up to date. Much of what you do in email marketing automation is dependent upon your contact list. Make sure you don’t have any duplicates, and that all contact information is accurate.

This is a Job for Professionals

There are some things in life and work that are just better left to professionals. Electricity and emails are some of those things. 

Your relationship with prospects is a very valuable thing. It’s important to nurture them well – otherwise, they’re going to look elsewhere for a company to meet their needs. This is where we come in. 

Our team doesn’t want to replace you. We don’t want to work “for” you. We want to partner with you to tell your brand’s story, help you generate the right leads, and nurture those relationships to help them become customers.

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About the writer, The Prim Pack

I'm Buffy the Bison! When I'm not strolling through the plains of West Texas, I am proud to represent Primitive and the digital craftsman it is home to.