Having an email marketing strategy is a necessary facet of any well-rounded marketing effort. Despite new technologies and platforms popping up at every turn, email has been around for nearly 40 years and remains best known for its ability to deliver incredibly high ROI

And it’s not just a handful of marketers who think this way. In Salesforce’s 2016 State of Marketing Report, 80% of marketers said that email marketing was a core function of their business and that email is “directly linked to their business’ primary revenue source.”

Email marketing is most effective in retaining user-base, promoting brand awareness, and return on investment. While newsletters and promotional sends can be very beneficial, automated emails play an even bigger role in building these consumer-brand relationships for the long-haul.

What is an automated email?

Admittedly, email automation sounds very robotic, inorganic, and impersonal. But it’s actually the opposite! Automated emails are simply emails that are dispatched automatically instead of manually and can be incredibly personal and timely – two of the most important aspects of in an email marketing strategy.

Email automation enables businesses to maintain better communication with their consumers, which leads to closer consumer-brand relationships and increased brand awareness.

Why do they work?

Automated emails provide lasting, ongoing results and increased productivity. Manually sent emails like newsletters and promotional sends often only deliver benefits for a short window.

Additionally, automated emails allow for hyper-targeted messages. Conditional logic allows for a highly integrated system and ensures the user’s journey is seamless, personal, and timely. Getting the right content to the right consumer at the right time (say that ten times fast) ensures you cut through inbox clutter and, more often than not, leads to increased exposure.

Lastly, because these emails are not based on a specific calendar send-date, automated emails allow for a more organized and carefully-planned execution. You have time to properly build, integrate, test, and deploy without the burden of a hard-looming deadline.

Now that you know why automated emails are the business, let’s talk about the different types you should utilize for your business.

1. The Onboarding Series

The road to converting a new user can be long and arduous. In order to successfully encourage a purchase decision, you need to educate your users on all the benefits of your product. Without doing that work for them, you risk overwhelming, underselling, or neglecting your potential customers.

In creating an onboarding series, you’re properly setting the tone for your new user relationship, providing your customer with must-know information, and delivering buying incentive. The first purchase is always the hardest, so the easier you can make their decision the closer you are to a fruitful union.

Keep in mind – this is not just a single welcome email. It’s a series of emails that will help build a stronger consumer-brand relationship and also encourage long-term engagement with your emails down the road. Over the course of a week or two, send your new consumer a series of emails that welcomes them to your community, introduces and educates them to your brand, and allows them to provide a little more information about their personal preferences.

2. The Abandoned Cart Series

So often we encounter “digital window shoppers”, those who browse for pleasure with little purchase intent or shop in a hurry amongst many daily distractions. According to a SaleCycle, 75.6% of consumers leave items in their cart without making a purchase. Whatever the reason, it’s quite common for a user to add items to their cart but ultimately neglect pulling the trigger.

Often, the difference between conversion and permanent abandonment is a simple follow-up reminding the user of their interest. Putting a series of emails in place that will remind or incentivize the user to get to the finish line will make up for a noticeable gap in cart conversion.

3. The Referral Program

Word-of-mouth (WOM) is often regarded as the most important form of marketing. Consumers trust what other consumers have to say about a product more than anything. Turning your loyal followers into brand advocates is one of the best ways to gain more customers. WOM and brand trust are incredibly powerful marketing tools. I mean, what better way is there to prove your company’s credibility than through the blessing of a trusted friend?

Creating a referral program not only gets your proven customer base to promote your brand, it incentivizes both parties to either purchase for the first time or make a repeat purchase. It’s not easy to create a successful referral program, so be sure to test and see what works best for your consumer. Find the right incentive, figure out what creative works best, and where in the customer journey the referral makes most sense.

Remember – automated doesn’t mean impersonal. Automated emails are able to and should be highly personal and targeted. They foster consumer-brand relationships in an efficient manner and yield ongoing, lasting results. Whether your consumer is a new fan, contemplating a purchase, or an avid follower, you can use automated emails to influence their behavior to better benefit your brand. Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.