Email automation is to content creators what mise en place is to chefs.
Both help you work more efficiently. And both benefit food bloggers.
When chefs use mise en place, they prep and portion ingredients so that the actual cooking or baking runs seamlessly. Similarly, email automation is a strategy to create marketing before you need it and set it to send at just the right moment.
If you’re a food blogger who wants to work smarter to promote and sell your content, this guide is for you. We’re going to review when and how to use email automation for your food blog, plus provide automation templates to get you up and running faster.
Email automations are a recipe for success for food bloggers
Email automation sends emails on your behalf when subscribers meet criteria, which sounds futuristic and robotic. But in reality, it's a great way to make your email marketing even more personal. Since you customize what content a subscriber receives at which moment, you deliver a personalized experience at scale.
Since email automation works automatically in the background, it allows you to:
Increase sales thanks to personalized experiences
As your email list grows, email automation gives you a way to tailor email sequences without monitoring subscribers individually and sending messages manually. For example, a food blogger with a knack for travel could continuously promote city restaurant guides to subscribers who live within a few hour’s drive of each location. As product pitches become more relevant, you should see your conversion rates increase.
Create once and sell endlessly
If you want to juggle selling existing products with creating new content, you’re going to need help. Email automation tools are like digital assistants that promote your work around the clock. You put in the effort upfront to write emails and design the automation, and then you can use the automation to repeatedly promote your work. It’ll come in handy as you’re busy working on recipe development and testing for your next cookbook.
Free up your time to work on other tasks
As a creative person, you probably struggle more with a lack of time than a lack of ideas. Email automations let you manage multiple projects simultaneously without burning out. Since you won’t be worrying about sending emails constantly, you’ll have more time to work on your next big project.
Food blog email automation templates to try
Email automations can significantly impact your food blogging business. So much so that it’s easy to get over-excited and bite off more than you can chew. If you’ve never set up email automation, start with one, see how it performs, and add more as you get more comfortable.
We've ordered the list from simple to complex, so you can decide where to start based on your experience.
1 – Use a welcome message to set subscribers on the right path
If you don’t have a welcome email automation yet, start here! Sending an email as soon as someone subscribes to your list or downloads a freebie is a powerful touchpoint. You can use the email to introduce yourself and learn about subscribers.
For example, your intro email can ask subscribers what their cooking goals or dietary preferences are. When they click on an option like “level up my skills” or “find quick dinners,” your automation will group them with other like-minded subscribers.
Why bother segmenting subscribers? You can create different evergreen newsletter tracks, so people only get content they’ll be interested in. You can also use tags to decide who to pitch certain products to.
Make it your own:
- Choose 2-4 main segments. You want to create categories that clearly define subscriber goals or preferences but are still easy to manage. 2-4 segments is a sweet spot to start with.
- Create link trigger tags. A link trigger lets you apply a tag to a subscriber's account when they click on a particular link. This method makes it simple for subscribers to engage and label themselves in your ConvertKit account.
- Use the tags to segment broadcasts or make separate evergreen sequences. You can choose to use tags now or later. The more involved method is creating email sequences for each customer segment. If you don’t want to do that just yet, you can send your newsletter as usual and only use tags when you want to promote products or choose who receives a broadcast.
2- Promote your recurring subscription products
If you want to earn a more consistent income, recurring subscription products can help. Instead of a one-time purchase, you sell access to monthly exclusive content or membership areas for a recurring fee.
Chef D Malfi uses this approach for a monthly cookbook club. For $15 a month, subscribers get a new exclusive cookbook every month plus live cooking lessons on Facebook and YouTube.
Email automation lets you promote the subscription and send content. You can choose to pitch the offer to anyone who has been on your email list for at least a week, then send the exclusive content to everyone with a paid subscriber tag.
Make it your own:
- Choose a subscription or item to promote. Your monthly content, community, or paid newsletter should have exclusive content that adds value to your community.
- Decide where and when to promote. Send the first promotional email to everyone a week after joining your list to keep it simple. From there, you can experiment with pitching to people who have expressed interest in the topic or have bought a related item.
3 – Validate your product idea with an automated survey
Creating a new digital product can take a lot of planning and effort. To understand your audience better, you can send a survey to test your ideas to ensure you don’t create something your audience isn’t interested in.
Send the survey to subscribers who've been around for at least a month, or better yet, who have bought from you before. While you can ask your entire audience to give their feedback, you’ll likely get more accurate results by asking your most engaged subscribers. The email can link to a survey on a Google Form or ask them to respond with input.
After a person responds to the survey, tag them as a respondent. You can send them a “thank you” email immediately and then update them once you’ve used the input and created the product.
Make it your own:
- Decide what you want to learn or test. The clearer you are on what you want to know, the more likely you will find actionable answers. You can continuously collect feedback or create a survey when considering a few specific ideas or product formats.
- Create a survey. Google Forms is a free and easy form builder that works well with ConvertKit, but many options exist. You can also use link trigger tags if you ask a single question.
- Write the request email. Your email should explain why you’re conducting research, how long it will take, and thank subscribers for their help. If you have the budget, you could even run a prize for taking part.
4 – Create an automated sales funnel
After creating a product, like an ebook, you need to promote it constantly if you want consistent sales. Instead of trying to remember to pitch your content in weekly newsletters, you can set up an automated sales funnel to sell for you.
Let’s say you have an ebook of cake recipes. A sales funnel email automation could begin with a landing page for a free download about different types of frostings. After someone downloads the guide, they receive a set of email sharing cake-baking techniques. Eventually, there’s a pitch email for the paid cake recipe ebook.
Guiding subscribers through related content lets you provide value at multiple points and build trust. Once they’ve seen how helpful your free content is on the subject, they may be more likely to invest in paid resources.
Make it your own:
- Pick a topic or existing offer. Start at the end: what do you want to sell more of? Choosing a product makes it easy to curate or create related content.
- Create content to complete the funnel. Ideally, you already have free content you can use to fill your sales funnel. Creating new content will be worth it if it boosts sales, though.
- Set up your tags and triggers. Your automation should carry people from one step to the other. Keeping your tags, sequences, and landing pages clearly labeled makes assembling the automation easier.
5 – Promote webinars to interested subscribers
Live video events and webinars let you connect with your audience, as long as there are attendees. Promoting upcoming webinars to subscribers interested in a topic can boost registrations.
If you want to promote your webinar to a specific segment, start the automation with related tags or forms. Then, you can set a particular date for the first email to send. You can even add reminder messages as the event approaches.
If you have pre-recorded video content, you can pitch it whenever someone clicks a link to related content and gets a tag.
Make it your own:
- Decide if you want to do a live class or an evergreen webinar. You can specify specific dates as triggers in your automation if the event is live. If you pre-recorded the webinar, your automation could work on a rolling basis.
- Tag interested subscribers. Pitching webinars to subscribers you know are interested in a topic makes the promotion more relevant. That’s why setting up link triggers and segmentation in the welcome email come in handy—you never know when you might want to personalize your email marketing!
- Create a workshop registration page. Tying a registration landing page into your automation lets you track who needs reminder emails and links to join the event.
6 – Pitch a high-ticket offer to webinar participants
After you set up email automation to get people into your webinar, you can continue it to pitch a high-ticket offer. At the end of your live event, you can introduce a resource for subscribers who want to explore the topic even further. For example, if your webinar was a live demonstration of basic knife skills, you could pitch an 8-week virtual culinary immersion.
Since not every attendee will be ready to buy the high-ticket offer at the end of the webinar, your email automation can continue to nurture the sale. After the event, the automation can send a “thanks for attending” message.
Then, the automation splits. If the person purchases the high-ticket item, remove them from the automation. If a person hasn’t committed yet, you can send a follow-up pitch to remind them of the offer.
Make it your own:
- Pair a workshop and high-ticket offer. Consider your premium products and what topics or skills feed into them. You can even use the survey automation from earlier in the guide to ask your audience what they want to learn if you’re out of ideas.
- Write sales sequence. In addition to planning how you’ll pitch the product at the end of your webinar, you need to write follow-up sales emails. Cover what the product is, what a person will gain, and how and when to get involved. You can even add a countdown timer if you open and close enrollment or offer a discount.
- If they don’t buy, follow up in a few months. If a webinar attendee doesn’t buy the offer, that’s okay. If you want, you can add a delay of at least a month in the automation and then remind them about the resource one more time.
7 – Share affiliate products to targeted segments
Affiliate products offer an extra revenue stream, but you want to promote them mindfully. Tagging people who sign up for your list via specific landing pages or free downloads lets you identify people who would be the best fit for product pitches.
Tanya Harris of My Forking Life uses this strategy by segmenting her email list into people interested in air fryers or pressure cookers. Then, she sends affiliate product offers only to people who might be interested.
If you have a limited-time offer on an affiliate product, you can simply segment your broadcast email announcement. If there are products you always recommend, you can create an automation to send the message to anyone interested in the topic. You can even add a condition that the automation doesn’t send the same pitch to someone who has received the email before.
Make it your own:
- Review your list of current or potential affiliate items. Choosing items that fit your audience and tie into your content makes the pitch feel genuine and helpful.
- Match items to your segments and tags. Consider which audience segments could use products and when. For example, fans of quick weeknight dinners would be more interested in an air fryer than someone who wants to learn classic French baking techniques.
- Create time-delayed pitch emails. You can use interactions with related content to trigger your automation, such as downloading an ebook or clicking a link to a new blog post. Once someone shows interest, wait a few days before sending the affiliate pitch.
8 – Ask subscribers to share your recipes with friends and family
If you’re looking for a new way to grow your email list, look no further than your subscribers. A newsletter referral program incentivizes your audience to share your content with friends and family. In exchange for referring you, subscribers earn rewards.
The ConvertKit and SparkLoop integration automatically tallies a subscriber's referrals and sends rewards. You can introduce the program to everyone who has been on your list for at least a week. Then, you offer increasingly valuable prizes as people refer additional new subscribers.
For example, your first freebie could compile existing recipes into a small ebook. Then subscribers can work up to a masterclass video course or even a private virtual cooking lesson for referring more people.
Make it your own:
- Choose incentives. Incentives should start small for a single referral and increase value as referral counts increase. You can get started quickly by looking for opportunities to repurpose existing content or release upcoming content early, so you don’t need to create new rewards.
- Write the introduction email. Tell subscribers about your referral program, how it works, and what they can earn in a short introduction message.
Grow your food blog with ConvertKit
You manage multiple ideas and projects for your food blog at once, but there’s no need to work across multiple marketing tools. With ConvertKit's creator marketing platform, you can create landing pages, grow your email list, set up automations, and sell products from a single tool.
Working from a centralized dashboard means less hassle for you. Plus, keeping your subscriber and customer data centralized makes email personalization simpler.
Ready to take your food blog to the next level? Sign up for a free trial today.