How to Get Started with Email Automation

Let me ask you a question. Are you using marketing automation yet? I mean are there automations running in your account right now and making money for you on autopilot? If not, don’t worry, you’re not alone, most people put off building their automations for a simple reason – they don’t know where to start.

Fortunately for you, we just created an easy-to-follow recipe

The good news is that there are really only 4 major things you need to master in order to create highly-effective automations. By following this recipe, you are going to master all 4 and build a really cool automation whilst at it.

To make it exceptionally easy, I am going to assume you can only dedicate about 5-10 minutes a day to implementing this guide, so the timelines are based on this super-modest assumption.

If you are especially ambitious you could implement the entire guide in a single day! But in order to keep it easy for those who don’t feel they have the time, we broke it down into a 30-day challenge where you need to invest just 5 minutes a day.

Days 1-3) Set up your first automation

For this guide I decided that we build a “welcome automation” together. I think it is the ideal way to learn the foundations of automation, while still keeping things simple and providing you a high-return on your investment. There are several reasons for this.

It doesn’t matter what your business model or industry is. It doesn’t even matter how you acquire your leads. A welcome sequence is a must for anyone running any sort of an email list. The first emails that you send to a subscriber will have the highest open rates, produce the most sales, and have a huge impact on your results later on.

The other beautiful thing about welcome sequences is that there is no minimum amount of emails, content or complexity. That means that even if you automate sending a single email, you technically have an active “welcome automation”.

And that is not to be underestimated as even a single welcome email can do wonders for your profitability and deliverability. You can then, gradually add more emails to it and turn it into a full-blown “welcome sequence”.

Further on, we can take this automation and then add more advanced automation features on top of it. That is we will build up your automation-building skills, but only one-step at a time.

This is why in phase 1 we will build a simple automation that sends a single welcome email. We will add more emails and  features in the subsequent phases.

Timeframe: I assigned 3 days to the first phase as you need to write a valuable welcome email. You also need to set up a simple automation, but that part takes at most 2 minutes to complete.

Step 1) Create a new automation

This part is easy. Just go to Campaigns > Automation > Create New Automation. And then, in the welcome screen, just choose the “New Subscribers” trigger. Choose the list and if it is based on opt-in or not.

What is a trigger you might ask? Well, it’s the event or “thing that happened” with a subscriber in order to kick off an automation. Remember, we want to keep it simple, as we’re creating a simple welcome sequence. So we are going to simply choose this easy and simple trigger as it will automatically kick off the welcome sequence whenever someone gets added to a certain list.

As you become more advanced with automation you can create all sorts of cool automations that kick off on all sorts of interesting and complex criteria. However, you don’t need this stuff as you’re starting out. In fact, all of that overwhelming selection of options is why most people never set up or finish their automations.

Step 2) Place your first welcoming email

Grab a “send email” action from the sidebar, and drop it right below the trigger. Then, in order to define the actual content of the email, click on the “edit your message” button on the right”. When you are done crafting your first welcome email, just click save.

And that’s it, you’ve just built your first automation!

That wasn’t too difficult now was it? But wait, I imagine someone saying “that was too easy, is that it?”. Yes, that is it. This is in fact an automation and it will give you a ton of benefits over your competitors. This is because most people don’t even send a single welcome email. You can learn more about the benefits of welcome emails over here.

Days 4-10) Create a “drip sequence”

In terms of both complexity and priority, the very first concept that you want to implement in your automations is the idea of “dripping emails” or forming a “drip sequence”.

Don’t let the jargon fool you into thinking this is something complex. On the contrary, this is the simplest thing you can do in email automation, and yet it is still extremely powerful.

When we say that we create a “drip sequence”, we simply mean that we have a series of emails, and we deliver them one at a time.

Let’s take a typical drip sequence as an example. On day one we deliver the first email, then we wait a full day and send the second email. Then, we wait another day and we send the third email. From there on the sequence might wait a bit longer, for example it might wait another week before it sends the fourth email. And then a week after that, it might send the fifth email.

Timeframe: I assigned a full week to this phase as you need to come up with and write a few more emails. The additional automation functionality that you learn in this phase is simple and will only take a few minutes to implement.

Step 1) Craft a few more emails

You will want to decide on what your drip sequence looks like. As we have allotted a bit more time for this phase, it is up to you to decide how many additional emails you want to come up with. You just want to decide the number and order of emails, and then go ahead and craft those emails.

Just remember the following, the emails need to form a logical sequence that constitutes a “welcome process”. If you need help to get you going, just think of “welcoming the subscriber” to the email list as a process, or a goal. And then, the individual emails are just how you accomplish this goal. For more on this idea, see our guide on creating a welcome series.

Step 2) Create the drip sequence in the automation builder

There goes that jargon again, but it is actually a lot simpler than it sounds. All you have to do is open up the welcome automation which you created in phase 1.

Remember, you built an automation that triggers when a new subscriber joins. It should also have a single action – sending them a single email.

Upgrading this automation to a “drip sequence” is super straightforward. All you have to do is grab that “Wait” action from the sidebar, and drop it right below your “Send Message” action. Simply choose how long the delay should be before the automation proceeds.

For example, if you want it to wait for a full 24 hours before sending the next email, just choose “1 Day(s)”.

Next, grab a “Send Message” action and drop it beneath the “Wait” action. As before, click “edit message” and place the content which you came up with for your second email. Before you do anything else, click save.

That’s it, you have now created a drip sequence!

Yes, it only sends 2 emails, but it is technically a drip sequence. If you came up with a longer sequence and more emails, you can of course add all of them to the automation. All you have to do is repeat step 2 for each subsequent email.

For example, in order to add email 3, you just drag another “Wait” action right below email 2, and set its duration. For example you might want to wait two days before sending email 3. And then, just drop another “Send Message” beneath that. Place the content for email 3 inside of it.

You can repeat this process until you’re happy with the length and timing of your welcome sequence.

Days 11-20) Upgrade your sequence, add conditionality

There goes that jargon again. And just like previously, this is actually a lot simpler than it sounds. When we say “condition”, we just mean that we want the automation to check something before it takes an action.

For example, if the subscriber has tag x, then go ahead and send this email. If the subscriber doesn’t have tag x, then go ahead and send this other email.

As you become more advanced in building automations, you will come up with really complex conditions. This in terms of both how complex the condition itself is, and in terms of what actions are taken upon that condition. To untangle this sentence, let me give you an example.

A more advanced automation might have a set of conditions like this: “Check if person has tag x, but not tag y, and they also opened the email, but didn’t click on the links inside of the email.”

And then, there are all sorts of actions it might take based on whether these conditions are met

For example it might add and remove certain tags. It might update some custom field values. It might even move the subscriber to a different list.

And if you really want to get fancy, it can trigger a web-hook that adds this subscriber to a google sheet listing leads that are to be called by your sales team.

That’s all fancy and cool, but it’s not where your focus should be for now. The truth is that most of the time it is enough to use conditions based on email opens. That is, simply put in a condition that checks if a person opened or didn’t open an email.

Now, in this guide we are going to introduce you to conditionality by keeping it simple and just treating people differently based on how responsive they were to your welcome sequence. And when we say “how responsive” we mean did they open those emails or not.

Yes, there are all sorts of other ways to measure responsiveness, but the email open is still the strongest signal, and it also happens to be the easiest to leverage.

Step 1) Identify where you want to treat people differently

Depending on your sequence there might be multiple points at which it is wise to put in an alternate path based on whether they opened an email or not.

Unlike the previous steps however, I can’t give you a cookie-cutter recipe as this is just a blog article. The specifics will depend on your specific welcoming sequence and business model. Though if you want a personalized strategy, consider that most of our plans include this. If you want to get a sense for that personalized attention, consider booking a free demo. With that said, let me give you some typical examples to get you going.

Example 1: Did they open the first email

As an example, in a lot of cases the first email will ask the subscriber to do something important. For example in a SaaS it might ask them to set-up certain settings. In other scenarios the first welcoming email will deliver a valuable lead magnet that you want people to read.

In most cases, the first welcoming email will have the most important information about their email subscription. It should introduce you, and set expectations in terms of their subscription. It is a safe bet that you want to make sure that people read this first welcome email.

In that case, you would decide that you want to put in a “opened email” condition and a “didn’t open email” condition. If they opened the welcome email, proceed to email 2. If they didn’t open the first welcome email, send another email that gives them a second chance at an introduction.

Example 2: Did they open your sales email

Welcome sequences can be very profitable because the introduction period is when you have the highest engagement rates. So if you make an offer during this period, you can expect a nice conversion rate for any of the offers that you make.

This is why most welcome sequences will have at least one email that makes an offer of some sort. Now, there is no one correct way to do this. In certain situations even the very first email can include a discount coupon. In most cases, it makes more sense to get people engaged with a couple of value-driven emails before you make an offer.

If you do send such an offer email later in the sequence however, then this is a perfect point at which to add a condition. If they do not open this email or click on the link, then send another email giving them a second chance at taking you up on this offer.

Step 2) Add conditions in your welcome automation

Let’s say that we want to send a “second chance at an introduction” email to those who didn’t open the first email. This is rather simple.

– Just grab the “condition” module from the sidebar and drop it right below the first “Send Message” action and above email 2. Set it to “Opened”.

– Now grab another “condition” module, and place it right next to the first one. Note, don’t place it below, but to the right of the first one. Set this one to “Not Opened”.

If you did this, you will now have two paths. One for people who did open the first email, and another one for those did not open it.

I had you place the “On Open” condition above the “Send Message” for email 2. By doing this you are turning your old sequence into a “path” for people who opened the first email. So you don’t need to write any new content. Your existing sequence (from email 2 onwards) will now become the left path.

On the right you should have an empty path. Simply take another “Send Message” action and drag it below the “Not Opened” condition. Then, craft the email you want to send to people who didn’t open the welcome email. Think of it as giving them a second chance at an introduction. From there you can rebuild the drip sequence for emails 2, 3 and so on.

You can do something similar for that sales-offer email

Just drag a condition underneath that sales offer email, but this time you can choose “Opened Not Clicked”. This means that the person didn’t find your offer enticing enough to actually click through to the offer page.

So you might want to send an additional offer email to a subscriber if they meet this condition. This additional email might try to explain again, or in a different way why this is such a killer offer, and why they really need to check it out.

Days 21-30) Add automatic data collection

Yes, more jargon, and yes, it can be a lot easier than it seems. When we say “data collection” in marketing, we just mean that we collect and store additional information about our leads, or in this case our email subscribers.

For example, if we run a list about health and we find out that they have an additional interest in weight-loss, we might give them a tag for that. That might be an “interest in weight loss” tag. Or perhaps we have custom field for interests where we add that they have the “weight loss” interest.

Alternatively, if you are in B2B, you might have a custom field called “Number of employees”. This is where you would keep track of the size of a business, so that you can target subscribers differently based on size.

The more data points you have about your subscribers, the better you will be able to analyze how to move forward, but also the better you will be able to personalize your email marketing.

In order to store data however, you need to obtain it first, and that is what we call “data collection”.

The simplest example of data collection is if people fill in a form. The more people that submit this form, the more data that you can collect.

Let’s say that one of your leads fills in a questionnaire asking them how many employees their business has. This form would then funnel this information straight into a custom field that stores the number of employees or business size.

Here is the fun part though. You don’t have to constantly send surveys to your subscribers. You can actually use your email automations to automatically gather data on your subscribers based on how they move through your journey. So let’s go into that now.

Step 1) Identify the signals

In this context, when we talk about a “signal” we are talking about a customer action that reveals something. For let’s say that a subscriber clicks on your link to the “Ultimate weight-loss guide” on your blog. We can designate this as a signal that they are interested in weight-loss. We can then tag them as having that interest.

Now, there are no hard and fast rules about which actions represent a strong enough signal. Nor can anyone give you a ready-made list that applies to every business.

Keep it simple for now

Whilst the Emercury events system lets you track customers actions in most any context you can imagine, that is a bit overwhelming if you’re new to things.

Yes, when you’re ready you can explore the event system and define a signal such as “if a person clicks on the switch on my pricing page, assign tag x, and then have the automation treat them differently based on this particular signal”. But for now, I would suggest that you stick to the “email click” and “email open” actions to keep it simple.

Just take the time to think about the following: what does it mean when a subscriber opens this particular email? What does it mean if they click on this link inside of this email?

Again, I hate being this general, but I don’t know you personally and this is a blog article meant to be universal. If I could talk to you one-on-one I could give you more specific tips that apply to your particular business.

If you spend some time thinking about it however, you will be able to make the connections between the different opens and clicks and what they mean. And then, you can move onto the next step where we utilize this in order to “capture data”.

Step 2) Automatically capture data based on these signals

This is the easy part if you have spent some time getting things clear in step 1. All you have to do now is to open your welcome automation and find those emails where you identified signals.

Let’s say that you have decided that anyone opening email 3 should be given an “interested in x” tag. All you have to do is grab the “Apply Tags” action from the sidebar, and drag it beneath that email. In it just type in the tag that you want applied, in this case “interested in x”.

It really is that easy. And whilst implementing this is simple, the benefits are quite far-reaching. When you have your automations automatically responding to signals and storing data based on it – you are essentially putting “date collection on autopilot”.

We are keeping it simple on purpose for now, but it can get quite a bit more advanced as you build more complicated automations. You can build automations that respond to custom events and then (based on certain conditions) apply one or another tag, fill in the values for a given custom field or trigger a webhook that sends data to something like Google Sheets.

Next Steps on email automation

A fair warning first. Unless you apply the simple guide above, I don’t think you should be dabbling in the more advanced features, no matter how exciting they sound. This is for a very simple reason. Speed of implementation beats everything else.

Even if you only applied these basic automation concepts you would already be able to derive 80% of all possible benefits. Remember that 80-20 rule? Well it applies here, just like anything else in business.

And whilst we love those advanced features, I would love nothing more than to see you making money on autopilot sooner rather than later. A more basic automation that is running while you sleep and making you money is better than a bunch of overly complicated automation drafts that you haven’t launched yet.

With that said, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter if you haven’t done so yet, as we will be releasing similar guides on more advanced automation levels as well. And if you can’t wait, feel free to look through our archives for other automation articles.

A partner on your side

You know, there is a saying about how experienced people learn from their own mistakes, but the really smart people learn from other people’s mistakes. The same is true when it comes to the smart marketers I know. They don’t want to waste time “learning from their own experience”. It’s a lot faster when you learn from other people’s experiences.

And here’s a funny thing, when you have access to a great mentor, this is exactly what you get. Access to someone else’s experience, so you know how to do things right and skip every mistake before it even comes up.

But do you know what’s even better than a mentor who has a lot of personal experience? One that has a ton of experience helping others. So they have both their own personal experience to go off of, but also all of that experience from being involved in the learning journeys of hundreds of marketers just like you.

And wouldn’t you believe it, you just happen to be so lucky that you ran into just such an opportunity. You see, over here at Emercury we have been personally involved in the growth and success of thousands of marketers for over a decade. We have advised, helped and guided all of these marketers to more success and profits. This is just something that we see as integral to the Emercury experience.

And if you want to get a sense for that “Emercury Experience”, consider booking a free demo with our team. Isn’t it about time that you felt what it’s like to have someone on your side? Someone that is excited for, and cheering for your marketing success.

Because that is what we believe in. We don’t see Emercury users as “customers”, we see them as partners. The more profit they make from marketing, the more they will utilize our marketing platform. So it’s a general and overall win-win.

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