How to use automation in your email marketing software

Posted on Posted in Blog Posts, Email Marketing, FREE Resources for Creative Biz Owners

Welcome to Week 3 of the Email Marketing Showdown series! In case you missed it, here are the first two posts:

For today’s post I’m going to cover automation in email marketing. When I say automation I basically mean anything that you want to have happen automatically within your email software. For instance, a series of emails that sends on a pre-determined schedule, or having a subscriber join a list after they purchase or download something, or moving a subscriber from one automated sequence to another. If you want your email to work for you when you’re not working, automation is the way to go!

Make sure you read to the bottom of this post, because I’ve got a FREE gift for you to help you automate YOUR email marketing process!

Using Automated Email Sequences for Free

The most common thing you’d probably want to do with your email software is to send an automated sequence of emails. Here are just a few examples of when you’d do that:

  • a “welcome to my list” sequence when someone signs up for your email list for the first time
  • a free challenge or mini-course
  • a paid online course where you deliver the lessons via email
  • a sales funnel where you lead a subscriber to (hopefully) buy what you sell

The good news for MailChimp subscribers is that they recently added automations to their free plan, so that means that you can send automated emails without paying for a MailChimp subscription. The same is also true for MailerLite, so you have two different options, and I’ll give you a basic walk-through of both here.

Using MailChimp to send automated email sequences to your subscribers

In MailChimp, you can send an automated sequence based on a variety of factors, including the first time someone signs up to your list, after they buy something (this will require you to hook up MailChimp to your shopping cart system), or when someone joins a group in your list.

To create an automation, simply log into Mailchimp and choose “Automation” at the top, and then pick from the left side bar which option you want for your automation. (In most cases you will probably choose “education” for things like a welcome sequence or class, or “list activity” for things like when someone first signs up or when they join a group.)

The down side of MailChimp in this situation is that it’s difficult to send someone an automation when they sign up for a specific opt-in. To do this, you need to create a check-box on your main signup form (something like “I’m interested in the FREE Beginner’s Guide to Mosaic Knitting”) and then when someone checks that box, it adds them to a group. You can then use joining that group as the starting point of an automation. The problem here is that you have to use that big signup form every time you post about your list, because the smaller embedded forms don’t give you those checkbox options.

One work-around to this is to send a welcome email to all subscribers inviting them to update their subscription preferences; when they click that link, they can check all the boxes they’re interested in and start automations to deliver their opt-ins.

The other work-around is to actually create a unique list for each opt-in, so that you can send an automation to someone based on the list they sign up for. The down side to this is that if you have someone who’s a big fan of your work, she might end up signing up for several opt-ins, and then MailChimp will charge you for each individual list she’s on.

Using MailerLite to send automated emails to your subscribers

In MailerLite the process is a little bit simpler. Every time you create a form, you can make a group specifically for that form. (For instance, I have a group called “grammar opt-in” for everyone who signs up for my Free Guide to Grammar for Creative Biz Owners).  Then you can set up a series of automated emails to send whenever someone joins that group (so I could make a free mini-course to explain grammar for business owners and get everyone to stop making so many grammatical errors on their sales pages… ahem).

In MailerLite you can send an automation when someone joins a group, joins a segment, leaves a segment, on a specific date, or – and this one’s the kicker – when they click a link. For the other options, it runs just like MailChimp – you pick the trigger (like, someone joins my grammar group) and then you build the automation for however many emails you want to send them.

For the link trigger, you have to use a unique link each time, so you’ll want to start by building a page on your website to send people when they click. Then you can send them an automated sequence OR add them to a group, just for clicking that link!

Here’s an example of how I would use this in my business if I were still making hand dyed yarn:

  • I’d start by setting up a welcome sequence for all my new subscribers, introducing them to me and my business, and sending them some of my best resources.
  • At the end of this sequence, I’d ask them a question to help me better understand their needs. For instance: how do you feel about using hand dyed yarns? Then I would give them 3-4 options to click on and ask them to just pick one.
  • Each option they click would lead to a unique URL which would be a page on my website that I’d load up with resources for that particular answer. (For instance: if they say they’re intimidated by hand dyed yarn then I’d send them to a page full of tips for knitting with variegated colorways. If they say they LOVE hand dyed yarn then I’d send them to a page of my favorite patterns for using hand dyed yarns.)
  • Then inside MailerLite, I’d have the link hook them up to a group, like “hand dyed yarn newbies” and “hand dyed yarn lovers.” That way when I sent out information on a regular basis, I could be sure to split it up so that the newbies got tips for using my colorways and the experts got more advanced information, like pairing up two colorways or colors that would work well with a hot new pattern.
  • If I wanted to I could also send each of these new segments their own, new, automated sequence of emails.

In this way you can actually have every sequence you create lead someone to a whole new sequence, just by adding these types of links to the end of the sequence emails.

Just a reminder: MailerLite only charges for unique subscribers, regardless of how many groups that person joins.


Ways to Use Automation in Your Email Marketing

There are tons of great ways to use automation in your email marketing to help your readers travel closer down the path to becoming customers and raving fans. In fact, there are so many that I’ve put together a whole PDF of them! Enter your information into the box below to get it.

My Email Marketing Showdown is almost at an end! Next week I’ll answer the questions I’ve gotten about email marketing and tell you which software I’ve decided to use on a permanent basis for my own creative business (but I’ll bet you can already guess which one it is!). If you have any questions about using email marketing in YOUR business, ask them in the comments or send me an email at jess AT! I’ll make sure to include them in next week’s post!

2 thoughts on “How to use automation in your email marketing software

  1. Awesome share Jess! I like how detail it is and I agree that there are tons of ways to use automation in marketing. As long as you do not go out to your niche and always making sure that our reader can get something from your email.

    Personally, I prefer a tool that has SMS features because not all platform has that.
    There are tons of automation out there but I am interested to try Activetrail because they have that feature and more.

  2. I’m not sure where you’re getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thank you for fantastic info I used to be searching for this info for my mission.

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