How to set up a simple marketing automation

customer experience email marketing marketing Nov 12, 2017

Marketing automation is a literal game-changer for businesses of all sizes.


In the old days we used to generate leads and capture the details in a database. Then we constructed email campaigns to this list of leads.

If we were using email marketing software we could tell which emails had been opened or not, so we could send a follow up, but we had to manually set up each email and attach the list and press send.

It was massively labour intensive and that’s why most companies didn’t have very sophisticated campaigns.

Fast forward to today. Automation is king.

It’s not a luxury, but expected from your email marketing platform.

Which email platforms offer marketing automation and who does it well?

MailChimp, one of the largest providers in the world, recently made automation part of their free plan. It’s fine for simple linear automations but if you want to base your campaign on user actions you’ll need something with more complex functionality.

A newer kid on the block, and loved by online business owners for its clean, user-friendly interface, MailerLite also has automation as part of their free plan. I find it really easy to use and the drop and drag email designer creates great looking emails.


My personal favourite is Active Campaign. It’s full fledged functionality (try saying that fast!!) has everything I need to make complex automations that move people through my various marketing funnels without dropping any out.

By tagging contacts I can tell which lead magnet they signed up for, whether they are interested in my paid services, and if they are engaged in my campaign.

So that means I can segment my data to target specific sub-groups when they are considering purchasing.

>> If you would like to try Active Campaign, click here to sign up for a free 1 month trial (their normal trial is 2 weeks).

How to create a simple marketing automation

An automation starts with a trigger – the most common is when a new subscriber is added to your list.

Then you’ll send them an email related to the reason they joined your list. e.g. If they signed up for a free download, you can send them the download link in your email.

You can also set a time delay if you don’t want the email to go instantly, but I recommend sending that first one straight away while they are engaged with your site and content..

Add a time delay after the email and a condition to check if they opened the email. This is where your automation can split.

Here’s a groovy pic of one of my automations in Active Campaign:

Marketing automation email funnel - Jessica Osborn marketing coach

When I add the condition about opening the email, it splits the automation into two streams.

One is to send a reminder about email 1 for those who didn’t open the first. The other action is to send email 2 for those did open the first.

You can continue building your sequence by adding time delays and emails on the main branch of the automation to create a nice user experience for your subscribers.

An automation doesn’t need to end if you have a continued need to communicate with your subscribers. Just keep adding new content to it.

Or move your subscribers into a new automation!

Do you feel ready to have a go?