Doing Email Marketing Automation? 3 Rules to Set Up Right Away

by Brian Casel

Email Marketing Automation is all the rage these days. But man, it seems complex!

You know you should invest in smarter email marketing so your subscribers and prospects receive the right messages at the right time. And you know how powerful that can be for converting subscribers to paying customers.

But who has the time to fiddle with automation rules and workflows? And where do you even begin with all that technical marketing stuff?

The good news is it doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, there are a few simple automation rules that every online business should have in place from the get-go. But surprisingly, most still haven’t gotten around to setting them up!

Well, I’ve got you covered.

In this article, I’ll share 3 low-hanging fruit automation rules that you can set up right now in your email marketing tool.

Tools for email marketing automation

The tool we use here at Audience Ops and highly recommend is Drip, since it is designed to make email marketing automation easy to implement, yet powerful enough to drive real results.

The examples and setups I provide here are specific to the Drip interface. However, all of these can be applied using most other tools including Mailchimp, Infusionsoft, Aweber and others.

Bonus: Download the step-by-step setup guide to implementing these 3 automation rules in your Drip account (they’re adaptable to any other tool)

Now let’s get right into it…

Automate Your Email Course

Setting up a basic email course as an autoresponder sequence is easy to do. If you haven’t yet established some kind of multi-day resource like an email course, I suggest you get on that!

Aside from the campaign itself, there are a few little tips that are often overlooked. Get these best practices in place today and you’ll be in much better shape later when you’re ready to really get more from your automation tools.

Tag new subscribers accordingly

Illus 1

You’ll want to distinguish those who have gone through your course from those who haven’t. Later on, this will allow you to send smarter offers to those who’ve already seen your course, and also route those who haven’t seen it yet to start your course.

But first thing’s first. When new subscribers join your email course, make sure you have an automation rule in place that tags those subscribers using the name of the course.

I like to use the following naming convention for these sorts of tags:

[Course] Email Course Title

You can set up an automation rule that says if a customer subscribes to the email course campaign, apply a particular tag. Easy.

Move subscribers from your course to your newsletter

Illus 2

Most people automatically drop subscribers into both their email course and their general newsletter at the same time.

Don’t do that. Here’s why:

Let’s say someone joined your email course yesterday. Today or tomorrow they’ll be receiving lesson 2 in their inbox. But you also happen to be sending a broadcast newsletter tomorrow as well. That means this person will potentially receive both your newdsletter and the email course emails on the same day.

Two emails in one day—within days of the initial opt-in—can cause a person to second guess this new subscription and click the unsubscribe link.

But it can also be confusing. They’re currently (and intentionally) tuning into your email course sequence all about a particular topic. Your newsletter is probably about something else, which can seem out of place compared to the topic of the course.

To fix this problem, have new subscribers go through your email course, then move them into your general newsletter only after they’ve completed the initial email course sequence. This way, the messages they receive from you come in a much more logical sequence, and the frequency will not be overwhelming.

You’ll want to set up 2 actions that happen upon completion of the email course:

  • Move the subscriber off of the email course campaign – Since they’ve completed it, you don’t want them to remain subscribed. Otherwise they might receive unexpected emails later if you decide to add or edit your email course sequence.
  • Tag the subscriber ‘Newsletter’ – Only those who are not currently going through the email course will have the ‘Newsletter’ tag. Now, when you send your broadcast newsletters, you can set the recipients to only those who have the ‘Newsletter’ tag.

Email marketing automation doesn’t have to be complex. Implement these 3 rules right now.

Route new subscribers to your email course

Chances are most new subscribers to your email list come straight into your email course, since you’re probably promoting that as your primary lead magnet (using popups, landing pages, etc.)

But perhaps there are other ways people can get onto your list. In fact, there should be other ways! The more entry points the better.

In my previous articles, I showed you how you can use Content Upgrades to increase the number of entry points readers of your blog can take to get onto your email list.

Ultimately, you want all (or most) subscribers to make their way onto your email course. After all, your email course has been optimized to nurture new subscribers and move them toward a buying decision for your product.

So you don’t want all of those other subscribers (those who opted in for Content Upgrades or joined your list in some other way) to miss out on your awesome, high-converting, email course!

Illus 3

Set up an automation rule that sends a one-off email one week after the person joins your list. But set it to only send to the segment of subscribers who have not taken your email course yet. You can first create a segment of subscribers who haven’t been tagged for your email course. Then apply this automation rule only to those subscribers in that segment.

And off you go…

Implement these 3 automation rules and you’ll be well ahead of the pack when it comes to email marketing automation. Of course there’s much more you can (and should) do over time. But don’t get hung up on the complexity from day one. Early on, focus on the low-hanging fruit!

Don’t miss: Download the step-by-step setup for these three automation rules in Drip (or adapt the setup to your email tool).