An automation is a series of actions and communications that are triggered by a contact's behavior.
With automations, you can create the perfect marketing funnel to welcome new contacts, nurture leads and customers, or even move contacts from one list to another - all automatically!
Here we'll cover all the pieces of an automation, including the different triggers, actions and communications you can use.
Plus, we'll also go over all of the specific step-by-step instructions on how to:
- Create an automation
- Add your actions, communications, and goals
- Edit an automation
- Deactivate/reactivate an automation
- Duplicate an automation
- Troubleshoot automation issues
Also, make sure to check out the Additional Resources for more!
Before Getting Started
Please be sure you fully build, proof, and test your entire automation before driving traffic or sending leads through the funnel.
Only edits to existing email content will be made real time, and experienced by all contacts once they reach that node. Any edits to the automation flow (like adding wait times or new emails) are only visible to contacts who trigger the funnel after the changes are made.
There are four elements to building an automation:
- Triggers - User-based actions that start your automation
- Actions - The active ingredients, aka everything that happens in the funnel such as subscribing contacts to another list or adding tags
- Communications - Your content and messaging, such as an email or SMS message
- Goals - Logic-based checkpoints within your funnel that help customize the journey for each contact, and determine what happens next
|Subscribes to list||When a contact subscribes to List(s) of your choosing the automation will begin. Selecting more than one List functions as OR logic: a Contact subscribing to at least one of the selected Lists will trigger the Automation.|
|Submits a form||When a user subscribes to a list via a pop-up the automation will begin|
|Tags Added / Removed||When a tag is added to or removed from a contact's profile the automation will begin|
|Event Triggered||If you are using our event tracking/beacon feature, a visit to the page with the event tracking code will begin the automation|
|Custom field added||When a custom field is added via a pop-up or integration|
|Email Campaign Opened||When a contact opens a specific campaign|
|Email Campaign Clicked||When a contact clicks any link within a specific campaign|
|Another Automation||This option will allow you to trigger this automation from an action in a different automation|
|Send notification||Allows you to create and send an email or SMS message to your audience (as well as internal notifications)|
|Update Contact Property|| Includes subscribing or unsubscribing your contact from a list, as well as adding/removing tags from a contact.
Please NoteIf unsubscribing the contact from the list the automation triggered off of, make sure to add this as the last action in the funnel
|Update Automation||Add contacts to a new automation once they reach this point, end the current automation, or end a different automation.|
|Webhook||Allows you to send data to another service via API|
|Wait||This action holds the contact at a certain point in the automation based on the wait time chosen.|
||Create an email to send to your user|
||Send an SMS to your user, provided that you have their phone number|
|Notification||Notify someone on your internal team that a contact has reached this point in the funnel|
| Conditional Split
|| Allows you to segment your audience using AND/OR conditional logic (note that deleting a Conditional Split node will delete all subsequent nodes in the Automation)
||Allows you to set a goal for contacts. If the conditions of your goal are reached, the automation stops for that contact|
Create an Automation
Our Automations builder is equipped with Autosave which saves your progress automatically after each action you take!
- Navigate to Automations → New Automation
- You can choose from our pre-designed automation templates, or build your own. For this example, we'll build our own, so go ahead and choose Start from Scratch
- Set your automation name (which is for internal use and will not be shown to your contacts) and click Done
- You can click the pen icon to rename your automation at any time
- Select + Add trigger to choose the starting trigger for your automation from the available options in the toolbar. In this example we'll choose Subscribes to a list
- After choosing your trigger, specify any trigger settings and click Done
Add Your Actions, Communications and Goals
- Once you've set up your trigger, click the plus sign (+) and select Send Message from the Actions section
- Choose the type of message to send (email, SMS or notification). In this example, we'll do an Email
- Select Create New Email
- Use the Send Email toolbar to build out your message settings (Name, Experiments, Sender Profile, etc.) then click Next: Content
- Build out your message content by completing your Subject Line and Preheader (using any Personalization Tags you wish), then click Create Email
Any emails that are inactive when the automation is triggered will be skipped by all contacts who reach that step, so be sure your emails are activated before setting the automation to active.
- After every communication, you should always add a wait time to give your audience time to open and engage with the message. You can do this by clicking the plus sign below your last action, and selecting Wait from the Timing category
- Specify the wait time you'd like to set (we recommend 24 hours between each email) and click Done
- Repeat steps 1-7 as needed to add Send Email, Wait and any other actions you'd like
- Decide on any goals (or conditional splits) you'd like to use within your automation
- Ensure all emails that are ready to go in your automation are Activated and in the green Active status
- Once you have completed your automation, be sure to set the funnel from Inactive to Active
- As long as you see the Automation activated successfully message, you're done!
For subsequent Send Email actions, you'll also see the option to duplicate existing emails created within this automation.
Campaigns or emails created in other automations are not available here, however they can be found further along in the email design process if you saved them as a custom template, or if they were sent previously.
Now, any new contacts who meet your trigger requirements will start moving through the automation!
Edit an Automation
Once you've created an automation, you can always go back and modify any setting that was added!
If you make edits to an active automation that contacts are currently traveling through, only edits to email content will be made real-time. Edits to the automation flow will only be visible to new contacts once they join the automation.
- To edit an email, click on the specific email that you would like to edit
- A toolbar will appear on the left, click on Email Settings (this will allow you to edit the name, sender profile, etc.)
- If you want to edit the content of the email, click on Next: Content to edit the subject line and/or preheader then click Edit Email, if needed.
- To add to your automation, click on the plus sign (+) under or above where you would like to add the new action
- Follow the prompts to select new actions and modify them as needed
- Click on the action that you would like to delete
- A "trash can" icon will appear in the top right corner of the action that you have selected. Click this to remove the action
- You will then be asked to confirm the removal of the action
Deactivate/Reactivate an Automation
You are able to deactivate your automation to save the content for later, rather than deleting all that hard work!
- Start by navigating to the Automations tab
- Next, select "..." and click Deactivate from the drop down
- If you ever want to restart the flow, simply click on that same "..." and select Activate
If you deactivate an active automation that contacts are currently traveling through, it pauses the entire funnel, freezing each contact of your audience exactly where they are.
If you reactivate an automation, each contact will restart the flow from the point they left off when the funnel was previously active.
Duplicate an Automation
You are able to duplicate your automation to save time when wanting to create a similar automation!
- Start by navigating to the Automations tab
- Select "..." and click Duplicate from the dropdown
- Create a new name for your duplicated automation
Automation isn't triggering
If your funnel is still inactive, the automation cannot trigger.
Activate your automation by toggling the status bar inside the builder to Active and your flow will begin for any new contacts that meet your trigger settings!
Emails aren't sending
If an email is still in inactive status, contacts will bypass that step and not receive your message.
Click into any email block that shows the inactive status, then hit Activate in the sidebar menu to start sending your messages!
Conditional split isn't working
If a conditional split is added immediately after certain actions, the system automatically adds a 24 hour wait time to allow those functions to take place before the split verifies conditions.
Please click here to review those actions and built-in wait times, and give the system time to validate the conditions accordingly!
Infinite loop error message
If the settings of your automation create an infinite loop with another automation (meaning contacts repeatedly flow back and forth through 2 automations) the system will alert you about that error.
Avoid this issue by creating new automations with fresh content for your audience to flow through to boost engagement and avoid spam complaints!
- The Big Book of eCommerce Email Funnels
- How to Create a Unique (and Fully Automated) Customer Experience with Email Marketing
- Customer Education Is The Lead Nurturing Tactic Your Emails Are (Probably) Missing
- 5 Automated Email Workflows for eCommerce To Boost ROI
- 5 Emails for Your Post-Purchase Automation (+ Examples)
Create an Automation: Automation → New Automation → Give it a name → Select a trigger → Add actions
Create Messages: Click plus sign → Send message → Create email → Activate → Repeat process as needed
Add Wait Times: Click plus sign → Click Wait → Add wait period → Repeat process as needed
Activate Automation: Click Active at top right of automation