Automating your marketing sounds like an overwhelming task that
requires a lot of technical skills. The truth is, it’s as complex
(or as simple) as you make it.
Before you master marketing
automation, taking the first steps is what counts. You’ll see
it’s not as intimidating as it may seem.
If you don’t already know what marketing automation is and why
you should use it, read
What is Marketing Automation? first.
If you do know, but don’t know how to start, follow through
and you’ll see how simple marketing automation can be.
Automation in marketing takes many forms. When marketers talk
about automating their processes, they might mean anything from
apps so that they work together (saving their time), or
creating workflows for their email campaigns to work automatically.
In this guide, you’ll learn the essential definitions of email
automation building blocks and simple workflows to achieve your
I’ll be basing this guide on
GetResponse Marketing Automation platform – a good
marketing automation software should offer similar features. If
you’re not GetResponse’s user already, sign up for a free
trial and try it out!
What you need before you start
Before you start, you need a few things for marketing automation
to work for you. These are:
- at least one automation message,
- a landing page,
- and a registration form.
You don’t need to have an extensive list of contacts to start.
In fact, it’s better to experiment with your first automation
workflows on a smaller group of people, just in case there’s a
small mistake here and there. So, if you’re nervous about testing
on your customers, create a list with just a few emails, yours and
your colleague’s, and you’re good to go.
Also, don’t stress if you don’t have enough data to begin
with – your workflows can be set up in a way that they’ll
collect valuable data which you’ll be able to use to boost
engagement and conversions.
The final thing you’ll need is a good marketing strategy. Plan
out what you want to achieve and what steps will be necessary to do
it. This will keep your workflows straightforward and effective.
Then, put the plans into action by building your first marketing
Basic marketing automation building blocks
Marketing automation consists of workflows that reflect your
subscriber’s experience or journey.
The simplest way to create a workflow is by using a pre-made
workflow template. In GetResponse, there are dozens of templates
you can choose from, depending on your goals and needs.
Although using templates is super easy, it’s best to
familiarize yourself with the workflow’s building blocks first to
understand how the template works, and to be able to customize
You should also know that marketing workflows are stackable and
modular, so you can start with two blocks and add more later.
There are three types of building blocks categories: conditions,
actions, and filters.
Conditions are events that happened within your online
environment triggered by your user’s behavior. They’re also
typically the X in the “If X, then Y”.
To build a workflow, you need to define a condition first. When
it’s met, automation executes the workflow, and the contacts flow
down the path.
There are various useful blocks in this category, such as:
Subscribed via …, message sent, and landing page visited
These three are all starting conditions –
they should be placed at the beginning of your automation workflow.
They trigger the workflow for those you have selected for the
condition. They only have a “yes” connector, which means they
can only start the workflow for those who meet the criteria.
Subscribed via … ––this when the contact makes its first
appearance on your list. You choose which list youâ€™re focusing
on, and the method by which they subscribed. For example,
â€œsomebody subscribed to my list called vip-customers via my
landing pageâ€ or â€œI added a person to my-dearest-friends list
Another simple block is the â€œmessage sentâ€ â€“ it starts the
workflow for the contacts to which you sent a specific (or any)
â€œLanding page visitedâ€ works the same way as â€œmessage
sentâ€, but, of course, for any landing page visited by the
Link clicked and message opened
Use the â€œlink clickedâ€ block when you want to determine if a
subscriber clicked a link â€“â€“ it can be any link from any
message, any link from a specific message, or a specific link from
a specific message.
The â€œmessage openedâ€ block is pretty similar, it means the
subscriber opened you message â€“ any message, any
newsletter/autoresponder/AB Test/automation, or a specific
After these blocks you can choose different actions for both
â€œyes, they clickedâ€/ â€yes, they openedâ€ and â€œno, they
(Also a starting condition) Special events can
be set for any date custom field you have in your account. It can
be the contactâ€™s birthday, their subscription date, anniversary,
etc. You can choose when to trigger the next step (the other
building blockâ€™s action) â€“â€“ immediately, before, or after.
Also, decide if you want it to be a one-time event or if itâ€™s
supposed to be active every year on the same day.
Custom field changed, contact copied to list and contact moved to
â€œCustom field changedâ€ works for any change that happened to
any type of custom field, whether the change was applied by you or
the contact themselves.
â€œContact copied to listâ€ and â€œcontact moved to listâ€ are
useful when you want to add contacts to your workflow when
theyâ€™re copied from or moved to a different list. Itâ€™s
important to note that the contacts need to be copied/moved by API
or a different workflow.
Ecommerce tools â€“ purchase, abandoned cart, billing status
These four blocks are extra useful for ecommerce stores.
â€œPurchaseâ€ lets you apply the condition to any purchases
from your stores. If you integrate your store with GetResponse, you
after-purchase thank you pageâ€™s URL to track. If you connect via
API, you select conditions for the purchase you want to follow. For
example, you can set it to work like this: â€œWhenever a purchase
of item X, variant 3, for more than 100 USD is made at my store
â€œAbandoned cartâ€ lets you choose the number of days/hours
after which you assume the cart in your store was abandoned. Itâ€™s
a perfect block to use in cart abandonment email series, to get
your customers to convert.
â€œVisited URLâ€ lets you see if the subscriber visited a site
of your choice. (You need to install JS code on the URL you want to
track). It can be useful, for example, to score or tag contacts
that visited a link you sent them via email.
â€œBilling status changedâ€ allows you to take steps after the
billing status from any of your stores has changed.
If tagâ€¦, If scoreâ€¦
These two conditions let you take next steps for contacts that
have been assigned a given tag or have reached a number of points
in your workflow â€“ but, more on that later, when we get to
â€œscoreâ€ and â€œtagâ€ action blocks.
Actions are the essence of marketing automation. Itâ€™s what
happens when the condition is met.
Hereâ€™s what they do:
Send message: Although the name is
self-explanatory, there is one thing worth mentioning: the message
sent will be a marketing automation message. Itâ€™s a type of a
message used only as an action. The difference between this and any
other message you use is that the email gets sent as a result of
all the conditions and filtering you set up in the workflow â€“ you
donâ€™t use standard settings to determine when the message is
sent. You can create a marketing automation message specifically
for the purpose of your workflow or copy the content from any
message you have already created.
Custom field: With this action block, you can
assign a custom field and its value to your contact or remove an
already existing custom field.
Copy to list; move to list: These block
copy/move the contact to another list, with the option to add them
to a custom day in the autoresponder cycle, or donâ€™t add them to
the other listâ€™s cycle at all.
Copy to workflow; move to workflow: If you
copy contacts to another active workflow, they complete two
workflows at a time. If you move them to another active workflow,
they will complete only the one you moved them to.
Wait: Temporarily stops contacts from moving
down your workflow. Itâ€™s best used before other actions to time
Remove contact: Removes the contact from any
given list, autoresponder cycle, entire account, or current list
Score: Adds a number of points to your contact
for completing an action. For example, if your lead opened an
email, you can give them 5 points; if they clicked a link â€“â€“ 10
Tag: Assigns a label to your contact. It can
be anything you set it to be, but itâ€™s great for tracking
customer engagement, for example: active, inactive, engaged,
not_engaged, etc. You can create tags as you go, but itâ€™s best to
have a basic tagging plan set before you begin, so think about who
you want to tag, how, when, and why.
Filters create segments that help you target more specific parts
of your audience. They should be used as the object of an action
(e.g., if you want to send a message, which is an action, and you
want to send it to first 100 contacts, you use an â€œAmountâ€
The filters you can use in your marketing automation workflows
You chose up to 6 different ranges of contacts, for example
every hundred people, and you can choose a different action for
each range. In the picture below you see a block with six set up
ranges and six connectors, each representing a following range of
What you want to do with contacts from each range is up to you
and the actions you connect to the block.
This block lets you choose how many contacts to reach with the
next action, e.g., if you want to send an automation message to the
first 100 contacts that subscribed to your list and assign a
different action to all the remaining contacts after the 100
Example: You can set the range to 100 contacts and send them a
Dynamic segments allow you to target specific segments of your
list, using segments you have already created, or by creating a
new, workflow-specific, segment.
You can adjust properties of this block to segment your contacts
across all lists by adding multiple conditions or condition
The â€œListsâ€ block can search through your lists in two ways.
The first way is sorting contacts by the list theyâ€™re in â€“
searching by their ID. If your workflow starts by contacts
subscribing to any of your lists, you can use this filter to
perform an action only on people from one specific list.
The other variant is searching for contacts in all your lists
using their email address, to see if they appear on more than one
list. You can then perform different actions for people who are
duplicated in your account, and people who are subscribed to one
If you have created at least one Consent Field, you can then
sort your contacts in the workflow by their consent status. For
example, if they agreed to you sending them marketing
communication, you can proceed with sending messages, connecting a
corresponding action to the â€œyesâ€ connector. If they havenâ€™t
given consent, or have withdrawn it, theyâ€™ll go down the negative
path, so you can use the â€œnoâ€ connector to tag them as
â€œno_consentâ€ or even delete them from your list to leave only
consenting contacts on it.
Only unique contacts
This is the simplest block to use, as itâ€™s not configurable.
It filters out duplicate contacts on your list, so you donâ€™t have
to worry about sending multiple messages to the same contact more
The â€œSplitterâ€ block is perfect for when you want to test
different automation messages. Or, just test two marketing
strategies, sending contacts down two varying paths. You can choose
the percentage of people that will land in path A and in path B,
and they will be randomly distributed. It can be any split but
consider the most popular 50/50 for the most reliable test you can
then track in your statistics.
Whew, that was so many blocks to know! But donâ€™t worry, for
most simple workflows, especially the first ones you create, you
wonâ€™t need as many of them. Start with two blocks â€“â€“ one
condition, one action and expand later. Remember, marketing
automation is only as complex as you make it.
Creating workflows and using templates
Now that you know all the building blocks, itâ€™s time to learn
how to connect them.
First, open your automation workspace. In GetResponse, youâ€™ll
be able to choose if you want to start from scratch or use a
Hereâ€™s a quick overview of using templates to build
But, for now, letâ€™s say you chose to work from scratch.
When you enter the workspace, youâ€™ll have to name your
workflow and pick a starting block.
You can drag and drop the blocks into the workspace. The blocks
have connectors from which you can drag a line to a connector of
another block. Youâ€™ll see that some of the blocks donâ€™t have
the connector on top â€“â€“ these are starting blocks, that should
be placed at the beginning of your workflow. When a condition block
has two connectors at the bottom, a green and a red one, it will
divide your workflow into two paths, one for the contacts that meet
the requirements, the other for those who donâ€™t.
You will see how many contacts pass through the condition blocks
at all times.
The picture below shows the simplest workflow to build. It can
be used in many ways, but its most popular use is as a welcome
email cycle. â€œIf a person subscribes to any list, send a
message.â€ Select a message to welcome your new subscriber, and
voila! Itâ€™s a full welcome sequence.
Now that you know how building automation workflows works,
letâ€™s see it in a more practical light. Following the marketing
automation examples below, youâ€™ll learn how to construct
workflows that help you meet your business goals.
Achieving business goals with marketing automation workflows
There are two main reasons to start automating your marketing,
and they always go together. Itâ€™s wanting to save time and
achieving more business goals faster. So, here are some simple
workflows categorized by goals they will help you achieve. Read on
and see what works for you.
Contact list building
If you want to make money through email marketing, building a
contact list is a constant top priority goal. To acquire
high-quality crowd, you need to make sure you offer a high-quality
Simple welcome message
Make your subscribers feel welcome and start with a simple
welcome email for each new subscriber. Then you can expand and send
welcome email series that offer value to your target audience and
gradually make them ready for making an informed purchasing
Letâ€™s say that people land in your contact lists in lots of
different ways â€“ they fill out a form on your landing page, you
add them manually, etc. You want to welcome them all with equal
joy. Lucky for you, you only need two blocks for that, and Iâ€™ve
already mentioned this workflow in this article as the simplest
one! You can also use a template for this. Itâ€™s..
Source: FS – Email Marketing Blogs!
Getting Started with Marketing Automation