Getting Started with Marketing Automation

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
, 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?

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
building conversion
, integrating
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
business goals.

I’ll be basing this guide on
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
and try it out!

Table Of Contents

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
automation workflow.

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 Actions Filters – marketing automation


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 you’re focusing
on, and the method by which they subscribed. For example,
“somebody subscribed to my list called vip-customers via my
landing page†or “I added a person to my-dearest-friends list

Another simple block is the “message sent†– it starts the
workflow for the contacts to which you sent a specific (or any)

“Landing page visited†works the same way as “message
sentâ€, but, of course, for any landing page visited by the

Link clicked and message opened

Use the “link clicked†block when you want to determine if a
subscriber clicked a link –– it can be any link from any
message, any link from a specific message, or a specific link from
a specific message.

The “message opened†block is pretty similar, it means the
subscriber opened you message – any message, any
newsletter/autoresponder/AB Test/automation, or a specific

After these blocks you can choose different actions for both
“yes, they clickedâ€/ â€yes, they opened†and “no, they

Special event

(Also a starting condition) Special events can
be set for any date custom field you have in your account. It can
be the contact’s birthday, their subscription date, anniversary,
etc. You can choose when to trigger the next step (the other
building block’s action) –– immediately, before, or after.
Also, decide if you want it to be a one-time event or if it’s
supposed to be active every year on the same day.

Custom field changed, contact copied to list and contact moved to

“Custom field changed†works for any change that happened to
any type of custom field, whether the change was applied by you or
the contact themselves.

“Contact copied to list†and “contact moved to list†are
useful when you want to add contacts to your workflow when
they’re copied from or moved to a different list. It’s
important to note that the contacts need to be copied/moved by API
or a different workflow.

Ecommerce tools – purchase, abandoned cart, billing status

These four blocks are extra useful for ecommerce stores.

“Purchase†lets you apply the condition to any purchases
from your stores. If you integrate your store with GetResponse, you
can do it either with API or install a specific JavaScript on your
website. If you integrate with JavaScript, you enter the
after-purchase thank you page’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: “Whenever a purchase
of item X, variant 3, for more than 100 USD is made at my store
Store4 (…)â€.

“Abandoned cart†lets you choose the number of days/hours
after which you assume the cart in your store was abandoned. It’s
a perfect block to use in cart abandonment email series, to get
your customers to convert.

“Visited URL†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.

“Billing status changed†allows you to take steps after the
billing status from any of your stores has changed.

If tag…, If score…

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 – but, more on that later, when we get to
“score†and “tag†action blocks.


Actions are the essence of marketing automation. It’s what
happens when the condition is met.

Here’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. It’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 – you
    don’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 don’t add them to
    the other list’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. It’s best used before other actions to time
wait workflow gif.
  • Remove contact: Removes the contact from any
    given list, autoresponder cycle, entire account, or current list
    and workflow.
  • 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 –– 10
    points, etc.
  • Tag: Assigns a label to your contact. It can
    be anything you set it to be, but it’s great for tracking
    customer engagement, for example: active, inactive, engaged,
    not_engaged, etc. You can create tags as you go, but it’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 “Amountâ€

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

Marketing Automation range filter

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
discount code.

Automated marketing, amount filter

Dynamic segments

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 “Lists†block can search through your lists in two ways.
The first way is sorting contacts by the list they’re in –
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
list only.

Consent status

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 “yes†connector. If they haven’t
given consent, or have withdrawn it, they’ll go down the negative
path, so you can use the “no†connector to tag them as
“no_consent†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 it’s not configurable.
It filters out duplicate contacts on your list, so you don’t have
to worry about sending multiple messages to the same contact more
than once.


The “Splitter†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 don’t worry, for
most simple workflows, especially the first ones you create, you
won’t need as many of them. Start with two blocks –– 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, it’s time to learn
how to connect them.

First, open your automation workspace. In GetResponse, you’ll
be able to choose if you want to start from scratch or use a

Here’s a quick overview of using templates to build

But, for now, let’s say you chose to work from scratch.

When you enter the workspace, you’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. You’ll see that some of the blocks don’t have
the connector on top –– 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 don’t.

Building automation workflows gif

You will see how many contacts pass through the condition blocks
at all times.

automation workflow contacts number

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.  “If a person subscribes to any list, send a
message.†Select a message to welcome your new subscriber, and
voila! It’s a full welcome sequence.

welcome email sequence

Now that you know how building automation workflows works,
let’s see it in a more practical light. Following the marketing
automation examples below, you’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. It’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

Let’s say that people land in your contact lists in lots of
different ways – 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 I’ve
already mentioned this workflow in this article as the simplest
one! You can also use a template for this. It’s..

Source: FS – Email Marketing Blogs!
Getting Started with Marketing Automation