Email Automation, often called Drip Marketing, sends a sequence of email messages to a group, or "cohort," of contacts at prescribed times after some target event. A common example is a welcome series. After someone submits a signup form, you send a series of welcoming or orienting messages to them, say one per week, for a month.
Your Databank accomplishes this via a combination PowerMail issues and scheduled email Activity records, the activities typically being created using the Tag Selected function. Using the example of a Welcome Series, let's say your organization wants to send a series of four email messages, one per week, to new signups. Each week you'll start a new series, for the cohort of people who signed up the previous week.
Step One. Create PowerMail Issues
To start, create the four PowerMail issues that will have the welcoming and orienting messages. You'll find it useful to put these four issues into their own folder, with a folder name that helps you find them and remember their purpose. For example, "Welcome Series." Using the Description field, which recipients never see, to explicitly state the order in which the messages should go out, is also useful.
Step Two. Select Contacts For The Cohort
If we define "last week" as Monday through Sunday, then each Monday we could select the previous week's new contacts to be the cohort for this week's series. The term cohort denotes that this group of contacts will experience the series in the same time frame. For our example, we'll select contacts with "signupform" in their Source(s), whose Created Date was the previous week. In the screen shot below, the date range displays 10/28/2019 through 11/3/2019, but the system will actually search 10/28/2019 00:00:00 AM through 11/3/2019 11:59:59 PM.
Now we have our selection, or cohort:
Step Three. Schedule Each Issue Using Tag Selected
To schedule their four messages, we go to Data Tools --> Tag Selected on the menu. We'll use tagging four times, to create a scheduled email activity for each of the messages, for each of the selected contacts.
***Please Note***: If this is your first time using this feature you will have to type scheduled email inside the New text box and it will add it to the Activity Type for next time use.
Now each contact in the cohort has four scheduled email activities:
Step Four. Sit back and let it happen
As time passes, the emails will go out without further effort on your part. Once sent, the text " (SENT)" will be appended to the activity note. As with any PowerMail, the contact will have activity history showing what they did with the mailing (ems-auto to show it was successfully sent, open if they opened it, and clickthru's if they clicked any links).
One-Off Message Scheduling
While tagging is useful to schedule a message for a group of people, it's also possible to manually set up an ad hoc scheduled email for a contact, by adding a future-dated activity with activity type scheduled email, and selecting the email message to send:
A Note About Times on Scheduled Email Activities
Scheduled Email activities are sent hourly at one minute past the hour, sending everything scheduled for the previous hour. For example, at 9:01 AM, everything scheduled for 8:00:01 AM through 9:00:00 is sent. If you schedule an activity for 8:30 AM, it won't be sent until 9:01 AM. We recommend scheduling for the beginning of the hour, e.g., 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, etc. so that the actual time sent is very close to the scheduled time.
If you enter a date without a time, the time will be treated as midnight, and the message will be sent out at 12:01 AM. The email will be waiting for the contacts when they wake up.
Email Automation is basically a bunch of PowerMail batches being sent automatically at prescribed times. You can view automation PowerMail results the same as with any other PowerMail issue - just go to the issue's Results tab. You'll see a batch for each cohort of recipients.
Scheduled PowerMail vs. Email Automation
There's a lot of similarity between scheduling a PowerMail and setting up an automation series, but there are two major differences:
- Scheduled PowerMails have a limited time frame of ten days in which you can schedule. Email automations can be scheduled as far into the future as you need.
- Scheduled PowerMails create the batch on the spot, to be sent to the current selection. If someone unsubscribes after the batch was created, but before the scheduled time, they'll still receive the mailing, because they're already in the batch. Email automations don't create the batch until the scheduled time. They create a selection by finding all contacts with scheduled email activity records dated in the past hour. This avoids CAN-SPAM conflicts because a contact who has unsubscribed during the series will be filtered out of the selection while the batch is being created. This also means you can add and remove recipients at any point prior to the scheduled time, by creating or deleting scheduled email activity records.
Now that you can set up your own drip marketing campaigns with PowerMail, let us know what you think, and the uses you find for it, in the comments.