If you haven't heard of marketing automation, you probably don't actively market your business. Marketing automation typically consists of software and technologies that allow marketers to automate repetitive tasks through a variety of channels such as social media, websites and email.
If you are a client of ours you likely use MailChimp for your email marketing campaigns. We love the platform. We use it ourselves and enjoy it immensely. The cherry on top is that they have a "freemium" version which is perfect for many of our new clients as they get started with Inbound Marketing.
MailChimp is also very proactive when it comes to improving it's offering. Recently they made some enhancements to the automation features they provide, allowing you to do legitimate email marketing automation to your list. This is a huge advancement that will help so many small businesses to get started with marketing automation without the insanely expensive software like HubSpot or Marketo.
How Marketing Automation With MailChimp Works
If you noticed the image to the left, you no doubt saw the highlighted Automation menu. That's where you get started, assuming you have a MailChimp account. If you don't already have an account, get one! If you are a freemium MailChimp user your automation options will be slightly more limited than those that have paid accounts, but you can still take advantage of the tremendous power of automation.
1 - Create Automation Workflow
Once logged in, click the handy left-nav menu item for Automation. On the automation page, you'll want to click the 'Create Automation Workflow' button in the top-right corner of the page:
2 - Select A List To Target
Next, we need to select the list that you want this Automation workflow to be used with.
3 - Choose And Configure Your Workflow Type
Once you have selected your list, you will have different options depending on whether you are a paid user or a freemium user. Paid users will have workflow options as shown below on the left, and freemium users will have the options shown below on the right:
For this example, we'll use the Educate subscribers option. Go ahead and click the 'Select' button in that box to start creating the Educational workflow. The next screen will ask for a name and allow you to set some options. For this example, we'll name this Workflow 'My First Workflow'. I'd recommend checking the box to have the activity digest email sent. It will give you a heads up about how your workflow is performing.
Under the tracking options, I'd leave the defaults. If you are using Google Analytics (and you should be...), you can check the box for Google Analytics link tracking. Now your screen should look something like this:
4 - Define What Will Trigger This Workflow
Click the Next button in the bottom-right of the page to move on to the Triggers that will cause this automated workflow to run. The 'Configure Trigger' screen is where you decide what conditions prompt this workflow to be started.
Some of the options include:
- Anytime someone subscribes to the list you selected.
- When you import email addresses into your list
- When an opt-in is from a specific segment - remember email segmentation?
- When an opt-in matches specific conditions such as:
- when they opted in
- what their member rating is
- one of their merge fields matches certain criteria
What we're doing on this screen is creating the parameters through which email subscribers qualify to get the emails in this workflow. If your company manufacturers several products and a new opt-in comes through because someone downloaded a fact sheet about a specific product, they may be added to your list in a certain segment or group. You may want this workflow to only be sent new leads in that segment. You may also want to include some other parameters like when they were added to the list.
5 - Add Emails To The Workflow
If you recall from step 3 above, we chose an Educational workflow type. MailChimp recommends setting up at least 5 emails for a workflow of this type. We'd recommend having as many as you can. Ideally more than 5. The key here though is that you have to have that many emails setup. Your outcome with this workflow may be to stay in front of a new lead. It may be to educate an existing client. It may be to nurture a middle of the funnel Inbound lead.
First Decide Your Frequency
If you are sending an educational series as this workflow type implies, you may want to keep the default sending pattern of once a week. If you are nurturing a brand new lead that fits the profile of someone very early on in their buyer's journey, you may want to stay in front of them a little more proactively by setting the delay to 1-2 days. If this workflow is triggered by someone signing up for a free trial, you may want the first follow up email to be sent 3 hours after they sign up. Each situation will be a different. Be sure to think through the process.
Next, Setup Your Series Of Emails
Again, you really want to have your emails written and ready to go before you setup your workflows. This will make the process go much faster. Assuming you are ready to roll, you can click the 'Design Email' button to the right of each Email to get it setup and ready to go.
6 - Confirm and Start Workflow
After you've setup all of your emails, you will be taken to a Confirmation page to verify all of your settings one more time. If everything looks good, you can start the workflow! Some members of your list may get the first email immediately depending on your trigger criteria and timing settings.
7 - Adjust and Extend
You can always go back to this workflow and fine tune it if you need to. You can also extend the workflow by adding emails after it's first created. We recommend doing this to keep in front of leads. You may also want to trigger a new workflow for these leads. The options are very robust.
Why Would I Use MailChimp's Email Automation For Inbound Marketing?
If there's one common theme with all of our small business marketing clients, it's that they are strapped for time and attention. Inbound Marketing isn't just about generating leads. A huge component of it is about nurturing the leads that come in so that they get better qualified and become customers. Given that most small businesses will fail at this stage due to the full plate they already have, MailChimp's automated workflows allow us to do some of the nurturing without having to be involved in the process too much. Once it's setup correctly, you can be sure that leads are being followed up with in a professional, automated way.