A Guide to Email Automation Rules
Sometimes it feels like a hassle to manage subscribers on
By Rebekah Henson December 19, 2011
Sometimes it feels like a hassle to manage subscribers on more than one email list. How can you make sure that the right customers are getting the right information from the right list?
Let me introduce you to automation rules. When you need to send the same weekly newsletter to more than one list or make sure that your prospects and customers are getting different emails, automation rules can make things easier.
Just like an autoresponder series means less work when following up with a big customer base, automation rules mean less manual work when managing subscribers on several lists.
First we’ll find out how they work, then we’ll see some scenarios where they’ll work in your email marketing campaign.
How They Work
Using automation rules makes it easy to manage which lists your subscribers are on at any time. You select the lists to shuffle your subscribers around to, and the rules take care of the rest. Automation rules can move subscribers from one list to another, add them to more than one list at once or unsubscribe them from two lists at once.
Our Knowledge Base tutorial lists three different kinds of automation rules you can apply to your list:
Subscribe-on-subscribe: You have multiple lists. When someone subscribes to one list, they’re automatically subscribed to one other list as well.
Unsubscribe-on-subscribe: When someone subscribes to one of your lists, they’re automatically unsubscribed from another list.
Unsubscribe-on-unsubscribe: When someone unsubscribes from one of your lists, they’re automatically unsubscribed from another one of your lists.
Keep in mind that for each action a subscriber takes, only one rule can be triggered. For example, if you have a blog email list, you could set up a rule that subscribes readers to either your weekly newsletter or your daily tips email, but not a rule that subscribes them to both.
Now that you know what each rule does, let’s look at some scenarios when you might use them in your campaign.
When To Use Them
Automation rules can make a number of list-management tasks hassle-free:
Several Lists, One Newsletter
Let’s say you’re a software company and you send your customers weekly newsletters about new features and improvements. You also have several free email courses your customers can sign up for to learn how to use your software.
You want the customers who sign up for your courses to also get your newsletter. You could do this by including the course lists when you send a broadcast to your main newsletter list, but maybe you don’t want to add that extra step every week.
Using the subscribe-on-subscribe automation rule for your course lists eliminates the extra step on your weekly broadcasts. When a customer signs up for a free course, they’re automatically added to your weekly newsletter so they won’t miss important updates. Just be sure to make it clear on your web form that your customers are signing up for both a free course and a weekly newsletter.
Customized Welcome Messages
The subscribe-on-subscribe automation rule also works if you want a customized welcome message or follow-up series for a special event.
You could create a new list specifically for the conference subscribers with a tailored welcome message and use a subscribe-on-subscribe rule to add the names to your main list too.
Separating Prospects From Customers
Let’s say you’re a fitness gym and you have two email lists – one for your members and one for non-members. Ultimately, you want non-members to buy a membership, so your emails to them promote the benefits of joining your gym.
What happens when they buy a membership? The emails targeted to your non-member list aren’t relevant to them any more. Use an unsubscribe-on-subscribe automation rule on your non-member list to automatically remove them from the old list when they sign up for a membership and member e-mails.
Unsubscribe-on-subscribe is the most common automation rule because of how it moves subscribers between lists. Once your prospects buy from you and turn into customers, this rule ensures they’ll be on the list with the most relevant emails to follow up their purchase.
Streamlining Your Unsubscribe Process
Let’s say you write a blog. You have two email lists – a monthly newsletter and a bi-weekly blog broadcast. Many of your email subscribers are on both lists.
If a reader unsubscribes from your blog broadcasts, they’re probably not interested in still receiving your newsletter. Using an unsubscribe-on-unsubscribe automation rule will courteously unsubscribe your readers from both lists at once, saving them some hassle.
Do They Work For You?
Automation rules aren’t ideal for every campaign. Sometimes it’s easier to include or exclude additional lists instead, like on a one-time newsletter mailing. Include/exclude also gives you more control per email, letting you target specific lists or send to lists on different days. Automation and finer control both have their own benefits, but which one fits your goals better?
How are you using automation rules in your own campaign?