How To Create Your First Email Marketing Campaign
A Step-by-Step Walkthrough to Automate Your Welcome Email Sequence
By Abdul Rahman Abdul Hamid
This article will walk you through how to setup your first Welcome Email Sequence for Your Subscribers. This walkthrough will be done using Active Campaign, but all of the steps can be replicated with any Email Service Provider.
After Reading This You’ll Have Your Welcome Email Sequence Complete
Plus, you’ll know how to create email automations from scratch.
Before we begin, I want to go over three terms that you will encounter when it comes to email marketing. I’m going to define each, because they might not mean what you think they mean.
Email Campaigns are the initial Emails you send your contacts in your Email Lists.
- Business, Service, or Product Updates
Email Automation is the act of creating automated email sequences which send out pre-generated emails based on the actions of your list and rules you set.
- Subscriber Welcome Email
- Cart Abandonment Email Sequence
- Purchase and Shipping Email Sequence
Your email list is your source of contacts. You can then categorize your email contacts based on your relationship with them. This way your communication with them is relevant, and you can prepare your emails in bulk.
In order to segment your list, you need to create triggers.
Triggers are rules you set that dictate which list a contact ends up in, based on the actions they take.
Examples of Email Lists Include:
- Lead Magnet Opt-Ins
- Paying Clients/Subscribers
- Many more…
Now that we’ve defined Email Lists, Email Automations, and Email Campaigns…
…Let’s get started!
Create and Send Your First Email Campaign
We’re going to walkthrough this as though we are setting this up from scratch.
This will be a top-level overview of the exact steps you need to take in succession in order to start sending out emails and engaging your contacts on your email lists.
We will not be going over HOW to build your email list in this article. So for the purposes of tis article, we’ll assume you have an email list.
This will work regardless how big or small your email list is. So don’t be discouraged.
In the meantime, if you need help building your list, you need to create a Landing Page with an offer in exchange for an email.
If you need help creating your Landing Page, check out our Sales Page Template for help creating a Landing Page that Converts.
1. Create Your Email List
In order to create an Email Campaign, you need a list to send the emails to. You want to ensure that the lists you create are of emails of subscribers that have opted into your list.
This is to ensure that you operate within the CAN-SPAM Act.
Another reason this is important is because Email Service Providers will shut down your account if you get a lot of subscribers in a short amount of time, or if your emails get labelled as spam frequently.
It is imperative that your lists are made up of high-quality recipients.
As your list grows, so does its maintenance costs. A well curated email list is very profitable, so keep that in mind as you grow your lists.
I know I said I wouldn’t go over how to build an email list in this article, but, you know what?
You’ve read this far, and I’m thankful for that.
so here are 10 Lead Magnet ideas you can use to generate opt-ins for your email marketing purposes.
How to Create Your Email List in Active Campaign
In the top bar of your Active Campaign dashboard click on “Lists”.
Click on “Add New List” in the top right.
This is straight forward, Name your email list. I suggest keeping it something relevant to the purpose of the list and where you’re growing it from. It helps for when you start building and segmenting multiple lists.
You’ll also need to the website URL the list is for along with a quick statement to your list reminding them why they opted in and who you are.
Then hit “Create List”.
2. Add People to Your List
There are two ways to add people to your lists.
- They Opt-In
- You Add them Manually
#2 is pretty simple and straight forward. You either add them in manually one-by-one or import them by bulk through a CSV spreadsheet.
#1 can get interesting and truth be told, the number of ways to achieve this end goal and automate it, are near endless.
So we’ll focus on the options we have available to us in Active Campaign.
- Opt-in Forms on Websites
- Current Contacts in other Apps
- Opt-in Subscribers through Emails
- Opt-in Subscribers through Text Messaging
If you find this overwhelming, just remember, an opt-in form on your website is an excellent start. It’s something you can do very easily inside of Active Campaign and then integrate into your website.
How to Create an Opt-In Form in Active Campaign
In your Active Campaign dashboard, in the top bar, click on “Forms”.
Active Campaign offers an Inline Form for its Lite plan which is $9/mo.
For most purposes this is all you need to begin with.
Just name your form (keep it relevant), and you can dictate what action to take when someone opt-ins to the form.
For now we’ll just set it to “Subscribe to List”, and set it to the list we created in the previous step.
Click “Create Form”.
How to Integrate Active Campaign Form on Website
After you click Create in the previous step, you’re taken to Active Campaign’s form builder.
It’s very simple and straight-forward. Just create the fields you want and when ready we’ll integrate it to your site.
Click “Integrate” in the top right corner.
You get four options for integration.
- Embed Form
- Share Link
- WordpPress Plugin
- Add form to Facebook Page as a Tab
If you’re using WordPress for your website, then you can just download the Plugin right off of your WordPress dashboard and link it to your Active Campaign account.
From there it’s pretty simple to just add the Form where you need it.
If you’re not using WordPress you can embed the form by copying and pasting the code into a raw element or text box in your website builder.
Once complete, click Save and Exit in the top right corner.
How To Integrate Your Contacts in other Apps to Active Campaign
You might already have a list and you don’t know it.
How do you manage your business contacts, leads, and clients?
If you’re reading this and considering the website you’re on, I’d assume you have some sort of software or App you’re using to store this info/data.
If you do, you’re likely to find an integration for it with Active Campaign.
This way Active Campaign will be able to automatically pull your contact details from your software. That means as you move forward with your day to day business, your list is being automatically updated whenever you enter a new contact into your software or app.
To set this integration up between Active Campaign and the Software/App of your choice.
Click “Contacts” in the top bar in your Active Campaign Dashboard.
Once on the “Contacts” page, click on “Import” found on the top right of the page.
This will open up a new page where you can either import your file from a CSV (which w mentioned earlier) or just below that, you can see that apps you can integrate with Active Campaign.
For a list of these apps, you can see them here, or look below.
Click on the app you want to integrate and follow the prompts to link them up with Active Campaign.
How to Get Opt-Ins for Your List By Email in Active Campaign
Active Campaign gives you the ability to create a unique email address that you can use to build a subscriber list with.
In your Active Campaign dashboard, click on “Lists” in the top bar.
Once in the “Lists” page, you will see, well, a list of your lists.
To the very right of each List you will see a button that says “Import Contacts”.
Click on the little down arrow.
A drop-down menu will appear, and if you look a few slots down you’ll see the option titled, “Subscribe by Email” with a little mail icon.
You’ll need to click on that to get your unique email address for these subscriber opt-ins.
Once you click that you’ll be taken to a page with your unique email address. You might be wondering what good this does for you, and how you might use it. Well, you can use it in your emails with a Call To Action to your reader to subscribe. This is useful if you have more than one list and want to cross-promote something between lists.
The other method of using this is for your Email Campaigns, remember the one-off emails you send that we defined earlier. This way you can plug in your subscribe email and they’ll get added to the lists you choose.
Another thing you can do with this is to utilize URL shorteners to add it to Social Media Posts or Articles online. You don’t have to use this feature, but it is available to you as a method to build your lists.
The “Subscribe by Email” feature is also used for unsubscribing as well.
Back to where we were in the walkthrough.
Once you click “Subscribe by Email” from the drop down menu, you’ll be taken to a new page.
You’ll see a big “Add” button on the page, click that.
Once you do that, you’ll get your unique email address.
Select the list you want the subscribers to be added to.
You also need to select whether they’re “Subscribe”(ing) or “Unsubscribe”(ing).
Then click “Add”.
You can now use that email address to automatically create a contact record in Active Campaign and add them to your designated list when they send an email to it.
How to Get Opt-Ins for Your List By SMS in Active Campaign
Similar to the Subscribe by Email option provided by Active Campaign. You can also opt-in subscribers through text message.
Click on “Lists” in the top bar.
Go to the downarrow next “Import Contacts” on your chosen list.
Select “Subscribe by SMS” from the drop-down menu.
This feature is only available in the Pro Plan, which starts at $49/month.
If you have the Pro Plan, you will then need to choose the number that the text messages are going to be sent to.
It will also require a keyword.
This keyword is what Active Campaign will look out for in order to determine whether to add the contact to your List or not.
Think of keywords like:
Keep it simple, these are text messages.
Once you do that, just click “Activate”.
Once you do this, you’ll be able to modify the message you’re texting to your contacts.
Hit save when you’re all finished, and your Subscribe by SMS will be set-up.
3. Create Welcome Email Automation
Now we’re getting to the whole point of this article.
Automating your Welcome Email Sequence to New Subscribers to your Email List.
The automation we’ll be setting up will send a welcome email automatically when someone joins your list.
It may seem basic enough, but this simple automation is the foundation of many other sequences and automations you will build out in the future.
You see, when your list responds to your welcome email, they are categorized based on the tags you create.
These tags segment your list by based on the responses you receive from this automated email.
Tags are used to begin and end other automations, segment your contacts and lists, and even to gather data through analytics.
How to Create a New Automation in Active Campaign
Click “Automations” in the top bar, and you’ll be taken to the Automation page.
Once there, Click “New Automation” in the top right hand corner.
A new window will appear, and in here you’ll have a couple options presented to you.
Click on the first option, “Start from Scratch”.
Then hit the “Create” button at the bottom right.
How to Add a Trigger to Your Automation in Active Campaign
A “Trigger” is basically the action that’s used to start or end an automation sequence.
Automation sequence just means series of emails that will be sent automatically at pre-determined intervals.
For the purpose of this example, and creating a Welcome Email Sequence, we will have to use the action of a new subscriber to our list as a trigger.
Once you click on “Subscribes” you’ll be taken to a page where you can chosoe the list you want to add them to, as well as add any advanced list segmentation, if you choose.
I’ve selected it in the image below just to show you some of the root options you have.
For the purpose of this example, we’re going to keep that part unchecked, and continue on with our Welcome Emai Sequence.
Just below where you select your list, you’ll see it says “Runs” with a drop down menu.
You’ll want to have it set to “Once”.
The reason being, this prevents your contacts from constantly receiving the message over and over automatically.
It’s meant to let Active Campaign know that this action is to be taken once per contact on the list.
How to Add an Action to Send Your Welcome Email in Active Campaign
Did you know Welcome Emails after someone Opts In are the highest read and most opened emails you can send?
That’s reason enough to make sure your Welcome Email Sequences are Automated and being sent right away.
Let’s set this up now.
Right now, if you’ve been following along in this Active Campaign Tutorial, you should be looking at this screen.
Looks daunting, but don’t fret, it’s pretty straight-forward.
It looks kind of like a mind-map, and it’s possibly the easiest way to visualize this as you build out your actions in your sequence.
To begin, you’ll need to click on the “+” symbol there in the middle.
When you hit the “+” sign, you’ll get a menu pop up which will let you choose the action to take next.
Alternatively, you can also do this from the Automation Page by clicking on “Send email” under “Sending Options” in the sidebar.
When you click on Send email, you’ll get a pop-up with a link to create a new email.
Just follow the Prompts, Give your Email a Title.
This title is not viewable by your contacts. This is just for your purposes inside of Active Campaign.
The next part is where it can get a little interesting.
How to Create Your Welcome Email in Active Campaign
Active Campaign provides pretty decent templates that you can plug and play pretty quickly.
These are great when you want a nice visual design, but also get some Emails Automated quickly.
Select the template that works best for you, and Select “Use This Design”.
Once you do that you’ll get a prompt that allows you set the Name of the Email Sender, the actual Email being sent from, and the Subject Line for your Email.
Once you Continue through this prompt, you’ll get to the Email Builder, where you’ll take the Template you chose and make it your own.
Below you’ll find a quick draft I just put together for my Welcome Email.
Once you wrap up the format of your email, hit “Next” in the top-right.
You don’t have to use the Email Builder for your email, you can also use HTML or plain text for your email marketing campaigns.
Whichever format you select to build your email marketing automation with, the next step is to Review your Campaign Summary before finishing.
Once you click Next after you created your welcome email, you’ll see this page.
In your Campaign Summary you’ll find a few tracking options for your email marketing campaign.
You can toggle these tracking features on and off based on what insights you’re looking for.
Here’s what you can track in your email marketing campaign.
- Open/Read Tracking – Lets you know when your contacts open or read your email.
- Link Tracking – Lets you know when a link within your email is clicked by your contacts.
- Reply Tracking – Lets you know when your contacts reply to your email.
- Google Analytics – This opens up Google Analytics Tracking to open up in-depth insights into various metrics.
Here’s how these options look within your Campaign Summary of your email campaign.
You’re pretty much set now with your first email marketing campaign.
However, just because I like to be as thorough as possible, I don’t want you to get to this point, and leave out some very important and crucial next steps you should take in completing your email marketing campaign.
There are still some loose ends that need tying up. So in the next few parts we’ll go over setting up what’s called a “Wait” condition as well as “If/Else” conditions.
These are just basically rules you put in place that helps your email marketing provider to segment your list based on the responses/actions from your contacts.
This is crucial in your email marketing campaign and is necessary to close off your Welcome Email Sequence.
How to Add Conditions for your Email Marketing Campaign
You’re going to set “If/Else” and “Wait” Conditions for your Email Campaign
So for the purpose of this example and for creating a Welcome Email Sequence, here’s what we’re going to set up.
We’ll need an If/Else condition in order to split up the contacts in this automation sequence based on their actions with your Welcome Email.
We will also need a Wait Condition in order to supplement the If/Else Condition.
Let me explain.
“If/Else” Condition: If this happens, Do this.
“Wait” Condition: Wait for a set period of time or specific action before starting automation sequence.
So let me walk you through the steps to achieve this.
First, we need to setup the Wait Condition.
There are two ways to do this in your Automation page:
- Click on the “+” underneath “Send Email”, in the window that pops up, click on “Conditions and Workflows” in the menu on the left and click “Wait”.
- Go to the sidebar on the right-hand side and click on “Conditions and Workflows”. A drop-down menu will appear, and you can drag “Wait” to the “+” sign on the Automation Page.
You will get a pop-up with two options:
- Wait… For a specified period of time.
- Wait… Until specific conditions are met.
For the Welcome Email Sequence, we’ll be selecting the second option, “Until specific conditions are met”.
This will bring you to the “Conditions Editor”, which looks like this:
Let’s back up a little here, in case things are getting a little confusing.
We’ve gone through a lot, so I think a little recap is in order.
So here’s a look at the entire process of what we’re working to accomplish here:
Subscriber Opt-In Form > Active Campaign Welcome Email Campaign >Wait Conditions > If/Else Condition > Tags
The Blue represents where we are in the process right now.
We’re almost there.
Let’s get back to it.
If you remember the Welcome Email I wrote up for my Email Campaign, I included a link to connect with me on Facebook™.
I recommend you put a Call To Action of some sort in your emails, and then track them.
Whether you do, or you don’t, I want to cover how to tag the contacts that click your link.
Here’s how we’ll be using the “If/Else” Condition to categorize/split our email list. This is done using “Tags”.
The “Tags” we’ll be creating are made up of:
- “IF” – Contact Opened your Email / “ELSE” – Tag Them “Welcome Email – Opened”
- “IF” – Contact Opened your Email AND clicked on your link / “ELSE” – Tag Them “Welcome Email – CTA Click”
- “IF” – Contact did not Open your Email / “ELSE” – Tag Them “Welcome Email – No Bueno”
Obviously, you can name them whatever you want, but keep it to something you’ll remember. These are just the tags that I used in this example.
Here’s what your screen is going to look like when you click “(Select a condition…)”.
Let’s zoom in on it and see the options available when we click “Actions”.
Once you set the condition to “Has clicked on a link” then add the list and link you want to track.
Then you’ll get this prompt.
Here you are able to set the “Time Limit” of your Wait Action.
I’ve set it to 7 days, the idea being that if someone hasn’t interacted with your email within 7 days of opening it, it has most likely fallen into the abyss that is a modern day inbox.
Most likely never to be seen again.
Customize this as you wish for your business and email marketing campaigns.
Once you hit “Save” you’ll land back on the Automation page and see this:
So what you’ve done here is essentially give your contacts some time to interact with your welcome email. Based on the how your contacts interact with your email (spam, delete, unsubscribe, open, click CTA, reply), you will segment them (categorize them) with “tags”.
You will be able to use these tags to trigger new automations and for analytics purposes. Not to mention the entire purpose of segmenting your email lists for your email marketing campaigns.
So, where does that leave us now?
This is where we’re at in the process right now:
Subscriber Opt-In Form > Active Campaign Welcome Email Campaign >Wait Conditions > If/Else Condition > Tags
Let’s go back to the picture just above, where we created the “Wait Condition” in your Automation.
Now you will need to create “If/Else Conditions” in order to tell your email provider how to segment your lists.
- Go ahead and click the “+” button below your “Wait Condition”.
- Add an “If/Else Condition” Action in the next window, or drag it from the sidebar to the “+” button.
Next, you’ll see this:
This is where you set the “If/Else Conditions”.
This is similar to how we set your “Wait Conditions”.
- Click on “(Select a condition…)” and select “Action” > “Has clicked on a link”
- Select your Welcome Email and your CTA Link.
- Click “Ok”.
Now, you’ll get to a fork in the road that looks like this:
Being Updated…Coming Momentarily
Thanks for your patience.