Here at The A Group, we love marketing automation. If you spend any time in strategy with us, workflows will be drawn on whiteboards, automation will show up all over your marketing plan and we might even have you hiring data guys. We think it’s pretty life changing. Like, bacon-maple-donuts-life-changing.

But if you’re new to marketing automation, it can be just a little bit daunting. Its functionality and capability is huge – which is part of why we love it – but that it can make it difficult to know where to start.

If you’re just starting to dabble in automation, we recommend trying it out with your onboarding communications. Onboarding communications involve a series of emails, triggered by a certain customer action or event, designed to welcome that customer before putting them into the general communications list. These are typically designed to introduce or provide more information about your organization or to move someone to take the next step with your organization.

To help you get started, we’re letting you in on a little secret: four of our favorite onboarding workflows that are sure to work for you:

The Sign Up

A fairly common and easy place for new people to engage with your organization is your email or newsletter sign up. These people have probably just discovered you or have been stalking you online for some time and are finally taking a step to connect and learn more. Though they are expecting to receive general email communications, it’s nice to create a basic workflow to help welcome them.

  • Email #1 – Immediate: Thank them for signing up and let them know you’re excited they’re on board. You might also want to include same basic information about your organization.
  • Email #2 – 2 Days After Sign Up: Send them your latest email blast or newsletter. This is especially important if you typically only email monthly or every other week. Someone is excited when they sign up, and we don’t want to leave them waiting to hear from you.

The Download

Something we love almost as much as automation? Content marketing. And when you pair content with automation, the real magic happens.

An easy way to get started with content marketing is to create a white paper or downloadable resource and require an email address to access or download the resource. Once someone downloads the piece, he or she should be placed in a workflow designed to provide additional resources and share more about your organization:

  • Email #1 – Immediate: Thank them for their interest and include a link to download the content.
  • Email #2 – 2 Days After Sign Up: Provide an additional resource, similar or related to the first. This should take the position of “because you were interested in X, we’re providing Y.” It’s another opportunity to be helpful and provide resources based on certain interests. 
  • Email #3 – One Week After Sign Up: Provide a third resource, related to the first two.
  • Email #4 – 10 Days After Sign Up: Introduction to your organization or call to action. If you’re a humanitarian organization, this is the place to tell people more about your work and how to get involved. If you’re selling a product, now is a great time to introduce some sales language, since you’ve built trust through your resources.

At this point, we would typically place this person in our standard communications flow, whether that is weekly emails about blog posts, monthly updates, or marketing promotions.

The Registration

Events are an excellent time to use automation to engage your audience on a deeper level. They have already taken some sort of action to participate with you by signing up and attending an event; now is the chance to reinforce that decision and make them love you – whether this is their first or fortieth interaction with you.

  • Email #1 – Immediate: Registration confirmation
  • Email #2 – Two Months Before Event: Resources to make the most of the event – downloads, apps, recommended reading, packing lists etc.
  • Email #3 – 4 Weeks Before Event: “We can’t wait to see you” type of email 
  • Email #4 – Two Weeks Before Event: Logistics and details – schedule, lodging etc.
  • Email #5 – Two Days Before Event: Another “we can’t wait to see you” with final last minute details – directions, parking etc.
  • Email #6 – Two Days After Event: “Thank you for joining us” with some fun sort of follow up, such as a video recap or link to photos of the event
  • Email #7 – One Week After Event: A post-event resource – recording of talks, additional reading, worksheets etc.
  • Email #8 – Two Weeks After Event: The next steps. Tell your audience how to get more involved with you or give them a call to action with what to do, buy or give to follow up on their experience.

Events emails should be used to build excitement and provide information prior to an event, and to create a deeper connection post-event. Typically right after an event is when audiences are most engaged – and when organizations are most exhausted from all of their planning! Instead of creating an incredible experience and then going silent, use automation to keep the energy of the event going.

Note: Because everyone registers at different times for events, you might need to create different workflows based on signup date. For example, the person who signs up a week before would not receive emails 1-4 and would start with email 5.

The Gift

Someone donated to your organization! Touchdown! You win the game! Right?

Not quite. When someone gives to you, they are just beginning their relationship with you (yes, they view it as a relationship) and trying to make a decision about whether or not they want to give again. Strategically onboarding new donors through a welcome packet and series of communications to make them feel special is critical to new donor cultivation.

  • Email #1 – Immediate: Thank the donor and also make them feel like they are now part of something big and special. Offer additional opportunities to connect, such as on social media.
  • Email #2 – One Week After Donating: Strengthen the expectation between the new donor and the oncoming communications, and help build a sense of anticipation. Move from the transaction to the relationship with the organization.

Want more about onboarding new donors? Download our free new donor welcome kit, with sample content, here.

See why we’re so in love? Not only does automation save you a lot of time and manpower, it also allows for highly strategic communications with audiences in a way that’s designed to move them from point A to point B. Get started with these four workflows and see where it can take you.

Digital Growth Strategies