Gediminas from MailerLite

Gediminas13 min readTips and resourcesDecember 19, 2019

What are automation triggers and how you can use them

What are automation triggers and how you can use them

Whenever you start to build a new workflow, you need to choose a trigger that sets everything in motion. You can probably remember a trigger or two, but did you know there are a total of 10 triggers that can start a variety of workflows?

This article will explain the use of every automation trigger within MailerLite and shows examples to help you use them.

Email automation triggers

An automation is essentially a series of steps that happen after each other. Each workflow is triggered when there's a match with the workflow its trigger. For example, if you use the trigger "When a subscriber joins a group" then the workflow starts when someone joins the group that's selected in the trigger.

By default, each trigger only happens once for each subscriber within that workflow. 

Let’s say a subscriber joins a group and then rejoins at a later point. The workflow won’t activate all over again. If you want the trigger to happen more than once, you can click the “Repeat workflow for subscribers who …” option in the sidebar. The same subscriber can’t be triggered more than once in a 24-hour period, so you don’t need to worry about spamming them. Also, subscribers can only be triggered a second time when they’ve completed the workflow.

This option is available for all triggers, apart from the date and custom field update triggers. For these 2 options, subscribers can be triggered more than once by default (but only after 24 hours). We’ve set it like this so subscribers can receive your email every year from the moment you activate the workflow.

Before diving into specific triggers and how to use them, read our guide about email automation if you want to understand automation better!

This trigger is the most popular and powerful one. It triggers subscribers once they join any selected group in an automation workflow. 

It’s great for when you have a signup form for a specific interest group or when your form allows subscribers to self-select several groups. Now you can send targeted messages to each group. 

If the subscribers are already in the group before you set the trigger, you can manually add them to the workflow by clicking the link Add subscribers to workflow. You’ll find this option in the sidebar once the workflow is activated. Subscribers will never be triggered more than once in a 24-hour period.

Note: Subscribers that belong to an excluded group won't be triggered in the automation, even when they join the trigger's group. You can read more about excluding subscribers from workflows here.

Trigger when subscriber joins a group

The example above shows the most common workflow, which is to send a welcome email when subscribers join your newsletter.

Another example to use this email trigger is when you’re hosting a webinar. You’d create a separate signup form for your upcoming webinar. Each person that signs up and completes the double opt-in will be automatically added to a group “Webinar signups.”

With email automation, you can trigger an email series that’s sent each time someone is added to the webinar group. Your first email can be a confirmation for the upcoming webinar, the second can be a reminder and the third a “We’re starting in an hour” email.

This is the automation trigger we personally use the most. An automation workflow is triggered when a subscriber completes the selected signup form that you created with MailerLite—whether that’s a pop-up, landing page or embedded form.

Trigger when subscriber completes a form

This trigger is great when your form caters to a specific audience. An example is a content offer automation. If you’re starting from scratch, you’d build a landing page for your content offer, add a signup form and then create a new automation workflow using the completed-form trigger.

Your first workflow step would be to create an email that contains the content offer. This email will automatically be sent once the subscriber confirms double opt-in (if you have this option activated). You can then add as many emails as preferred (like a follow-up email a few days later).

This trigger allows you to start a certain action when a subscriber clicks a link in one of your email campaigns or automation emails. Once set up, the workflow is triggered after a subscriber clicks the link in their inbox.

Link trigger MailerLite
Example 1

The example above can be used to automatically sort engaged readers in a separate group. This workflow moves subscribers that downloaded the free PDF to a new group. You can now target this group to send follow-up emails.

Example 2

In your next marketing newsletter you’re promoting a free social media email course. You add a button in your email that says “Send me the course” and redirect it to a new “Thank You” landing page that’s specifically created for this course.

In a new workflow, you use the Thank You page URL and set it as your link trigger. Now you can start building the social media email course automation. Each time someone clicks the button in your newsletter and lands on the Thank You page, the workflow will be activated.

Another way to use this trigger is when you want to copy subscribers to a group of their choice.

To do so, you can add several buttons in the newsletter and link each button to a separate Thank You landing page URL. Then you create an automation for each button link. If you have 3 buttons, you need to set up 3 “When subscriber clicks a link” automations:

  1. Trigger with the URL:
  2. Trigger with the URL:
  3. Trigger with the URL:

Or however you want to name your landing pages.

For the automation, you’ll first select the link-click trigger and then add an action that copies subscribers to the group of their choice. For each automation this will be a different group, depending on what button URL they click.

Note: If you’re using our landing page builder, in both instances you’ll want to remove the Form block if you have this in your layout. This is because you don’t need a Success page (the second tab in the landing page editor), but only the Thank You page.

With the updated field trigger, an automation workflow can be triggered when a custom field in the subscriber profile is updated and matches the trigger rule. It also works when a custom field value is manually updated in the subscriber profile and the new value matches the updated field trigger rule.

Updated field trigger
Example 1

We love using this trigger for the Net Promoter Score survey. When a subscriber clicks a score, their custom field is automatically updated. Based on what scoring they gave, you can sent a personalized follow-up email. The above example uses a survey to ask for feedback from people that scored the product line with a 6 or less.

Read here how to set an NPS email automation workflow yourself.

Feedback email trigger
Example 2

This trigger is also useful for sending a first-purchase feedback email. This feedback email is triggered when an order is completed.

For example, when you use Shopify, you can have a custom field that says “Shopify order count.” If a customer never made an order, the field will be empty or display 0. As soon as a customer completes an order, the field will automatically update to 1.

For this automation example you need to set the rule “Shopify order count” “is equal” “1”. This rule will automatically send out your feedback email when a first order is made.

This trigger is perfect for special annual events like birthdays or wedding anniversaries. It activates once the subscriber has a specific date in the date-based custom field. The year is ignored, so the email campaign is sent annually and it only triggers the subscribers that belong to the selected group.

Anniversary link trigger

The most popular example of this trigger is the automated birthday email. With this email automation, our software checks for a day and month match in the birthday field and then activates the birthday workflow. Here’s how to set one up yourself.

This trigger is ideal for one-off emails that need to be sent on a specific subscriber’s date, like a reminder for membership renewal or a post-purchase follow-up. 

It searches for the exact date in the subscriber’s date type custom field. This happens automatically every day for each subscriber at 4 AM GMT/UTC +00:00 and repeats once. It only triggers the subscribers that belong to the selected group.

Exact match of a date

You can use any type of information to create a workflow with this trigger—it just depends on what data is available. Let's say you have an insurance company. In your customer's data, there's a field that shows the date when the insurance for each person ends. Now you can use the date field "1 month before" "insurance end date." Of course, when you send the reminder is up to you. It can be a month, a week or a few days before.

Apart from these 6 triggers, there are also 4 extra triggers that are specifically made for people with an online shop.

E-commerce owners can integrate their shop with MailerLite and effectively ask for post-purchase feedback, recommend similar products or seal the deal when customers haven't completed their order.

Do you have a Shopify or WooCommerce store that is integrated with MailerLite? Good, then you can use this trigger. This one starts an automation workflow when a shop visitor provides their email but leaves before finalizing their purchase. Subscribers can be triggered more than once, every time when they abandon their cart. 

Abandoned checkout email

The abandoned checkout trigger is great for convincing people to finish their orders. You can highlight the products from the shopper’s abandoned cart and seal the deal with a special offer. In this article you can read more about this workflow.

This workflow is triggered when a person purchases any product in your store and activates when the purchase is completed (paid).

Purchases any product trigger

This trigger is good for post-purchase emails like feedback or up-selling emails. You can start the workflow with this trigger, add a delay and then send your follow-up email. In this article, we’ll give you the specific steps to get started.

This trigger is activated when a shopper purchases a specific product in your store. While creating the trigger, you need to select this specific product from your connected e-commerce store. The purchase needs to be completed (paid) in order to be triggered.


Often times it’s not just 1 item you want to sell your customers. You probably have cool accessories or similar products in your store too. This email trigger lets you easily send an upselling email. You can also use it so send informational emails after someone buys a certain item.

This workflow is triggered when a shopper purchases a product from a specific category. You can choose from all your categories or collections when setting up this email trigger. Any finished product order (completed and paid) from the selected category or collection will trigger the automation workflow. 

Purchase from category trigger

This trigger is ideal for cross-selling products or to offer other relevant products based on prior purchases.

Do you have any further questions about using triggers to start automated workflows? Our 24/7 support team is there to help you! Just send them your message via email or live chat.

What automation trigger do you use the most?

Gediminas Andrijaitis

I’m Gediminas, CPO at MailerLite (not to be confused with C3PO from Star Wars). I work across all departments to ensure MailerLite is always working and helping you create the best email experience possible. The only thing I love more than building products is riding motorcycles—really, really fast.