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How to use automation steps

Automation steps are the building blocks with which you create your automation workflow. Each step contains an event that will occur when a subscriber reaches that step.

There are four different steps to choose from when building your automation; Email, Delay, Condition, and Action.

Each step can be customized to fit the journey you want your subscribers to go through.

To add a step to your workflow:

  1. Click the plus icon beneath your workflow trigger.

  2. Select the type of step you’d like to add.

The Email step allows you to add an email to your workflow that will be sent out automatically when subscribers reach that step. This could be a welcome email, freebie email, or even an automated birthday email for example.

To set up your Email step:

  1. Add the email step to your workflow.

  2. In the sidebar, enter the email name (for internal use only), subject, and the sender information for your email. You can also enable Google Analytics and select the language of your email.

  3. Click Design email and select a campaign editor to create your email.

  1. Once you have finished designing your email, click Done editing to return to your workflow editor.

The Delay step is the most commonly used automation step after the email step and a vital part of any automation that contains more than one email.

It allows you to add breaks before or between steps. For example, if you have three emails in your workflow and you want them each to be sent one week apart, you would add a Delay step of one week between each email step.

You can also delay automation steps until a specific date and time with one of the following options:

  • Specific time of the day - This indicator instructs the workflow to wait to perform the next step until a specific time of the day.

    If you set a delay to wait until 10am, the next step will not be processed until 10am on the following day. Subscribers added before 10am will be processed at 10am the same day. All subscribers added after 10am will be processed at 10am the following day.

  • Specific day of the week - This indicator instructs the workflow to wait until the current day of the week. You can choose any day of the week.

    Subscribers added on the selected day will not be processed. If the delay is set to "wait until the current day of the week is Monday", even subscribers added before 10am on the current Monday will be delayed until the following Monday.

  • Specific day of the month - This option allows you to wait until an exact day of the month or until the last day of the month.

    Only subscribers added to the workflow before the selected day will be processed. If the delay is set to wait until the 15th day of the month (time is set at 10am), subscribers added any time on the 15th day will be processed only on the 15th of the following month.

  • Specific date of the year - This setting delays your workflow steps until a specific day of a year.

    Subscribers added on or before the selected date and time will be processed and triggered on that day. All subscribers added after the selected date and time, will not be processed or triggered at all.

To set up your Delay step:

  1. Add the Delay step to your workflow.

  2. In the sidebar, use the drop-down menu to determine the length of the delay step.

You can choose any number of minutes, hours, weeks, or months; or you can opt to delay the following step until a specific time of the day, day of the week, day of the month, or date of the year.

For example, if you want your subscribers to receive their automation emails on Tuesdays only, you can add a specific day of the week: Tuesday delay step before each email.

When a subscriber reaches a delay step in your active workflow, they will sit on the delay step for the predetermined amount of time before moving on to the next step.

If you need to change the length of your delay step after your workflow is already activated, you can do so. However, subscribers that are already queued for that step will adhere to the previous delay time. New subscribers entering the workflow will comply with the new delay time.

If you simply wish to skip the delay step for some subscribers, you can do so from the automation activity tab.

The Condition step is a powerful function that allows you to split your workflow into two different branches based on a rule determined by you.

You might use a Condition step if you want subscribers who clicked a link in your previous email to receive a different follow-up email than those who didn’t click that same link.

To set up your Condition step:

  1. Add the Condition step to your workflow.

  2. In the sidebar, select whether you want subscribers to adhere to All rules or Any rule in order to meet the requirements of the condition.

You can set up to five conditions (rules) within a Condition step. If you select Any rule, then a subscriber only needs to adhere to at least one of those rules in order to successfully meet the requirements of this step.

If you select All rules, then subscribers must adhere to every rule you set in order to successfully meet the requirements of the Condition step.

  1. Create your conditions (rules).

When creating your conditions, you can choose from the following options:

  • Campaign activity -Create rules based on engagement with your campaigns; for example, if a campaign was opened, clicked or not clicked, etc

  • Workflow activity - Create rules based on engagement with the emails in the current workflow

  • Custom fields - Create rules based on the value of any subscriber fields; for example, if you want to follow up with an email specific to US-based subscribers, you can create a condition that requires the subscribers country field to equal “United States”

  • Group membership - Create rules based on whether or not subscribers are a member of a specific group

  • Segment membership - Create rules based on whether or not subscribers are a member of a specific segment

If the condition is true for subscribers, they will continue down the thumbs-up branch. If the condition is false for subscribers, they will continue down the thumbs-down branch.

Each branch will have its own plus (+) icon that you can click to add more steps.

Note: Conditions are checked immediately. That means if your condition step is based on the email step before it, you will need to add a Delay step before the condition to give subscribers enough time to meet the condition requirements.

The Action step gives you the ability to choose from various actions that will be performed on subscribers that reach that step in the workflow.

Action steps are initiated immediately when a subscriber reaches that step. You can use an action step to add/move subscribers to different groups, update their subscriber fields or even mark them as unsubscribed.

To set up your Action step:

  1. Add the Action step to your workflow.

  2. In the sidebar, select the type of action you want to perform.

You can choose from the following actions:

  • Update custom field - Choose a value to update a subscriber field when a subscriber reaches that step

  • Copy to group - Adds subscribers to a group of your choice without removing them from any groups they were previously members of

  • Move to group - Moves subscribers to a group of your choice while removing them from another group of your choice

  • Remove from group - Select a group from which subscribers will be removed upon reaching that step

  • Mark as unsubscribed - Move subscribers to unsubscribed and will no longer complete any further workflow steps

  • Move to another step - Select another step within the workflow to move subscribers. It comes in handy when you’ve split your workflow into two paths using a Condition step and wish to merge subscribers back to the same path. You can create an Action step to move subscribers to the next step in the other path. It can be completed by the same subscriber only five times in order to prevent loops.

Before you can make any changes to the steps, your workflow must be paused. Then you can hover over any step and click the X icon in the right-hand corner of the step to delete it.

You can delete an Email step or Action step without subscribers being removed from the workflow. Subscribers who were waiting in the queue to get the email or execute the action will be moved to the next step in the sequence once you delete that step.

If you delete a Delay step, all subscribers who were waiting on that delay stepped will be canceled from the workflow. You can find and re-add canceled subscribers in your automation activity.

When deleting a Condition step that has active steps under both branches, a pop-up will appear asking to select which branches to delete– the true branch (thumbs-up), the false branch (thumbs-down), or both.

If the Condition step only has active steps underneath one branch, those steps will remain in the sequence after the Condition step is deleted.

If you wish to change the order of the steps in your workflow, you will need to add new steps into the correct positions using the plus (+) icon and delete the old steps that are sitting in the wrong position.

Note: To edit a workflow, your automation must be paused.

If you wish to move an Email step that you have already created:

  1. Pause your workflow.

  2. Use the plus (+) icon to add an email step to the correct position.

  3. Click Design email.

  4. Instead of choosing an email editor, select Recent emails.

  5. Toggle to view automation emails and select the automation email you would like to move to this position.

  1. Make any necessary changes and click Done editing.

  2. Delete the email step from its original position.

Still have questions?
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at support@mailerlite.com. A member of our support team will gladly assist you.