If you are using an email marketing service, you are promoting something.

It could be a newsletter, your latest blog post, updates on your non-profit, business and product updates or new services you offer.

Email Marketing is the perfect tool to announce, promote and keep your circle up to date with everything. The trick is, to send the right email, to the right person and at the right time. With Marketing Automation and Automation Pro, you can do just that!

Let’s say you are involved with a local non-profit, and you’re asked to create a campaign for an upcoming fundraiser. It would be awesome if you could just send one email and have donations flowing to the extent that you never needed to do another fundraiser again, right? Well, while anything is possible … it is unlikely for just one email to do the job.

When running a fundraiser or any promotion, you need to cast a wide net through as many channels as possible and with multiple messages. It’s not because your subscribers and followers don’t care about your cause or promotion, its because you may catch them at a bad time or the way the message was presented didn’t relate to them. This is why it is important to reach your audience through as many channels as possible and with different messages. Create a list of compelling reasons your subscribers can relate to and promote it through various channels following a cohesive storyline.

Let’s take a look at one of the most successful fundraiser campaigns: the Obama Campaigns.

Over his two terms, the Obama administration was able to raise $1.4 Billion with Email and Social Media as their main channels for promotion. This was no accident or lucky viral stunt. This was the result of hard work and planning. From personalized landing pages to intriguing action based subject lines, they created a recipe for success by testing everything they did and by finding ways to relate to their donors.

Email Marketing Strategy

Focusing on just email for a moment, Marketing Sherpa interviewed Toby Fallsgraff, Director of Email, for the “Obama for America” campaign. Toby and his team helped raise $690 million for the 2012 campaign alone. With more than 4.5 million people donating an average of $53. A lot of these donors gifted more than once.

The Obama administration had four main segments:

  1. Previous Donors, these were donors who had already donated in 2012.
  2. Quick Donors, these were the donors who donated and saved their payment information.
  3. Non-Donors, these were subscribers who have not yet donated
  4. Lapsed Donors, these were donors who donated in 2008 but haven’t yet donated in 2012.

By keeping a simple four category segment, they were able to send clear, direct messages and stay focused. As soon as they would see patterns, it’s as easy as automating. An example of email automation they used was the “quick donors” link.

Quick donors were people who saved their payment information at the moment of donating.

Toby and his team incentivized this behavior by sending free bumper stickers and other gifts. This allowed them to leveraged this opportunity by simply adding a “quick donate” link to their “Thank You” emails after a person donated. Since the donor would save their payment information, Toby’s team would include the option to donate again with a simple click. No forms to fill out, no time wasted, just one click away. By doing this, they saw a 300% increase in conversions.

In this case, they used the power of email automation to ensure the “Thank You” email was sent right away with the correct followup links to earn more donations. They chose these main segments because, from their studies and tests, they saw that behavior based followups were the most successful strategy and the way to go.

Landing Pages

When it comes to the landing pages, Kissmetrics did a study on how these related to the messages. What they found was a whole lot of personalization!

From custom landing pages related to their campaigns (Obama held an “Ask me anything” session on Reddit for 30 min):

Redditors for Obama


To including the website visitors state at the moment of signup:

These small details can go a log way! The Obama administration did hundreds of tests to ensure the right strategy and what they found out is that personalization and behavior based follow-ups are key to a successful promotional campaign. The good news is that all of this goes hand in hand with marketing automation.

Email Marketing Automation can sound intimidating or time-consuming, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t have to be that way. The Obama for America campaign was able to raise over $690 million in less than six months with four main list segments. Nothing too crazy or super complicated, they just made sure to send the right messages, to the right people and at the right time. So, what does this mean for you? Will you beat those numbers? I sure hope so!

To get you going, we encourage you to use Automation Pro with our new templates. With Automation Pro, you can easily create behavior-based follow-ups from engagement on previous emails and your website, allowing you to automate messages based on certain pages your subscribers visit or based on opening an email or not.

To promote something, we created four main templates in Automation Pro.

  1. Promote and Target Opens. This template is focused on promoting something and targeting your opened/unopened for followups.

Notice how after the email is sent, we have a condition to check for opens. We then push the opened and unopened subscribers into separate lists for a future follow-up.

  1. Promote and Target Clicks. Allows you to promote something and target your clicks/non-clicks for followups. It looks the same as the Opens template but will focus on click-through engagement instead.

In this template after the email is sent, we have a condition to check for clicks. We then push the clicked and non-clicked subscribers into separate lists for a future follow-up.

  1. Promote and Target Opens, Clicks and Website Engagement. Allows you to promote something and target all of the milestones. Follow-up with opened/unopened, clicks/non-clicks and website visits/non-website visits.

Here, after the email is sent, we have a condition to check for opens, clicks and website engagement. We then push each group of subscribers into separate lists for a future follow-ups.

  1. Follow-up Series. This template is used to automatically follow-up with each of the targeted groups. (eg. Opened vs. Unopened or Visited Website vs. Didn’t Visit Website, etc.) Since an automation can be triggered from someone being added to a list, once you send a promotion, and separate the engaged with non-engaged subscribers into different lists, you can use this template to create a new automation and follow-up with these subscribers as they get added to their list. For more information on how to combine automations, check out our blog on Goal Based Lists.

We created these four templates to allow you to start where you feel most comfortable. If you are new to automation, start with just the Promote and Target Opens template. Once you get the hang of it, you will quickly roll over to the next one. (Be careful, it can get very addicting!)

Here are the takeaways I would love for everyone to walk away with:

  1. Identify what works, AKA your “proven process”. You do this by creating somewhat of a plan, brainstorming ideas and then testing. Test as much as you can and start automating what works as you see patterns.
  2. Start small. Make sure to start with simple automation you feel comfortable with. Create a Welcome Series or create a promotion that has a simple follow-up to the unopened emails.
  3. Keep your automation short. It is ok to have a full sales process automated, but don’t do it all under one automation. Set milestones and have each automation work with the next. As an example, the Obama campaign could have an automation sending once a week to those who haven’t donated. Once they donate once, they may try to get them to save their payment information to promote the “Quick Donate” automated email after that.
  4. Learn to listen to your subscribers and create engaging campaigns that your followers can relate to. Embrace behavior based follow-ups!

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this blog and that you found it useful! If you have automation ideas or success stories to share, we would love to hear them! Comment below and tell us how you automate your promotions.