Creating a powerful 100% free automated drip email marketing program using Mautic campaigns

Email marketing automation in recent years has been evolving from a “nice to have” to a “must have”. Numerous have confirmed that brands that are able to send automated, targeted messages based on (1) a prospect’s profile and/or (2) where a prospect is at in the sales cycle are able to convert leads into revenue at a higher rate and faster. Here is just one article that breaks down these benefits.

Drip email marketing is a must-have
Automated drip email marketing programs have become a must-have for competitive revenue growth.

Suffice it to say, businesses saying “yes” to automated email marketing is a no-brainer.

This means marketing automation provides a competitive advantage, and those without it are finding themselves lagging behind.

That’s why Mautic is invaluable, and a leveler of the playing field for solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. It gives the little players a big platform – for free. So they can have all the power of automated, targeted messaging without the enterprise cost.

Let’s take a look at a basic way that Mautic will let you do this – drip email marketing. With the power of Mautic campaigns, you can set up and launch an automated email campaign very easily, for free.

Create a segment, form, and campaign in Mautic

We will need to identify, or tag, every contact who is going to be placed on our drip email marketing program. To do this, we will use segments, which is an extremely powerful tool in Mautic. To create a segment, navigate to the Segments section of the main menu. Once there, select Add New Segment. In this example, we are calling our segment “Prospect Drip”.

Create a segment in Mautic

Note: The segment you select must be “Public,” which is set as the default. If you select private segment, this will not be available to the campaign.

To create our example drip program with Mautic campaigns, we’ll falso create a form. This will be embedded on a website or landing page, and will be the gateway through which contacts will enter into our drip program. Creating a form in Mautic is pretty straightforward, and I have written about it in another post, which you should check out if you want more specific details about how to setup the form.

One thing that I will note here regarding the form, is that in our example we will add an action to the form the modify the contact’s segments. This will identify everyone in our drip program, and we will select this same segment later when setting up our Mautic campaign.

Now we have a form that will add people to a segment, which will be the basis for identifying them and placing them in our Mautic campaign.

When ready to test and eventually push the form live, make sure to embed the form on your website so it is accessible to prospects. This process is also covered in my article about Mautic forms, specifically for embedding the form in WordPress.

Create a campaign

From the main menu in Mautic, select campaigns, then +New. You will be required to provide a name for your campaign, and then fill in at least one action in order to save it.  To add actions, you’ll need to select “Launch Campaign Builder”.

Use the Mautic campaign builder to create Decisions, Actions, and Conditions

The first step in the campaign builder will be to select the contact source. You only have 2 simple options here, which are forms and segments. Since we’re using segments in this example, select segments. Then fill in the correct segment for this campaign – this will be the same segment that we added as an action to our form.

Mautic campaign select source

Mautic campaign select segment
Once you select Segment as your campaign source, you’ll then find the segment that you created in the previous step. Select this as the source.

Now we are ready to send our drip emails. You will see three gray semi-circles coming from the main title box. You’ll need to click the bottom one; the other 2 just allow you to change the contact source of the campaign.

Once you do this, you’ll see the three very powerful options in the Mautic campaign builder: Decision, Action, and Condition. Briefly these are broken down here:

Mautic campaign decision action condition
The three options for Mautic campaigns – decision, action, and condition – will allow you to create a powerful automated drip email marketing program.
  1. Decision = when the contact decides to take some action, the campaign can then trigger different responses. For example, if a contact downloads the brochure for product X, send an email with more information about product X.
  2. Action = Simple enough, it takes some action on the contact. This can be send an email, update a field value for a contact, change campaigns, etc. There are many options here. You can even permanently delete a contact.
  3. Condition = Evaluates whether a condition is true, and depending on the result, lets you respond accordingly. The condition is used on either forms or field values. For example, is the contact’s field value for company size less than 50? If so, send an email targeted toward small businesses. Or, has the prospect filled out a demo request form? If so, send an email with instructions on accessing our demo website.

For the purposes of our drip email marketing campaign, we want to select action. From the dropdown menu, select Send Email.  Here we will get a number of options to configure the email and choose when we want to send it. This is very powerful, especially the “at a relative time period” option, which allows you to send the email automatically to everyone who is added to this campaign. For this example drip campaign, we’ll select 3 days.

Mautic campaign builder
You can set up the details of your email quickly and easily in the Mautic campaign builder.

Configure the send email actions and wait times

You’ll also need to select the email that you want to send.  You will either need to have created an email already (and I have already written about how to create very cool marketing emails using Mailchimp and Mautic, of course 100% for free), OR you can actually create one here from the “Send Email” screen. If you are creating a very simple, text-based email, this will likely work for you.

Mautic campaign email builder
You can even build your email straight from the campaign builder in Mautic.

Please note that transactional emails probably should not be selected if you are creating a drip marketing campaign like this one.  Reason being, transaction emails can be sent to a contact multiple times, and it is a best practice not to send repeat emails to contacts.

DON’T FORGET TO APPLY YOUR CHANGES AND SAVE FREQUENTLY. In my experience, Mautic is sometimes finicky and will at times crash when attempting to save, so it will lose changes made. So you never want to apply a ton of work, all for it to crash and be lost.

To add the next drip email to your campaign, hover over the gray semi-circle at the top (title block) of your campaign, and click the plus sign. NOTE: Do not build the next step of the campaign from the previous email. If you click the plus sign from the first email action, you will only see the “Decision” and “Condition” options. This is because the actions all occur from the start of the campaign, not from the most recent action.

Repeat the same process to send email #2, only this time, your wait time will be the time in days *from the start of the campaign*. For example, in this campaign, we have the first email going out 3 days after the form has been completed (or, more accurately speaking, after the contact has been added to our “Prospect Drip” segment). I’ll set the second email to go out a week after the first one. Therefore, the wait time that I input will be 10 days – because that is the total amount of time from the start of the campaign.

The third and final email will be sent out another week from that one, so I will input 17 days as the wait time on that one. In the end, we have a campaign that looks like this:

Mautic campaign builder flow
Your drip email marketing campaign in Mautic might look slightly different. But the campaign builder tool will give you all the steps you need to create an automated flow of emails.

I must say, from my experience the user interface of the campaign builder is not always stellar. In particular, the lines connecting one action to the next, and to the start of the campaign, do not always seem to be consistent or clear.

So, your campaign flow lines might not look exactly the same as mine.

However, you should test your campaign, and test again, before launching it live, to make 100% certain that your drip email marketing campaign functions exactly the way you want it to.

I first tested the campaign above using only minutes of wait time, and once I had it functioning the way I wanted it to, I then converted to days. So, it definitely works, you just need to test, test, test to make sure all is good.

Confirm the correct cron jobs are running and if not add them

When I was testing my first Mautic campaign, the emails were not sending. After doing some research I found that I did not have all the required cron jobs set up on my server. To execute a drip email marketing program campaigns in Mautic like the one in this example, you’ll need to make sure you have the required cron jobs running for segments and campaigns as listed on Mautic’s documentation here: https://www.mautic.org/docs/en/setup/cron_jobs.html.

Setting up cron jobs using C-panel is not always that intuitive, and these Mautic cron jobs are no different. In my blog post about installing Mautic using C-panel, I cover this topic.

So if you find that you’ve launched your drip program, and everything looks correct in Mautic, the next place you should go is your cron jobs to verify those are setup correctly. I imagine 9/10 times this is the cause of Mautic emails not sending, and once corrected, the emails will send perfectly.

Once you have this set up, you’ll have a drip program that will nurture leads and help optimize your revenue pipeline.

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