How to create an automated pipeline marketing system using Mautic stages

mautic stages automate pipeline marketing

Every business has some sort of sales pipeline, or sales funnel. (I’ll refer to these terms interchangeably here.) This is simply the process where people transition from prospects to customers of your business. This is often shown as a funnel like so:

example sales pipeline or funnel

For example, at the top, you might have prospects – people who might perhaps be interested in your product, but don’t even know about it yet.

From there, you might talk to them, and even determine that they are somewhat interested and might purchase at some point. This would be the next point in the sales pipeline that might be called “Qualified”.

And so it goes, through the stages of the pipeline, until they become customers. Your sales pipeline is probably slightly different, depending on what you sell and who your customers are. You might give the different stages of your sales pipeline different names.

OK, so why would you want to automate marketing based on your pipeline?

The huge difference maker is where marketing automation comes in. Marketing automation lets you send automated, targeted messages to your audience that change depending on where they are in your sales funnel.

The value of this is obvious. We all know that one message does not fit all. So, a prospect who has never even heard of your product should not get the same email as a customer who has bought from you over and over.

Targeted marketing based on sales funnel position results in more conversions and revenue. This has been proven over and over again.

The beauty of Mautic is … it does this for free!

Mautic is an open source (free) marketing automation system, and through the use of stages in Mautic, you can set up your sales pipeline, and send targeted emails to all your contacts that are tailored to their place in that pipeline.

And once set up, this is a set-it-and-forget-it system. Mautic does all the work for you in the background.

Sorry to be long-winded at the start. But I want to stress the value of automated pipeline marketing – it can be a difference maker, and set you apart from your competitors. This is because it saves time while simultaneously communicating with your prospects and customers with targeted messages. And it does this for free.

To do this, you should use these steps in Mautic:

  1. Create stages based on your sales pipeline
  2. Create segments that match your stages, using filters to identify contacts in each stage
  3. Create campaigns that target each stage
  4. Update your contacts’ stages in Mautic (ongoing)

So let’s get into how to set this up!

Step 1: Create your stages in Mautic that reflect your sales pipeline

This first step is very easy. From the main menu in Mautic, select stages. Then, simply create a stage for each part of the the sales funnel of your business.

Mautic stage creation
Here’s an example of a stage being created in Mautic. I’m creating one called “Prospect” which is going to be applied to all contacts who I think have the potential to become customers down the road.

These can be thought of as major milestones as a person journeys from not even knowing about your product or service, to purchasing it and loving it.

In this example, I have the following stages for my sales funnel:

  • Prospect
  • Qualified
  • Registered Account
  • Free Trial Expired
  • Converted Customer
  • Cancelled Customer
  • Unqualified
an example set up of stages in Mautic
Here are my example stages. These will differ depending on how your sales process or funnel works.

You might have something that is totally different based on your business. You should create whatever stages make the most sense for your sales cycle.

Once you have this created, you can then move contacts from one stage to another, and a contact in Mautic can only be in one stage. This is a huge plus, because it helps prevent a prospect email from being sent to a customer, and vice versa.

Also, the stages have now set in place the backbone upon which our segments and email campaigns in Mautic will follow from.

At the end of this process, you will just need to update a contact’s segment, and all the other functions – updating segments, and sending different targeted email messages, will be done automatically by Mautic.

Step 2: Create segments in Mautic that match your stages

Now we’re going to create the segments in Mautic that will be used to run the targeted email campaigns to your sales funnel.

Segments in Mautic are essentially like lists. They’re dynamic lists that you can place contacts onto and remove them from based on actions or pretty much any criteria you can imagine.

In our case, we’re going to have segments where the criteria is the contact’s stage. To do this, we use filters for all of the segments.

Mautic segments for each stage
In this step, I’ve created a series of segments that match the stages I created.

From the main menu in Mautic, go to Segments, and then create your segment by clicking New.

Here’s the critical part of this process: when creating every segment, go to the Filters tab and add filters to identify contacts in the stage.

Use “Stage” — “Equals” — “(your stage)”.

use filters for the stages
It is critical to use filters in each of these segments. The filters will automatically update each segment by adding the correct contacts from the stage to the segment.

For example, if you have a stage called “Prospect”, create a segment called “Prospect” (although technically it can be named whatever, it makes most sense to match the name to keep things clear and easy). In the filters tab when creating this segment, select “Stage” – “Equals” – “Prospect”. This filter will automatically pull any contacts who are in the stage “Prospect” into the segment.

That’s it for this step! We have our Mautic stages that represent the contact’s place in the sales pipeline. We have segments that are basically lists of contacts who are in each stage. Now, we’re going to create campaigns that send targeted email messages to each of these segments.

Step 3: Create campaigns that send targeted messages to each segment over a period of time

Creating the campaigns is the most involved step in the process, and the amount of work required will vary depending on how targeted you want to get.

From my experience, at the very least, I always want to segment my messages between customers and non-customers. Obviously, you don’t want someone who has bought from you getting an email that says something to the effect of “Have you ever heard of my product? It’s awesome, you should try it out!”

Not impressive. Embarrassing.

In our example, let’s create a campaign targeting the contacts in our Prospecting stage. You can then apply this same process to any other campaigns you want.

Create your targeted emails

For most campaigns you’ll want to have a good amount of emails to send to your clients automatically over time. I think my prospecting email campaign has something like 20 emails.

These do not have to be lengthy, fancy or complicated. Since it’s a prospecting email, you just need to explain the value of what you’re selling.

To create my emails, I just started writing down quick bullet points each stating a benefit of my product or a reason why someone would want to use it. From there, I turned each on of these bullets into a brief email.

And I mean brief. My prospecting emails are mostly only a few sentences long, with a link back to my website or some other content. People don’t want to read lengthy emails. They just don’t. I know I don’t.

Here’s another blog post I wrote about creating professional targeted emails using Mailchimp and Mautic. You don’t have to have graphic, fancy emails like the ones described in this article, but it might be helpful at least to check out how emails are created in Mautic.

Create the campaign and launch the campaign builder

Now that you have emails, go to Campaigns under the main menu in Mautic and create a new campaign.

The source of your campaign is going to be a segment. And the segment is going to be – in this example – Prospecting. (Of course, if you’re creating a campaign targeting a different stage, you’ll pick the correct segment for that stage here.)

mautic campaign source
The source for our campaigns is always going to be segment. And the segment is going to be whichever one you are creating the campaign for. Remember, each segment uses filters to correspond to one of your stages.

The next step is to select “Action” from the plus sign right after the source of the campaign. This action is going to be “Send Email”.

mautic campaign action
Your first step is going to be an action – to send an email to the contact.

We can send this immediately without any relative time period being selected because it is the first email of the campaign. So, once a contact is added to this segment, they will immediately receive this first email.

mautic campaign action send email immediatley
We can send this first email – and only the first one – immediately because we know the contact is in our segment, and they haven’t yet received any emails for this campaign.

Here is also where you select one of the emails that you created for this campaign.

Use conditions throughout the campaign to check that the contact is still in the same segment

After the first email is sent, we need to always check that the contact is still in the Prospecting segment before sending another email.

That way, if a contact’s segment goes from Prospecting to Won – Customer, the campaign will not incorrectly send the person another prospecting email.

To set this up, select the plus sign after the most recent action that sent an email, and then select “Condition”. From the condition drop down, select “Contact Segments”. This means Mautic is going to check on the contact’s segments.

mautic campaign condition check segments
Using this Mautic campaign condition, we can check to make sure the contact is still in the right segment for this campaign. That way, we’ll avoid sending them email that is inappropriate for where they are in our sales pipeline.

Here you should also set a relative time period. This should be however long you want to wait in between emails. So, likely a matter of days or weeks. After this condition is checked, we will choose action again and send another email immediately.

So the wait will occur *before* checking the contact’s segment.

In the field at the bottom, select the correct segment for the campaign. Again, in this example we are creating the Prospects campaign, so that is what is selected here.

After the condition, you will see 2 plus signs as options – one green and one orange. The green means it’s a “yes”, or a positive match. The orange is a “no”, meaning the contact did not match the condition that was checked for.

So in our case, we want to send an email to the contact if they are a match for the segment that we just checked for. In other words, the green plus sign.

Therefore we can select the green plus sign, and add an action to send another prospecting email immediately here. Because remember that we have already waited in our previous step, the condition.

mautic campaign flow
Here is how the flow of the campaign starts to look. Use actions to send an email. Then use conditions to check the contact’s segment in a certain number of days/weeks. Then send an email again if they are still in our segment. If not, we can remove them from the campaign.

Another note: I always section “Marketing” instead of “Transactional” email in the email send action in my campaigns. The reason for this is that Mautic will make sure it does not send a contact the same email more than once if Marketing is selected.

Now that we create a step to send an email to all contacts who still match our Prospecting segment, we can also create an action for the negative result, or orange plus sign.

Click the orange plus sign and select “Action”. This means whatever action Mautic performs here is going to be on contacts who *did not match* our condition. In our example, these are contacts who are no longer in the Prospecting segment.

mautic campaign actions change campaign
With the change campaign action, we can remove the contact from the campaign if they are no longer in the segment that is targeted by this campaign.

Select “Change Campaigns” and under the action, you can select “This campaign” under “Remove contact from”. This will just take anyone who should no longer by in this campaign out of it.

And that’s the whole idea right. As prospects learn about how awesome your products are, you want to remove them from the prospecting campaign, and likely move them into a different one, targeting a different stage in your sales funnel.

To fill out the rest of the campaign, repeat these steps above for every email that you have targeting this segment. Use conditions every step of the way to make sure that you’re not emailing someone who’s no longer in this segment.

Pretty cool right? Mautic is now going to send targeted emails automatically to your contacts based on where they are in your sales pipeline! This is the power of Mautic stages, segments and campaigns.

HUGE, IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: Make sure your cron jobs are set up correctly. This is a must, or this whole awesome system will not work.

Here is an article where I go over how to install Mautic, and there is a section about setting up Mautic cron jobs in cpanel.

Once the cron jobs are set up, test, test, and test some more to make sure they are all working correctly.

Update contact stages as they move through your sales pipeline

This automated marketing system that targets your sales funnel is obviously extremely awesome. However, it goes without saying that you need to update your contacts’ stages regularly in Mautic in order for it to do anything.

This can be done in a number of ways. And manually is one of them. Meaning, you log into Mautic, find the contact whose stage you need to change, and edit the contact.

This is the process that I use. It takes 2 seconds to update the contact’s stage. And then Mautic will dynamically handle all the rest. The different stage change will trigger the contact’s segments to be updated. And then from the conditions in the campaign that you created, the contact will be added or removed from the appropriate campaign.

Another way to update contacts’ stages is through campaigns. You can create campaigns in Mautic and use decisions. The decisions can check if a contact has visited a certain page, completed a specific form, or downloaded a certain file.

mautic campaign decision
In addition to updating the contacts’ stages manually, you can also automate this process using campaign decisions. It is all based on how your contacts move through your sales funnel.

So, for example, if a contact fills out your form to request a demo or quote, you can use a campaign decision to identify this, and then an action to update their stage from Prospecting to Qualified.

In this way, Mautic is being used more or less as a CRM. The stages track the contact’s place in the sales funnel, and then you, or a sales team, updates the contact in the system to reflect any changes in their readiness to purchase.

The marketing automation does the rest.

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