If you collect email subscribers from multiple different locations and offer different content in return, you’re going to run into a couple of complications.
1. If a current subscriber wants a second email-gated piece of content, you want to send it to them without welcoming them twice.
2. You have to know which piece of content they signed up for and deliver the correct autoresponder.
3. You don’t want to write a new “welcome” sequence every time you release a new piece of email-gated content.
Here’s how I’ve solved these problems with ActiveCampaign. If you use a different email service provider, you may still be able to accomplish a similar system. Most modern ESPs with automation will allow you to do the same thing.
Before I jump into the step-by-step, I want to give you a picture of what we’ll be creating.
You don’t have to wait to send regular scheduled emails until they are onboarded, but I think this is a good practice for most companies. It’s impossible to always make your regular emails fit perfectly with what they’re hearing from you in the onboarding sequence.
So, here’s how you do it.
Step 1. Create a custom dropdown field in ActiveCampaign called “Welcome status”. This will be used to track where the subscriber is in their journey. The options should be: Not ready, Ready, Ongoing, and Onboarded. Feel free to choose names that make sense for you.
Step 2. Create forms for each potential “entry point”. You’ll need a unique one for every entry point which you plan to send different content than others. For example, you might have a form where people sign up to get on a waitlist for a product beta. Another form might be for people who want a free ebook.
Step 3. Under the form options, add a tag to the subscriber that maps back to the purpose for which they subscribed. Use a standard format such as “Subscribed — [Description]”. You can also use the same name as the form to keep your data simple and clean.
I’d turn off “Allow blank fields to overwrite existing field data”. This would be counterproductive for most people, but irrelevant if all fields are required.
By the end of this step, you should have multiple forms that each add a unique tag to the subscriber.
Step 4. Create entry point automations for each form that you created.
Their triggers should either be “Tag is added” or “Form is submitted”. I recommend using a tag instead of a form entry because you may end up creating multiple forms for the same entry point with different styling. Or you may want to enable subscribers to request additional content with a link click that applies a tag. Tags are just more flexible.
We’re going to create an automation that looks like this:
The first action is to check whether “Welcome status” is blank. The reason: if it’s not blank, that means they’ve already submitted a form and gone through this process before. Regardless of where they are in their journey, that means we don’t want to send a “Welcome” email. In this particular screenshot, we’re working on the “General” entry point. There’s no specific content promised for this entry point. So if an existing subscriber happens to fill out this form, they won’t receive anything.
If the entry point was for an ebook, we’d send them the ebook without any “Welcome” fanfare.
On the “Yes” path, we update “Welcome status” to “Not ready”. This simply signals to our system that the subscriber is currently receiving an autoresponder. If someone fills out multiple forms in a day, this will help move them into the “No” path up top, so we don’t welcome them multiple times.
Next, we send the autoresponder with no delay. ActiveCampaign will run through this logic very quickly, so don’t worry about all these extra steps before the autoresponder.
Now, we wait for a custom period of days. This may be different depending on the entry point, but will usually be the same amount of time. At this point, you could add multiple emails if the entry point calls for it. For example, you might have an email form that promises a 4-part series of videos delivered to their inbox. You’d want to send all of those before moving them to the generic welcome sequence.
Once we’re ready to send them the generic welcome sequence, we can trigger it immediately by setting their “Welcome status” to “Ready”. But first, we need to double check that they haven’t already moved to this point. This could happen if you have two different entry point automations going on at the same time. Check that welcome status isn’t ongoing or done before setting them to “Ready”.
Duplicate this automation and edit the emails/triggers for each entry point.
Step 5. Create your generic welcome sequence automation.
This automation will be very simple: first, it sets “Welcome status” to “Ongoing”. This is not really necessary for automation, but it’s nice for segmentation and reporting.
Next, you send whatever emails you want to with wait steps between them.
Finally, you set their welcome status to “Done” at the end.
Step 6. Send all manual emails to a segment of people who have a “Welcome status” of “Done”.
Step back and reap the benefits
This process takes some time to set up initially, but the result is a seamless experience for your subscribers. And once you have the basic structure set up, adding new entry points is just a matter of duplicating existing forms and automations and editing just a couple of things.
Have any ideas to make this even better? Leave a comment below!