Marketing automation helps you reach the right people with the right content at exactly the right time, so you can eliminate repetitive tasks and focus on other parts of your business.

You can introduce folks to your company with a welcome series, get repeat customers by sharing product recommendations, re-engage lapsed customers, send happy birthday messages, and more. No matter what type of business you operate, it's easy to set up the perfect automation for any situation.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the ways you can use MailChimp's powerful marketing automation features to connect with—and retain—your customers, sell more stuff, and address the unique needs of your business. We'll also show you how to learn from your reports, and share tips and examples to help you get started.

How Marketing Automation Works

Unlike one-off campaigns, automations are triggered when specific people meet the pre-defined criteria you set. For example, you could send an automated follow-up message to a customer when they buy something from your store for the first time.

MailChimp offers a number of automation types with built-in triggers for common activities, but if our pre-built options don't address your needs, you can always create a custom automation instead.

Once you’ve chosen an automation, added your content, and set your sending criteria, MailChimp will manage your subscriber queue and email sends. After someone receives the first message in an automation series, they’ll receive every email in the series in sequence, unless they are removed from the automation.

Connect With Your New Contacts

Automation is a simple, effective way to make a powerful first impression. Reach out to your newest subscribers and customers to keep them engaged, improve retention, and cultivate lasting relationships.

Sell More Stuff

Once you connect your store to MailChimp, you can put your purchase data to use by creating automations that make it easy to communicate to—and follow up with—your customers, so you can drive more sales and improve your bottom line.

Boost Customer Loyalty

The customers who support your business are vital to your growth and success, so it's important to let them know they’re valued. And since retaining your existing customers is more cost-effective than acquiring new ones, MailChimp offers several easy-to-set-up automations designed to keep bringing people back.

Bring People Back

Automation can be a powerful asset for businesses during all stages of the customer journey, but can be especially helpful for re-engaging people who haven't interacted with your brand recently.

Before You Start

Whether you create a custom automation or use one of MailChimp’s pre-built options, there are a few things you’ll need to consider before you get started.

Have you connected your store?

Throughout this guide, we've discussed the ways that automation can help e-commerce businesses communicate with customers and drive sales. Keep in mind, however, that many of the automations we've covered are dependent on data from your online store.

So, before you get started, be sure to connect your store to MailChimp. Once connected, you'll be able to put our powerful marketing automation tools to work for you, making it easier than ever to reach your customers, build your brand, and make more money.

When should your emails send?

You can decide the timeframe and what days of the week you want your automated emails to go out. Immediately after the initial triggering action? The next day? The next week? It's your call.

For automations that contain multiple emails, you’ll also decide on the order of the emails and how much time should pass between each new message being sent.

If you’re not sure about how to pace your content, experiment with sending at different times or in different intervals, review your reports to see how engagement and conversions have been affected, and then make any necessary adjustments.

If you have content that is likely to get missed over the weekend, don’t schedule an email for delivery on Saturdays or Sundays. The time delays you’ve built between emails will take the days you exclude into account. So, if your series has a 3-day delay between emails and one message sends on a Friday, exclude Saturdays and Sundays so the workflow will start its 3-day delay on Monday. If you want a message to go out on an annual date, you'll want to have the option to send any day of the week.

What's your trigger?

Our preset automations have triggers defined for you—you’ll just need to enter values for the trigger criteria. Custom automations, on the other hand, require you to define the trigger. And as mentioned earlier, every email in your automation can have its own unique trigger.

For example, if you’d like to send a follow-up email to every person that clicked a link in your last campaign, that click would be your trigger.

Inactions can also act as triggers for your automation. Maybe a subscriber opened a campaign, but didn't click anything—that non-click can be your triggering event.

Or, you could add a customer to an automation after they join your list, send a message after they open an email, send the next after they make a purchase, and so on.

Are you targeting the right people?

A customer may like getting occasional updates about your products, but not want weekly reminders about seasonal items or sales. Consider creating groups based on the interests of your subscribers—or the frequency at which they'd like to receive your email—and developing automations that are tailored to each group.

Do your messages sound human?

The key to effective marketing automation is to create content that doesn't sound like it's automated. Communicate your message in a natural way, and be mindful of the voice and tone of your brand.

Example: Gauge Interactive, an agency that specializes in e-commerce design and development, strives to create automated messaging that feels authentic. They have 3 rules for writing better automation emails:

Analyze Your Results

Automation reports are similar to your regular campaign reports, except they show complete automation statistics in addition to individual email statistics. Review your monthly performance chart to explore your automation’s open rate, click rate, and total number of emails sent for each month of activity. You’ll also find helpful trend data, so you can see how the overall automation is performing compared to your daily average.

E-commerce reports

If you’ve connected your store and created an e-commerce automation—like abandoned cart, customer re-engagement, or order notification automations, for example—your reports will contain more valuable data to help you measure your success.

You can track audience growth, campaign engagement, the number of orders you’ve received, and the amount of revenue you’ve generated. Then, review individual emails in the series for an even closer look at conversions, geolocation data, and more.

Learn from your data

Your reports contain a lot of valuable information that you can use to make adjustments to your automations or inform other elements of your marketing.

For example, once your reports start to populate, you notice that certain emails have better engagement or generate more revenue than others. Maybe you’ll find that your automation is more effective when you offer incentives. Perhaps your audience responds better when you use a certain template, a direct call to action, or a descriptive subject line. You might even notice that the timing if your automation emails or the number of emails within an automation series have an impact on engagement or revenue.

No matter what your reports reveal to you, don’t be afraid to be proactive. Whether that means testing different content, adjusting the length and delay of your automation series, or something else entirely, it’s never too late to review your reports, improve your performance, and build on your success.


Here are a few MailChimp customers that do a great job with automation.

More Resources

In this guide, we’ve covered the basics of marketing automation in MailChimp, but there are a bunch of other resources available to help you get started.