Use Simple Drip Campaigns and Auto-Responders to Layer on Time Savings

This article describes how to use simple drip campaigns to layer on automation and add scale to processes.

Today, we’re going to be automating some processes around the ActiveDEMAND Academy, the free learning management platform we use to certify our users on marketing automation. You may not need to automate this specific task, but the process of building out the automation is one that anyone can follow.

Step 1: Set Goals and Behavior

The first step is documentation and research. First, what are the goals? Goals should be SMART, which as a reminder are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Starting with good SMART goals puts you on the right foot. In our case, we want to increase user usage of the platform and get the “ActiveDEMAND person” at our client companies some backup by encouraging the training of a second. We have our own KPIs to measure from these directions.

Best Case Behavior

A great way to figure out how to automate something is to imagine what steps or processes a person would go through to do the task. Sometimes the process is already documented and in front of you, while other times it’ll be something you have to document from scratch. In this case, this is something we’re automating from scratch. It helps here to imagine triggers and actions.

Trigger: Someone has signed up for ActiveDEMAND Academy

Action: After 1 month, see if they’re certified against our Advanced Marketing Automation course. If they are not, encourage them to take it.

Trigger: Someone has completed the Advanced Marketing Automation course.

Action: Send a congrats message, get mailing info so we can send them a certificate, and remind them after a week if they don’t.

2. Document systems, data fields to use, explore integration options

Hopefully, you have most of your data inside your marketing automation platform but here you’ll need to log the sources of information to make decisions.

Here, our student and course info is in a 3rd party LMS, and we need to get it over to ActiveDEMAND to take action. We don’t have a native integration to that LMS, but we found that our LMS has Zapier, so we can use Zapier to send registration and course completion signals to ActiveDEMAND.

Just to make it easy to see how students are doing, we will add a new custom field to ActiveDEMAND called “Course Completion”. This field will make it easier for us to see what’s going on with a student, and we can use it for automation later. If we were doing complex data send/receive, we’d use more custom fields.

custom field type example

Custom field example (click to enlarge)

We could hook into an automated “print on demand” service, but we’re worried that someone might make a typo or other entry error, so we’re going to manually review these before they get mailed. Maybe if we start sending out a lot and the error rate proves to be minimal, we’ll fully automate this part. It should be easy enough to automate, as ActiveDEMAND can use Zapier, or it can post to a webhook.

3. Layer on Automation

Good automation is like an onion, it has layers. Here, we’re going to use autoresponders and campaigns to perform specific tasks. I could build out 1 big workflow to handle it all, but I’d rather use a couple of smaller campaigns because reporting is best on a per campaign basis and if I keep them separate, it’ll make it easy to optimize and analyze. It’ll also be easier to add people to specific campaigns rather than try to jump them to the appropriate step in a big monster of a workflow. The autoresponders will do quick little actions right after a form fill, but I want most emails and timing inside campaigns.

layering automation

The registration form autoresponder will add everyone who registers to a campaign that encourages course completion.


The “encourage to complete” campaign is very simple. It just waits for a month, watching to see if the user completes the ActiveDEMAND Advanced Marketing Automation course. If they do not, they get an email encouragement to complete at the 1-month mark.


The course completed autoresponder will set the custom field we created, and add those who finish the advanced course to the “LMS Certified campaign”.

autoresponder example

The LMS Certified campaign congratulates those who have certified and it tries to get a mailing address so we can send them a nice printed copy of the certificate. It also lets marketing know that someone has completed the course.

receive a certificate workflow

4. Test and Deploy

You should test all automation before deploying live. Testing could be done with internal employees. Another thing to consider is phasing out deployment. Run 1 or 2 contacts through the automation to make sure everything is working as expected before putting everyone and their dog into the campaign.

5. Analyze, Optimize, Enhance

As the campaign runs, it’s important to check how it’s going.

  • Are email open rates higher or lower than expected?
  • Are email click rates doing well?
  • Is the overall conversion rate what you expected?

If you made large, complex automation and found out that it’s way more complex than it needs to be, SIMPLIFY. Simplifying redundant automation makes it easier for you to maintain and change later on.

The other potential is to enhance. If you are still taking some steps manually, can you automate them by adding them to your automation scheme? Can you link up any systems to cut out manual copying?

Have the idea, but can’t wait to deploy?

If you know what you want automated but don’t want to build it out yourself, contact our services department. They can quickly build out what you need to automate so you can start saving your time, scaling up, and making your business more efficient.

Putting It All Together

Building out drip campaigns can seem a little daunting at first but they are so useful for automating many repetitive tasks that are taking up your valuable time. If they feel a little intimidating, think of them like eating an elephant – take it one bite (or step) at a time. So break it down into manageable parts like I have here and do your best to keep it simple. You will be amazed at what you can do.