How To Create A Simple Automation That Gets REPLIES In ActiveCampaign

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Email marketing is incredibly frustrating for most. There’s no shortage of case studies and guru stories claiming it works wonders, but in my experience it has been a tough nut to conquer.

In conversations with other marketers I consistently notice a trend; everyone knows they need to do some type of email marketing, but when it comes down to it, they try, get frustrated and give up.

Now to put everything in context, let’s clarify a few things up.

There’s 2 primary objectives of email marketing…

#1 Get clicks.. which become sales.

#2 Get replies… which open up sales conversations.

This automation focuses on #2.

Also this does not focus on email list building, which is a totally separate subject.

If watching a video is your style… you can watch it here.

The Automation Overview

We can primarily sum this automation up by saying we send our list authentic, non-salesy, content at the optimal time, then follow up with everyone that opened the email with a simple question in an email.

We set up a wait action to the right day of week, and then time of day. Then send email. Then wait until the right time for the ‘follow-up’.

I do this weekly.

The key to the follow up email is keeping short, sweet and text based, so many users don’t even realize it is automated.

Why It works

Most people on your email list aren’t there because they want to be sold, and even if they are, they’ll engage more with non sales content.

In this method we use non-sales content to identify who is engaging and interested in things related to your business/service/product.

THEN, to avoid bugging people uninterested, we only send a follow-up to those engaged.

Note: See ‘The key’ in the section above.

How To Set It Up (in ActiveCampaign)

So you’re ready to start opening conversations with email marketing using my approach.


Let’s jump into how you set it up the whole thing in ActiveCampaign.

Start by creating a new automation in ActiveCampaign.

A screen will pop up and just start from scratch.

Personally I have never found any of the templates ‘practically’ useful. I say ‘practically’ because they can be good to go through and get ideas, but I’ve never worked off one.

Then ‘start without a trigger’. You’ll need to manually add contacts to this automation.

A trigger would be like, ‘someone subscribes to the list’, or someone opens an email. There’s certainly ways someone could morph this into using it, but for the basics, this is an automation you create weekly and choose your contacts from multiple sources.

My rule of thumb: stick to the basics until you get good results from it. That applies to email marketing, and anything else.

Then it is time to set up your first action, which is ‘wait’.

Now it is time to apply the condition, which is wait until The Right Time to send the first email.

In this step, I am including day AND time in the same condition (vs in the overview section I have them in 2 separate steps.

Now it is time to put the email send. You can compose the actual email later, let’s just get the automation up and running.

With the email in in place, the next step is to put the ‘wait’ action in place as you did earlier.

This will be the time when the automation checks to see if the contact opened the email.

Follow the step from previous time setting.

Now it is time to apply the rule that checks if the contact has opened the email.

Important note: I only send this to people that have opened, NOT everyone. The reason for this to avoid annoying people and getting marked as spam.

To do this you set an if/else condition based on ‘has opened’ and select the email from a prior step.

Finally you add your follow up email.

Email Message Content For This Automation

Let me start with a basic rule of thumb that I have found works best: keep emails simple, and rich text only.

Why? Less formatted emails tend to get higher open rates. Readers tend to consider them ‘real’. On top of that they are easier to create.

Message 1

Send the lead/customer something about your business. Keep it non-salesy. A story about a past customer you helped. Some information about your services most people didn’t realize. The purpose is simple to engage and intrigue the reader. NO ASK.

Message 2 (the follow-up)

In the follow up email it’s time to ‘ASK’. Reference your initial piece and then include a short ask for whatever your objective is.


“Jim, on Monday I sent you a case study explaining how we got our client 2875923762x returns. Would you like to jump on a call to discuss how we could do something similar in your business?”

That’s it. Plain text. Nothing fancy.

The Right Time

Timing matters when it comes to email open rates, but there is no science to it. You really need to understand your audience. What are they doing? When do you want to hit them?

In my local business we have found that the demographic does well opening the emails early on Saturday morning — they’re retirees that are typically up early and have nothing to do on Saturdays.

We send our follow up email at noon on Monday. We want to send the follow-up relatively soon after sending the first email, but there needs to be people in the office. Monday morning would be ideal, but it isn’t practical as the office is usually busy with problems Monday morning.

If you’re in the online business space, you would probably want to send the email just a few minutes our hours after the initial email.

Tweaks / Improvement Ideas

There are a few tweaks that could be made to improve it depending on case use.

Send Follow Up Content Minutes After Open

As you (should) know from reading this far, my automation sends the follow-up 2+ days after the first email.

If you do business online you could send that email just minutes or hours after the initial open, using the ‘wait until the following conditions are met’ with a maximum waiting time applied.

Here’s how that would set up:

Create An Evergreen Automation

Finally… for the ambitious folks… you could set up a drip campaign that everyone goes through in sequence, with follow-up messages.

Why don’t I do that? Creating this email automation weekly forces us to create new content weekly which drives other marketing initiative.s.

About the Author

I have been in the 'online business' space since 2009 when I started an eCommerce business selling motorcycle parts (sold in 2012). Since then I have owned and operated several successful online business (and had a fair share of failures), along with owning offline home services businesses. Currently my focus is online businesses that are profitable with paid traffic. As a 'self employed individual' I do not use Linkedin, but you can connect with my on my personal instagram and youtube which largely revolve around my mountain biking passion!