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What is automation, and how do I use it?

Automation allows you to send timely, personalized emails to your subscribers based on their actions and information.

That could be sending a welcome email when someone signs up for your newsletter. Besides taking the workload off of you, automated emails also send out relevant information at just the right time.

To help get you started, here are a few of the terms you’ll see when you use automation:

  • Journeys are where you’ll build out your automated workflows.
  • Content is where you’ll create email campaigns to be used in your Journeys.
  • Triggers are the events that start the automation process.
  • Conditions make sure the automation only happens during certain circumstances.
  • Lists are how you’ve segmented your subscribers.
  • Tags are labels you can add to describe subscribers.

We’ll walk you through the basics of how to set up an email automation.

Before getting started:

Create any Content, Lists, Tags, Personalization Fields, and Campaigns you want to use in your automation.

Content: Automation > Content > New Content+

Lists: Contacts > Lists > View Lists > +Create New

Tags: Contacts > Tags > +Create New

Personalization Fields: Audience > Manage Contacts > Personalization Fields > Add New Data Field

Campaigns: Email > Campaigns > New Campaign

(You can also save your Automation and go back to any of these while working on your Journey. You will be prompted to add them if you haven’t already.)

How to create a Journey

1. From the left-hand navigation, click Automation > Journeys.

2. Click New Journey+ in the top right.

3. Name the Journey at the top. Then, click Add a Trigger to Begin. A trigger could be when someone subscribes to your email list, for example.


Triggers are what start your Journey and move a contact through your automation workflow. They can be based on these four things:


You can trigger a Journey when contacts are added or removed from a list. Choose Lists > Add/Remove > Select the list from the drop-down menu. Then, click Save.


You can trigger a Journey when contacts have a tag added or removed. Choose Tags > Add/Remove > Select the tag from the drop-down menu. Then, click Save.

Custom Field

You can trigger a Journey based on a date. Choose Custom Field, and Select a field from the top drop-down. You must have a personalization field set up for it to show up here (ex. Birthday, Anniversary, or other date field). In the second Select a field box, choose Today from the drop-down. Our system will check today’s date with all of the contacts that match that date in the selected personalization field. For example, if today’s date is Dec. 16 and the birthday in the contact’s profile is Dec. 16, they will receive an email.


You can trigger a Journey based on whether the contact Opened or Clicked a campaign. Choose Campaigns > Opened/Clicked.

Next, select a campaign from the drop-down menu, and click Save.


There are 5 different Actions you can use in automation:

1. Send Email

This action will send an email (ie, anything you have built in the Content section) to an email address in the journey.

1. Click + to add an Action. This is what you want to happen after the set event is triggered. To set an Action, like automating a welcome email (see welcome email steps here), click Action > Send Email > Next.

2. Select the email campaign you want to send (or create new Content), and click Save.

2. Set Delay

This action lets you set a delay before the next node in the journey. For example, you might want to send two emails to a contact, but insert a delay of 12 hours or 1 day in between those two emails.

1. To use this option, click + > Action > Set Delay > Next.

2. Select the delay time (ranging from minutes to weeks) to send the follow-up email, and click Save.

3. Add or Remove From List

This action will add or remove a contact from a specified list.

1. To set an automation for adding or removing a contact from a list, click + > Action > Add or Remove from List > Next. For example, if they subscribe to your newsletter, you can add them to a New Subscriber list.

2. Choose whether to Add or Remove the contact, and choose which list you want to Add or Remove them from. Click Save.

4. Add or Remove From Tag

This action will add or remove a tag from a contact.

1. Add/remove tags by clicking + > Action > Add or Remove Tag > Next. This will add or remove a tag from your subscriber’s profile after they’ve initiated a trigger event.

2. Choose whether to Add or Remove the tag, Select Tag, and click Save.

5. Update Contact Data Field

This action allows you to update or replace data for a field that is associated with a contact. For example, let’s say you have a field associated with your contacts called “New Lead,” and you want to change that field to “Sent Offer” after sending them an email offer. You can use this action to specify replacing “New Lead” with “Sent Offer” using this option.

1. To update a contact’s data based off of an action, click + > Action > Update Contact Data Field > Next.

2. Select a field (email address, first name, or last name) from the dropdown, and then type the field value you want to update it with. Remember, this action will overwrite your existing data in the selected field. Click Save.


You can also add 5 different kinds of Conditions to your Journey, which ensures the automation only occurs during certain circumstances.

1. Have or Don’t Have Tag

You can set a condition for whether or not you want the automation to depend on the contacts having a certain tag.

1. Click + > Condition > Have or Don’t Have Tag > Next.

2. Select the tag to base the condition on, and click Save.

3. This will create a Yes and No split for this Condition. To set what you want to happen based on whether (Yes) or not (No) the contact has the specified tag, click + below Yes and No. You can then set the Action or Condition you want to set based off of the original Condition.

2. Are or Are Not on List

This Condition is based on the list a contact is on. This would be where you would set an automated message to go out to a specific list.

1. Click + > Condition > Are or Are Not on List > Next.

2. Choose the list you want the Condition to be based on, and click Save.

3. This will bring up a Yes and No option (what to do if Yes they are on the list or No if they are not). You can choose an Action or Condition for both scenarios.

3. Contact Field Equals

You can set a Condition based off of a contact field. For example, if you wanted to reach contacts with “Alabama” in the contact field for “State” to send them an Alabama-specific email, you could use Contact Field Equals > Alabama and then Action > Send Email > Alabama offer.

1. Click Condition > Contact Field Equals > Next.

2. Choose a field by clicking Select a field (email address, first name, last name) and then fill in the desired field in Type field value. Click Save.

4. Split Test

You can set a Split Test as a Condition. For example, if you set the test to 60 percent for Test A and 40 percent Test B, there’s a 60-percent probability they will go through the Test A branch and a 40-percent chance for Test B. It also helps to remember it’s possible for any contact to reach the condition at any point in time — so not necessarily in a group, though that can happen too. That’s why each contact is processed with its own split probability.

1. Click + > Condition > Split Test > Next.

2. You can adjust the percentage of the test version by dragging the dot in the center. Click Save.

3. That will bring up automation options for both Test A and Test B. Click the + below A and/or B to set the Action or Condition for each.

5. Email Activity

This Condition is based on how a contact has engaged with an email you’ve sent them.

1. Click + > Condition > Email Activity > Next.

2. Choose which action you want the condition to be based on (Opened, Didn’t Open, Clicked, Didn’t Click, Were Sent, Were Not Sent). Then, select the campaign the Condition is for, and click Save.

How to turn an Automation/Journey on or off

When your Journey is complete, you can click Live in the top right.

This will activate all of the actions that are ready to be performed. It may take a few minutes for the changes to show up in this view.

Remember: Once a Journey is live, sent emails can’t be undone.

To turn off a Journey, click Pause.

How to check stats

Hold your cursor over the Email Activity box, and click the Statistics icon.

That will display the number of subscribers that have been Completed and the number of Yes and No if it is a Condition.

Have questions? Message us on chat, or email support[at]robly[dot]com!