Well-planned automated workflows save time and lead to a better customer experience.

In our previous post about planning a SharpSpring drip campaign, we wrote under the assumption that your emails were part of a time-sensitive marketing push. These are one-off marketing campaigns where you’re launching a product, making a PR announcement, or publicizing a high-value piece of content. However once the campaign finishes, you generally expect to retire the emails and switch focus to the next big event.

Read our post: How to Create a Drip Email Marketing Campaign in SharpSpring

Emails in an automated workflow are another matter. While there may be some overlap, the planning and targeting of these emails follow very different logic.

For one, these emails have no expiration date. It’s very easy to simply set a workflow up and then leave it be indefinitely. It will continue to run every time it gets triggered until something makes it stop.

Another difference is that you may want a workflow to run multiple times for a single lead. Maybe a customer logs into your system to schedule an appointment every few months. Every time they do so, you want to send an automated appointment reminder.

Finally, while the classic dripfeed campaign is mostly concerned with time, SharpSpring visual workflows offer a variety of triggers and conditions that can lead to highly-customizable and responsive automations.

Because of that variety, it’s not possible to go into all the options in one blog post. But we can get into some of the basics, including how to plan an effective workflow. Here’s how to set up a simple workflow using SharpSpring’s Visual Workflow planner.

1. Create a workflow and give it a name.

An example of naming a workflow in sharpspring

First of all, find Visual Workflows in SharpSpring under their Automation tab. Once you click through, you should see a CTA button for creating a new workflow where you will have to give it a new name.

Don’t overthink this: give it a descriptive name that will make sense to you and your team. When you’re just getting started, your visual workflow will be fairly straightforward, but remember that you’ll probably want to continue testing workflows out as you go along. Avoid names like “Marketing Workflow 1.” Instead, include details such as your persona audience or the kind of DLC it’s related to, such as “E-Commerce Development Guide.”

2. Set a trigger for your workflow.

A trigger in a SharpSpring workflow.

The first thing to do in your new workflow is to set the initial trigger. A trigger is any action that can be tied to a visitor that can elicit an automated response. Setting your first trigger is easy: simply click on the blue plus sign and select the “Trigger” option.

Choosing a trigger type in SharpSpring

Next you’ll have to choose your trigger type. As you can see, SharpSpring offers dozens of options for possible triggers.

Remember, the goal of SharpSpring is to link IP addresses to email addresses. This usually requires a lead to have been on the site and entered their email address. Once they’ve done this, we can custom-tailor their site experience to be based on their actions, which are presumably correlated to their interests, rather than a generic formula.

So, for our example, let’s say the trigger is “abandons shopping cart.” With this triggers selected, we can then determine the best way to respond to that user’s behavior.

3. Determine trigger response.

Once you set a trigger, you should notice another blue plus sign appear beneath it. This is where you set your response. You’ll notice there are several options in SharpSpring: Action, Filter, Time Delay, and Action Group.

An example of a SharpSpring trigger response.

Actions and Action Groups.

An Action can be anything from sending an email to adding the user to a list. You can even set up multiple actions in an Action Group to happen at once. This might involve removing a lead from one list, moving them to another, assigning that lead to a member of your sales team, and sending them an email.

Configuring an Action in SharpSpring

The simplest action on this list is to send an email. To do this, you will have to already have created this email in SharpSpring. All you have to do is type in the name of the email, and select from the list that pops up. In our example about cart abandonment, this email might be a simple reminder for them to log back in and complete their purchase.

How to configure your action in a SharpSpring workflow.

If you’re a B2B business, you can even set a delay on the email so that it doesn’t go out until the next business day. This can help ensure your email reaches your customer at the right time and doesn’t get buried in a pile of other emails.

Time Delays

Setting a Time Delay in SharpSpring

With cart abandonment, the Time Delay function is particularly useful. If a user has walked away from their cart, they’re clearly not ready to buy right that minute. Maybe they’re on their mobile phone, they were browsing during a business meeting, or they need time to consult a spouse or business partner.

Either way, setting a time delay between the trigger and the action gives that lead a little breathing room. Then, when you send your reminder email a few hours later, it’s more likely to hit at a useful time.

You can also use time delays to space out emails from a drip campaign. For instance, you can set your trigger as a visitor downloading a specific DLC. Then, time emails to follow up with that contact within a few hours, followed by a few days, then a week or two, and finally after a couple months.

Read our post: Timing Is Everything: How Automated Email Marketing Closes Sales

If the lead comes back to the website, set up a new trigger to initiate a different visual workflow. However, if you do this, you will want to create some filters so that they don’t become overwhelmed.

Filters

Setting a filter in SharpSpring

Filters are how you control your workflows to customize the user experience and keep visitors from being overwhelmed.

So, let’s say you set up that cart abandonment workflow, and you created a time delay with three emails. The first goes out after a couple hours, a second goes out after a couple days, and a third “buy now before it’s too late” email sends a week later.

BUT, what if your lead clicks on the first email and completes their purchase? Obviously you want to remove them from that workflow so that they don’t keep receiving emails for a product they already purchased. This is where filters can save your customer relationships. Before sending the next email in your workflow, create a filter that removes anyone who has opened your previous email and clicked through to the site.

You can set up any number of rules for a filter. Then, once a lead meets those conditions, you can create a specific action to better tailor their experience. The more fine-tuned your actions and filters become, the more carefully you will have to manage them. However, the more time you put into this process, the more positive their interactions with your organization will be.

The more work you put into your workflows, the better your user experience becomes.

Remember: automation can be a double-edged sword. While it can save you a lot of work, it can also overwhelm your visitors if you set up too many workflows and leave them unmanaged. Every time you set up a visual workflow, think about how your visitors will experience it. Putting your users first is always your best marketing strategy.

Published 07/09/19 by Laura Lynch