Automated Emails

Automatically send relevant emails after a period of time or when certain triggers happen.

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OneSignal's Product Marketing Manager, Eva Wei, goes over how to use OneSignal's new Automated Emails feature. Learn how to automate email workflows to drive business objectives. The transcript of the webinar can be found below.



Okay, great. Hey everyone. Thanks again for joining today. I'm Eva and I'm the product Marketer here at OneSignal. Today, we'll be going over automated emails. Automated emails will help you boost your engagement by automatically sending timely and relevant emails based on when something happens.

Today, I'll start off with an overview. I'll go over some example use cases, how to set it up, show you a demo, and then end with some Q and A. Please use the Q and A box for any questions. Let’s get started.

When you think about the customer journey, companies tend to focus so much time and money on the acquisition part. And that makes sense, right? It's hard, it's expensive to acquire users. But acquiring users is not enough. It's actually just the first step. Many companies don't put in nearly as much effort into what comes after the acquisition. You actually need to get your users to engage, and that's where automation comes in.

Automated messages will trigger emails based on user behavior and save you time and effort without having to set up individual campaigns manually. Because these emails are triggered based on the actual user, you can create these targeted messages that are both timely and relevant. That's really important with email. Just think about how many emails are sitting in your inbox and how many of those are unread. So you really should be setting up automated emails for each step of your customer journey.

Previous to OneSignal, I worked at a consumer startup and we had a lot of triggered automation workflows for each step. For example, before someone books an appointment, if they abandoned booking the appointment, we would send them a trigger for finished booking your appointment. Once they book their appointment, we would follow up with an automated email about, "Hey, here's how to prepare for your upcoming appointment." After the customer went on the appointment, we would follow up with an email saying, "Hey, how was your appointment? Are you ready to move forward?" Because the customer journey is broken up in so many steps, it's really important to be addressing the customers with the right information for that step of their journey.

Automated Emails Use Cases

With automated emails, you can set up these sophisticated automations to trigger emails based on user actions and behaviors. That makes you able to send the right message at the right time to the right audience. For example, if someone just signed up for your business, you don't want to send them messages about advanced features and functionality, right? It's too soon. What you want to focus on at that point in time is just get them up and running, what's the next step that they need to take?

There are a lot of examples that span across many industries. The common use cases we've seen include welcome and onboarding campaigns. For example, you can trigger a welcome series after a user signs up. You can follow up with targeted emails and then walk them through your product to make sure your new users are set up for success.

Another example are emails that drive conversion such as abandoned cart. In this case, if a user adds an item to their cart but never checks out, you can then trigger an abandoned cart email about that specific item, and then deep link that customer back into your purchasing flow and remove as many barrier conversions as possible.

One other common example are re-engagement campaigns. These are campaigns that will target inactive users. For example, you can send them an email to remind them what they're missing out on, or you can offer an incentive through a win-back campaign. Just think about in your inbox as you've probably gotten those emails where it says, "We miss you, please come back. Here's 20% off," something along those lines.

Another example are upgrade campaigns. For example, if you have a user that's approaching or they've hit a usage gate or a locked feature, or another example is if you have a user on a free trial, that's about to expire, you can trigger an email to them about the benefits of upgrading.

Setting Up Automated Emails

Before we get into the demo, I want to go over quickly the three requirements for setting up an automated email. You need to define your audience, you need to create your template, and then you need to set up the automation. You define your audience by creating a segment with the appropriate filters. It's really best practice to create custom audiences instead of blasting the same message to everyone in general for these triggered emails, as opposed to a newsletter that everyone would get the same blast campaign.

With OneSignal, segments are dynamic. Users will enter and leave a segment depending on whether they meet the criteria. You'll see later on, we do have a lot of filters that can help you create your segments.


The next step is you want to create your template. Templates are reusable across different workflows. They're really easy to create. What's really great about OneSignal's product is that they're really built to serve all types of users. People who are less technical, they can really build these sophisticated emails with no code required. We have a pretty intuitive drag and drop composer. And then you can add things like images, video, buttons, footers, all without having to know any code.

On the other hand, our more technically savvy customers can also build more complex setups through our API. Again, it's really best practice to personalize the content to your user. With OneSignal, you do that through data tags. Data tags will personalize the content of your messages, so you're really messaging the customers with the information that's tailored to them. Previously, I mentioned the abandoned cart email. You can use data tags to actually refer to the actual item that they were browsing and added to their cart. I'm sure you guys are pretty familiar, personalization is great. It will increase your relevancy, which then leads to higher open rates and customer engagement.

The final step is to actually create the automation. Like I mentioned before, since the segment is dynamic, the email will trigger and send as users enter the segment. You can also resend the same email as long as the user is still a member of that segment.

So, after hearing so much about automated emails, I'm sure you're super excited to see how it works. Let's switch over to a demo to see automated email in action.

Automated Emails in Action

Visit our demo app here, and then I'll show you how to set up an automated email message in minutes. Today, we're going to create an email for when someone downgrades. And these steps, you don't have to necessarily do an order. You can actually just go to the Automated Workflow section and then define a segment there. But I actually like to have the segment defined first and the template created first before setting up the automation, just because then you can see how everything fits together.

In this case, we can create a new segment. Like I mentioned, there are a bunch of different filters, so you can use these First Session. That's really great for setting up automation for onboarding. You can use Last Session. This is really good for any sort of re-engagement, identifying your inactive users. Session Count, language, user tag - I do want to note that user tags, you would need to set up on your own just because it's really specific to what your business is and the data that you want to acquire.

In this case, we're going to use a data tag where downgrade is set to true. I haven't actually added a user with that yet. You see zero for now, but you'll see that change once you have a user with that data tag. So, I'm going to name this segment 'Downgraded Users'. Create that here. And then you can see the segment here and active.

The next step is to create a template. So here on the dashboard, you go to Messages and then Templates, and then New Email Template. You need to name your template. Here it can be 'Downgraded Users'.

And then here's the editor. This editor is pretty powerful. You have these content blocks that you just drag and drop to build the email however you want to create it. So, that's really in line with your brand. We actually want to point out two recent features. We added custom HTML blocks as well as video blocks to really let you create fully customized designs.

In this case, imagine you're a gaming company and you want to create this email that'll trigger when your users downgrade. Here you can start out with a header image. It's pretty easy to add images. You have a bunch of different options. For example, Facebook, Google can directly take a picture, all of these integrations, or you can just link to a website that's hosting an image. In this case, I've already just added one, so I'm just going to insert this here.


Here, when you see these squiggly brackets, that's what is called liquid templating. So, you can insert data tags. In this case, first name would be a data tag. And then if that data is actually not missing, you can set a default. For example, you can say, "Hi," and if you have a first name, it'll insert their first name. Otherwise, you can default to "Hi there!"

In this case, like I mentioned, it's a sample company where you want to send an email when a user is downgraded. You can say something like start off nice, thank them for being part of the community. "Thanks being part of the Best Game Ever community," adding some social proof, "along with over 10 million active users contributing to a thriving virtual world. By downgrading, you're missing out on premium features, including better tools and faster build times. As a limited time offer, we're providing you with 50 free coins when you upgrade within 3 days."

If you have different customers at different tiers and you want to give them different offers, then you can actually insert that as a data tag. For example, you can have a data tag called 'Downgrade Coins', and then you can specify how many coins you actually want to offer them, so you're not offering the same amount of coins to all of your users. If it's specified, you can keep it as some, and then they can go to their dashboard to find out what the actual offer is.

Here, you can add a button and direct them to their dashboard. Here, you can say something like, "Claim your free coins." On the right hand side, you can edit specific features of your button. For example, the background color, color, text color, how it aligns, padding and all of that. You can also easily just drop in a URL, I'm pretty sure this is not a real URL. This is just for demo purposes. And then sign off, "Happy building..."

This is a pretty simple email. I mean, this is honestly what a lot of emails that you'll probably get look like. There's the hero image, there's greeting, there's the body content, there's a CTA and a footer. If you look through our inbox, honestly, a lot of your emails are probably going to look like that. So already you've created a pretty professional-looking email within two minutes.

Here, you can also easily add some social icons, just drag and drop, and then they're instantly in your email. You can also change the appearance of how you want your icons look. Don't forget to actually replace the URLs with the social links for your actual company. You don't just want it to fall to the regular Facebook or Twitter.

Here, you have another option called ROWS, which is pretty interesting. As you can see in the email, everything is just on one row. But if you want to add sections, you can easily do so with these preset row options here. For example, here, you can... I want to move this up. Here, you can just add something else that you want to link to. For example, you can add maybe a blog post, or if you recently featured an article, you can have in the footer as well just extra content for the user to have. For example, if they're not ready to claim their free coins, you can also just drag in another image for other things they can do. For example, they can maybe check their coin balance, or maybe they can check on their city or empire that they're building.


You can also link your images to different URLs as well if you want the images to link somewhere for example, you can say something like, "Your coin balance." Here, you can say something like "Strengthen your empire." Here, you see that the images are at different sizes. The sizing, it will automatically resize, but it also really depends on your original image size. So you can easily just change the properties here. For example, you can see here, just crop this a little bit. And then now they're different. They're the same size. I'm not going to spend too much time on image editing, but you get my point.

Now you see, this is a pretty full-featured email already. You can link here. The image, you can also link to as well. I would say this is a pretty solid downgrade email. You have a call to action. You're addressing why they're receiving this email just because they downgraded. Like I mentioned before, because the segments are dynamic, they will get this as soon as they have the downgrade flag on their profile. So it's also timely. Here, you can save the email.

And then the final step is to set up the automation. You go here, you automate an email, and then 'Downgraded Users'. You want to send to a particular segment. You don't want to send it to all of your users. You just want to send it to the downgraded segment. The subject, you can say something like, "Don't miss out on free coins." Maybe throw in an emoji. Choose the template you want. And then here you'll see a preview of what it'll look like. And then choose your delivery options as well. In this case, just want to send them once. And that's it. Make it active. And then we've just set up a dynamic upgrade email in minutes that will trigger when a user downgrades.

To show you how that works, let me add myself as a user. In this case, I'm just going to manually add it. But if you have our SDK, you can also have that capture emails as well. Downgrade, let's say is true. And then the other data tag that I used was I think downgrade coins, and let's say 100. I add myself as a user. You'll see here, I'm in the downgraded segment, downgrade true, downgrade coins, a hundred.

And then let me show you the email that comes. Just loading my email. Let me check. Okay, here we go. Let me drag this over.


Here’s my inbox. And then you can see, we have a couple of example triggers set up, but here we go. I didn't add my first name, which is why you get the default, which is there. But then you see the 100 free coins. It brought in the data tag of the coin offer amount that was specific to me. Yeah, there you go, an automated email set up within a couple of minutes.


I do want to mention, we're currently working on some ready-made email templates, so you can use just out of the box for people to use. We're working on an onboarding email, a newsletter, and a couple of others. So keep an eye out for those. They’re coming soon. Yeah, I am happy to answer any questions you all have, so drop your questions in the Q and A box.

As you guys are thinking of your questions, I can just talk a little bit more about emails. In my previous role, I did manage our email as well, and it's just so powerful to be able to have these automated workflows set up. It's really just like a set it and forget it. It takes a little bit of work at the beginning, but once those are set up, you can be sure that as users take actions, you’re sending them the right emails with the right messaging that's really related to the action that they just took.

We have a question. Does email will be sent when the user is coming into the segment?

Yeah, exactly. Segments are dynamic. You set up those filters, and as people flow into the segment, that will trigger the automated workflow.

I'm new to this. Can we use this in the free pricing tier?

Yes. Email right now is available for all of our plans. What you do need is you do need to have a separate delivery account. You need to partner with someone like SendGrid or Mandrill or Mailgun. They handle the actual delivery. But the thing was working with these transactional partners is it's actually not user-friendly at all. It's usually very code-driven, so it's not accessible to other people in the company.

Basically, what OneSignal is offering is, you get the low pricing of a transactional tier, but all of the feature rich functionality of a normal ESP. It's a pretty powerful combination. You will need to have a separate delivery account, but for now, the email pricing with OneSignal is on an introductory free trial. You can find more on the pricing page. And then come down here. You see here with email, you get access to all of the functionality across all of the different Growth plans. Great.

Any other questions? If not, thanks everyone for joining our presentation. You can use OneSignal to power automated and personalized messaging at scale. Please reach out to us. If you have any other questions, you can either contact us directly through email or through your OneSignal dashboard.