The Comprehensive Guide to ActiveTrail’s Automation System

Get acquainted with ActiveTrail’s automation system


1. What’s an automation system?

           1a. Automation in brief

           1b. What can you do in the Visual Automations system?

           1c.  An example of an automation journey

           1d. What’s a trigger?

           1e. What is segmentation?

2. Designing a new automation

            2a. Start action

            2b. Using the automation editor

            2c. Automation actions

3. Setup

            3a. Automation details

            3b. Activation options

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1. What’s an automation system?

1a. Automation in brief

An automation system is a system for building automatic marketing funnels, known as “automation journeys” – for your leads and customers.  The automations work for you and through them you can create an entire marketing set up.

ActiveTrail’s automation system connects different marketing channels: emails, sign-up forms in landing pages, pop-ups, text messages, and more.  With a one-time investment in the creation of an automation journey for your customers that combines all these channels, you create a marketing circle that ensures that no customer will fall by the wayside.

You predetermine the automation journey and the stations your travelers will visit in accordance with their actions.  Thus, marketing automation is suited to all your marketing needs and is sent to your contacts at exactly the right moment.

The automations you build make sure that as many leads as possible become customers and as many customers as possible remain customers.

1b. What can you do in the Visual Automations system?

  • A series of autoresponder emails – For instance, a series of emails to introduce your product, a series of emails for your special offer, etc.
  • Emails and different actions that are activated by triggers – Within the automation journeys you can set the sending of emails and text messages by triggers – actions by the customer such as opening emails or a specific email, clicking on emails, specified dates, and more (read more about triggers later on)
  • Sequences for new subscribers – What was until now one email, can now turn into a whole series of emails that are sent to the customer over a period of time.
  • Text messages (SMS) – You can integrate text messages organically into the automation, create entire automations of text messages, or even check what works better for your marketing within the automation journey – email or SMS.
  • Split – An action similar to A/B testing, called split, which allows you to create two different emails and to check which one works better marketing-wise with your automation contacts.
  • Invitations to events and reminders that are sent to the invited guests at exactly the right time – in emails and text messages and a wealth of other options for effective and accurate marketing that addresses your contacts in accordance with their marketing preferences.

All this and more options for on point marketing, which appeals to your customers exactly how they like it, are waiting for you in our automations system.

1c.  An example of an automation journey that was built in the ActiveTrail platform:

automation example

Step 1: The system identifies a new subscriber through the sign up form that’s embedded in the website.

Step 2: “Welcome” email is sent

Step 3: 2 days delay

Step 4: Check if the recipient opened the email.

If she did open it: Send her a new customer discount coupon.

If she didn’t open it: Send her an SMS with a sign-up coupon.

The automation functions on the basis of two main characteristics: triggers and segmentation. Triggers and segmentation give the marketer two essential tools – precision timing and personalization – and they’re what turns it into a focused system that knows how and when to address your leads and customers.

1d. What’s a trigger?

A trigger is what activates your automation system. A trigger could be a customer’s act like signing up on the website, filling out a sign up form on a landing page, opening an email, and more.  Alternatively, a trigger could be based on a specific time rather than a specific action, such as a birthday for example, or a certain amount of time before a given date.

Our automations are activated according to triggers, since the moment the customer activates the trigger you’ve set, he boards the automation train, with a wealth of stations and options waiting for him along the way until he reaches the destination and disembarks.

Read about 12 triggers you should press

1e. What is segmentation?

Segmentation is what allows you to address each customer personally and to tailor the content for her according to her characteristics.  Thus, for example, you can set one automation train for men and a different automation train for women. You can categorize your leads according to place of residence, according to age, according to the way they joined your list, according to their clicks, the groups they belong to, and so on, and to set a different automation for each category you made.

Read more about the advantages of smart segmentation and personal, focused email marketing

How do you work with ActiveTrail’s automation system?

ActiveTrail’s automation system is so easy and convenient to use that the minute you get started you won’t want to stop playing with it.

Here’s how to build an automation set-up in ActiveTrail’s Visual Autoresponder editor:

2. Designing a new automation

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In ActiveTrail’s web system menu, click on ‘new automation’:

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This will bring you to the template screen where you’ll find ‘All Templates’ and ‘My Templates’.

‘All Templates’ are all the templates that currently exist in ActiveTrail, with each template built on a different trigger that activates the automation:

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The prebuilt templates are automation templates each of which is opened by a different trigger. Here’s the list of triggers:

Contact submits a form – A contact filled out a sign-up form on your website, your landing page, or another webpage in which you embedded your sign-up form.

Contact subscribes – A contact was added to one of your groups of contacts.

Contact opens email – A contact opened a certain email campaign you sent him or any email campaign you sent him

Contact clicks on an email link – A contact clicked on a link in a specific campaign that you sent him or on a link out of any campaign you sent him.

Contact unsubscribes – A contact of yours unsubscribed from your mailing list or from a specific mailing list of yours.

Contact celebrates date – A specific date arrives which you asked your contacts to specify on the sign-up form, such as a birthday, anniversary, or any other date you ask your contacts to specify.  The automation can begin a specified amount of time before or after the given date.

Contact segmentation – a contact was categorized by you using the option to segment your contacts according to information they gave you about themselves on the sign-up forms, according to a certain action they carried out, according to a group they belong to, or according to a specific date.

Note that the categorization takes place daily at 2:00 AM and therefore you should figure the number of hours that should elapse before the next action accordingly.

Besides all these, you also have the option of beginning with a blank template where only the initial action appears, and within which you can choose the trigger that will start the automation for yourself.

2a. Start action

Every automation must begin with the start action, which is the only action on the automation screen that can’t be moved.

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In any template we choose, we can change the trigger that opens the automation by editing the Start action block.

The options we have are in accordance with the different template options.  With a click on the Start action block or on the settings icon to the right of it, the next screen will appear, in which you can set the trigger that will begin your automation.

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The triggers are, of course, the templates we just discussed.

In addition to setting the trigger, in each start action you choose you also have the option to set segmentation that will apply to the trigger, by clicking on the ‘add segmentation’ button.

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A click on the button will open the contact segmentation screen.

The segmentation options you have are based on information, action, group, or date.

Information – The details that were submitted in the sign-up form in accordance with the sign-up form fields that you set for yourself in the ActiveTrail platform.

Thus, for example, if you chose the ‘contact submits a form’ trigger, in the contact segmentation you can build your automation so that those who go through it will be only those who entered Tel Aviv in the city of residence field on the sign-up form.

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Action – Actions that are: has/has not opened an email, has/has not clicked on an email, has/has not received an email.  There’s an option to determine if it applies to any email or to a specific email, and also the option to define a specific time frame for the action, For example: Opened any email in the past month.

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Group – If the customer belongs to a specific group, the trigger will apply only to contacts who are in the “paying customers” group.

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Date – You can choose between the date fields: Birthday, Anniversary, Status updated, and Date added, and set filtering accordingly.  Thus, for example, you can determine that the automation will apply only to contacts who submitted a sign-up form after a certain date.

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  • By clicking on “add another condition” you can set an additional condition, so you can, for example, determine that the automation will only apply to someone from group x who submitted the sign-up form after the date y.
  • In addition you can add a whole set of such rules by clicking on “add another set of rules” and to determine a condition between the sets of “and” or “or” and in the end you can save the segmentation you created.

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Once you’ve chosen the template or the trigger that will start your automation, start building the automation using the automation blocks, which are the actions that appear to the right of the editor.

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2b. Using the Automation Editor

Using the automation editor is easy and fun.  Drag an action to the automation screen and don’t forget to draw a line connecting it with the previous action, from up to down.

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After you’ve drawn the line, a small clock will appear to the right of it.  Click on it in order to set the amount of time that will elapse between the stations of the automation, in this case between the first action of signing up for the group and the sending of the email.

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When you click on the clock the following screen will appear:

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Thus, for example, if you want five minutes to elapse from the moment the contact joins the group until she receives something from you, set five minutes on the “delay” screen and hit ‘save’.

Note that this is only an example, and you can also set 60 minutes, three days, or four weeks!

Don’t forget, the automation is a journey you build for your customer or your potential customer and the actions you add to it are stations along the route of the journey.  You decide when each action takes place, that is, when your automation contact reaches the next station.

2c. The automation actions:

1. ‘Send SMS’ – send an SMS message

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With a click on the white square or on the settings icon to the right of the block, an SMS screen will open:

SMS edit screen

Fill in all the details as they appear.  Be sure to check the check boxes if you want to ‘add tracking to your SMS links’ so later you’ll be able to see the number of clicks on the links and so on.  When you’re done, hit ‘save’.

2. ‘Send email’ – send an email

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 With a click on the white square or on the settings icon to the right of the block, an email campaign screen will appear:

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Fill in all the details of the campaign you wish to create: “Campaign name”, “Preheader”, “Email subject”, and “From profile”.

To design the campaign, click on the green ‘design email’ button.  This will bring you directly to the email marketing campaign creation screen that you’re familiar with from the ActiveTrail platform.

You can choose to create an entirely new email using a new template or to choose an email from a campaign that you’ve already created and saved in ‘my templates’.

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Design the campaign like you’re used to doing, and when you’re done designing your email marketing campaign, hit ‘Finish’.

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A click on ‘Finish’ will bring you directly back to the automation screen.  Now, in the square of the email you created, two new buttons will appear: ‘Preview’ and ‘Design email’.

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Preview – A click on this button will show you how your email will look on mobile and on computer.

Design mail – This time the button is blue, which signifies that you’ve already designed the email.  A click on this button will take you back to the design email screen, where you’ll be able to go back and edit the email at any time, as shown above.

Don’t forget to hit ‘save’ with every update you put in.

3. ‘Condition Split’ –

 Condition Split (20)

 A click on the white square or on the settings icon to the right of the block will open a screen of settings for the action “condition split”.

Note that this screen is identical to the segmentation screen in ‘start’ that was presented before, with the option to divide the customers according to information, action, group, or date.

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For additional information, go back to the above explanation of ‘start action’.

4. ‘Notify someone’

Update a certain email address about the last action carried out by the user.

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A click on the white square or on the settings icon to the right of the block will open a ‘Notify someone’ screen.  Here you’ll be able to enter an email address to which a notification will be sent regarding the previous action you put in the automation:

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Add the ‘notify someone’ action so that a notification will be sent to your sales manager about each contact who reaches this stage of your automation.

5. Update Contact

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 A click on the white square or on the settings icon to the right of the block will open the ‘update contact’ screen:

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will open the ‘update contact’ screen:

The actions you can carry out via the ‘update contact’ action are:

Acts of adding and moving contacts to or from groups

Add contact to group

Move contact to group (Remove from other groups)

Remove contact from group

For the above actions, all you have to do is to select an action, for example ‘Move contact to group’ and to select the group he’ll be moved to.

Acts of updating contact fields in sign-up forms

Update a contact field with the following value

Add to a contact field the following value

Thus for example if you’re a tourism company and you’ve written a newsletter on the subject of tourism in London and for anyone who opened the email you want to update the value in the “city of preference” field to “London”, you can do it here:

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Acts of deleting and removing from the list

Set contact as “Do not mail”

Delete contact

6. Split

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You can split the automation contacts into two groups, as in AB testing.  A click on the white square or on the settings icon to the right of the block will open a ‘Split’ screen:

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Using the split you can carry out AB testing within the automation.  After you’ve split your group in two you can create two different emails, or the same email with different subject lines, or even the same email, only some of the people will receive it in three days and some of them in a week and so on…in this action, set the percentage of your contacts that will receive each email.

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After the split, don’t forget to add two actions, with each action sent to a different percentage of the contacts.

Note that the two actions don’t both have to be ‘send an email’.  Through the split you can also check what works better for you – email or SMS – and to determine that a certain percent of your automation contacts will receive an email and a certain percent will receive an SMS.

After a certain amount of time during which your automation is working, let’s say a month, you can go back to it and see in the reports which action worked better in terms of open rate/CTR and thus to choose the winning action.

7. ‘Start’

This is not the start action screen that opens the automation via a specified trigger, but rather the act of starting a new automation

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 A click on the white square or on the settings icon to the right of the block will open the following screen:

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In the scroll down line all your active automations will appear and you can choose to which new automation you want to connect that contact. Thus for example you may want to set a condition that a contact who clicked on a certain campaign earlier will now be added to a new automation that includes emails on the same subject as the campaign she clicked on.

8. End

Just as the Start screen allows you to bring a contact into a new automation, the ‘End’ action removes your contact from the automation of your choice.


 A click on the white square or on the settings icon to the right of the block will open the following screen:

end edit

Using this action, you can remove your contact from any automation journey you choose, whether it’s the automation he’s on at the moment or any other automation.

Thus for example before the ‘End’ action you can set a condition regarding the opening of a specified email and determine that if the contact didn’t open the specified email, he will end this automation, or a different automation, so as not to send emails to inactive contacts.

The end of the design stage

Note that if you don’t have additional actions afterwards in the automation, there’s no need to end the automation.  In order for the automation contact to finish the current automation, she simply has to reach the last action you set for her.

Don’t forget to draw lines between all the actions and to set the time that should elapse between each action and the next.

In order to finish the automation, click on ‘save’ and then on ‘next’. There’s no need to add any block for this.  If one of the elements is missing or not designed, notices to that effect will pop up on the right side of the page:



Go over the automation design again until you’ve finished designing all the elements.

3. Setup

After you finish the design stage, hit ‘next’ again and you’ll reach the setup screen.  Fill in the details on this screen.

Note the options that you have on the setup screen:

3a. Automation Details

“Allow contacts to enter this automation multiple times” – That is, contacts will be able to go through the automation a number of times (if they activate the trigger that begins the automation more than once).

“Send digest report about this automation to (email)” – Enter the email address that you want to receive automatic reports about this automation, if you so choose.

3b. Activation options

Here you can choose whether to start activating the automation as soon as you finish it, or at a different time of your choice.  Don’t forget that each contact goes through the automation in his own time.


That’s it! All that’s left for you to do is to press “Activate automation”!

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