How to Set Up Your First Email Automation in MailerLite: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

by | Dec 1, 2023 | Email Marketing

Ever feel like you’re spending more time sending emails than actually growing your business? I’ve got something for you.

Imagine if you had a smart assistant (not ChatGPT) who could handle all your email tasks, giving you back hours each week. That’s the magic of email automation – a game-changer in the world of digital marketing.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear, simple path to set up your first automated email sequence. Think of it as your first step towards smarter marketing – less effort, more impact.

Let’s get your email marketing on autopilot, with no confusing tech talk, just straightforward steps.

Side Note for Non-MailerLite Users: While this article specifically focuses on MailerLite, don’t worry if you’re using a different email marketing platform. The principles of setting up email automation are universal. So, you’ll still gain valuable insights and strategies that you can adapt to your own platform. And who knows? You might find some compelling reasons to consider MailerLite for your future email marketing needs!

What Exactly is an Email Automation?

Email automation is like setting up a series of automated helpers, each designed to do a specific job in your email marketing.

Here are three examples to illustrate how it works:

  • Welcome Sequence When someone new joins your email list, they’re greeted with a series of friendly emails. These could include a warm welcome message, a bit about you or your business, and what they can expect from your emails. If you are offering a thank you gift (lead magnet or freebie) for signing up, a welcome sequence is where it’s delivered to your subscriber.
  • Email Course Delivery Imagine you’ve created an educational course divided into parts. Email automation can send each part of the course to your subscribers at predetermined intervals, ensuring they receive the entire course in an organized, timely manner.
  • Product Waiting List and Prelaunch Emails: Have a new product coming soon? You can set up automation to keep your eager subscribers informed with updates, sneak peeks, or exclusive content. On launch day, an automated email can let them know the product is ready to purchase. This automation builds excitement and keeps the buzz alive until the big reveal.

Each of these examples describes how email automation can take on different roles, simplifying and enhancing your email marketing strategy while keeping it personal and engaging.

Preparing for Automation

Define the Goal of the Automation: First up, decide what you want your automation to achieve. Is it to welcome new subscribers with a free e-book, cheat sheet, or checklist? Or perhaps a friendly welcome series that encourages them to engage, like clicking links or downloading your lead magnet? It’s crucial to align this goal with what your audience finds useful and interesting. This this example, you’ll offer a freebie in exchange for an email address.

Creating Your Lead Magnet: Before setting the automation wheels in motion, let’s focus on your lead magnet. Picture this as the appetizer of your marketing strategy, the first taste your audience gets in exchange for their email. Your lead magnet should be instantly appealing and valuable, something your audience can quickly benefit from. Whether it’s an insightful eBook, a practical checklist, or a set of handy tips, its value should spark excitement for signing up. Remember, this lead magnet not only starts your automation sequence but also sets the tone for your relationship with your audience.

After creating your lead magnet, store it in a place like Google Drive or Amazon S3. This ensures easy access for your subscribers during the automation process and reassures you that the setup is simpler than it might seem.

Setting Up Your Opt-In Form: Now, let’s talk about your opt-in form. You can either embed it onto a webpage or use a standalone landing page. For this guide, we’ll focus on an embedded form.

  • Create a simple embedded form in MailerLite. You just need the first name and email address.
  • Choose the group you want to add them to (main email list, a segmented group)
  • Implement a double opt-in. This extra step helps confirm the subscriber’s interest and keeps your list clean and engaged.
  • Here’s a pro tip: Customize the experience. Tailor the sign-up message, confirmation email, and the final welcome after they confirm. This is your chance to make it feel personal and show off your brand’s unique personality.
  • To test: embed the opt-in form on a private page on your website. After testing the automation, you can embed the opt-in form on your website or blog post. Keep the private page to test further opt-ins and automations, or delete it.
  • Option: create a landing page so you can refer people directly. Useful for link in bios on social media or putting a link in an email.

Building Your Automation Workflow

Step-by-Step Guide:

  1. Triggering the Automation: Choose your opt-in form as the trigger. This crucial step makes sure your automation starts as soon as someone shows interest by signing up.
  2. Delivering the Lead Magnet: Set up an immediate automated email to send your lead magnet.
  3. Setting a Delay: Give your subscribers a day (24 hours) to explore your lead magnet. This pause prevents flooding their inbox and allows them to absorb your initial content.
  4. Adding a Condition: Use conditions to tailor the journey for each subscriber. For this example, if they’re not on your main list, send a friendly email to gauge their thoughts on your lead magnet and mention that they’ll receive more valuable content every week. If they are already on the list, send an email to gauge their thoughts on the lead magnet.
  5. Add to Main Email List: Based on the previous step, automatically copy your subscribers into your main list so they’ll receive your weekly newsletter.
  6. Test and refine if necessary.

Best Practices and Tips

Effective Email Content: Write emails as if you’re chatting with a friend. Keep them engaging with a conversational tone, clear and catchy subject lines, and visually appealing, but simple formats. Don’t forget the power of storytelling – a personal anecdote can make your message resonate more deeply. Remember, the goal is to be informative and helpful, yet warm and personable.

Testing Your Automation: Before you turn on your automation, give it a thorough test run. Check every link, confirm that personalization elements (like names) are working, and ensure the timing of each email aligns with your plan. This step is crucial to avoid any hiccups that could affect your subscriber’s experience.

Monitoring and Tweaking: Stay vigilant about how your emails perform. Keep an eye on open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates to gauge your audience’s engagement. Regularly reviewing these metrics will help you understand what’s working and what needs adjustment. Remember, a successful email campaign is always evolving based on subscriber feedback and behavior.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Addressing Frequent Challenges: Encountering hiccups along the way is a normal part of learning something new. Let’s tackle some common issues that might pop up:

  • Problem: Subscribers not receiving emails. Solution: Check if the email is landing in the spam folder or if there are any errors in the email address.
  • Problem: Automation not triggering. Solution: Verify that the trigger is correctly set up. Make sure the conditions for triggering are being met.
  • Problem: Low engagement with emails. Solution: Experiment with different subject lines, email content, and sending times. Personalization can also significantly boost engagement.

Remember, these are just a few examples. Each challenge has a solution, and often, it’s about fine-tuning the details.

MailerLite Support Resources: Stuck on a tricky issue? Here’s how you can get support from MailerLite:

  • Knowledge Base: Start with MailerLite’s comprehensive knowledge base, filled with articles and guides for quick solutions.
  • Customer Support:
    • If you are an an advanced plan, reach out to their customer support team via in app chat. They’re known for being responsive and helpful within 4 minutes of entering chat.
    • If you are on a growing business plan, email support is available.
    • If you are on their free plan, chat and email support is available for the first 30 days, after that, use their knowledge base.
  • Community Forums: Engage with other MailerLite users in the knowlege base Mailerlite Academy. Sometimes, the best tips come from others who’ve faced similar problems.
  • If you’ve purchased my MailerLite 101 course, you have access to unlimited support in my “Show Me How” community.


Recap of Steps: You’re now equipped with the know-how to set up your first email automation! From defining your goals and creating your lead magnet to setting up your opt-in form and building an engaging automation workflow, you’ve learned the essentials to make your email marketing both efficient and impactful. Remember, the beauty of email automation lies in its ability to save you time while maintaining a personal touch with your audience.

Your Next Step: Now it’s your turn to bring these steps to life! Start by experimenting with what you’ve learned. Monitor your statistics, refine and continue monitoring as your email marketing starts to transform. Need a hand along the way? Don’t hesitate to download the Automation Setup Checklist below. It’s designed to guide you through the steps of setting up an email automation in MailerLite or another platform that you’re using.

Frequently Asked Questions about Email Automations

FAQ What if I accidentally send the wrong email in my automation?

  • Don’t worry, it happens! You can pause the automation, fix the email, and resume. Just be quick to minimize any delays with the automation steps.

Can I change my automation after it’s live?

  • Absolutely! You can edit your automation at any time. You’ll have to pause the automation, make your changes and run through another test if needed. But, if the changes are significant and you have a lot of people in your automation that are in a waiting stage various points (such as a delay step), I recommend that you duplicate the automation, make your changes there. Once tested, you can go into the original automation and make the same changes.

How do I know if my automation is successful?

  • MailerLite provides statistics like open rates, click-through rates and other helpful information. These numbers will tell you how well your emails and automation is doing and may identify points in the automation that needs tweaking.

Will automation make my emails feel impersonal?

  • Not at all! With personalization features in MailerLite, like using the subscriber’s name, your emails can still feel warm and personal. But it all comes down to how you write the emails in the automation.
  • The duration needed to gather useful statistics from an email automation campaign can vary based on several factors, including the type of automation, audience size, frequency of emails, and the specific goals of the campaign. However, here are some general guidelines to consider:
    • Initial Observation Period: For a basic email automation like a welcome series or a lead magnet delivery sequence, a minimum observation period of 4 to 6 weeks is often recommended. This allows enough time for a significant number of subscribers to go through the entire automation sequence.
    • Frequency of Emails in the Automation: If your automation involves multiple emails (like a weekly series), you’ll want to wait until at least a few cycles of the series have been completed. This could mean waiting several weeks to a few months, depending on the total number of emails and their send-out frequency.
    • Audience Response Time: Consider the typical response time of your audience. Some audiences may engage quickly with emails, while others might take longer to open and act on them. The time of the year also impacts the response time such as the summer months and or holiday season. Adjust your observation period accordingly.
    • Specific Goals and Metrics: The type of data you’re looking to gather will also influence the duration. For instance, if you’re interested in understanding long-term engagement or conversion rates, you may need to observe the automation’s performance over a longer period, such as 2-3 months.
    • Continuous Monitoring: Email automation should never be a set-and-forget strategy. Regular monitoring and adjustments are important. Even after the initial observation period, continue to analyze and tweak your automation for ongoing improvements.
    • Lead Magnet and Opt-in: Is the lead magnet enticing enough? Consider modifying the copy on your opt-in form or landing page.
    • Sample Size: Ensure you have a sufficient sample size for reliable data. Smaller lists might require a longer duration to gather enough engagement data for meaningful analysis.

In summary, while a 4 to 6-week period is a good starting point for most basic automations, adjust the time frame based on your specific circumstances and goals. Consistent monitoring and a willingness to adjust strategies based on observed performance are crucial for long-term success in email marketing automation.

How can I signup for MailerLite

  • Here is the link to signup for MailerLite.
  • Disclosure: The blog is supported by its audience. When you purchase through the MailerLite link above, I may earn an affiliate commission. This does not change the price you would pay if you decide to keep using the service past the free 30 day trial. I only recommend tools that I personally use.

Until next time, stay inspired.



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