Automated Email Outreach with ActiveCampaign (Set It and Forget It!)

Automated Email Outreach with ActiveCampaign (Set It and Forget It!)

The Easy Way to Do Reviewer Outreach with ActiveCampaign

So you have a list of tens, hundreds, or even thousands of qualified potential book reviewers.

I know what you're thinking: "Do I REALLY have to email these individuals one at a time?"

Here at BookRazor, we're all about SAVING you time so you can focus on what you do best: writing. 

That's where this post comes in. The below is most likely the most comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to automate your email outreach and follow-up.

And don't worry - even if you're not tech-savvy, I've included detailed instructions and screenshots, so you can set up your own campaign as you read.

Doing all of this shouldn't take you more than 15-30 minutes, but it should save you HOURS of time and mental bandwidth. Furthermore, you only need to do this once.

So read on, and as always, if you have any questions, you can always reach out to me or comment below!

Step 1: Get ActiveCampaign

If you aren't familiar with email marketing platforms, there are a myriad of options, but very few - if any - give the level of granular control, customization, tracking, and cost efficiency (saving money is glorious #starvingauthor) as well as ActiveCampaign does.

This is why it's my personal recommended email marketing platform of choice, and you can sign up for a free trial here

If you plan on cultivating your list and reaching out to these reviewers again in the future, you might want to consider their $9/mo plan, which works out to less than the cost of 2 cups of coffee at your standard coffee shop.

It very well might be the best email marketing platform for independent authors on a budget. 

If you're still looking for ways to build your list, you can either check out our service, or this post on ​how to get ​book reviews on Amazon.

ActiveCampaign logo

ActiveCampaign Features:

  • In-depth, visual workflow for automation
  • Easy to view and engaging dashboard
  • Lead scoring and extensive list options
  • More possibilities with segmentation
  • Budget options from $9 per month
  • Trial plans are FREE (no credit card required)

Step 2: Import your Contact List

After you've signed up, this is the first screen you’ll see. It's also where you can view the stats on your latest campaigns.

You’ll also see “Lists” at the top. Importing your list of contacts is your first step before creating a campaign. Go on and click it, then “Create a New List”.

First, name your list. Maybe something like "2017.10.12 - Potential Reviewers, Romance: Paranormal". Whatever you think will help keep you organized.

Then, fill in your website. If you don’t have one yet, you can always use your Twitter handle or the URL for your facebook page.

Finally, the third and last field on this page says to "Remind your contacts why they are on this list and why you are emailing them." Remember, these are individuals who have read and reviewed a book in your genre; they're reviewers who review books similar to yours. Make sure to tell them that you know that, and that's why you think they might like your title. Also, don't forget to include your author name here, too.

On the next screen, pick “Import”. How do you have your reviewer list stored? Chances are that you’ll have it in an Excel or Google Sheets file, which means you can “Import From File”.

Lists from BookRazor are always in .csv format, so you can do the same. This is actually one of the reasons why we use the .csv file format. The other is that you can open it even without Excel, and it works on both PCs and Macs.

Anyhow, there is also the option of copy and pasting each line, but we're all about saving time, so import the whole file.

You’ll see the information you imported next.

Choose from the drop down by “Columns to Import", which is what each column signifies.  

If you received an order for us, you'd include their Name, Email, Book Title (this is the book similar to yours that they reviewed), and Review Link.

Don’t forget to add a tag. This is a special function for ActiveCampaign. In this example, you might put “BookRazor Potential Reviewers - Title of Your Book”.

Tagging organizes your subscribers and helps when segmenting into personalized lists.

Always keep in mind that you’re writing these emails to entice the reviewers, which means you need to target their interests. Don't talk about what you want. Put the reviewer first.

In essence, the more data you have and the more personalized your emails, the better your response will be. We're authors. I'm sure I can trust you to do an excellent job here.

Step 3: Starting Your First Campaign

Well look at that, you’re already halfway done! Click “Campaigns” on the top bar, and then go directly to “Create Campaign”.

On the bottom of the page, you’ll see the campaign types.

For a one time send like we are going to do for this batch of reviewers, choose “Standard”.

Those other options look interesting, right? There’s no harm in being curious, because later in the tutorial we’ll show you how to create an automation, or a recurring sequence of emails that once you set up, you’re able to set and forget.

Now, let’s do a boring old one-time send. Pick your reviewer list on the next page. Then the Template design can be chosen on this page.

To contact reviewers, it doesn’t need a fancy design. You could choose a design template that looks like a personal letter.

This email should seem like it has been created personally with time taken for each individual reviewer.

Step 4: Creating Your Email

ActiveCampaign features an easy to use drag and drop email creator or WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get).

The main window is what your current email looks like. To the right are inserts to add to the current design.

Clicking on a section of your email, you can get granular and change specifics like font size, line spacing, and links to the right of “Insert” at “Options”.

Step 5: Personalization

It would be painfully boring to enter everyone’s first name into each email. You’ve got books to author, and they aren’t going to write themselves. That’s where the power of a good email marketing service like ActiveCampaign comes in handy.

Do you see some strange symbols in the text templates? %FIRSTNAME% is an example.

This isn’t a programmer gone rogue.

It’s code that you can enter yourself to personalize each email!

Personalization is easy with ActiveCampaign. Click on a text area, then click on the top bar where it says “Personalize”.

All this information is being imported from your list settings, so make sure they’re correct.

Do you see all the options you have available to customize your emails? Your reviewers won’t know the difference from an automated email and one you wrote individually with these personalization fields.

For this email, you might only want to put their name. It could be interesting if you had information on a book or genre they reviewed before. That could work nicely to really connect with your reviewers on a deeper level.

Stop Right There! You Need an Address!

The next page could stop you in your tracks. Don’t let it deter you from sending out your first email campaign. These reviews are important, and getting a physical address isn’t something that should stop you for too long.

Here is the warning message you'll most likely see:

Your list does not have a valid physical mailing address. Before you can send this campaign, you must update the physical mailing address for this list.

You need to provide a real mailing address if you want to use ActiveCampaign.

It’s not just ActiveCampaign that requires this, pretty much every email service out there has this as a requirement.

Remember that whatever mailing address you provide will be on every email you send. This is to reassure subscribers that you’re a real person and that you’re complying with the CAN-SPAM law.

We aren't out to spam thousands of people with pointless emails. Remember, these are targeted, and going to individuals who have already shown an interest in reading books in your niche.

If you’re concerned about privacy, there are other options like purchasing a PO BOX either locally or online. A quick Google search for “online PO BOX” or “virtual PO BOX” will do the trick.

With that out of the way, go on and –

Wait! You probably thought we were going to say send your first email, didn’t you?

We will. Soon.

Don’t forget to preview your email for any typos or errors first. I strongly recommend you send a test email to yourself first to see what it looks like.

If your template has a complicated design be sure to check and see what it looks like on a mobile device, too.

Step 6: Send Your Email!

Congratulations! You’ll have some reviews coming in soon enough!

You’ve mastered the basics, but there is still a lot to learn about email marketing. Most importantly, automations. Automations are how you can keep in contact with subscribers while you sleep.

Does it sound complicated? It can be, but not for what we need to do. We've already automated the sending part, but now we’ll go over a simple workflow that will help you automate a significant part of your follow-up.

BONUS: Creating Your First Automation

If someone responds to your first email, you'll want to personally handle each and every one.

You really don't want to automate this part, and I can't stress the importance of nurturing your relationships here. I shouldn't have to tell you this, but these people can make or break you.

Furthermore, your list, while maybe a one-time purchase from us, should lead to you developing lasting relationships with these potential reviewers.

What this means is that, in a very short time, you'll be able to build a core audience of people who love to read books in your niche. You can then reach out to them for every subsequent book you release to ask for feedback and reviews! Talk about some serious value!

BUT, in order to get there, you have to get them to respond to you first. These next steps will automate the process. That way, you'll only have to spend time interacting with those who reply.

Let's begin. You’ll find “Automations” on the top bar.

Click it and the next pop-up might make you want to click away.

There are a lot of options to explore later. We’ll begin by “Starting from Scratch”.

This workflow is going to kick off after someone receives your email asking them if they'd like a copy of your latest book.

As previously mentioned, we want to be able to send them a follow-up email, but only if they never opened the first email.

Let’s pick “Tag is Added".

The default selections are fine, besides choosing the tag you want. Remember when creating a list, we asked you to add a tag? Now once someone joins that list with the tag you choose, they’ll start this workflow.

ActiveCampaign workflow screen v2

If you’ve never set up an automation before, this can be intimidating.

But look closer and you can see that you’ve got your start condition already set up at the top. Once the subscriber is tagged they are going to be sent down the path to the first action.

That action is what we need to set up now.

Click the + button to create your first action.

ActiveCampaign wait time screen

There are a lot of options in this pop-up. You might have an itchy clicking finger and want to pick “Send an email”. We don’t want to send the follow-up email instantly once they open the first email, though.

So, let’s add a “Wait” time under “Conditions and Workflow”.

Click “For a specific period of time” then “Wait for X amount of days”.

Once that wait time is set (I recommend somewhere between 2-4 days), it’ll appear on your workflow.

You can then add another action that will send an email.

Note that if you don’t have the email campaign created yet, you will need to create it to use it in a workflow.

This follow-up email will speak directly to those who haven’t opened your last email. We need to make sure we’re just sending it under these conditions, so we need an If/Else Statement.

Click the + after “Wait X Days”.

Click “Actions”. Under “Conditions and Workflow”, pick “If/Else Statement”.

Pick “Has opened”, then the name of your first email.

Paths for “Yes” and “No” pop up underneath that condition.

Did they open the first email? Then do nothing under yes, because you’ll interact with them personally.

Did they not open the first email? Then send the follow-up email under no.

Now create a follow-up email asking them if they a) saw your first email and b) if they'd be interested in receiving a copy of your book.

You MIGHT think you're being pushy, but I promise you, you're not. With email outreach, the magic is in the follow-up.

That’s it, really. You’ve created your first workflow! Not everyone gets this far. Don’t forget to activate it on the top right when you’re ready.

ActiveCampaign ending workflow v3

What our follow-up workflow looks like when finished.

Getting Creative with ActiveCampaign

There’s a lot more to discover with ActiveCampaign, but those are the basics. You can import subscribers, send a simple email, and create a workflow.

The more you explore, the more you’ll discover new ways to interact with your reviewers and fans. Many authors never attempt to unlock the full potential of email marketing.

Some key points to keep in mind as you go along:

  • Segment your lists
  • Use workflows to save time and energy
  • Always personalize when possible
  • Put yourself in the recipient's shoes and ask "Why should they care?"

With these points in mind, you’ll be far ahead of the pack.

Good luck and enjoy the reviews with ActiveCampaign!

Do you have any questions, suggestions or tips related to ActiveCampaign? Please comment below!