Tuesday 6 June 2017

MailChimp Automation, Facebook Lead Ads, and Zapier


I use MailChimp for my e-mail marketing, but I have a confession to make: my subscriber numbers are nowhere near 2000, so I'm still on their free plan.

I love MailChimp, but the one thing I've always been missing is access to their incredibly powerful automation features. So, when they announced a couple of weeks ago that all subscribers would have access to their Automation function, I was ecstatic. Previously, it was only available for paid accounts, and with my abysmally low numbers, there was just no way I could justify paying for it.

The whole of last weekend, I spent building my automation workflows, and to be honest, I think I may just have gone overboard a little bit. Here's what happens when you sign up for my mailing list (after you get your final "Welcome" e-mail confirmation):

  1. Four days after signing up, I send you an e-mail, thanking you for signing up and asking if you've had a chance to download your free book yet. If you need any help downloading it, you can reply to that e-mail and I'll do my best to help you out. Then I ask if, once you're done with it, you would mind writing me a short review.
  2. Eight days after signing up, and depending on the free book you chose to receive when you signed up, I recommend that you might enjoy a different one:
    1. If you picked A Petition to Magic, then you might enjoy Tales From Virdura.
    2. If you picked Heaven and Earth: Paranormal Flash fiction, you might enjoy Billy's Zombie.
    3. If you picked Stingers, you might enjoy the anthology that Stingers originally appeared in, I am not Frazzle!
  3. When you sign up for my mailing list, one of the things you're offered is an invitation to our private Facebook Group, so twelve days after signing up, if you haven't yet joined the Facebook Group, I send you a reminder with the link to that group.
  4. Finally, sixteen days after signing up, I'll send you an e-mail letting you know that you can Like me on Facebook, or Follow me on Twitter.
This sounds a little convoluted and over-the-top, but I don't want a situation where you sign up in the beginning of a month, and then don't hear from me again for three weeks until my next monthly newsletter. This way, you'll get used to seeing my name in your inbox, so by the time you receive my regular newsletter, you won't have forgotten who I am. Besides, if you can make it through all those e-mails without unsubscribing, there's a good chance you'll stick around!

Facebook Lead Ads

Right, so now I had this beautiful workflow in place, it was time for some subscribers to test it. I've run Facebook Lead Ads before, and had moderate success.

I set up an ad, offering A Petition to Magic for free if people on Facebook clicked my ad and gave me their e-mail address. The ad targeted people between the ages of 21 and 35, living in South Africa, who like both e-books and short stories, and I spent R50 (around $3.90) on it.

The results were pretty... meh (resulting in fewer than five leads), but it was enough to test my MailChimp automatons. Plus, I learnt something....


Normally, when you run a Facebook Leads Ad, you get a CSV file at the end, with a list of people who took up your offer and their e-mail addresses, and you have to import them manually into your e-mail software.

But this time, as part of the Leads Ads wizard, I was offered the chance to sign up to Zapier, which automatically pushes new leads into MailChimp and sends them the link to download their free book.

I'd never heard of Zapier before, but what a pleasure! I woke up the morning after running my ad, logged into MailChimp, checked my List, and all the subscribers from my ad were sitting there waiting. They'd been sent the link to their free book, and were sitting in my workflow's automation queue. No importing required.

The only problem with all this is that I subsequently discovered that I'd signed up for a 14-day free trial at Zapier, and if I wanted to continue using that feature after my fourteen days were up, it would cost me $20 (about R250) a month. Yoh, but that's expensive! There's just... no way I can justify that cost.

They have a free plan as well, and Facebook Lead Ads aren't the only thing they integrate with. There are over 750 apps that Zapier can help automate, from sending tweets to Slack, to e-mailing you when people fill out Google Forms, and more.

Many of these apps can be used on the free plan, which gives you a hundred automations a month at no cost. Unfortunately, Facebook Lead Ads is a "Premium App", and premium apps are explicitly excluded from Zapier's free plan.

Oh well, that was good while it lasted. I guess it's back to importing CSV files and manually sending Welcome e-mails for me from now on... unless you nice people buy lots of books. :-)

So what do you think? If you run an online business, have you used the above combination of tools to automate your marketing? How did it go?

I'm also interested to hear from readers - have you ever given your e-mail address to an author from a Facebook Ad? Did you stick around, or unsubscribe as soon as you got your freebie?

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