Getting Started with Automation

Automation is currently in closed beta. During beta, only approved participants have access to the feature and we reserve the right to change the functionality at any time without warning. For more information on the Automation beta, or to join the beta waitlist, see our Email Marketing Automation page.

SendGrid’s Automation beta allows you to send a series of emails to contacts automatically at a cadence you define. Automations are simple to set up, and once created, you can trigger them to send automatically by adding new recipients to a chosen list, saving you time.

With the Automation beta, you could build email campaigns to:

  • Welcome new contacts when they join your list with a warm message and introductory tips.
  • Engage contacts who’ve downloaded an asset from you with follow-up content.
  • Promote an upcoming event to a list of invitees with a series of reasons to attend.

Beta Considerations

For beta participants who also use Marketing Campaigns, it’s important to know that during the beta, there is little connection between Marketing Campaigns and Automation. Specifically, the following items are not shared across the two offerings:

  • Contacts and associated data (such as custom fields or engagement data)
  • Templates
  • Account activity notifications (for example, the email you receive when a CSV export is complete)

Unsubscribe Groups and Senders are shared between Marketing Campaigns and Automation.

Additionally, during this phase of the beta, some Marketing Campaigns features will not be available in Automation. For easy reference, the primary feature gaps include:

  • Create or use custom fields
  • Create or use segments
  • A/B testing of email content and subject lines
  • Link click tracking

We’ll be working iteratively to close these feature gaps as quickly as possible.

Getting Started

Before you start building your first automation, complete the following:

Notifications

If you would like to have notifications about your account's Automation activity sent to an email other than your parent account address,you can add them in Notifications.

Notification emails added in Marketing Campaigns won't receive any notifications regarding Automation activity.

To add a notification email address:

  1. Navigate to Notifications and then click Add New Email.
  2. Enter the name of the person or account you want to receive the notification email.
  3. Enter the email address of the person or account want to receive the notification email.
  4. Click Save.

You can add up to 10 email addresses to Automation notifications.

Create Unsubscribe Groups

Automation shares Unsubscribe Groups with the rest of SendGrid. If a contact unsubscribes from an email you send via Automation, they're unsubscribing from any emails you send using that Unsubscribe Group in Marketing Campaigns as well.

A great reason to create an Unsubscribe Group specific to the automations you're setting live is that at this stage of the beta, you cannot remove a contact from an Automation once they've entered it (exit criteria is limited to contacts receiving all emails in the series). However, if you create an Unsubscribe Group specific to your automation, you can remove contacts from an automation by adding them to that Unsubscribe Group.

Currently, classic '[unsubscribe]' tags do not work in the Automation beta. To add an unsubscribe group to your automation emails, use the following format: '{{[unsubscribe]}}'. In addition, the asm format tags work in all variations SendGrid email.

For information on creating Unsubscribe Groups, see Create and Manage Unsubscribe Groups.

Add a Sender

Automation shares senders with Marketing Campaigns. You can use the same senders(s), or you can create new ones for use with Automation.

For more information, see Senders.

Create an Automation

Once you've completed the prerequisites, you start building your first automation. You can start with a pre-built Welcome Series and make it your own, or start from scratch by selecting Custom Automation.

Create a Custom Automation

To create a Custom Automation:

  1. Navigate to Automations and then click Create an Automation.
  2. Under Custom, click Select.
  3. Give the series a name (this is for your reference and will not be visible to your contacts).
  4. Select the entry criteria. Today, your entry criteria will be the first time a contact is added to a list. You can choose an existing list, or you can create a new one here.

Contacts will only receive your automation if you add them to the list you select for entry criteria after you set the automation live.

  1. Select the exit criteria for this series. You can choose from "Contacts will leave the series one they've received all the emails" or "Contacts will leave the series if they no longer meet the entry criteria".

If you select “no longer meet entry criteria”, SendGrid will check to make sure a recipient is still on the entry criteria list before sending each email in the series. If they aren’t they won’t get the email. For more information on deleting contacts or removing them from lists, see link text.

  1. Select an Unsubscribe Group.
  2. Add a category to the automation (optional).
  3. Select the send time for the first email. You can choose to send the first email instantly, or you can set a delay of days or hours from the time meet the entry criteria.
  4. To design your email, click Edit Email Content.
  5. From the Select Template modal that opens, choose Blank Template or one of the SendGrid templates provided.

During beta, templates from Marketing Campaigns are not available in Automation. However, you can export the template HTML from Marketing Campaigns and paste it into an Automation blank template using the Automation code editor.

  1. Next, select either the Design or Code editor to design or edit your email. Save and click the arrow in the top left corner of the page to return to the Edit Automation page.

  2. If you did not do so within the editor, you can add a subject line and select a sender from the Edit Automation page.

  3. To add more emails to this automated series, click Add an Email.

  4. Choose how long to wait before sending the next email. This time will be relative to the preceding email.

  5. Repeat steps 5-9 for each additional email you add to this custom automation.

  6. Once you have created all of your emails for the automation, click Set Live.

Duplicate an Automation

To duplicate an automation:

  1. Navigate to Automations.
  2. Find the Automation you want to duplicate.
  3. Select the Action Menu to the right of the automation.
  4. Click Duplicate.
  5. Once you create the duplicate, the automation will open to the edit page. From here, you can change any or all of the settings within the automation.

Use the Pre-Built Welcome Series

The pre-built Welcome Series automation provides a jumping off point to inspire you to create your own tailored welcome series.

To create a Welcome Series:

  1. Navigate to Automations and then click Create an Automation.
  2. Under Welcome, click Select.
  3. Give the series a name (this is for your reference and will not be visible to your contacts).
  4. Select the first entry criteria. The default entry criteria is “The first time a contact is added to All Contacts”.
  5. Repeat steps 5-16 from creating a custom automation.

If you keep the entry criteria as "All Contacts" it's important to remember that any recipient you add to your Automation contacts after you set the welcome series live will be entered into the automation. Use "All Contacts" with caution to avoid sending a welcome series to contacts that aren't actually new to you.

Email Testing

Email testing offers in-app spam testing, inbox rendering previews, and link validation right within the Automation experience. It allows you to preview how an email is likely to perform across a wide range of inbox providers, devices and spam filters, before sending.

Email Testing is currently in closed beta and available to a limited number of Automation participants. If you’re interested in participating, please email email_automation@sendgrid.com.

  • Inbox Rendering Test: Displays how an email message is rendered and appears across a select group of inbox providers and devices.
  • Spam Test: Shows how an email performs against the world’s most powerful consumer (B2C) and enterprise (B2B) spam filters.
  • Link Validation Test: Tests all links/URLs within a message to ensure they are valid. The test checks for redirects, domain reputation and critical metadata (like title text).

To test an email:

  1. From inside either the Design or Code editor, navigate to the Settings tab.
  2. Scroll down and click on the Send Test dropdown to expand testing options.
  3. Below the option to send a test email, you will see an Email Testing option. To create a test, click Create Test.

Before you can use Email Testing, you need to specify a Sender and add a Subject to the email you want to test.

  1. Once the Email Testing page opens, choose which inboxes you’d like to test by selecting the checkbox next to the name of the client.

During the beta program, every email test will automatically run all three types: the Inbox, Link, and Spam Tests.

  1. Once you've selected all of the inboxes for the rendering test you want to run, click Run Test.
  2. It may take a moment to begin seeing results. When the test is finished running, the test results appear on the View Test Results tab. Click a thumbnail of a render to open the image and view in greater detail.
  3. From the View Test Results tab, you can select the Inbox, Spam, or Links tabs to view all of the details for your test.

During the beta program, only the latest test that you’ve run is saved to your account. To access the results once you’ve left Email Testing, simply click Create Test in the Settings tab and select the View Test Results tab.

Manage Contacts

Adding contacts to a list that's designated as the entry criteria for an automation will trigger that automation. The Automation beta experience offers several ways to add contacts to lists, including CSV upload, using signup forms, or via the Contact Management APIs.

During the beta, contacts you upload to Automation are distinct from your existing Marketing Campaigns contacts. An Automation contact will be treated as new even if they’ve been in your Marketing Campaigns contacts for some time.

Add Contacts

Note that automations will only trigger to contacts who are added to an entry criteria list after the automation is set live. Contacts who you add to a list before the automation is set live will not receive any emails in the series.

Upload a CSV

You can add contacts to a list via CSV Upload or by creating a Signup Form to automatically send signups to a list.

  1. Use this CSV template to make sure your CSV is formatted correctly.
  2. Click Add Contacts and then select Upload CSV.
  3. Choose whether to add your contacts to All Contacts, to an existing list, or to a new list you create.

At this phase of the beta, custom fields are not supported. You can import reserved fields, including email, first_name, last_name, and address fields.

  1. Upload your file by dragging it into or clicking the CSV upload area. Once the CSV has processed, you will receive a notification email.

Create a signup form

Use Signup Forms with the SendGrid Automation beta to capture new contacts and add them directly to an Automation list. If the list you add them to is acting as the entry criteria for a live automation, the new contact will automatically receive any emails you’ve created as part of that automation.

You can enable contacts to access your signup form either by sending them a link hosted by SendGrid or by embedding it directly into your website.

The number of signup forms you can create is limited to 15.

To create a new signup form:

  1. Navigate to Automations and select Signup Forms.
  2. Click Create New Form.
  3. On the Settings tab, add a Form Name and then select the contact list you want to add new signups to.
  4. Next, add a confirmation message. This field contains the text that contacts will see once they’ve clicked submit on the form.
  5. Navigate to the Build tab and add a header to the form.
  6. Add the intro copy to explain what the contact is signing up to receive.
  7. Select the checkboxes to add the fields you want on the form.

Manage signup forms

Using the action menu on the Signup Forms page you can edit, duplicate, or delete existing signup forms.

Because of the iframe technology used to create the signup form, the form dynamically updates on the page or pages where you have the form embedded anytime you edit a form and click Save & Apply.

Share Code to make your form accessible

To make your form accessible to new contacts, you can either send them a link hosted by SendGrid or you can embed code on your website that displays your form as an iframe.

To share the code for your signup form:

  1. Navigate to the signup form you want to share or embed.

  2. Click the action menu and select Share Code.

  3. On the Integrate Form modal, copy either the Landing Page or Direct Embed link.

    • The Landing Page link can be pasted anywhere, including in an email or on a social media site.
    • The Direct Embed code can be pasted to the HTML of your website wherever you’d like the form to display.

You can also find the options to share the signup form in the form editor by clicking Share Code in the top-right corner of the editor.

Edit or Remove Contacts

To manage your contact lists more efficiently, you can edit and remove contact lists from the Contacts page.

To edit a contact:

  1. Navigate to the Contacts page and search for the contact you want to edit.
  2. Click the contact you wish to edit. This takes you to the contact details page.
  3. To edit any of the profile fields, click on the Edit icon to the right of the field.
  4. Once you have finished making all of your changes, click Save.

To delete a contact from your account:

  1. Navigate to the Contacts page and search for the contact you want to edit.
  2. To delete a contact from the contact list, you can click the delete icon in the action menu. To delete a contact from the contact details page, click the delete icon at the top-right of the page.
  3. If you are deleting the contact from a specific list, and not All Contacts, click Remove Contact. If you are deleting the contact from the account, select Permanently delete this contact from my account.

To remove a contact from a list:

  1. Navigate to the Contacts page and search for the contact you want to edit.
  2. Click the email of the contact to view contact details.
  3. Click the Associated Lists tab from the contact details page.
  4. Find the list you want to remove the contact from and click the delete icon.
  5. When you see "Are you sure you want to remove this contact?" click Remove Contact.

Export contacts

To view the contents of a contact list, you can export the list to a CSV and download it to your computer.

To export contacts:

  1. Navigate to the Contacts page within the Automation Beta experience.
  2. Locate the contact list you want to export and click the action menu.
  3. Select Export. The Export page appears with a list of all current and previous exports.
  4. From here you can find the exported contact list and select the action menu.
  5. Select the Download CSV icon next to the list to download the contact list to your computer.

Exported CSV files are only available for download for 72 hours after the export is initialized.

Contact Management APIs

You can integrate with the Contact Management APIs to create and update lists, add contacts, manage reserved field data, export contact lists, and pull data about your contacts and lists. Learn more through the documentation for Automation Contact APIs.

Manage Automations

During the beta, you are only able to edit the content, subject line, and sender for each email in your series.

Disable an Automation

To disable an automation:

When you disable an automation, all emails in your automation will stop sending unless you set it live again. No new contacts will be entered into your automation while it's disabled. If you set the automation live again, contacts who entered the automation before it was disabled will continue receiving emails again according to where they left off.

  1. Navigate to Automations and select the series you want to stop.
  2. Select the Action Menu to the right of the Automation.
  3. Click Disable Automation in the upper right corner.

To set a disabled automation live again:

  1. Navigate to Automations and select the series you want to re-enable.
  2. Select the Action Menu to the right of the Automation.
  3. Click Set Live in the upper right corner.

When you re-enable the automation, contacts who previously entered the series will continue receiving emails where they left off in the series. Contacts who met your entry criteria during the disabled period will not be added to the automation. For this reason, do not add users to lists that are used as the entry criteria for automations in a disabled state.

Delete an Automation

To delete an automation:

  1. On the automation dashboard, find the automation you want to delete.
  2. Hover over the action menu and select the delete icon.
  3. To delete the automation, click Confirm.

Migrating from Marketing Campaigns

Migrating Campaign HTML

To migrate HTML from a Marketing Campaigns template or email:

  1. Navigate to Marketing Campaigns and locate the campaign you wish to migrate.

  2. Hover over the action menu until the icons appear.

  3. Select the Export HTML icon. The campaign HTML downloads to the folder specified on your computer

  4. Navigate to the Automation dashboard.

  5. Locate the automation you want to add the exported email to and hover over the action menu.

  6. Select Edit.

  7. Within the automation, find the email you want to add the content to and click Edit.

  8. Select Blank Template.

  9. Select the code editor.

  10. Paste the HTML you copied from the downloaded file into the code editor and then click Preview.

Migrating Contact Lists

To migrate a contact list from Marketing Campaigns:

  1. Navigate to Marketing Campaigns and then select Contacts.
  2. Find the list you want to export and hover over the action menu.
  3. Click Export. The contact list begins downloading, and you will receive a notification email to the email address specified in Marketing Campaigns Notifications. Go to your inbox to download the file.
  4. Once you download the file, navigate back to Automation.
  5. Select Contacts.
  6. To add the contacts, click Upload Contacts.
  7. Follow the instructions outlined in Upload contacts to complete the process.

To migrate a segment from Marketing Campaigns:

During beta, segmentation is not enabled in Automation. You can build a segment in Marketing Campaigns, export it, and import it as a list to Marketing Campaigns.

  1. Navigate to Marketing Campaigns and then select Contacts.
  2. Find the segment you want to export and hover over the action menu.
  3. Click Export. The contact list begins downloading, and you will receive a notification email to the email address specified in Marketing Campaigns Notifications. Go to your inbox to download the file.
  4. Once you download the file, navigate back to Automation.
  5. Select Contacts.
  6. To add the contacts, click Upload Contacts.
  7. Follow the instructions outlined in Upload contacts to complete the process.

Planned iterative releases for Automation beta

This section provides a non-binding view into the current prioritization of planned additional Automation features and functionality.

At any time, the features and functionality below, as well as the timing associated, may change. Feedback from beta participants is a likely driver of reprioritization. Our degree of confidence for near-term deliverables is much stronger than mid- to long-term deliverables.

Have feedback or questions? We welcome your thoughts at email_automation@sendgrid.com

Near-term (Q1 2019)

Deliverable Status
Insert reserved fields into email content using substitution tags. LIVE
Ability to create signup forms that can be embedded into a website or shared as a link. Signups are added directly to an Automation contact list. LIVE
Availability of the public facing Automation Contact APIs. LIVE
Ability to view All Contacts, edit contacts, and export All Contacts or specific lists. LIVE
Ability to search for contacts within All Contacts or specific lists. LIVE

Mid-term (Q2 2019)

Deliverable Status
Ability to delete contacts from All Contacts or specific lists. LIVE
Exit criteria of no longer meeting entry criteria. LIVE
Ability to save an email design as a template. In progress
Ability to view the details of an Automation Contact list In progress
Ability to import custom fields via API and use them for email content and subject line personalization. Planned
Ability to test Automation emails for rendering across inboxes and browsers, link validation, and spam testing. In closed beta
Ability to send a one-time campaign to a list using Single Sends. In progress
Shared contacts and templates across Single Sends and Automation. In progress

Long-term (Beyond Q2 2019)

Deliverable Status
Ability to view contact-level engagement stats (who opened/clicked, etc.). Planned
Ability to see which links were clicked in an email. Planned
Availability of Automations API (configure an Automation via API). Planned
Ability to trigger an automation when a contact joins a segment. Planned
Ability to schedule emails within an automation according to scheduled calendar dates Planned
Ability to track clicks to links within emails Planned
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