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Creating an Endless Loop RSS Newsletter

How to use ActiveCampaign's RSS and Looping Automations Feature to create a hands-off newsletter.

I spend much of my time working in Pardot, but I also have a number of clients that use ActiveCampaign.

For many small and mid-market clients it's perfectly adequate, affordable, and offers far more capability than many of the more basic products like Mailchimp.

Two of my favorite features in ActiveCampaign are the ability to dynamically create an email from an RSS feed and the ability to internally loop an autmation path.

In this solution, a recruiter wanted to communicate job postings to a mailing list with a completely automated, hands-off method. Since their job listings were available in an RSS feed, ActiveCampaign's RSS feed content block for email was a perfect solution.

The first step was to create a signup form, including an dropwdown box that allows the person registering to choose how often they want to get emails-- 4, 2, or 1 week. This custom field is used in two ways. First, to drive the automation's send points and secondly to offer the recipient a way to adjust email frequency if they want to get emails more or less frequently than their orginal selection.

ActiveCampaign's RSS email block is just a drag and drop component in the email builder that gives you a variety of text-based options for how to organize your content and how many items to show. You can include more than one of these components in an email, so you could show more than one RSS feed if you wanted to.

The email sending program sorts people into three paths based on if they want to get the emails every week, every 2 weeks or every 4 weeks. No matter which path they go down, the email is exactly the same, the only difference is how often you get it, with different wait periods on each path. That's the beauty of the RSS email, any change to the RSS feed is what makes the rendered email different, you don't need to change a thing.

Each path loops back to the beginning to start over again. I put a 1 day wait in the beginning and sort every time because I also added a final featue- the ability for the user to adjust how often they get this email.

To do this, I included dynamic content that is based off that frequency field to show three different options for changing your receipent frequency. Essentially if you are on the 4 week plan, it asks if you if you want to change to every week or every 2 weeks. There are three blocks showing all the variants. Since I base this off what the frequency field value is, any given person only sees the one block that corresponds to their currently selected frequency.

Now, every marketing automation program has it's quirks and limitations, anbd ActiveCampaign is no exception. I'm triggering an action to change the send frequency off clicking a link in my dynamic content block. Ideally I'd just change the contact field value and be done with it, but ActiveCampaign doesn't give me that option. So I have to tag a person that clicks, and based on this selection, run a different automation to change the frequency field value. So if someone clicks the link "Send me every 2 weeks", I tag them "Send 2 Weeks" and put them in an automation that looks for this tag and then changes the sending frequency field to 2 weeks, and then removes the tag.

So that second automation independently affects the first one, because it's just changed the field that the email sending automation uses to route people down the 1, 2 or 4 week paths. This is why I put a 1 day waiting period before the program looks at the field. It gives the recipent one day to decide if they want to change their frequency and click the link.

With these 4 elements: 1 signup form, 2 automations and 1 email, we now have an endless-looping RSS content-fed email that will continuously send emails to a mailing list with no further intervention.

If you're interested in checking out ActiveCampaign, use my affiliate link for a free 2 week trial. And of course I'm available to consult on customizing it to your requirements.



*As of April 2022, Pardot has been renamed Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, as part of Salesforce's effort to organize all the marketing products under the same platform umbrella. "MCAE" is simply the same Pardot we know and love under a new name. The product is temporarily being referred to as "Marketing Cloud Account Engagement powered by Pardot."   

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