In email marketing, it’s all about getting the right message to the right customers at the right time. Marketers have focused a lot of energy on segmenting audiences to make sure that they’re getting the right messages to customers, and testing to ensure that they’re sending the right message at the right time.

The amount of work involved in creating these segmentations and complex programs leads marketers and agencies to use automation for handling these tasks. Automation and programming can remove much of the tedium and hourly cost of segmenting audiences, and turn an email campaign into a well-oiled machine.

Trust, but verify

This then leads to a new challenge: How do we really know what our automation is doing? It’s an amazing feeling to have an automation doing precisely what you’ve told it to do, but it’s a nice sanity check to see first hand that everything is running smoothly.

We have developed a solution for just this problem. We utilize the powerful combination of AMPScript, Data Extensions, and Google Image Charts to create custom, extensible emails for any automation. When we set up an automation, we include an extra step we call a notification email. This extra step contains an automated email going to an internal seed list that contains useful information about that particular send. It can include lots of data about what is happening, including the type of send, the count of subscribers receiving it, the subject lines of the emails, and even historical charts and data to allow a marketer to see patterns over time.

But wait, there’s more! This email can also be used as an automated warning prior to a live email send. The notification can be configured to deploy any amount of time prior to a deployment, which can alert you to a potential error before a send goes out, giving your team the time to make corrections, and potentially save you time, money, and complaints.

Notification 2When these notifications are archived in your email client, they provide a treasure trove of information for the marketer or the engineer attempting to do research on questions concerning a particular send. Our notifications are typically configured with a date stamp in the subject line, allowing us to quickly pinpoint the information we may need about a send much more quickly than checking tracking or creating a custom report.

With so many benefits, I highly recommend including automated notification emails on every automation. The sky is the limit for the amount of useful information that can be included on them, and they can provide an invaluable look under the hood to ensure that not only is your automation running, but running just the way that you want it to.

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