About Automation

MailChimp's free automation tools allow you to create a targeted email or series of emails that send when triggered by a specific date, event, or contact’s activity. Our Automation Builder features powerful segmenting, scheduling, and design tools in one easy-to-use package, so you can send emails that inform, reward, and engage your contacts, automatically. 

In this article, you’ll learn about marketing automation and how you can use it in your email marketing plan.


When we talk about automation, we use some terminology that's a little different from how we talk about other tools and tasks in MailChimp. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the terminology before you get started.

  • Automation
    An email or series of emails sent to a contact based on a specific trigger.

  • Campaign
    Any distributed content that’s created and measured in MailChimp, including automations. 

  • Workflow
    The settings, schedule, and content for distributing a series of automated emails.

  • Delay
    The period of time between two emails in an automation series.

  • Queue
    A batch of contacts who have met an automation’s criteria, and are waiting to receive the next email in a series.

  • Trigger or Event
    The catalyst that starts an automation email or series. For example, someone subscribes to your list or purchases a particular product.

How Automation Works

A regular email campaign sends to your contacts at the time you choose. With an automation campaign, emails are sent automatically to specific contacts as they meet your trigger and sending criteria.

Choose an automation, create one email or a series of emails, and set your sending criteria. We’ll use activity and contact data to determine who should receive your emails and when. After you set up an automation, MailChimp will manage your queue and email sends, so your emails get to the right people at the right time.


What You Can Do with Automation

For marketers whose contacts have a clear path from signup to conversion or repeat engagement, automation can streamline your communication. Depending on your business model, you might send a birthday coupon once a year or a series of solicitations every few days.

When you convert regularly sent campaigns to automations, you’ll reduce the amount of time you spend on content creation and increase your ROI.

If you have a store connected to MailChimp, you can also use automation for transactional sending, such as abandoned cart emails and order notifications. These automations will reach anyone who abandons a cart or places an order in your store, and not just subscribed contacts.

About Workflows

A workflow is the schedule, trigger settings, and content for your emails in an automation series. Trigger settings cover a variety of different criteria, like a subscribed contact’s birthday or sign-up date, or when someone makes a purchase or downloads a file. MailChimp offers many automation types with built-in triggers and other configuration details for common activities. If our pre-built options don't fit your needs, a custom workflow type is also available.

After a subscribed contact receives the first email in an automation series, they’ll receive every email in the series in sequence, unless they are removed from the automation. You can edit triggers for any email in your automation workflow when you pause sending.

About the Automation Page

The Automation page in your account gives an overview of each automation, including number of emails, sending status and performance trends.

Sending Status Icons

Next to the name of each automation, we’ll display an icon and label to indicate its sending status, so you can quickly tell whether things are working as expected.

Icon Status Description
sending status draft icon Draft Your automation hasn't started.
icon shows sending status as sending Sending Your automation is sending. To edit emails, you’ll need to pause them first.
icon shows sending status as paused Paused All of the emails in your automation are paused.
automation sending status is alert Some emails paused Your automation is sending, but at least one email is paused.
automation sending status is alert Store connection error Your store is not connected to MailChimp. Check your integration settings and restart the automation.
automation sending status is alert Billing lapse Your last bill payment failed. Check your billing settings and restart the automation.
sending status compliance issue Compliance issue One or more of your emails violate our compliance requirements. Contact Support for more information.


Trends are shown as percentage changes above the Open rate, Click rate, and Sends values, and compare the previous calendar day’s numbers to the daily average. Hover over an active workflow to see the total number of opens and clicks.
hover over stats

To see more information about your automation's ongoing performance, click the dropdown menu and choose View report.
click view report

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