How to automatically send emails based on a specific date

You can send automatic emails to subscribers before, on, or after a unique date that is stored in a custom field for each person.

This is done using using date-based autoresponders. Here are a few ways you can use them:

  • Send a sales email when a free trial period has run out.
  • Set up a helpful email reminder to send when a membership is due to expire.
  • Invite customers to provide feedback after making a purchase.
  • Send audience members your presentation slides a few hours after speaking at an event.

Setting up a date-based autoresponder

Here, we'll show you how to use a date-based autoresponder for a sales follow-up.

1. Create a custom date field to trigger the autoresponder

If you haven't done so already, you need to add a date field to your subscriber list. The dates recorded for each subscriber in this field will be used to trigger the autoresponder to send.

For example, the date field that will be referenced in our sales follow-up autoresponder is named "New website launched":

When a customer's website is launched you would update the "New website launched" field with that date: manually, via a file import, or through the API. We'll show you how it is used to trigger the autoresponder in step 2.

2. Set up a new autoresponder

From the Lists & Subscribers tab, open the list you want to create an autoresponder for. It must be the same list your custom date field belongs to.

On the list details page, in the right sidebar, click Autoresponders > Create autoresponder

On the next page enter a description for the autoresponder in the Name field. This is for use within your account only, it won't be seen by recipients and you can rename it later if you change your mind.

Select The exact match of a date as the trigger that will fire off the autoresponder. If your subscriber list has more than one date field, click the Use this date drop-down menu to select the correct one.

Click Next to continue.

3. Define the email details

On the following page, use the Send this email drop-down menu to select on, before or after the date recorded in the custom date field.

For this example we're creating an autoresponder series containing two emails. The first is set to send 2 months after the customer's new website is launched, as shown here:

The description you enter for Name the email is used in your account only. If you're creating an autoresponder series – containing more than one email – it helps to use unique, descriptive names that are easy to recognize.

Fill in the subject line and sender details, then click Next.

4. Create the autoresponder email

Now you can create the email for the autoresponder by selecting one of your existing templates or, if these options are available to you, selecting Import or Plain text, as shown here:

Click Import to upload a complete HTML campaign that has been designed and coded externally. Click Plain text to open the text-only editor where you can write or copy-and-paste in the content of your email.

When the first email is set up, you'll be returned to the autoresponders page, which will look something like this with one email:

If you only want to send one email, the autoresponder is ready to go now. Click Start autoresponder in the right sidebar to activate it.

To set up a second email, click Add a new email to this autoresponder. This will load a new define-the-details page where you'll start by setting the timeframe for the next email in the series to send.

For example, we've set our second email to send 6 months after the customer's new website is launched. This means they will receive the second email four months after the first one:

Continue adding emails until you have completed your autoresponder series. When you're ready, click the Start autoresponder button.

For more information, check out our autoresponder FAQs.