Dynamically Marketing Your Live Events with ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign’s event marketing just got a lot stronger with the release of the Goals and Date Conditions features. Together this combo pack a powerful punch in helping you market any event in your business.

I’ll admit, I didn’t initially see the power in these two features combined until I watched our very own Megan Curth breakdown a practical use case of them with webinars as an example (a recording of that free training can be found here).

Nonetheless, after I saw it, thought about its application for a while, then tested it out myself that I became a true believer. These features are going to change the way you market your events. Let’s briefly cover how they work…

Date Conditions

After many requests and suggestions, we launched the Date Conditions feature this summer. There was a lot of praise and confusion about the added functionality (you can read the official blog post announcement here). Hopefully after you read this post you will have a full understanding of exactly how to leverage this new feature within ActiveCampaign.

The biggest thing you need to understand is that in order to implement date conditions you need to have a custom field created as a date field. This step is critical. See the image below.

Now that you have the custom date field created you’re ready to implement it using date conditions within your automation. You will be able to use them the following ways:

  1. To trigger automations on the date of the custom field, before it, or after it.
  2. Use inside of an automation to wait until the date of the custom filed, before it, or after it.
  3. Use inside of an automation combined with a goal to progress contacts (or allow contacts to “jump”) to specific actions based on the date of the custom field, before it, or after it.

Goals Revisited

There are two primary functions of goals in ActiveCampaign:

  1. Measure the effectiveness of your automations
  2. Allow contacts to skip steps if they satisfy predetermined conditions

We will be using the latter for these automations and ignoring the measuring feature of goals. I’ll explain why later in this article.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the two features and how they work let’s explore an ideal use case where these two simplify your marketing efforts for maximum results.

Live Event Marketing in ActiveCampaign

Live event marketing is the process of creating a themed marketing campaign that promotes a product or service usually delivered by way of in-person engagement at a specific date and time. These events can take place online or offline.

Before marketing any event you will need to have the following defined:

  • A date. All communication will be based off of this date.
  • Venue. Whether the event takes place online or offline.
  • Pricing. Paid or free registration/attendance.
  • Title of Event.
  • Event access. How will people get into your event? (tickets, pass, url, etc.)

If you create these as custom fields within your ActiveCampaign account you will be able to use Personalization Tags to make your email communication more personalized and effective.

How it used to work…

I’ll just be honest here…it used to be a pain to pull off this type of marketing in ActiveCampaign. Since there was no way to wait until a specific date using custom fields all of your automations had to be static and manually updated.

This means you had to “hard code” the date and time in either your emails or custom fields. Whenever the event changed or passed you had to go through all of your automations and emails and update them accordingly. That is NOT automation at its finest.

How it works now…

Thankfully that is all fixed.

I’d like to introduce you to… Dynamic Date Based Marketing Using Custom Date Field Conditions and Goals (try saying that 5 times in a row). What that fancy term means is that you can now create a single automation that handles multiple events for multiple contacts without having to manually update anything within your automations.

This is what I call “automated personalization”. This IS automation at its finest.

Let me breakdown how this works in ActiveCampaign…

  1. Understand how the new date conditions work. Depending on your previous usage of marketing automation platforms this could take some getting used to. In ActiveCampaign we consider a “plus” condition to be any days before the specific date, and a “minus” condition as any day after the specific date. See the diagram below:
  2. Determine how you will set the date field. The two ways I recommend setting the date field is passing it in via the registration page (as a hidden field that is pre-populated) or within the automation itself.Choosing which way depends on how you would like to update the field. Keep in mind this field will need to be updated as soon as the event passes. If you choose to pass it in with your registration page you will need to update the field on your registration page. If you choose the set it within an automation in ActiveCampaign, you will need to update the field in ActiveCampaign.The choice is yours for whatever works best in your business for whomever is responsible for keeping things updated and accurate.
  3. Map out your communication. Determine what communications you will send before and after your event. Your final map should look like something similar to this…

With your communication all mapped out you have the hardest part out of the way. Now it’s time for the easy and fun part… building it!

How to build it in ActiveCampaign

This entire sequence consists of 4 automations. Here’s a top level diagram of how they are connected:

First thing you need to do is build your webform. This is the only entry into your funnel since the rest of the automations will be started from within each one. Make sure you at least include the custom date field you created and mark it as not required. This way if you change your mind on how you want to populate this field you do not need to rebuild the form.

Also, if you’re populating this field on a registration page be sure to make it a hidden field (the complexity of setting this up as a hidden field will depend on your landing page provider if you are using one). The form I used for testing purposes looked like this:

Here’s a breakdown of what each automation does…


Responsible for sending the confirmation email and setting the communication schedule for future emails

Note: The wait state at the end of the automation is very important. It will determine what time all of your pre event follow up emails will go out. It also prevents contacts from receiving two emails immediately upon registration.

Pre Event Follow Up

Responsible for sending out timed reminders for your event.

Note: You can observe I used one if/else statement to check for a single tag “EVENT – Attended”. In the event that tag is not present I will add the “EVENT – No Show” tag to the contact record. Doing it this way helps minimize any errors you may incur with 3rd party software that is adding tags based on attendance. It’s far easier, and stronger, to have one tag be applied via API than both.

Post Event Follow Up

Responsible for sending out emails for both attendees and no shows once the event has ended. These two automations look identical, it is the content of the emails that will change.

Note: You can see that I have changed from date conditions using goals to date conditions using wait states. The reason for this is because all of the contacts are in sync because they have been added to the automation at the same time (from our pre event follow up automation). With their time of entry synced up I no longer need to rely on goals to progress them. Wait states work much better.

Also, you will see the goal for becoming a customer is placed at the end of the post follow up automations. This is to allow customers to still attend my webinars but never send them follow up emails since they have already purchased. Adding a purchase goal to any automations prior will prohibit customers from receiving any pre event marketing.

Below is a video walkthrough of each automation:

Testing Your Automation

As always, you should test your automations before you set them live for the world to interact with. In the video below I’ll walk through exactly how to test each goal to ensure it’s sending out the proper communication.

Remember, the beauty of creating this automation is that you can have multiple contacts with different event dates all in the same automation without any conflicting communication. Each contact will receive the right email with respect to their individual event date.

Closing Remarks

If your business uses events as a primary means of attracting and closing leads these automations will help tremendously. Import them all into your account today and start using them in your marketing.

If you’re not an ActiveCampaign customer and would like to start using these automations for marketing an upcoming event you can sign up for a free trial to get started today.

A trial is worth a thousand words.
Get started today, no credit card required.

  • Very cool. Our customer success team gets questions all the time about how to leverage Calendly before big events, so I could see Live Event Marketing + Calendly creating great results together (e.g., the marketing team including reps’ Calendly links in their campaigns leading up to the conference).

    Will be sure to point people this way when inquiries roll in :)

    • Great Claire! Glad you found an immediate application for this in your business.

  • Chris!!!! You have found a new home! :)

    Awesome addition to the AC stack, I look forward to trying this out!

  • Chris you nailed it with this post … This is very well explained. Thank You ! One thing … I tried to make this all work with event date as hidden input field. Apparently date conditions are not supporting hidden input fields. Will there be a kind of explainer video about this or do I miss something basic here? Or is there a work around?

  • One thing Chris … I tried to make this all work with event date as hidden input field. Apparently as I experienced date conditions (conditions editor) are not supporting day calculations with hidden input fields. Will there be a kind of explainer video about this? Or do I miss something basic here? Or is there a work around?

  • Chris you nailed it with this post … This is very well explained. This ‘all’ works like a charm. Thank You So Much!

    • You’re welcome Johan! This is one of my favorite feature sets for this exact reason. Really powerful.

      • However I wonder how you can pre-populated a hidden field in an AC form and have the value transferred with a form submit. As far as I can tell you can give a default value and there is a way to make the field hidden …But is there a way to make sure that that value gets submitted ?

        I found a work around through a third party solution … but would prefer to use native form in AC .so I can initiate site tracking.

        • The default value of a form field will always be submitted along with the form. The main challenge, depending on how you’re doing this, is setting the default value.

          I would recommend setting the date field value in your Automation to do it without the need of a 3rd party solution.

          • HI Chris… The only way I see to set the default value in that input field is through JavaScript. But of course I can be wrong.

          • Chris I managed todo without the 3rd party tools and without Zapier. Thx for your comment

          • Outstanding! Great work Johan.

  • Chris one thing I don’t get is where do I tell the automation which day the event is. The date field will be hidden which mean the date picker will not be chosen in the form. So how will the system know the event date to subtract or add the goals.

    • You can set the date field value from within your Automation using the “Update Contact Field” action. This should be done in the Event Registration automation before you send the confirmation email.

      • Jennifer Snyder

        Chris this tutorial is amazing! So powerful and thank you for being so detailed with it including the videos. I would second Bertie that I struggled with that automation day and was thankful for his question and your response. Thanks again for this tutorial!

  • I watched the videos and this is fascinating. I’ve run several events through Constant Contact and manually doing it is a total pain in the butt. This process is so much easier!

    If I’m running multiple events and the contact registers for more than one at the same time, would this get messed up? How is that handled?

    • In your case the most recent event they registered for will be the event they receive reminders for. In your specific case I would recommend using separate reminder automations for each event so that contacts can register for how many ever the like and get all the reminders for them.

  • Hey Chris, great post. One thing that would be nice would be a way to sync up the times of everyone waiting at the Goal stages. With the aim of being able to send a few messages on the day of the webinar, like an hour before and 15 min before.

    As I understand it thy leave the goal stage at the time of day they signed up. For example, if they hit the queue at 2:00pm, they leave the goal at 3 days to go at 2:00pm. It would be nice if you could get everyone to leave at the same time. For example, everyone leaves the queue at 1 day to go at 10:00am.

    I figured out a way to make it work, but it would be nice if it was a setting in the goal or something.

    • Hey Barry! Actually achieving any goal will sync your contact’s position. The sync revolves around the webinar date, not the date they registered. For instance…

      Let’s say you have a 7 day before event reminder (+ 7 days) and you had a contact register on day 9, 10, and 12 before the event. No matter when they came in before the 7 day reminder when their custom date field matches the criteria of being 7 days before the event they will all advance to that goal position and receive the email reminder at the same time and be queued at the next goal (if there is one).

      Let me know if that make sense.

      • Yes I know it syncs up the day (as in everyone leaves the goal queue on the same day), I was referring to time of day (8:00am, 2:00pm) etc.

        As support explained it to me, if a contacted entered an automation at 10:00am, then they will leave subsequent goal queues on the appointed day at 10:00am, or 2:00pm, or whatever time of day they entered.

        I was saying it would be nice to be able to sync everyone up so they all left the queue on the same day at the same time of day.

        • Gotcha! Great point…

          You would need to add a wait state in the registration automation that waits for a specific time of day and then sends them to the reminder automation. That way they all enter the reminder automation at the same time and will leave the goals at the same time as well.

          • Just curious, other than that, why do you have the registration automation separate as opposed to sending that msg out at the top of the other sequence?

          • The main reason is to prevent them from skipping the confirmation email since they can immediately achieve a goal depending on when they register.

            For instance, if it was all in the same automation and they registered 3 days before you’re event…the +3 days goal would be achieved and they would skip the confirmation email and receive the 3 day reminder email.

            So by having the registration automation separate it allows you to sync your contacts time and ensure they don’t miss any emails.

    • Hi Barry & Chris,

      One workaround for this is to add another condition to the goal with the “Current Time” is “Greater than or equal to” the time you want everyone to jump to the next step (receive the email). This is in addition to the close date condition, so use the AND operator.

      I attached an image that shows the conditions for the goal. The goal is set for 3 days before the close date of the promo, AND at or after 5 AM on that day.

      If someone enters the automation at 2 PM on the day before (day 4), they will still receive this email.

      This technique can also be used when sending multiple emails per day. If I had another goal for is “Greater than or equal to” 3 PM on the same day, and the contact enters the automation at 1 PM, they would get both the 5 AM email and the 3 PM email.

      You could change the 5 AM email to “Is” (equal to), to only send it to people that enter the automation before 5 AM that day.

      I’m not sure if that is your workaround Barry, but wanted to explain it for others that might need this. It took me a bit of time to figure out.

      Chris – Fantastic post! The use of goals here really makes for endless possibilities. I can now fully automate the follow-up sequence for people that register for my webinar replay, after the webinar, but before the cart closes. Awesome! Thanks again! :-) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8f3d1dc65841cc88fd3291222208e8b7133a6df22351fbca5420c5608d3010a1.png

  • I see that I have been using goals all wrong …. ;)

    Is it possible to send reminder emails based on time of the event? For example, if the event is at 3PM I would like to send a reminder email 2 hours before the event.

    It becomes tricky since the event time varies depending on the lead. I’m passing the event time to ActiveCampaign with a custom field. I do see ability to select based on event date, but having trouble determining how to set this up based on time (if possible).

    • Hey Anthony! There’s a good chance you’ve been using goals correctly just not to their full potential ;).

      We do not currently have the ability to wait until a specific time of day dynamically yet. However, I’d imagine your events have some type of consistent formatting? For example, you run them every Tuesday at a specific time or any day of the week at a specific time?

      • I was very excited when Goals were added and now I’m even more so as I learn to use them creatively!

        I set up this automation up for my client based specifically on when his lead books a meeting with him. The meeting could be a Tuesday at 11AM or a Friday at 4PM, or any available date on his calendar. It’s totally unique based on the lead.

        Right now I have it set up to fire off if the lead hasn’t submitted a certain form to him at 8AM the day of the meeting. I was hoping to possibly get a little more granularization by reminding them to fill the form out 2 hours before, just to keep it a little more top of mind.

        When you say, “We do not currently have the ability to wait until a specific time of day dynamically yet” I hope that **yet** isn’t too far off in the future :)

  • Mark H

    @mrdav1s:disqus :

    Thanks so much for this post. I read this when it came up but didn’t make sense to me lol, but now I have need for it… and thankfully Barry pointed me here and now it makes complete sense!

    You know the registration form you showed? Is it ok if I use, say, Acuity Scheduling instead of the form?

    This way, when they register on Acuity, I’d get Acuity to tag this contact _and_ update the Date field to get the automations started.

    Tons of reasons on my end why I’d want to use Acuity or a scheduler for that matter to get people to see the number of offline event dates available to them in a particular month.

    Would that be a problem?

    • Hey Mark…that should work just fine. The start trigger to the registration automation can be anything. The important thing is that you pass in the necessary info which it sounds like you’re doing just that. Keep me updated on how it works out for you>

      I normally let platforms that can handle scheduling (like Acuity) send out the reminder emails. Just fyi.

      • Mark H

        Thanks… I just wanted to make sure this one doesn’t JUST work with a form :)

        • Yes. This automation will work with many start triggers beyond “submits a form”.

  • SilkenP

    I think this is exactly what information and help I was looking for. I have sequence of emails to go out 5 and 3 days before webinar, on the day, and Ideally 15mins before, then within 24 hours of webinar they get the links for replay, followed by 2-3 emails following up with final cta of booking a comp call.
    I could not figure out how to do this. I’ll download the automations and read again and watch the videos. Thanks in advance.

  • FrankWL

    Very (!) good process. I like it.
    The only thing I can not do is the 1 hour reminder before the webinar, right?

    • Frank, I’ve found any reminders 1 hour or under are best sent by your event (or webinar) platform. They will be the most accurate when it comes down to much smaller time frames where every minute matters.