Designing a new feature for Audience - Email Sequences

By James Kenny
5 min read

Table of Contents

I want to do something different with this post, I have a product I've been working on called Audience, I have a few posts here about it usually after I've added new features.

For this one I'm going to create some posts about the features I am about to build, I'll use it as a diary and try and collect my thinking as I design the features, and collect feedback, let me know below or hit me up on Twitter - @jamesmkenny if you have any suggestions, thoughts or even just want to say hi.


So what I'm thinking about when I say "automation" is things like email sequences, Drip campaigns, notifications, triggers to move to a new sequence that sort of thing.

When a new subscriber signs up, we want them to go through an email sequence. At some point, we might add a trigger that moves the subscriber to a different sequence.

Screenshot from Audience of the Automation Menu

Newsletters, Subscribers and Lists

So in Audience, a Newsletter can have a Subscriber List. A Subscriber belongs to a Subscriber List.

And this is how the newsletter work, the newsletter sends to everyone on the subscriber list that is attached to the newsletter.

So if we add an email sequence to the subscriber list then we have the ability to send any subscriber added to that list, through the email sequence.

So let's work through this

  • I create a newsletter called "Waitlist"
  • I add a subscriber called "AudienceMailer Wait List" to the newsletter.
  • From the signup form, any subscriber will be added to the "AudienceMailer Wait list" subscriber list.

So that's very straightforward and simple.

It's important to keep an eye on what I'm trying to achieve with this feature instead of getting carried away with the technical part.

What's the Goal

When someone signs up for the "AudienceMailer Wait List" I want to send them a sequence of emails, not many but maybe around 3 emails.

What would the emails look like,

  • Email 1: Welcome, Thank you for signing up for the wait-list.

This would be just a quick intro to what I'm building and thanking them for signing up. I'd also offer the chance to reply and let me know what they are looking to do.

  • Email 2: What I have been using to do this

This is more a story-driven email, I want to explain the issues I've faced with automating these emails, the challenges with some tools I've found.

  • Email 3: What I'm building and where it's at.

This is supposed to build on Email 2 but to show what I've been working on, would be great to have a real-world example, (IE: This blog) and how it works and be able to show it off a bit.

When do we want them to go out?

  • Email 1 - We want this one to go out maybe a few minutes after they verify their email.
  • Email 2 - 1 maybe 2 days after email 1. I like the 2-day thing though.
  • Email 3 - Maybe a bit longer after email 2. So 4 days?

Oh, that's a good point, I want to make it really easy to change the delay during the sequence. so I can experiment with different timings to see what works. Personally, I'm not a fan of everyday emails but I should test what other people are into.

Only Emails - Maybe alerts too?

When I think about these sequences, I wonder if they should only be for emails, or should I be able to add a subscriber to notification or in the digest email.

Audience is getting a daily digest email, this would be a single email for each day with the new subscribers to different lists that day (I might give this its own post for more detail)

So what if instead of including people in the daily digest right away, we added it to the sequence. After Email 3 is sent, we include the subscriber in the digest.

This way if they unsubscribe after email 1, they aren't in the digest.

What about sending a notification, after a sequence of emails has been completed why not be able to send a notification to me to let me know this person signed up for the waitlist and is interested.


So here is the scenario, let's say someone signs up for Audience, I add them to the drip sequence for Audience which sends the new user a series of emails, introducing different features of Audience.

But Audience allows you to send emails with Mailgun, AWS SES and Sendgrid. So what if in the welcome email, I asked "what provider they were using" then if they click Mailgun, I put them on a Mailgun sequence, so all the demos and examples in the email are just for Mailgun.

If the user clicks nothing, I carry on and send the original sequence. If they do click something then I can move them to a different sequence.

So how can we do this, well the first thing comes down to the subscribers. In Audience, a subscriber can have more than 1 subscriber list.

So for this scenario, A user signs up for Audience and I add them to the "Trial User" list, then the welcome email has a set of 3 links, Mailgun, AWS SES and Sendgrid.

If they click nothing they stay on the "Trial User" list, if they click Mailgun I trigger a move to a new list, the "Mailgun Trial User" list.

When the Mailgun Trial user list completes, I move them back to the "Trial user" list.

So a trigger could be based on a link added to the email, that link could be used to send a user to a new landing page or in my case above a page of resources for the different email providers.

What will it look like

I'm still thinking through the UI and what it will mean for the user experience, I am leaning this way to keep it simple.

Mock-up screenshot

So I would create a screen that showed the sequence for each subscriber list.

You can then add different actions to the sequence, like Email or adding a step to include them in the Daily Digest.


I should be able to get some analytics and stats on the sequence, the clicks for example could be really interesting.

For my example above, it could be a good way to measure interest in different features, if more people click the Mailgun link over the AWS SES.

But also what if you created a funnel with a link to download a PDF of your ebook. Could I have a way for you to see any subscribers that didn't download the PDF for example?

Should I allow a re-engagement campaign? In the case of a link to a download or resource, if I know a subscriber hasn't downloaded it could we have a function that triggers them to a new list and a new sequence.

So what am I thinking?

I'm thinking of creating a way to add a sequence to different subscriber lists. Each list could have its own sequence.

When a subscriber is added to the list, they start the sequence with action 1.

Each action will have a delay, this will be the amount of time from the last action to when the action takes place.

You will be able to set a trigger in the email sequence, this will be a link that's added to the email, if the link is clicked it will trigger moving the subscriber to a new list.  

Thank you for reading, feel free to drop some feedback below or hit me up on Twitter - @jamesmkenny

Last Update: October 31, 2022

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