We have collected some guiding principles for optimal use of the Automation Center, and we strongly recommend that you review these before starting to explore program creation.
Keeping these principles in mind can save you a lot of time and effort as you begin to make use of the Automation Center's full capabilities.
In this article:
- About the Automation Center
- What is a program?
- What types of programs can be created?
- What is a blueprint?
- What are workspace nodes?
- Supported functionality
The Automation Center is an intuitive user interface that makes it possible to design, validate and automate engagement programs ranging from simple transactional mailings (e.g. purchase confirmation) to sophisticated, multi-step, multi-channel programs such as event countdowns or winning back defecting customers.
In the Automation Center you can enhance the impact of your marketing messages by creating programs based on blueprints which contain entry points, actions and responses, allowing you to combine and daisy-chain filters to perform complex functions.
About the Automation Center
A program is an automated customer engagement journey, designed to guide your interaction with a customer towards a specified goal. It starts from a single entry point and can spread out to multiple branches of a decision tree until reaching an end point.
Once a contact has entered a program, they can progress along one path only until the end. Their trajectory along the program is determined either by their actions or by filters applied by you.
Programs can be activated manually or scheduled to become active at a specified date in the future. Similarly, they can be deactivated manually or scheduled to stop at a certain time. Contacts can enter and progress along a program only when the program is active.
Programs can be differentiated in two ways: by their type and by their objective. The type refers to the program structure, the objective refers to whether the program goal relates to customer life cycle management, or if it is simply operational.
You can create the following program types:
- These are programs that are triggered by a specific action of your contact, typically with a single, limited objective, e.g. a purchase confirmation. Transactional programs start with the following entry points: Form, Data change, New contact, External event and build from there.
- These are programs which are regularly launched according to a predefined schedule and to the same recipient list or segment, e.g. win back churning customers, a monthly newsletter, or daily deals.
- Recurring programs start with the Recurring filter and Recurring email entry points.
Ad hoc batch programs
- These are programs which launch campaigns at a specified time to a specific list or segment, and which can contain follow-up steps according to a defined schedule or based on contact responses, e.g. seasonal offers, event invitations, product launches. Ad hoc batch programs start with the Target filter and Batch email entry points.
Program can also have different objectives:
General purpose programs
- These are concerned with administrative (e.g. shipping confirmation) and revenue generating (e.g. ‘deal of the day’ emails) tasks.
Customer lifecycle programs
- These relate to targeting based on customer behavior and aim to maximize customer retention. The different customer lifecycle stages are reflected in the blueprint categories.
Blueprints are the visualization of the idea for a program which is made up of a series of workspace nodes which you can modify, expand and build on to create a certain information flow when specific conditions are met. Blueprints are categorized according to their objective, rather than their nature or content. This means that many of them will look identical, but their descriptions will suggest different content to help reach a different goal.
In the Blueprints dialogue box you have the option to filter the preconfigured blueprints by their purpose using the Blueprint category drop-down menu. The blueprints are classified as either being related to customer lifecycle stages, or as general purpose blueprints. In the customer lifecycle group, you can further filter according to the relevant stage: Leads, 1st time buyers, Active buyers, Defecting customers or Inactive customers.
Workspace nodes are placeholders for functions with customizable variables that you can define, and are split into three types, available via the Automation Center toolbar:
- Entry Points
These are how the contacts enter the program. They can be triggers (e.g. form submit, external event), scheduled events (e.g. recurring filters), or ad hoc actions (e.g. batch email). A program can have multiple entry points if the logic flow permits.
These are specific checks which are directly linked to the previous node in the path. For example, if the response ‘didn’t click link’ is put after an email, the links from that email will automatically be displayed in the node properties. The user can therefore select them without having to search for the email first.
These are actions taken by the Automation Center to guide the contact through the program.
All nodes have a Properties page where you can select the content (i.e. form, segment, email, etc.), preview and even edit it. Open this by double-clicking on the node. Workspace nodes can be deleted and connected by clicking the corresponding buttons on the Workspace Actions bar.
For a full list of all nodes and a description of how to use them, see: Workspace Nodes.
Note: An email will only be available for selection if it is in the in Design state and is not currently in use by another program. Once the program is saved the email is assigned, which changes the text under the email icon from description (unsaved) to email name (saved). Once the program is active you cannot edit the content of an email, nor delete a segment, form or email that is used by the active program.