The Automation Center can be found under the Campaigns menu, Automation Center.
- The programs list
- Creating a program
- Contact participation settings
- Defining exit criteria
- Adding contacts from one program to another
- Saving a program
- Validating a program
- Scheduling a program
- Launching a program
The programs list
On the Automation Center page, you can view a list of existing programs, along with their Status, the Admin (user) who created them and their Created date.
Creating a program
There are two ways to create a program:
Create Blank Program
This opens the workspace for you to create your own program from scratch.
Create Program From Blueprint
This displays the Blueprints dialog box, where you can:
- Use the Blueprint category menu to filter all the available preconfigured blueprints, e.g. based on Customer Lifecycle segment.
- Choose from a selection of blueprints; selecting one displays it in the Preview pane below.
Select the option you want and click Create to open the workspace. Here you have a menu on the left which contains all available workspace nodes, plus a title and action bar at the top. Hover the mouse over the icons to get more information on what they do.
To name a brand new program, simply click the edit icon next to the title (default name is New Program #) and include a description.
Contact participation settings
The participation settings determine how frequently, and how often, a contact can enter a program.
To open the dialog, click Participation on the program title bar.
- Standard entry criteria are based on whether or not a contact has already entered the program, and if so, how recently.
- Advanced entry criteria assume that the contact has been through the program once already, and are based on when they last exited it.
The settings you define here will be applied to the program at the node which displays the cog wheel icon. This will be the entry node of a transactional program, or the first segment node in a recurring program.
The participation settings you define will also apply to the program when it is in testing.
- Using the advanced settings may have an impact on your program’s performance. For more information, see Troubleshooting.
- You cannot change the participation settings after the program has been launched, even if you pause it.
- A day in the context of Participation Settings means 24 hours. This is independent of calendar days or timezones. For example, if you define that contacts can only enter a program again 3 days after exiting it, this will be calculate as exactly 72 hours.
- One-time batch programs cannot have participation settings enabled due to their automated nature.
- ‘Contact’ here means a unique contact ID. If an existing person is re-registered with the same email address but with a new ID they will not be excluded and could enter the program more than once.
Defining exit criteria
Exit criteria are an easy way to remove contacts from a program as soon as your objective has been reached.
For example, if you have a trial period for your product during which a contact does not have to pay, you may want to set up a conversion program. Your objective is to convert each contact to a payment plan by sending a series of daily emails with useful information, and maybe even incentives as the end of the trial period approaches. As soon as the contact has signed up to the payment plan, you don’t want to send them any more of these conversion messages.
Instead of adding a filter after every Wait node, you can simply specify exit criteria. This automatically applies a filter with these criteria after every Wait node and before the entry point. Once a contact fulfills the criteria (i.e. has signed up) they are removed from the program and cannot re-enter it.
To define such criteria, first create a segment that will identify the contacts you want to exclude. Then open the program and click Exit Criteria on the program title bar. Here you define a program-level setting for what criteria are used to remove a contact from a program. There are two options:
- No exit criteria – No program-level settings are used.
- Segment Based criteria – Select from your available segments to remove a contact from the program when they meet the criteria (e.g. made a purchase).
If there are exit criteria defined:
- The number of contacts who left the node due to these criteria will show up in the tooltip of the numbers of that particular node.
Adding contacts from one program to another
You can link programs together so that a contact reaching a Finish node in one program automatically enters a second one. To do so, proceed as follows:
1. First, make sure that the second (target) program starts with the node Entry from another program.
When you add the Entry from another program node to a program, a special Wait node is automatically inserted right after it. Please note the following:
- You must not delete this Wait node. If you do, the program becomes invalid and you cannot activate it.
- If you accidentally delete the automatically generated Wait node, you cannot add it again manually (the program will remain invalid) but must delete the Entry from another program node, then add it again to re-generate the special Wait node.
- You cannot connect any other nodes to the Entry from another program node, you can only connect nodes to the special Wait node following it.
2. In the first (source) program, open the Finish node and activate the Transfer participants to another program toggle. All programs that start with the node Entry from another program are listed. Select the target program from the list.
The Finish node is now shown as Finish and transfer, and the target program is visible in the tooltip.
The target program now has the first program displayed as the source program in its entry point.
There is no combined reporting for linked programs; each one has the standard reporting features for all programs.
For more information, see Connecting programs.
Saving a program
Click the Save icon on the workspace Actions bar. The Automation Center validates the program before saving (see below), but it does not have to pass the validation check in order to be saved. It is a mere indication of the state of the program.
- You should never navigate away from a program before you see the Save message in the bottom right corner. Remember that for more complex programs, it may take up to a minute to save.
- If you work on a complex program, save frequently and wait until the confirmation notice is displayed.
Validating a program
For a program to be activated, it must fulfil a number of conditions. For example, all nodes must contain content, and must have the mandatory settings defined (e.g. subject line for emails).
Every time you save a program, the validation errors are displayed in the bottom right of the workspace for a few seconds (you can pin them to the user interface by clicking the pin icon) and above the affected nodes. Hover your mouse over the icon for details of the error.
Errors in program settings are checked and displayed on Activation.
Scheduling a program
- Click the Schedule icon on the program Title bar and make your selection from the drop-down menu; you must specify a start date in the future.
- Click Set Schedule.
Before a program can be scheduled, it must have passed all validation checks.
Scheduled programs can be paused, in which case they will not become active when their start date is reached. If the start date has already passed when you re-activate the program, you receive a warning message that the program will start immediately, and you have the option to change the start date to a date in the future.
Launching a program
Clicking Launch in the Program Status drop-down starts the program, unless a start date in the future has been entered. Provided all validation checks have been passed, the program is now live and contacts can enter and progress along it as expected.
Once a program is active, there are a number of other actions you can perform in the Program Status drop-down. For more information, see Program status and actions.