Test an Automated Program

  • Updated

Before running a new Automated Program, it's a great idea to test it. Here are some suggestions for how to check your work.

Essentials to Get Started

  • An Automated Program ready for testing - one without errors
  • Your Program Test List – a Marketing List with internal contacts to test your program on 
    • You can use your account's Test List or a test segment to test your program as well
    • If you are testing SMS messages, all contacts must first opt-in

Tip! This tutorial demonstrates a simple program that has one source list and no segments. If you'd like to test a more complex program, find additional guidance in our FAQs section below.


Step 1: Copy your program to create a test

  1. Go to Automation > Automated Programs.
  2. Hover over your program and click the three-dots icon, then click Duplicate:
  3. Confirm when prompted.
    The Automated Journey Builder opens a copy of the program in the Program Flow editor:
  4. Go to SettingsContact Sources and delete any existing source lists or segments.
  5. Click Select Sources and add your Program Test List
  6. In Contacts from source(s)... change the program's entrance condition to Manually (assuming you will manually run this test)
  7. Go to Build > Lists & Segments and Remove the original source lists or segments from here as well. You should only see your Program Test List on this page:
    If you see an error when deleting a list or segment:
    • First, read the error and note all of the program steps affected.
    • Update your Program Test List. You'll need a list or segment to replace each list or segment that is used as a condition. When you have lists or segments used in conditional steps, you may need to create segments from your Test List and add more test Contacts in order to test these conditions. For more information, see What if my program has advanced logic?
    • Next, go to the Program Flow editor and replace the source for each step noted in the error. Try running your test program again.
  8. Go to the Program Flow editor and update your program so it can be easily tested and does not cause disruptions.
    • For example, if the program is intended to create a Lead record in your CRM, you may need to make sure the Lead is assigned to you instead of someone on your Sales team.
  9. Click Save (top right).

Step 2: Run your test program

  1. Click the top-left arrow to go back to the Automated Programs listing page:
  2. Hover over your duplicate test program and click Start program:
    Heads up! You might run into some errors after starting your test program. These errors will guide you to settings that need to be changed. For example, an outbound message might be missing a Sender. Click Edit to fix any errors in the Automated Journey Builder, then try to start the program again.
  3. You'll be prompted to add contacts before starting your program– select Add contacts to program and click Confirm:
  4. Go to Dashboard > ReportSteps to see how your contacts progress through the program
  5. Check the results of each step – examples include:
    • For email send steps, check your test email's inbox to review the message
    • For CRM data change steps (e.g., Add a Note), check the appropriate record in your CRM

Step 3: Repeat the test if needed

Depending on the results of your test, you may need to make additional changes to the program's steps or settings. Update the original program and make a new duplicate. Repeat the testing process from Step 2 as needed.

  • When repeating Automated Program tests, it may be useful to allow contacts to re-enter the program. If so, follow the instructions in Allow Contacts to Re-Enter an Automated Program.
    Use this feature with care as explained in the article.

Step 4: Finish testing

When you're done testing, pause the duplicate program. If you're satisfied with how it performed, you can delete the test program on the Automated Programs listing page. To do this, click the three-dots icon and select Delete:


What if my program has advanced logic?

For programs that have more advanced logic, such as conditional steps based on behaviors (e.g., opening, or not opening, an email message), you may wish to do the following:

  • Run your test with multiple contacts so you can test each condition.
  • Create a segment for each branch that needs a segment. Have one test contact in each segment so you can test if they follow the correct logic.

Testing programs with complex logic is an advanced skill. If you'd like additional help to build a program that suits your needs, Act-On has an experienced Professional Services team available to help you create custom programs to meet your marketing and customer contact needs.

How can I get more test contacts?

Some email providers allow unlimited aliases. For example, Google mail services allow you to add a plus sign after your email and before the domain: program+test@act-on.com. You can create unlimited variations of this and the emails will be delivered to your inbox just the same.

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