Automated Programs User Guide
For a video that explains the basics of Automated Programs plus several best practices, see this page.
Creating a New Automated Program
- Click on Automation, and select Automated Programs.
- Click the Blue Plus Sign at the top of the Automated Programs listing to begin a new program.
- Enter a Program Name and a Program Description for your program.
- Click Add next to Program Source List to select any list or segment that you would like to associate with this program. You can repeat this step to associate multiple lists and/or segments with the program.
- Once the program is running, your source lists will be checked periodically to look for new contacts to enter into the program and will update contacts' Activity History - you can also modify your scoring rules and create segments accordingly.
- Choose any additional Options that you may need for your program:
- Allow Contacts to repeat steps – This allows you to loop contacts back to a previous step. This should be used with caution to prevent unwanted repetition.
- Suppress entrants on suppression lists – This ensures that contacts on bounce lists or suppression domains are blocked from entering.
- Allow contacts to re-enter – This lets any contact enter this program more than once. This should be used with caution to avoid unwanted repetition.
- Use alternate unique identifier – This lets you use a field other than email address to send contacts through the program, so that the same contact could enter more than once under different criteria. For example, you could use "Order ID" to send a contact through this program for each separate purchase they make.
- Ignore email fatigue rules – This ensures that program emails are not blocked due to your account's email fatigue suppression settings.
- Disable program history – This removes the standard program statistics. The dashboard page will load more quickly, but program step tracking will not be available.
Note: If any of these options are not available for you, you can contact our support team to have them enabled.
- Choose a Schedule to set the frequency that your source lists will be checked.
(You will also have the option to enter any existing contacts in your lists or segments when you first start your program)
The timing options are:
- Daily -- Choose to enter new contacts on a daily basis, or as often as every hour. Check the Weekdays Only box next to the Run drop-down if you only want new contacts to be added to the program Monday through Friday.
- When selecting the Run Daily option you can choose the appropriate Run Frequency and Start Time.
- This tells the program to enter new contacts into the program every day/week/month, but not until the time/hour you specified in the Start Time area.
- Once the specified time occurs, the Run Frequency kicks in and runs until that day is over at 11:59 pm. The program then stops entering new contacts into the program until the Start Time comes around again the following day.
- To run a longer hourly cycle you can choose to enter new records at 12:59 am (for a Start Time example). This would enter new records for an entire day until 11:59 pm the following day. The program would then start entering new leads again within the hour at 12:59 am.
- Weekly -- Choose to enter new contacts on a weekly basis, and specify the day of the week.
- Monthly -- Choose to enter new contacts on a specific day of each month.
- Manually -- Choose to leave your program unscheduled if you plan to run the program only on the existing contacts in your source lists, or if you plan to manually check for new contacts by clicking the Now button on the program's dashboard.
- Immediately -- In addition to scheduled options, if you choose to associate your program with only a single source list, rather than a segment or multiple sources, you have the option to enter contacts into the program as soon as they are entered into the source list.
If you schedule the program to run Daily, Every Hour, or use a Start Time of Noon, the program will only run hourly between the hours of Noon and Midnight each day.
Program Messages Tab
The Program Messages tab allows you to store all the messages you plan to send throughout your program in one location. As you build out your program steps, you can then select from this list of messages to send.
To add a program message:
- Click Add Program Message
- Choose any existing template, draft, scheduled, or sent message as a starting point for your new message
- Once the message has been added to the program, hover over it and click Edit to make any changes to the content
Managing Program Messages
To avoid unwanted changes to your sent message reporting, follow these guidelines when updating your messages:
- Editing messages
- You can edit a message by clicking Edit from Program Messages, or from Outbound > Other Messages > Triggered Messages > Programs tab (this option does not require stopping the program to edit)
- If you remove a message from a program and add it again, it will be treated as a different message in reporting and program logic
- Whenever possible, edit your message from within the program and do not remove it
- Using the same message in multiple program steps
- Edits made to the message in the Program Messages tab will automatically apply to all steps
- There will be one single report for that message in the program's dashboard as well
- To track the message separately for each step, copy the message and use Add Program Message to add the copies separately
- Messages must include an opt-out link (in HTML and plain text versions) to be sent through a program
Lists & Segments Tab
This tab includes all lists and segments associated with your program, including your sources, lists you may be updating in a step, and lists and segments used to make decisions in your steps. When building out your program steps, these lists and segments will appear for selection.
To add a list or segment:
- Click the Add List/Segment button and select the desired list or segment.
- Repeat the process as many times as needed.
You can view or remove a list from your program at any time.
Program Flow Tab
This tab lets you build out your program workflow.
- Drag the step from the menu on the right side of the page and drop it into the desired location in your program flow. Follow the red arrow to place your first step.
- Hover over the step and click Edit to give the step a name, and specify its rules and actions.
- Wait – Pause for X hours, days, or weeks, before moving to the next action step
- Wait Until – Pause until a specific day and/or time. This step may be used in conjunction with the Wait step.
- The Wait Until step also allows you to pause contacts from moving forward on weekends (Saturday and Sunday) or outside of specified time ranges during any individual day. These options are both available when selecting the Specified Times Every Day option in the Wait Until drop-down. When selected, the Weekdays Only check box will immediately appear. To control the daily time range, select a frequency other than 'Once Daily' from the Proceed drop-down, and the Not After time field will appear.
- If you check the Weekdays Only box, contacts entering the Wait Until step Monday through Friday will proceed to the next step in the program. Contacts entering the step Saturday or Sunday will pause until Monday before moving forward. Similarly, if you specify a Not After time of day, contacts who enter the Wait Until step after that time must wait until the Starting At time the next day (or the next weekday).
- Wait Until Time - Select a specific date before the program begins or continues. This may be useful when planning messages that are more than 4 weeks out. As soon as the prescribed time and date is reached, contacts will automatically move to the next step.
Pro tip: Remember to always use a Wait step after sending an email if you are using that email for conditional logic. This provides time for your contacts to open/click the message before the program checks that condition - otherwise it will check immediately.
Program Step Options
- Send Email – Send an email message to all contacts, or send one or more different messages depending on conditional rules you've defined.
- Copy to List – Copy contacts to another list.
- Change Field – Set values in one or more fields within a specified list. This step may apply to all contacts, or may depend on conditional rules you've defined.
- Send Alert - You can send a simple text email to any email address when contacts enter a specified step in an automated program. The alert email will include a report link. Click the report link and log in to see the people who passed through this program step. The alert email will be sent no more than once an hour.
- Add a Task - Assign a Salesforce Task to the Contact Owner in Salesforce as the record hits a specific step of an automated program for sales follow-up. This is also available when your Microsoft Dynamics Connector is enabled in your Act-On instance.
- Add to a Campaign - Assign the record to a Salesforce Campaign as the record hits a specific step of an automated program for campaign reporting and update their Salesforce Campaign Member Status.
- Conditional Branching – Send contacts to another path in the program based on their profile or behavior.
- Exit Program and Go To steps – An Exit Program step is automatically added to the end of every conditional branch, and to the end of the entire program. When a contact hits this step they have completed the program and the exit event will be added to the contacts Activity History. You can also modify scoring rules and create segments based on contacts who exited the program.
- Add to Opt-Out List - Any contact who enters this step will be added to your accounts Opt-Out list but will remain in the program. This will allow you to remove contacts that are non-responsive. Contacts can be opted back in via the Opt-Out list, under Bounces & Opt-Outs.
- API - Send contact information through an external API call.
Change Your Exit Program Step
Change any of your Exit Program steps to Go To steps when you want the contact to move somewhere else in the program after completing a particular branch, rather than leaving the program.
- Hover over the step and click on Replace with Go To.
- In the Edit window, determine the step you want contacts to jump to.
Setting up an Early Exit Condition
Early Exit conditions are optional, and allow contacts to be automatically removed from the program as soon as they meet some qualifying condition.
To select an early exit condition:
- Click Add, choose the desired list or segment, and click Save.
- You may add as many early exit conditions as you would like.
Note: Early Exits in a Wait step will move to early exits when the wait step is complete.
Saving Your Program
Click the Save button at the top of the page to save your changes. You will be warned if any required components are missing.
Starting Your Program
After saving your program, you will be taken to the program's dashboard. You may also navigate to the dashboard by hovering over your program in the Automated Programs listing and clicking on Dashboard.
- Click Start when you are ready to run your program. A new window will appear asking "Would you like to enter new contacts now?"
- If your schedule is set to Immediately, you will have the option to enter your existing contacts right away or completely skip them from the program.
- Once your program is in Running mode, a Stop button will appear and can be clicked at any time to stop the program.
- If your program is missing any required components, such as a source list, the Start button will not be available. You can edit your program to see and add any missing components.
- The schedule that determines how often new contacts are entered into the program can be changed at any time, even after the program is running. You may also click the Now button to do a single check for new contacts.
Program Steps: As contacts go through your program, the Waiting, Completed, and Exited values will display for each step. (Note: Waiting values only apply to the Wait and Wait Until steps.)
Clicking on any of these counts will bring up a list showing which contacts are currently waiting, or have completed or exited at that step. Clicking on any individual contact will then bring up their Activity History.
Program Messages: See the reports for each message used in your program steps.
Editing Your Program
Automated programs that are currently running cannot be edited. For best results, edit program logic once contacts have finished with the current steps, or exit them from the current program and re-enter them into a new one. It is possible to edit a program once it is stopped, but significantly changing program logic while doing so can cause errors when the program resumes.
You can edit the content of program messages at any time by going to Outbound > Other Messages > Triggered Messages and selecting the Programs tab.
The data within the Automated Programs dashboard has been organized in a more coherent fashion, making it easier to get a sense of how the automated program is going at a glance. To access the Automated Programs Dashboard, hover over the Automated Program you would like to view and click Dashboard.
The Overview tab provides you quick insight into how your program is running. Get a glance at the Total Entries, Total in Program, Total Early Exits, and Total Standard Exits.
Note: The Total Early Exits Overview includes contacts that were deleted from the source lists. To specifically view the number of Total Early Exits, click the Early Exits tab.
Total Exits compares standard exits to early exits. Early Exits by Status compares failure vs success.
Entries and Exits allows you to filter through entries and exits into your program. Using Graph Type you are able to change the graph from a bar to line graph. Clicking on Entries or Exits will add or remove the data from your graph.
The Steps tab gives you insight into how each step of your program is performing. Using the icon in the upper left corner, you can easily expand all steps to view the details. View the number of recipients waiting to enter the step, that have already completed the step and if any recipients were deleted of exited the program.
The Messages tab includes a graph of the messages sent over time, and a representation of the messages in the flow of a program - showing the different data (sent, open, click, opt-out). Clicking on the message Subject Line will pull up the Sent Message report.
The Sent Message report will give me more detail into your message, clickthroughs, and will give a click map view into your HTML message.
Early Exits Tab
Using the Early Exits tab you can declare an early exit condition as a "success" or "failure". By clicking the thumbs up or down icon, you can immediately mark each exit condition, or set it to a neutral state. The success and failure report is available on the Overview tab.
The Details tab will provide high-level program details like the program status, the source list being used, how exit conditions are configured, the program schedule, and more.