Automated Journey Builder User Guide

  • Updated

The Automated Journey Builder is a way to create and edit Automated Program campaign flows. It's more powerful and easier to use than our Classic editor.

Getting Started

Create a New Program

To create a new automated program in the Automated Journey Builder:

  1. Go to Automation > Automated Programs.
  2. At the top right of the Automated Programs listing page, click: 
  3. The Automated Journey Builder opens to build your new program.

Edit a Program

To edit an existing automated program in the Automated Journey Builder:

  1. Go to Automation > Automated Programs.
  2. Hover over the program you'd like to edit and click Edit:
  3. The Automated Journey Builder opens to edit your program

If the program is running, you can view it in the Automated Journey Builder but can’t make any changes. You’ll need to pause the program before it can be edited.

Pro tip: If you currently have contacts moving through the journey, we recommend waiting until they exit or moving them to another program before you make significant changes. Editing steps that have contacts in them can cause unwanted behaviors.

If you’d like to edit the content of the messages included in the program, follow these steps.

Saving your Program

Click the Save button at the top right of the page to save your changes. If the program isn’t fully configured, you’ll see a message with details on what is missing/incorrect. You can save a draft without all the required information, but the program can’t run until these issues are resolved.

Automated Journey Builder Features

In the Automated Journey Builder, some functions, such as those in Settings, Build > Program messages, and Lists & segments are similar to the classic editor. The most significant changes are in Build > Program flow.

General Settings

  1. In Settings > Program Details (on the right), enter a Program Name and a Description for your program.
  2. Under Contact Sources, select any list(s) or segment(s) that you would like to use as the source of contacts for this program.
  3. Next, select how contacts from the source list(s) or segment(s) enter the program:
    • 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
      • 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.
    • On a Schedule:
      • Daily: Enter new contacts daily, or as often as every hour. Choose the appropriate Run frequency and Start Time.
        • At the specified Start Time, the Run frequency starts and runs until the end of that day at 11:59 pm. The program then stops entering new contacts into the program until the Start Time on the following day.
        • To run an hourly cycle over days, set Run to 'Every Hour' and the Start Time to 12:59 am. This enters new records hourly until 11:59 pm and then starts again at 12:59 am.
        • Check the Weekdays Only box if you want new contacts to be added to the program Monday through Friday only.
      • Weekly: Choose to enter new contacts on a weekly basis, specify the day of the week, and the start time.
      • Monthly: Choose to enter new contacts on a specific day of each month, specify the date, and the start time.
      Notes on scheduling:
      • 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.
      • You may change your selected schedule at any time, even after the program is running, or click the Now button on the program's dashboard to do a one-time check for new contacts.
  4. 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.
    • Disable program history: This removes the standard program reporting. The dashboard page will load more quickly, but program step tracking will not be available. Use this option with caution and only when you do not need program reporting (such as when the program is designed to move data rather than communicate with customers).
    • Use alternate unique identifier: This lets you use a field other than the 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.
    • Suppress entrants on suppression lists: This ensures that contacts on bounce lists or suppression domains are blocked from entering.
      It’s highly recommended that this option is selected.
    • 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.
    • Ignore email fatigue rules: This ensures that program emails are not blocked due to your account's email fatigue suppression settings.
    • Attach sent notes to contacts or leads from my CRM lists: Leave a note or task in your CRM indicating a message was sent to the contact. Applies to all messages in the program regardless of the message setting.
      If any of these options are not available for you, you can contact our support team to have them enabled.
  5. Finally, on the right, select the Time zone used by the program.

Program Messages

In Build > Program messages, add all the email messages that you plan to send through your program. You can then use these messages in the program flow.

To add a program message:

  1. Click +Add Message
  2. Choose whether to start with a blank message (which opens the email composer) or any of the existing templates or drafts in your account
  3. Check the box next to all the messages you want to add, then click Submit.

Once messages have been added to the program, you can make changes to content by hovering over one and clicking Edit.

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 (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

Build > Lists & segments includes all lists and segments associated with your program, including your program source lists, marketing lists that are updated in a program step, and all 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 lists or segments, click +Add List or Segment and select the desired lists or segments. You can view or remove a list from your program at any time.

Early Exits

Early Exit conditions are optional rules that will automatically remove contacts from the program. As soon as a contact meets the criteria for one of these rules, they’ll be removed immediately.

To select an early exit condition, go to Build > Early exits, click +Add Condition, define your criteria, and click Submit. You may add as many early exit conditions as you want.

If a contact is currently in a Wait step, they will move to Early Exits once the Wait step is complete.

Program Flow

Build > Program flow is where you’ll build your program in the visual workflow builder.

Each new program has a Start and Exit step. You’ll build your program between those steps, using the + buttons:

Clicking the + button opens a window where you’ll select the type of step to add:

For information about each step, see below.

Immediately after a step is added to the program, it is highlighted with a blue border. This makes it easy to see the most recently added step.

To edit, you can click anywhere on the step. When you hover over a step, you'll see options to Move, Copy, or Delete. 

You can leave some information blank in a step while creating an outline for your program, but this will need to be filled in before the program can run.

Program Step Options

  • Send Email – Send an email message to all contacts, or send one or more different messages depending on the conditional rules you've defined.
  • Send SMSSend a text to opted-in contacts. 
  • Branch – Send contacts to another path in the program based on their profile or behavior.
  • Wait 
    • 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.
  • Opt-Out - 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.
  • 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.
  • Copy to List – Copy contacts to another list.
  • Send Alert - You can send an email alert to any email address when contacts enter a specified step in an automated program. The alert email will include a table of the contacts, including their score.  You can choose which score sheet to use for the alert, so if the program pertains to a particular campaign, you can just show the campaign score.  You can also choose to hide the specific recipient data, which will require the user to log in to see the report. The alert email will be sent no more than once an hour.
  • API - Send contact information through an external API call.

CRM-specific Steps:

  • 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 Microsoft Dynamics 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.
  • Create in CRM - See detailed information about this step for Salesforce, Zendesk Sell, and SugarCRM.

Exit Program & Go To steps:

  • Exit Program – 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.
  • Go To – An Exit Program step can be changed to a Go To step by hovering over the Exit Program step and clicking on the “Change to Go To step” icon. Instead of exiting the program, contacts go to the selected destination step and continue in the program. Go To step can be changed back to an Exit Program step and the destination of the Go To step can be edited by hovering over the step and selecting the appropriate option.

Start or Pause a Program

To start or pause your program, see our article here for full instructions: Start or Stop an Automated Program.

Program Reports

In order to view the performance of your program and the messages included in it, navigate to the Automated Program Dashboard.


How is Automated Journey Builder different from the Classic program editor?

  • The Automated Journey Builder makes it easier to understand program flow, particularly when branching is used. It allows you to follow program branches and visualize how contacts move through the program.
  • Building a program is faster and less prone to errors in the Automated Journey Builder.
  • It’s easier to troubleshoot and spot mistakes in the Automated Journey Builder visual program flow.
  • The same program steps and actions are supported in the Automated Journey Builder and the Classic editor.
  • Unlike the Classic editor, the Automated Journey Builder uses the + button for adding program steps. Drag and drop of steps into the program is not supported.

Can I continue using the Classic editor?

The Classic editor will be available alongside the Automated Journey Builder initially. Eventually, our plan is to make the Automated Journey Builder the only available option for building and managing automated programs.

The Classic editor will not contain new features, such as SMS steps.

Can I edit the same program in either the new or classic interface?

Yes, programs can be edited in either interface. As long as changes are saved, you can use either interface interchangeably.

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