Contacts in Automated Programs – FAQs & Troubleshooting Guide

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Have questions about how your Contacts enter, exit, and make their way through your Automated Programs? Read our FAQs and Troubleshooting guidance below!

Tip! See our full guide to using Act-On's Automated Programs Dashboard here.


How do contacts enter my program?

Two different types of contacts enter Automated Programs, each at different times:

  • Existing Contacts, who are in your source list(s) when you start the program
  • New Contacts, who enter the program after it's running

Existing Contacts

When you start your program in the Automated Programs Dashboard, you'll have the option to add existing contacts from your Source List(s).

  • Select Add contacts to program for all contacts from your selected Source List(s) to enter your program immediately
  • Select Exit contacts from program to automatically exit existing contacts – only new contacts will enter your program

Once you've made a selection, click Confirm to start your program.


New Contacts

New contacts can join your program manually, immediately, or on a set schedule. You can select which of these settings you'd like to use in the Automated Journey Builder's General Settings tab.

Heads up! You can only edit new contact settings when your program is paused.




You can manually manage new (pending) contacts in the Automated Programs Dashboard. Click the three-dots icon, then click Manage Pending Contacts to select which contacts can enter your program.



New Contacts will enter your automated program automatically after they enter your program's Source List.

Example: If your program's source is a Form Submission List, a new contact will enter the program just after submitting your form.

This option isn't always available. See our troubleshooting questions below for more information.

On a Schedule

Set a schedule for when new contacts enter your automated program.

You can add new contacts as frequently as once per hour or as infrequently as once per month.



Can I have multiple Source Lists?

Yes, you can! In the Automated Journey Builder, you can select multiple lists and/or segments to populate your program with contacts.

Can a contact enter my program more than once?

Yes. This may affect the accuracy of your program reports. When contacts repeat steps in your program, reporting for unique contacts will not count the same contact twice.

See Allow Contacts to Re-Enter an Automated Program to learn more.

What is the unique identifier for entering Contacts?

The default unique identifier for Automated Programs is the field mapped to E-mail address

Can I use an alternate unique identifier?

Yes, you can. It may be beneficial to use an alternate unique identifier so that a particular email address can enter a program more than once.

For example, you can use an Order Number field, instead of the default email field, to allow a contact with multiple orders to enter your program once per order.

To use an alternate unique identifier:

  1. Go to Automation > Automated Programs
  2. Hover over the program you'd like to update and click Edit to open the Automated Journey Builder
  3. Go to the General Settings tab
  4. Under Options, enable Use alternate unique identifier and choose your preferred field from the drop-down menu

Can contacts go through a step more than once?

Yes, this can happen when your program has the Allow contacts to repeat steps setting enabled. Use wait steps to avoid looping.

To allow contacts in your program to repeat steps:

  1. Go to Automation > Automated Programs
  2. Hover over the program you'd like to update and click Edit to open the Automated Journey Builder
  3. Go to the General Settings tab
  4. Under Options, enable Allow contacts to repeat steps

Can I have multiple Early Exit Conditions?

Yes, you can! When using multiple Early Exit Conditions in your program, you'll want to make sure they don't contradict one another – this could make all of your program's contacts ineligible for early exits.

Troubleshooting Questions

Why didn't a contact exit my program when they met an Early Exit Condition?

If your contact is in a segment set as an Early Exit Condition for your program and hasn't exited yet, your program may not have moved your contact yet. When contacts progress through a program, Act-On will check for Early Exits just before they reach the next step.

For example: If your contact's next step is to send an email after a three-day wait, they will leave the program after three days, just before the email sends.

You'll also want to make sure that you don't have any overlapping conditions if you've decided to use multiple Early Exit Conditions.

Why can't I set my program to enter Contacts Immediately?

In some cases, entering contacts Immediately may be disabled in General Settings. This typically happens when using multiple Source Lists or using a list segment as the program's source.

To add contacts to your program Immediately, use a single Marketing List as the program source (such as a Form Submission List).


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