Working With Automation Series: Understanding Email Automation Flow

Last Updated: Sep 11 2020 12:54 pm UTC

Email automation series can be just a simple email after signing up, but you can also create really complicated ones that involve every possible feature we offer. No matter what automation series you have created, after activating it you will need to follow the flow of contacts joining. In this article, you will find some examples of how to understand the automation flow better.


Time Match and Time of Sending

If you want your automation to have no time limitations you can set the time of sending to 24h and that can be done by changing the time limit to 12:00 AM to 12:00 AM. Notice that the first dropdown has this time at the top and the second one at the bottom of the list. 

If you don't want to skip any days of the week, just tick all of the boxes on the weekdays given.

Time match can be very useful if you want to reach your contacts at the best time possible, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind if you are using it.

  • The time zone may not always be accurate especially for contacts that have been added manually. Read more about how geolocation is determined here.

  • The Time zone of your account can be changed in your account settings, however, it only matters if time match is NOT enabled.

  • The settings of each step can be different, so you can use time-match for one step, but disable it for every other step.

Adding a Delay

Trigger delay

The first delay you choose is actually the times you select when setting up the trigger of automation. Only if it is a 24h time frame the action will be immediate in all cases. The trigger settings determine when the automation actively lets in new contacts.

Let's say you have selected the trigger to be active 9 AM-5 PM. This means that new contacts are getting in the automation right away within these hours. If a contact meets the criteria outside of these hours, they are in a «waiting room» until 9 AM, so you can expect the traffic of contacts to be heavier at that time.

Campaign Delay

When a contact has gotten into the series, you will see the number of in the series changing, however, that doesn't mean the contact will receive the next email right away.

You can add a delay to the following campaign.

This means that when a contact gets in the series, it has to wait the selected time to receive this campaign. If the trigger already has a time frame and contact has met the trigger outside of this time frame, the waiting time will be longer.

Let's say you have a 2h delay for your first campaign and the trigger has been set to work between 9 AM and 5 PM. If a contact meets the criteria at 10 AM, for example, they will receive the first email after 2h. If the contact meets the criteria at 8 AM, they will receive the first campaign in 3h (they get in the series after 1h and they have to wait for 2h more based on the delay that has been set up).

Note: By default, the time frame for the first campaign will be the same as chosen for the trigger and we suggest it to keep it that way. Having different «opening times» for the trigger and the campaign can lead to an even longer delay that could be hard to track.

Extra Delay

Every step you add can add an extra delay. For example, if you add an IF condition with a 1h delay and the following campaign step has a 3h delay, contact will receive the campaign 4h after getting in the series.

The waiting time can be extended when adding more steps so pay extra attention to that.

Waiting Status

You will see that the campaign steps show a number representing the contacts in waiting status.

These contacts are the ones that are ready to receive the message but are waiting for the conditions to match. That can be waiting for the day of the week, waiting for the time match or just the time frame chose.

Note: Never choose the time frame with the exact same time in both dropdowns unless you choose 12 AM to 12 AM. Choosing, for example, 9 AM to 9 AM will keep your contacts in the waiting status forever.

If you are sure that the settings are correct and any contacts are stuck in the waiting status, contact our support team providing this information:

  • automation ID (can be found in the URL of the automation);

  • screenshot of the settings for the step having the issue and the step before it;

  • at least one example of an email address that is stuck in this step.

Paused Campaigns

Within your automation series, you will have one or more email or SMS campaigns. You can always pause the whole automation series to make some changes, but you can also pause and skip campaigns.

If you pause a campaign in your automation series, the contacts that get to this step won't get further in the series until you activate the campaign again.

If you skip a campaign in your automation series, the step will simply be skipped and the contact will receive the next campaign in the series.

IF  Condition

IF condition can have a delay added the same way a campaign can have a delay. When a contact reaches an IF condition step with a delay, it is kept in the «waiting room» until the time passes and after the exact delay time system checks which branch the contact will be sent to.

This means that when the contact reaches the IF step with a delay it doesn't matter what value they have in the field that will be checked or if the previous campaign is opened/clicked. The criteria will only be checked after the delay and until then the values can change.

The best way to understand this is if you have an IF condition that checks if the previous campaign has been opened. The contact receives a campaign and immediately goes to the IF step, but if the IF step doesn't have a delay, it doesn't make sense to check if the campaign has been opened, because it has just been sent.

So if there is a delay of 10h, the contact has this time to open the campaign. After 10h exactly the contact is checked and if the email has been opened, it goes to one branch, if not to the other one. So if the email is opened after 11h, it will already be in the second (not opened) branch.

Editing Active Automation Series

Whenever editing automation series that have been activated, think twice if it is indeed necessary as any steps with contacts in them will be difficult to track.

Let's say you have an IF condition with a 7-day delay, but you realize that you need to send the next campaign in 1h. You can pause the automation series and change the delay to 1 h (don't forget to activate the automation after) — it will work for any new contacts reaching this IF step. BUT all the contacts that had reached the IF step before and were waiting for the delay time to pass, won't be affected — they will still receive the next campaign in 7 days.

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