When creating a new campaign, you can either:
- Use a Marketing Automation Enterprise (MA Enterprise) pre-built campaign (see Campaign Types),
- OR use the Workflow Builder to build a campaign from scratch.
NOTE: In most cases, you'll be able to use a pre-built campaign to meet your needs. We also recommend pre-built campaigns for those new to MA Enterprise.
Creating campaigns via the Workflow Builder is more involved, and is only recommended for advanced users.
The Workflow Builder is designed to support the most sophisticated campaigns – it provides a blank canvas, enabling advanced users to create the most simple or intricate campaigns and workflows with an unlimited number of triggers, actions, and conditions to set up the exact schedule of actions you need.
How to create a campaign with the Workflow Builder
- Navigate to the Automation tab.
- Enter a name for your campaign, and then click GO.
- Select your industry from the first menu.
- Select Workflow Builder from the Campaign Type menu (it's at the very bottom).
- Click the Select button.
At this point, you'll be in the Workflow Builder. Refer to the Campaign elements section below for detailed information about each element you can use to build your custom campaign.
All campaigns, whether pre-built or created via the Workflow Builder, are done so using a set of basic elements, like blocks, triggers, actions, and transitions. Let's go ahead and learn more about each of these elements now.
Advanced Workflow campaigns usually consist of a number of branches, where each branch represents a path that recipients can take within your campaign. By default, all campaigns start with only branch called the “Main Branch.”
NOTE: You can click the name of a branch to rename it.
You can add any number of branches to your campaign by clicking + Add Branch in the right-hand column. Once you add a branch, you can delete it by hovering over the branch name and clicking Delete Branch (looks like a trashcan).
Blocks & Transitions
Branches contain various blocks and transitions between these blocks. In each branch, recipients always transition from the topmost block towards the block on the bottom. When a recipient is transitioned to a different branch, they'll start at the top of the branch.
Example: Abandonment Branch
A webinar campaign sends two promotional messages. If a recipient clicks the link leading to the webinar event registration page and does not register within a certain number of hours, we want to send an abandonment message with a 10% discount.
The campaign has two branches. The Main Branch sends the two promotional messages three days apart. It also contains a transition to the abandonment branch based on recipient clicking a link.
When the recipient is transitioned to the Abandonment branch, they will immediately be sent an abandonment message, because that is the first block in the Abandonment branch. The campaign gives recipients five hours (this time interval can be set to any amount of time) to interact with the abandonment message, at which point we consider this campaign ended for the recipient.
One starting point, (potentially) multiple endings
All campaigns have one starting point: The very first (topmost) block of the first branch. All enrolled participants start there and work their way through the campaign.
As you see in the example Abandonment campaign above, there can be multiple campaign endings (because there are multiple branches). There is one in the Main Branch and one in the Abandonment Branch. Each branch will have an ending block where recipients in that branch will eventually end up. For reporting purposes, this can help you see which path recipients ultimately took and where they ended up in the campaign.
Blocks (sometimes also called Stages) indicate where a participant is in the campaign. There a few important rules regarding blocks:
- First Rule: A campaign participant can only be in ONE block in any given moment in the campaign. While a participant is in a block there can be any number of rules (or Items) that apply. For instance, on the example below the block has a send message item as well an abandonment item. It is important to understand that all these rules (or Items) apply only to participants who are in that block.
- Second Rule: ALL items in the current block apply to all participants in the block. When a participant is in a block, all rules within that block are applied to that participant.
- Third Rule: Rules related to the Goal apply to ALL participants in ALL blocks. No matter which block a participant is in, and regardless of where that recipient is within the block, any time the participant meets the criteria for the Goal, they are immediately transitioned to the Reached the Goal state.
Types of Blocks
There are several types of blocks:
- Enrollment - The very first block of the first branch defines who is enrolled in the campaign (i.e., who will be participating).
- End Campaign - This block does not have any rules and signifies that a participant has reached the end of the branch it's on. For instance, if your campaign sends a series of messages, it means that all messages in the series have been sent to the associated participants.
- User - This block can define any number of Items, and within these Items configure the rules that apply to participants.
Transitions are the primary mechanism that moves recipients from block to block. Each block, except for End Campaign blocks, have an associated transition that defines how participants get moved to the next step.
For instance, in our sample campaign we had a transition that waits for 3 days before sending participants to the next block:
There are several different transitions that are available to control the flow of the campaign:
- Immediate - This transition immediately puts recipients into the next stage, in effect skipping the stage above it all together. This transition is commonly used from the enrollment block to the first user block of the campaign. NOTE: No rules from the stage above will apply to participants who are passing through.
- Delayed - Delayed transition allows you to move a participant forward and then wait a period of time in the block. For example, in Figure 6 above, we use a Delayed transition with a three-day interval. This transition applies individually to each participant, meaning each participant will be delayed by the same time interval, regardless of when they joined the campaign. NOTE: The clock starts ticking for delayed transitions when participants enters the stage above the transition.
- On Event - This transition applies to participants when they “do something” (click a link, open a message, etc.) or the campaign itself “does something” (sends a message, etc.). In the example below, the transition will move a participant to the next block 10 minutes after they click any link in any message. We will cover more of this in the Triggers section.
- Exact Date and Time - Allows you to specify a date and time for when ALL participants in the block will be transitioned to the next block. For example, move all participants to the next block at 1 am on 10/16/2014. This transition if often used to set up fixed date send message actions where you delay people in the block until a certain date and then you transition them to the next block that automatically sends a message to all recipients.
- Scheduled - This transition applies to ALL participants in the block and moves them to the next block on a schedule. Note that this transition allows you to specify extra conditions. This is very helpful when you want to do something on a recurring basis (e.g., every hour, move people that opened your messages to the next block).
- Never - Never is a special case where there is NO transition. It is only needed in rare cases when Items are used to transition recipients to a different branch. Consider a recurring campaign, such as subscription renewal. Most participants will sit in a stage called “Good Standing” and never transition out of it. There will be an item that evaluates that it’s time to start a renewal process and transition them to the renewal branch. The goal of the renewal will be to transition people back to “In Good Standing” block.
Each block can contain any number of items. Branches, blocks, and transitions define the campaign structure, while items define individual campaign rules. Items are responsible for actions such as sending, tagging, evaluating, etc. Each item includes a trigger, possibly some conditions, and an action. (see below for more detailed explanation of these terms).
NOTE: Items, and their corresponding actions, apply only to participants that are currently in the block that contains the item.
Structure of an item
Each item (except Multi Action item) consist of a trigger, a delay, conditions, and an action. Delay and conditions are optional. Each item has the following logic:
When [trigger] happens and after a [delay] [conditions] are true then do [action]
Because [delay] and [conditions] are optional in some cases, it will often simply read as:
When [trigger] happens do [action]
Example 1: Segmentation Rule
When [recipient clicks link label “Advertising“] do [add them to a group “Advertising“]
Example 2: Abandonment Rule
When [recipient clicks a link “Register“] and after [5 hours] [is not registered] then do [Go To Branch “Abandonment“
Example 3: Birthday Rule
When [it‘s 2pm every day] and [custom field Birthday is today] then do [send message “Happy Birthday“ to these recipients]
Triggers define when to start the evaluation. The evaluation can happen immediately, or can be delayed (see Example 2). The campaign then checks to see if the recipient actually matches the conditions. And if there is a match, the associated action is taken.
Creating an item with a time trigger
There are two types of triggers: event triggers and time triggers. By default, all actions are created with an event trigger. To change to a time trigger, check the option “This action happens multiple times on a timeline” (see below).
Triggers, as the name indicates, initiate Marketing Automation processing. Nothing happens in Marketing Automation without a trigger. There are two types of triggers in the system: event triggers and time triggers.
Event Triggers happen when a campaign participant “Does Something” (e.g., opens an email, clicks a link, registers for a webinar, submits a landing page, etc.). The point of the trigger is to answer the question “When?” When do we send a recipient a message? When they enter this block? When their points reached a threshold? When this recipient is added to a group? Etc.
It’s important to understand that event triggers fire for one participant at a time. For example, if you build an item that reads:
When [recipient clicks a link] then [send recipient a message]
You then add a 100 recipients to that block. Now, if one recipient clicks a link, then only THAT recipient will be sent the message. The other 99 recipients did not click a link and therefore will not receive the message.
Time triggers allow you to evaluate conditions and run actions on a schedule. A good example is a birthday campaign that you want to send daily at 2:00 pm. There is no “event” tied to the fact that a recipient’s birthday is today. Rather the trigger is based on the fact that it’s 2 pm and it’s time to send our daily birthday message.
Unlike event triggers, time triggers apply to ALL participants in the block. Imagine you have 100 participants in the block and 10 happen to have the same birthday. If you build an item that looks like this:
When [it‘s 2pm every day] and [custom field Birthday is today] then do [send message “Happy Birthday“ to these recipients]
At 2 pm, it will fire (because it is a time based trigger), find 10 recipients that match the condition, and send out 10 emails.
There are a variety of options for scheduling time triggers from specific dates and times, to most of the scheduling options available in Outlook and Google Calendars:
Conditions allow you to specify extra requirements that can be applied to the trigger. For example, a common trigger is “recipient opens a message.” You can add an additional condition to say “recipient opens a message” AND “is the first message opened in the last 180 days.”
There are dozens of conditions that can be applied:
NOTE: If you add multiple conditions, they're treated as an “and” logic, meaning ALL conditions need to be true for the action to take place.
Triggers and conditions evaluate when and what to do with a recipient. Actions are the actual “thing” that takes place (send a message, add to a group, suppress etc.). Most triggers, with a notable exception of the Multi Action trigger, allow only one action per trigger.
The following action types are available:
- Send Message – Send messages to participants.
- Send Notification – Send an internal email notification to one or more people within your organization
- Add to Group – Adds participants to a group.
- Remove from Group – Removes participants from a group.
- Assign Tag – Assign a tag to a set of participants.
- Remove Tag – Removes a tag to a set of participants.
- Assign Points – Works similarly to the Assign Tag but also assigns points to a tag.
- Set Field Value – Sets a custom field value to a certain value.
- Go To Branch – Moves participants to a different branch.
- Suppress – Suppress recipients.
- Multi Action - Multi Action is a special type of action that allows you to configure multiple triggers and actions within one item.