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Automated Journey Tips & Tricks

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By Susan Baumbach |August 5, 2021
AutomationMarketingMarketing Automation

Automated Journeys are a key capability of marketing automation tools for associations. These journeys can be thought of as a detailed map showing the experience a customer or member will have with your organization. One of the primary reasons for moving to a new tool is the inability of the legacy platform to successfully automate critical journeys, such as a lead nurture campaign or a new member onboarding journey.

Automated Email Journey Working with clients over the last two years on marketing automation implementations, I have developed a lot of tips and tricks to share that you can use when you start to configure an automated journey. Read on to check out some of the most useful strategies!

Send Times

Depending on the tool, you can send journey emails during a specific time frame, or even allow the system to determine an optimal time. For example, Pardot allows emails sent through a journey to be delivered within a 6-hour time frame or longer. You cannot tell Pardot to only send between 9am – 10am, for example, since it requires a minimum of 6 hours for sending.

On the other hand, Marketing Cloud can send journey emails at a specific time. Depending on the number of email recipients, people may not all receive the email exactly at 9am – it may not be until 9:05am until they are all sent (that is a non-issue in most cases).

Additionally, Marketing Cloud and the Einstein add-on will send journey emails at the best time, based on the open history for a specific contact. The following chart shows optimal send times based on data from Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Pardot Send Times

When determining send times, it is imperative to not only evaluate your data, but also take external factors into account. Business hours do not just have to be during the 9am – 5pm work day. Instead, think about what hours your members conduct business with your association. For example, if you send emails primarily to a member’s work email, the standard business hours would likely be the right choice. However, I once worked with a client whose members were surgeons that were very busy during the normal workday, so the client decided to send emails only on the evenings and weekends.

Wait Times

When configuring a journey, all marketing platforms will allow for a wait time between steps. While this seems straight forward, wait times can be a bit tricky, so it is important to understand what the options mean.

For example, you want to wait two days to see if the contact opened an email. One option is for the system to continually “listen” if the email is opened. When the contact opens the email, they immediately move on to the next step, whether that happens 30 minutes after the email is sent or a day and a half later. With this option you can see that contacts will move through the journey at different rates depending on how quickly they opened an email.

A second option is to give the system a vacation for two days and at the end of two days, it checks who opened up the email. In this option, all contacts in the journey move forward at the same time. Systems with this flexibility are generally more helpful when it comes to covering various use cases for your association’s automated journeys.

Exit Criteria

A lot of times when thinking about journeys, people think of only the entry criteria. That is important, obviously, but do not forget about exiting the journey. Should everyone who enters the journey go all the way through the journey, or should they exit early for some reason?

The classic example I hear is an event invitation journey. You send multiple invites to an event, but if someone registers after the first email, you do not want them to receive a second or third invitation. Another example is asking members to renew their membership. If they renewed, then you do not want to continue sending them reminders.

In Pardot, you could have an entry list of everyone you want to invite to the event. Your next step would be to build a dynamic list of everyone who has registered for the event, and then use that as a suppression list in the journey. That way, if someone registers they get added to the suppression list, which means they no longer receive invitations.

In Marketing Cloud, you can use a function called Exit Criteria , instead of a suppression list. If at any point in the journey the Exit Criteria are met, then the contact is removed from the journey.

Automated JourneyPausing Automations

It is important to understand how to update your journeys. Maybe you want to change email content or the flow within the journey. In some marketing automation platforms you need to pause the journey to make those changes. Make sure to understand what happens when the journey is paused.

Typically contacts within the journey are frozen in time. Therefore, if users are on day two of a five-day wait step, when you unpause the journey a week later, they are still on day two. Therefore we recommend that journeys are paused only temporarily – one day at most!

Repeating Automations

There may be some journeys that you want a contact to repeat. For example, you might want the user to complete a form on the website to access a white paper. In the journey they are automatically sent an email with a link to the PDF download. If the contact submits the form multiple times, they should receive that follow-up email multiple times as well.

Depending on the platform, you can decide if a contact is allowed to repeat the journey and how many times they are able to repeat. Also, there may be instances where someone is in the journey, but then they qualify again to be in the journey. Do you want the same person in the journey twice at the same time or not? There are very few use cases where this is needed, but if that use case is specific for your association, then make sure the marketing automation platform you use has that ability.

fusionSpan Is Here For Assistance!

Looking to get more ROI on your Marketing Efforts? Want to understand why your members have a low engagement rate? fusionSpan is here to help take your organization’s marketing to the next level!

Reach out to the fusionSpan team for best-in-class Digital Strategy consulting and solutions!

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Susan Baumbach
Automated Journey Tips & Tricks

Susan has five years of experience working in associations and nonprofits, gaining critical experience in data analysis and how data is managed in Salesforce. As a certified Pardot Consultant and Marketing Cloud Email Specialist, she guides the implementation process from discovery through go-live and support. She is committed to creating the best marketing automation solution possible for users and stakeholders alike.

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