In this article we’ll cover the specifics of how the automation builder works. By the end, you should be feel comfortable using the builder to create automations by combining triggers and actions.
To enter the automation workflow builder, first click on the automations tab to navigate to the automations page. Then click “New automation” button in the upper right-hand corner.
Naming your automation
You’ll be asked to give your automation a name. You can edit this name later, so don’t worry about it too much. Usually it’s a good idea to be descriptive of what the automation does rather than being terse or vague because managing your automations can become confusing when you have quite a few.
Notice in the lower left-hand corner of this modal window you are given the option to “Or import an automation.” That option won’t be covered here but we have a separate article covering how to import an automation.
Automation triggers are the conditions that, when met, begin automations. You are able to define those conditions by adding triggers to your automation. You are able to have multiple triggers on an automation.
You can add triggers two ways:
When you create a new automation, you’ll be asked to pick a trigger immediately after giving it a name. You add a trigger by clicking it. If you aren’t sure yet what you want the trigger to be, you can click the “x” in the upper right-hand corner or select “Or don’t have a trigger for your automation” Either way, you’ll have the option to remove or add triggers at any point in time later on.
From the automation workflow builder, you can add a trigger at any time by clicking “Add start trigger” or “Add new start” at the top of the workflow you are building.
After selecting a trigger, you’ll be presented with options related to that particular trigger. Most triggers have the “Runs” setting in common.
The “Runs” setting has two options:
Runs “Once” will make it so a contact can only enter the automation once, no matter how many times they meet the triggering conditions.
Runs “Multiple times” will make it so that a contact can enter the contact repeatedly each time the triggering conditions are met. For instance, if the trigger is “Opens email,” the automation would run each time an email is opened by a contact. You should be careful using the “Runs multiple times” setting when the automation sends a message because a contact could receive the same message over and over each time they do something.
Segment contacts entering the automation
This is a useful option that allows you to target specific contacts by filtering them. You create a segment so that only the contacts who match your segment will enter the automation.
For example, if you only wanted an automation to run for contacts who haven’t yet made a purchase, you could create a segment that looks for the “prospect” tag or looks for the absence of the “customer” tag.
You can add actions to your automation two ways. They both offer the same options so which one you use is a matter of preference:
The modal window
The modal window is accessed by clicking the “+” symbol anywhere it appears in your automation. The action you choose will appear at the node you clicked. After selecting an action by clicking it you will be presented with the action options modal window.
The sidebar is the dark grey column to the far right of the workflow builder. You can minimize or expand it by clicking the double arrows in the top left of the sidebar. To place an action at a specific spot of your automation, you click and drag it to the node you want it to appear on. When you unclick, you will be presented with the action options modal window.
Removing triggers and actions
To delete triggers and actions you hover over it and click the “X” that appears in the upper right-hand corner.
If you remove an “If/else” condition that has actions below it under the “yes” and “no” paths you will be prompted to choose what to do with those actions:
Saving your automation
As you work, the automation builder will automatically save your work.
Viewing your workflow
If you are creating a large automation, it might not be possible to view the entire workflow within your browser window. In that case, you have two options:
You can scroll the window vertically and horizontally
To focus on the area of interest, you can center it in the screen by scrolling up and down and left and right.
You can zoom in and out
To view more of the workflow in your browser, you can click the “-“ symbol on the zoom controls in the lower left-hand corner of the window. This will zoom out making the workflow smaller. Each time you click it, you’ll zoom out further. This is a good way to go through and check your automation but it becomes more and more difficult to read the labels on automation actions the further you zoom out. To zoom in closer, click the “+” button.
Activating your automation
It is a good idea to keep your automation inactive until it is complete. Once it is active, contacts can start entering into it by triggering the starting conditions.
There are two ways to change the status of an automation from active to inactive (and vice versa):
From the Automations overview page
The Automations overview page is the page you see after clicking the “Automations” tab in the top menu. You will see a list of the automations you’ve created and the left column will give you some filtering options including “Active,” “Inactive,” and any automation labels you’ve created.
You will see a dot to the left of each automation on the Automations overview page. The green dot means it is active. The red dot means it is inactive.
By clicking the down arrow next to a specific automation, you’ll be presented with the option to make it either “active” or “inactive” depending on its current status.
From the Automation Builder
You will see a toggle in the upper right-hand corner. Clicking the left side of the toggle will make your automation “Active” and clicking the right side will make it “Inactive.” You can tell its status because one side will be faded. The site that is clear (not faded) is its current status.
Labeling your automations
To keep your automations organized and make it easier to find automations, you may want to group them together. How you choose to organize them is up to you. For instance, you could have labels for: pre-sales marketing, post-sale marketing, and pipeline automation.
You can add automations to your labels from the Automations overview by dragging its title or thumbnail to the label you want to apply.
Clicking the label in the left sidebar will display the automations with that label.
More resources for creating automations
Feel free to play around with the automation builder. You can’t mess anything up and there isn’t anything you can’t delete or undo. Just be sure you keep your automation inactive so contacts don’t enter it until you are ready!
As with so many other things in life, practice makes perfect. The more experience you get with creating automations, the more aspects of your business you’ll be able to automate and the more sophisticated you can make your marketing and sales processes. Becoming “good” at making automations is largely just becoming familiar with what each trigger and each action does, and its options, so that you can combine them in novel and creative ways.
You may want to proceed by building out an automation example. We’ve created a walkthrough for creating a follow-up campaign. In this walkthrough, we’ll use many actions and triggers and clearly explain why we are using them.